I am not merely an atheist, but an anti-theist. I believe that not only are all religions inherently flawed and destructive institutions, but that the concept of a god or gods limits human progress. Some may say that religion does some good but that is like excusing a serial killer's slayings because he volunteers at a soup kitchen. One does not excuse the other.
As you can see I am no apologizer for religion. However, I am also a Progressive and a secular humanist, and despite whatever ignorant beliefs a person may hold she/he should be respected as a human being.
It has become increasingly clear that famed atheist Richard Dawkins criticism of Islam has taken on a bigoted tone. His criticism have devolved into an ignorant bigotry that is factually and scientifically deficient. When you eschew knowledge in favor of ignorant hatred then you violate the very principles of what it means to be a secular humanist. This is what Dawkins has done.
Islam has always been a focal point of his venom. Islam in itself is no more evil than any other religion, but when you single out a group for hatred you risk inciting persecution. And particularly in the west Muslims have been subjected to this kind of persecution and bigotry:
And what is he basing this hatred of Islam on? Self-admitted ignorance:
@toddkincannon Haven't read Koran so couldn't quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 1, 2013
Moreover, that tweet crystallizes the very nature of his bigotry. While Dawkins like me thinks all religions are flawed, he thinks there is something about Muslims that make them inherently more evil than other religious individuals. When you start assigning a status of inferiority to certain religious groups you necessarily subscribe to an ideology of bigotry.
One of the defining features of bigotry is ignorance. Dawkins already admitted to this, but I would like to go into bit more depth on why Dawkins' ideology is bigoted, ignorant, and wholly out of steps with reality and the facts....
During the Medieval age the Islamic world was the center of science and learning. During this time Muslims made great strides in many fields from mathematics to physics to medicine. While it was Christendom that was the center of ignorance, superstition, and war mongering.
Remember it was Christendom that invaded the "Holy Land", mercilessly slaughtering Muslims, Jews, and Christians of other sects. When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem the streets literally ran red with blood from its residents. When the forces of Saladin recaptured the city they allowed free passage for Christians and allowed all former residents, including Jews, to resettle.
The Vatican has become a refuge for Cardinal Law, who fled authorities in the late hours after he was issued with subpoenas for his cover up of pedophilia. The Church still won't hand him over to authorities in America.
And in present day you have a Christian nation like Uganda pushing a bill that would give the death sentence gays, while in Albania, a Muslim nation, you have pretty wide support for anti-discrimination legislation for the LGBT community. Furthermore, recently we have seen the cover up of the rape and torture of children by leaders in the Catholic Church. And this has affected far more Westerners than Islamic terrorism in the West ever has.
What this shows is that any religion is capable of being blood thirsty and ignorant. Thus, saying Islam is the greatest force for evil is completely and hopelessly wrong.
The reason why it may seem that Christian nations are a lot more progressive than Muslim nations is because Christian nations tend to be a lot less religious! It has nothing to do with the kind of religion you ascribe to, but how extreme you are in those beliefs.
Religious extremism is the problem. Not necessarily Islam. Islam is no more evil than any other religion. And when people like Dawkins try to assert that it is it not only makes him look ignorant but bigoted.