Skip to main content

Continuing a sad descent to Internet trolldom, British biologist and outspoken New Atheist Richard Dawkins decided to wish the world's Muslim population an unhappy Eid yesterday by tweeting the following:

All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.
I want to go through some of the glaring problems here and then get at the heart of the matter.

First, someone of Dawkins's intellectual background should not be comparing items from unlike categories. Trinity College is an institution of higher education.  "All the world's Muslims" are the adherents of a religious faith. They are not proper items for comparison. Nesrine Malik notes in The Guardian,

To wearily engage with his logic briefly: yes, it is technically true that fewer Muslims (10) than Trinity College Cambridge members (32) have won Nobel prizes. But insert pretty much any other group of people instead of "Muslims", and the statement would be true. You are comparing a specialised academic institution to an arbitrarily chosen group of people. Go on. Try it. All the world's Chinese, all the world's Indians, all the world's lefthanded people, all the world's cyclists.
Dawkins also clumps together "all the world's Muslims" as though they were a homogeneous population, devoid of any other identities such as nationality or class. Jakarta, Tehran, Baghdad, Cairo, Beirut, Amman, Istanbul, and Lahore are seemingly not separate cities with their own cultures and histories to Mr. Dawkins. They are just places filled with Muslims.

Moreover, Dawkins has a very narrow understanding of what it means to do "great things" if only those who won Nobel Prizes can be said to have done "great things." No single award is the be-all, end-all of either category specified--whether an institution of higher learning or a religious faith.

The Nobel Prize has only been around since 1901, and Dawkins doesn't address the wide time frame between (circa) 1500 and 1901. A lot happened between those periods, including a fair amount of violence against the "world's Muslims" by Europeans. (Remember a thing called colonialism?) And that violence continued past 1901 as well.

He also ignores the Eurocentrism of the Nobel Prize Committee that enabled individuals like Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson to receive Peace Prizes despite the War in the Philippines and the occupation of Haiti, respectively.

There's also, of course, the irony of Dawkins's invoking a university with such a blatantly Christian name. One Twitter commenter pointed this out to him: "The full name of Trinity College is 'The College of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity'."

But engaging with such comments often amounts to naught, and it doesn't get at the heart of the problem with New Atheists like Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

The problem with the New Atheists is that they are atheists without being humanists. And the denigration of the humanistic values of pluralism, appreciation (rather than just tolerance), and the respect for the equal dignity of all are what make New Atheism as hostile, obsessive, and genuinely unpleasant as it so often is.

And there are plenty of individuals who are both atheists (or non-theists) and humanists. For instance, you could look at Ethical Culture or the New Humanism. Non-theists who are also humanists are often among the strongest champions of social justice and progressive change, and they find common ground with liberal, humanistic believers from various faiths. New Atheists, on the other hand, find common ground with the neo-cons and the xenophobes opposed to pluralism and mutual respect.

Originally posted to Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Atheists.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  dogmatic atheists (11+ / 0-)

    are no better than dogmatic theocrats.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:24:51 PM PDT

    •  Well, dogmatic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurence Lewis

      atheocrats, to be sure.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:44:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Really? (19+ / 0-)

      I don't recall any atheists flying any airplanes into buildings or shooting abortion doctors to advance atheism or atheistic ideas.  

      There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

      by Mindful Nature on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:52:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, pleeeeze tell me you're above citing that (10+ / 0-)

        idiotic, childish, narrow-minded facebook meme!!!  

        I'd expect that sort  of thing from the Becks and Bachmanns of the world.

        good lord

        •  Maybe that was the posters state of mind, but (7+ / 0-)

          Mindful Nature does not seem to be so shallow.  Indeed, if one sees the grouping of "all Muslims" as a religious set instead of as a cultural set, then there is some loose basis of comparison.  During the dark ages, all the Christians in Europe could be compared with present day Muslims.  Such comparison says nothing about individuals, but reflects the superstition and irrationality of much religious thought.

          Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

          by StrayCat on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 05:37:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh please telle (0+ / 0-)

          You are above spreading vicious slanders against atheists.  I suppose that is ok since we are the most reviled minority in the US bar none

          There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

          by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:44:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cough Soviet Union cough (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erush1345, bevenro

          Nothing against atheists, but it didn't work well as the official state policy of a superpower.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:43:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  shhhhhhhh atheists are enlightened paragons (0+ / 0-)

            of rational perfection.  Read your memos :)

            (psst--don't mention the Red Guards either)

            there are loons on this site.  Loons, I tell ya

          •  Cough, cough. (0+ / 0-)

            The commentor was referencing Dawkins, so your comment is idiotic, and as bigoted as anything Dawkins wrote, by the way.

            •  So I'm bigoted against Communists? (0+ / 0-)

              I suppose you got me there. I mean sure, once you get past killing tens of millions of people they were a fun bunch, but it's hard to overlook that part.

              Not sure how by any stretch of the imagination my statement could be construed as bigoted.

              1. The Soviet Union was officially atheist. Feel free to contest this if you like. I'd love to hear it.

              2. The Soviet Union wasn't a particularly nice place. Go ahead and contest this too. Should be interesting.

              Now we could, I suppose, argue that their system was brutal in spite being officially atheist rather than because of it. That's a reasonable argument and I'd be willing to consider it.

              My original point being that having atheism as a state "religion" is as bad as any other state religion.

              If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

              by Major Kong on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 04:54:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't say you were bigoted against anybody. (0+ / 0-)

                But you can't go around accusing Dawkins of bigotry for making indelicate statements about Muslims and then tar atheists with with the actions of a long dead tyrant, without being accused of so significant hypocrisy.

                •  No, I'm just against state religions (0+ / 0-)

                  I have no problem with atheists, or Muslims for that matter, on an individual basis.

                  I think it's a private matter and best left out of government.

                  You seem rather spring-loaded to the "Bigot!!!" setting.

                  If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

                  by Major Kong on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 08:04:48 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Also... (0+ / 0-)

                your pointing out the factual nature of your statement is pretty much the same defense Dawkins gave for his comment.  Though he was quite so much of a dick about it.

                •  This is great (0+ / 0-)

                  I guess I'll head back to the other Dawkins thread where I was getting castigated for being too pro-Muslim.

                  If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

                  by Major Kong on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 08:07:12 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  (and do some research into, say, the (10+ / 0-)

        Cultural Revolution--or the Soviet destruction of monasteries in Mongoliia...or countless other examples)

      •  how many (7+ / 0-)

        did stalin and mao kill?

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:52:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not analogous. (17+ / 0-)

          Stalin and Mao did what they did primarily out of political ideology, not religious motivations. Hitler happened to be Catholic, but that was not his main motivation. Blaming atheism for Stalin or Mao would be like blaming Catholicism for Hitler. It misses the point by focusing attention on something that was not their real motive. It distorts history for the sake of giving a snappy comeback to a criticism that is a real problem for theism.

          The fact that some evil is done with avowedly religious motives is a logical problem for theism for reasons that would not apply to evil done for avowedly atheistic motives even if good examples were given. Theism is marked by belief in an all-knowing and all-powerful creator who loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. When a devout theist does an evil act he or she acts in contradiction to the will of this supposed being. This shows one of two things: (1) this being does not exist, or (2) this being does not reveal its will to its followers. However, option (2) is foreclosed because the creator is supposed to love us and want a relationship with us, so the hiddenness of God's will to the devout who commit atrocities in his name is a distinctive problem for theism. This is a version of what philosophers call the divine hiddenness problem and also of the problem of evil.

          To see that there is no analogous problem even if we assume contrary to fact that Stalin or Mao was primarily motivated by atheism note that there's no good-making agent supposed by atheism to play the same role in the argument. There's nothing about atheism that implies atheists should not commit atrocities. We don't suppose that being an atheist gives any particular moral insight through connection with a higher power. The truth is that there are good and bad people who are both religious and non-religious. The further fact is that humans have enough to fight over without taking a bunch of ancient myths as the literal truth and fighting over that too.

          Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

          by play jurist on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 02:29:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  their political ideology (6+ / 0-)

            was as fanatical as any religious fanaticism, and it drove everything they did, in exactly the same way. and their atheism was a fundamental part of it.

            fanatical atheism is marked by belief in an all-knowing and all-powerful capacity called reason. and just as religious fanatics believe their atrocities are sanctioned by their deities, fanatical atheists believe their atrocities are sanctioned by some combination of their theories and ideologies and rationality itself.

            and one of the primary drivers of fanatical atheism is the belief that religion is one of the primary drivers of war and hatred, and that without religion, people would rationally stop wars and hatred.

            The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

            by Laurence Lewis on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 02:38:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  'Reason' is neither all-knowing nor all-powerful. (9+ / 0-)

              Indeed, the very belief in reason implies that there are vast numbers of things of which mankind is ignorant, and will remain ignorant of.  'Reason' is merely the understanding that with the proper information and enough study, we can attempt to understand things, not any sort of guarantee that we ever will, or that we ever can 'do everything'.

              Your last paragraph is nonsense too, although the first part of the first sentence starts out well.  Atheists are well aware of mankind's tendency towards violence, with or without religion.  The 'reason' atheists understand that religion is one of the ways that tendency is amplified is that it provides a highly structured set of motives for action based around some of the most important questions of existence.  Why are we here?  What is death and can it somehow be 'defeated'?

              Religions generally purport to provide answers to such questions, that benefit 'the faithful'.  Thus, for those willing to believe, there is a strong force pushing them to be do as the leaders of the power structures that have built up over time around religions to merely acquiesce to whatever those in charge want them to say or do or believe.

              The problem, then, is that religions act in much the same way as jingoistic and propaganda-laden governments.  They say 'behave and think and act as we want you to, and you will be rewarded'.  Disobey your spiritual leaders, and you will be punished, perhaps for all eternity.

              So religion becomes a club in the hands of the men who are in power used to control 'the faithful'.  On the secular side, we see the exact same dynamic played out in our own government, and indeed on this very site, with the unquestioning Democrats.  They 'believe' in team blue, and so they support any sort of nonsense, as long as a Democrat in power favors it.  NSA spying on everyone?  No problem, as long as the Dems in power are in favor of it!

              So the problem with religion is not unique, but it adds yet another set of power structures and controls that are available for the corrupt to use on their fellow men.

              •  Yes, belief and faith is a poor substitute for (7+ / 0-)

                Thought and facts.  But how else would the hierarchy
                Maintain the mystery of it all, and diminish the validity of rationality and thought.

                Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

                by StrayCat on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 05:40:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Substitute, no - adjunct, yes... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...in both directions.

                  I see faith and religion as complementary to science and reason.

                  Science is man's attempt to explain the universe through natural phenomena.

                  Religion is man's attempt to explain the universe through supernatural phenomena.

                  The two need not conflict.  Our history is littered with folks--both theological and scientific--who did not experience such a conflict.

                  We should never be afraid to call out excesses on either side of the equation, but I've never believed this to be a line-in-the-sand situation.

                  The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                  by wesmorgan1 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:39:18 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Idiocy (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Stwriley, Mindful Nature

              there is not fanatical atheism. There are fanatics who are atheists, but the ideologies that drive some atheists atrocities are not based upon reason, but fantasy, paranoia, delusion, and self-aggrandizement. A mentally ill atheist is still mentally ill.

              Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

              by dhonig on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 07:31:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Of course (0+ / 0-)

                Perpetuating the idea that Stalin and Mao did what they did because they were atheists is a very convenient way to advance the meme that atheists are morally inferior people though.

                There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

                by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:52:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You assume that Mao and Stalin were, indeed, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mindful Nature

              atheists. They may not have been. Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai, in his last days, told a western reporter that he was getting ready to meet God. Stalin studied for the priesthood before he veered into Marxism and gangsterism.
                 Then there's this: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/...

              The following quotes are from: “Behind the bamboo curtain: China, Vietnam, and the world beyond Asia” By Priscilla Mary Roberts. Mao Zedong and Pham Van Dong, Beijing, November 17, 1968

              Pham Van Dong: How are you, Chairman Mao?

              Mao Zedong: Not very well. I have had a cough for some days. It is time to go to Heaven. It seems that I am summoned to meet the Good God. How is President Ho?

            •  You really are (0+ / 0-)

              Doubling down on your bigotry aren't you?   Amazing

              There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

              by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:42:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                erush1345, JDsg

                i am a bigot against bigots.

                The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                by Laurence Lewis on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:18:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I am of two minds here (0+ / 0-)

                  Tthis doesn't hold water entirely.  Denounce the anti religious bigotry for sure, but dont do it by perpetuating anti atheist bigotry at the same time.  You statements echo a great many of the usual slanders against atheists that are super common in our country and constantly propagated.  This stupid equation of Harris with Mao just perpetuates this idea that we atheists are just sitting around wanting to kill people because we have no morals.   For all their failings, none of the militant atheists have espoused or perpetuates violence.   Not one.   Certainly, they may have a dim view of religion, but then the favor is returned by at least the proselytizing religions.  Keep in mind that atheists have a long history of abuse at the hands of the religious and militant atheism exists to push back against the persistent alienation that comes from statements of exclusion that occur at every single national function.  When we had a nation that uniformly espoused allegiance to a "white nation under god" minorities also militated against that and rightly so.  We are still dismantling those stereotypes.  Since anti atheist stereotypes are openly endorse by nearly all Americans of all stripes, it is no surprise that there is a strong reaction that points out that it is rank hypocrisy for the religious to single us out as amoral when the track record of religions on this score is so abysmal.  Militant atheism must exist in order to dismantle the privileging and fetishizing of religion in our culture if we are going live up to any ideal of equal dignity for all.   We cannot achieve that by staying meekly in the closet.  It is awkward and difficult, but there is no other real way forward.

                  So, please let's stop with the perpetuating stereotypes.  Let us ignore the fact that atheists have simply not risen to the level of the excess of the religious theough out history.  Cynic that I am, I think that's merely due to statistical sampling because there are so many fewer atheists that we just don't throw up as many crazies.  Lets keep in mind that militant atheism exists for very solid reasons, just like gays have good cause to be militant, for example

                  There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

                  by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:53:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Oh I see (0+ / 0-)

              So militant atheists are capable of morality.  Gee, where have I heard that before?  Pretty damned ugly

              There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

              by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:49:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Fewer than Hitler (0+ / 0-)

          If we are going that path.  Communists were atheists only because they hated the institution of the church.  If we are going to trot out that slander then we really need to hang the holocaust on Christianity since Hitler used Christianity as part of his call to loyalty to the Fatherland

          Please.  This comment is on par with blood libel

          There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

          by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:41:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And this is rhetorical (0+ / 0-)

            Hitters actions were no more motivated by his religious ideology that Stalins were.  In both cases, power came first and the role of religion ideology was to support that goal.  Stalin sought to destroy alternate power centers while Hitler took the coopting route.

            Now if you will excuse me I have go commit some depraved acts now.  

            There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

            by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:04:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Please... (0+ / 0-)

            don't play their stupid game.

        •  HR (0+ / 0-)

          For spreading bigoted meme

          There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

          by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:44:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And let's add the entire (0+ / 0-)

          New world genocides too.  Those were clearly driven out of an aim to "Christianize" the heathens.  

          There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

          by Mindful Nature on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:46:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  What about shooting priests in the Soviet Union (4+ / 0-)

        back in the 20s and 30s? You could argue that it was motivated by things other than atheism (communist ideology, desire to get rid of potential subversives) but then massacres that we claim were motivated by religion had complex origins and motivations as well.

    •  Except for being right as opposed to wrong. (6+ / 0-)

      There is an underlying reality in the world, and those who deny the existence of God are on the right side of that question.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 04:55:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Meh. (2+ / 0-)

        I disagree.  I do not 'deny the existence' of God.  I have nothing I can consider proof of such existence, any more than I have proof of purple unicorns.  Thus, it is correct for me to say I don't think purple unicorns exist, but I'll be willing to stipulate that they do if one trots out in front of me.  

        Besides, which God?  Once you start talking about 'denying the existence of', you have to start denying the existence of many Gods and Goddesses.

      •  Interesting (and blunt) observation. So... (0+ / 0-)

        ...all of these folks were on the "wrong side":

        William of Ockham, Brunfels, Napier, Kepler, Descartes, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Bayes, Linnaeus, Euler, Priestley, Faraday, Mendel, Babbage, Marconi, Carver, Planck...

        It seems to me that we have quite a few examples of folks for whom religious belief did not put them on the "wrong side" of understanding the "underlying reality" of which you speak.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:04:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not necessarily... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDsg

        I have nothing against atheists and agnostics, and I absolutely believe that they have full 1st amendment rights to lack of faith or religious adherence, to say nothing of all the civil liberties the rest of Americans enjoy. But,it is fallacy to state as a matter of fact that those who believe in God or any God(s) are somehow delusional, irrational, or are incapable of seeing the underlying reality of the world around us.

        There are powerful arguments and superficial proselytizing made by well-meaning representatives and opportunistic idiots in both these camps; this ignores the overriding fact militant adherents of either side of the coin aren't 100% correct in this matter. Most Americans, and indeed people around the globe, are somewhere in the middle and don't prefer being boxed specifically when it comes to Faith and the role it plays in politics or personal life (especially Millennials). For all the manifest nonsense coming from the radical Christian Right and this more rigid "New" Atheism that want an elimination of any publicly professed spirituality or religious expression, 8 out of 10 good ol' U.S. residents see no conflicts between Enlightenment values and their religious beliefs, however syncretic, abstract or absent they may be.

        I'll be the first to say that many people and terrible historical events have been done in the name of some God. A simple conclusion is that these are the result of human beings being fundamentally flawed a d wrongfully interpreting his will. This doesn't mean there's not an all-maker that fits their or even the atheistic caricature of an old guy with a long beard and white robe striking thunderbolts upon us the second we've done something bad. He does allow plenty of space for free will, personal responsibility and the ability to reason between here and eternity.

        "Life is indeed a mystery; everyone must stand alone....Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to get through this thing called life!"

        by Politikator09 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 08:56:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bullshit (0+ / 0-)

      there are no dogmatic atheists. Atheists have no dogma, unless you consider gravity, evolution, chemistry, and other examples of actual science to be "dogma."

      Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

      by dhonig on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 07:30:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, yes... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDsg

        If those things in and of themselves considered proof that any religious or spiritual disciples are delusional ditto heads listening to voices between their ears. Atheists are just as susceptible to  error, leaps of logic and breathtaking solipsism as any of the fundamentalist firebrands I've heard; I've done enough insightful analysis and on-spot criticism of the grand chain of fools playing power broker for either side.

        There is of course nothing wrong with naturally or committing coming to the self-identification of being atheist. But every canon of rhetorical critique of 'believers' and religion in general can be applied to Atheism and Agnosticism as well. You may not believe in a central all-creator, afterlife, heaven or hell, eternal consequences, etc. but if they use evolution, gravity, chemistry or any scientific grouping of knowledge as a basis to label all their opposition a BS dogmatists, than they are themselves projecting every imperfection they cite in them. All of these things form a worldview, how the surrounding universe operates, an what's the purpose of existence.

        My main problem embracing much anything Atheist (as opposed to 'doubt', which is a separate matter) is that it never gives anyone a real reason to be good, the difference between it and bad or what's the purpose in life in general. If there isn't something greater and beyond our few short years on Earth, why do, say, be or live anything beyond hedonistic self-interest? Indeed, if those who do believe in God(s) were in the minority, or didn't have him than we'd all make one up under a different name or guise (i.e. money, fame, the approval of others, etc.).

        "Life is indeed a mystery; everyone must stand alone....Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to get through this thing called life!"

        by Politikator09 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:13:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here's the Xkcd cartoon you were (0+ / 0-)

      looking for:

      http://xkcd.com/...

    •  Yes they are... (0+ / 0-)

      By orders of magnitude, in fact.

  •  I agree with your criticism on Dawkins' (9+ / 0-)

    Islamophobic remarks, and of others inspired by him, but I don't really agree with your assessment of the so-called New Atheists.

    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

    by AaronInSanDiego on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:40:57 PM PDT

    •  Correct (0+ / 0-)

      New Atheists (who really aren't new) are generally humanist, although I might except Hitchens.

      The problem with Dawkins' tweet is that there is a difference between criticizing religion, even harshly criticizing, and gratuitous insults against the individuals who practice or identify with that religion. I could probably point out that Jews won more Nobel prizes than Oxford grads but it would be pointless. Would Dawkins say women are inferior because we win fewer Nobels than men? That African descended people are inferior because European descended win more Nobels? Dawkins wrote some excellent books and articles but this is unworthy of him.

  •  That's an ugly, stupid comment. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hillbilly Dem

    Does Dick Dare Double Down?... Only the Twitter knows.

    "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

    by Mogolori on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:41:45 PM PDT

  •  I await Dawkins response (4+ / 0-)

    Because as a scientist, the statement struck me exactly as a "how the mighty are fallen" statement simply because there were several centuries where the residents of Baghdad would have had more novel prizes than the rest of the planet put together.  

    However, given Dawkins context I don't think that he's going for since he should have probably said "all Arabs put together" as a more relevant historical comparison. He didn't.  He went for all Muslims. That's out of bounds

    There’s no way for a healthy human being to maintain the level of outrage warranted by the situation. - Dave Roberts, grist.org

    by Mindful Nature on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:50:23 PM PDT

    •  All of any nation or ethnic group or gender (0+ / 0-)

      or any other group meant as an invidious distinction is out of bounds. More Nobel Prize winners than non-Nobel Prize Winners won Nobel Prizes. So?

      It was of some interest the first time a Japanese or Indian or Latin American or African or US scientist or writer or peacemaker won a Nobel Prize. It was of some interest when an avowed atheist first won a Nobel Prize, and when Anwar Sadat became the first Muslim to win the prize.

      But you can't use them to keep score on anything. The award process is seriously arbitrary.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 04:02:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As an atheist, (4+ / 0-)

    I don't see why so many of us are islamophobes these days.  It seems to be popular among many of us to treat Islam as if it's somehow inherently more violent than any of the other Abrahamic religions.

    Further, I think people like Dawkins do us more harm than good.  He makes us look like douchebags.

  •  As a gay atheist, I see Islam as backward, (16+ / 0-)

    Intolerant and dangerous toward my glbt brothers and sisters worldwide. Even mainstream Islamic attitude towards homosexuality borders on barbarism. Don't get me started on the religious wackjobs that actually wield power in most of the key Islamic countries. Sorry, I share Dawkins'antipathy.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:32:03 PM PDT

    •  Muslims are not a monolith (8+ / 0-)

      Just like Christians are not.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 02:08:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do you think that of Keith Ellison? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, Front Toward Enemy

      Keith Ellison, one of our most progressive representatives in Congress and a co-chair of the CPC, is a Muslim. Here is him singing his support for gay marriage after it officially became legal in Minnesota last week: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

      I know many Muslims personally who are socially liberal.

      You can't make blanket assumptions on them just as you can't do so on, say, Catholics, who run the gamut when it comes to politics.

      •  Keith Ellison has the good fortune (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Darwinian Detrius, milkbone, Ian S

        to be living in the US and seemingly has a good enough mind to ignore most of what is in the Koran.  

        In fact, progressive and moral Christians are a product of them ignoring most of the bible.

        What do they substitute for values when they do so?...Modern secular reasoning.

        •  Most reading of religious texts is cherry picking (0+ / 0-)

          Most people, when reading religious texts, engage in a certain cherry picking because those texts are often millennia old and bear little direct influence on contemporary affairs outside of the moral lessons to be gleaned from parables. Whether on the right or the left, virtually no one is actually a literalist--and I'm including those often described as such. A. J. Jacobs's Year of Living Biblically is a great example of that fact: http://www.ajjacobs.com/....

          Most people's individual religiosity is rather personal, not prescribed by the minutiae of a text.  Often, attachments to organized religion are as much cultural, aesthetic, or communitarian than theological.

        •  Its not so much cherry-picking... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JDsg

          as it is taking, reading and analyzing the entire text and observing the points most often stated and putting them into logical, practical and historical contexts. You can of course 'make' any religious text or general book say what you think or want it to mean, but that doesn't deny the overarching basis of Faith and truth beyond dogmatic religious recitation. Nor does it outright ignore the more 'inconvenient' scriptures to one's own particular political ideology or personally valued interpretation. Its often the militant, counter-productive, bomb-throwing atheists and religious fundies who create unnecessary controversies between the Enlightenment foundations of U.S. democracy and any sort of spiritual belief, not everyday people themselves.

          "Life is indeed a mystery; everyone must stand alone....Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to get through this thing called life!"

          by Politikator09 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:42:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  My antipathy is towards Islam, the religion (0+ / 0-)

        And its leaders not individuals like Keith Ellison. Like many around here, I also have little good to say about the Catholic Church hierarchy which until the latest Pope has been terribly outspoken in its homophobia. I know and love many wonderful Catholics including my partner but they flout many of the church teachings. Though I admire Keith Ellison for his progressive stands, I don't believe his views on gay people would be tolerated in any Islamic country.

        In this country, Islamic leaders seem, at best, to view homosexuality as a mental disease and those are the enlightened ones.

        Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

        by Ian S on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:09:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No more so... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg

      than the Westboro Baptist Church, Fascist/Nazi political parties, Christian Identity and Militia Groups or past 20th century era KKK's proposed wild nativism, racism, sexism, homophobia, classicism, anti-semitism and religious (namely Christianity or some supremely distorted form of it thereof) supremacy through the most grotesquely violent and inhumane ways imaginable. Its these comments and mindsets that form an ''us against them'' war of words that leads to everything terrible except peace and prosperity here and in the Middle East. Please  get to actually KNOW and befriend some Muslims before coming to such a narrow-ended and dangerous POV; there are plenty of scriptures from all non-Islamic faiths that give those of alternative sexual orientations or religious system a fire and brimstone final destination, FYI...

      "Life is indeed a mystery; everyone must stand alone....Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to get through this thing called life!"

      by Politikator09 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:32:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The roots of prejudice lie here: (14+ / 0-)

    treating the enemy as a monolith. It’s bad to use the definite article and then a plural. Don't hate people who are part of a group. The Muslims. The Republicans. The feminists. The liberals. The media. The fundamentalist Christians. The illegal immigrants. The inner city welfare queens. The Yankees fans. The rich. The poor. The gays. There’s always gonna be some group you can hate just for being different from you.

    If you can draw a dividing line and say something bad about “those other people over there on the other side of the line” and then you say they’re all evil, or they’re trying to take your money, or maybe they’re lazy, or demanding special rights, or maybe they’re greedy (or immoral or whatever), then you don’t have to talk about issues. You're condemning them for who they are. You don’t have to talk about specifics. Those people are just evil and can be attacked. Which is wrong.

    When I talk to people who hate, I don’t always argue against them. I ask questions. If you’ve ever read about Socrates, he asked a lot of questions. Usually you can get people to contradict themselves with enough questions.

    --

    I’ve known a lot of really good people who were Muslims or Christians or Jews or atheists (who don’t get a capital letter, ha!), rich or poor, gay or straight. I even remember one good person who was a Yankees fan. There’s probably a couple other good people who are Yankees fans that I haven’t met yet. But most of them are assholes.

    The best rule is to treat other people the way you’d want to be treated. The golden rule. Or karma. Don’t be mean to people. Don’t prejudge them. Don’t put them into categories. Except Yankees fans.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:43:53 PM PDT

  •  Great, we now have a way to bash atheists by (7+ / 0-)

    calling them "new atheists" based on a couple of dickish tweets. Well done.

    One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns. --- John Oliver

    by voroki on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 12:15:36 AM PDT

  •  I'm an Atheist (3+ / 0-)

    But I wasn't familiar with the term New Atheists. I'd always called that sort missionary atheists, and I've always wished they'd shut up and stop giving atheism a bad name. To make intolerance a point of principle is very ugly.
    I haven't paid any attention to Richard Dawkins since I had to read "The Selfish Gene" long ago in college. Based on that book I'd say he's not much of a scientist either, more of a simple thinking blowhard.

    Here's your horoscope for today: The universe doesn't even know that you exist.--Jbou

    by greycat on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 12:24:49 AM PDT

  •  You're wrong (19+ / 0-)

    Dawkins tweet was in response to specific claims on the greatness of science being done by Muslims. Therefore his response is relevant.

    And he specifically stated that Muslims did great things in the Middle Ages, so your time based comment is irrelevant. He knows he's comparing the recent time period.

    And of course there are groups that have more Nobels than Trinity. Jewish scientists, for example. And French scientists. And German scientists.

    Anti-Dawkins folks are insisting on misinterpreting the tweets. The tweets are just another way of saying religion sucks, which it does. I don't expect many Christian fundamentalists to be winning Science Nobel prizes.

    •  was going to say this (0+ / 0-)

      great response.

      And to say that Nobel is eurocentric while giving Peace Prize as an example is also deliberate in picking the 16% of the non-scientific Nobel Prizes specifically non-meritocratic.

      The only problem with your statement is you used Christian fundamentalists, but most of the people winning Science Nobel prizes were still Christian.

    •  I was going to say (0+ / 0-)

      that this didn't sound like something that came from nowhere. Is there a link to the complete series of tweets? It seems like the diarist is cherry-picking to advance his own agenda.

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 07:15:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm...as far as Nobel Prizes are concerned... (0+ / 0-)

      You might find Wikipedia's "Christian Thinkers in Science" page of interest on this question.

      It's true that there aren't many specific mentions of what we name "fundamentalist" Christian denominations--there are a few Baptists, if memory serves--but there's a boatload of award-winning scientists on that list.

      There are also many, many Christian men of science who predate the Nobel Institute and its kin.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:21:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You did great... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg

      up until that last paragraph. Those that believe religion is only for the non-intelligent or possessive of a 'God' gene are just as prone to the fallacious inconsistencies of their 'opponents' on the field of ideas. And there are no fundamentalists as far as Biblical Inerrancy is concerned (they just put bigoted emphasis on passages passively mentioning homosexuality, abortion, women's rights or extra-marital sex to an extreme); otherwise, they'd be first to marry their daughters to their rapists, damning people to hell for ever wearing cotton, and evangelizing the positivity that goes with polygamy. They always conveniently forget those verses, otherwise they're applying logic and reason to those more radically irrelevant portions of the Good book.

      "Life is indeed a mystery; everyone must stand alone....Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to get through this thing called life!"

      by Politikator09 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 10:11:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let me guess.. (5+ / 0-)

    You're not an atheist. If you were, you'd understand.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 02:48:31 AM PDT

    •  Actually, I'm an agnostic, thank you very much (0+ / 0-)
      •  Agnostic atheist (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Front Toward Enemy

        or agnostic theist?

        •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

          What the heck is "agnostic theism"?  Agnosticism is non-theistic without necessarily being a-theistic.

          Dictionary definition:

          1. The doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge.
          2. The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.
          I believe that the existence or non-existence of a deity has no bearing on my everyday life.  
          •  Agnosticism refers to knowledge (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ozy

            While atheism refers to belief.
            From Wikipedia:

            An agnostic theist believes in the existence of at least one deity, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable
          •  As the other poster stated (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dopetron

            (a)gnosticism refers to belief about knowledge, not belief about the existence of a god.

            You either have a belief that god(s) exist, or you lack such a belief. One is theism, the other is atheism. It's a complete set, you belong to one or the other.

            Agnsotic theism is the belief that one can't 'know' that god exists, and yet belief that a god exists anyways, and yes it's a real thing.

    •  No, he understood you quite well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg

      Nobody knows for sure what's hidden away in any man's heart or minds; just because none of those Nobel Prize winners expressed an attachment to Christian fundamentalism doesn't mean they were not present in said distinguished group of winners! You didn't have to be atheist to get the nuance of language played here...

      "Life is indeed a mystery; everyone must stand alone....Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to get through this thing called life!"

      by Politikator09 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:58:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  New Atheism can be a bigoted ideology (2+ / 0-)

    at least the new atheism espoused by Dawkins and Harris (not to mention the late Christopher Hitchens).

    Both Dawkins and Harris claim to be scientists but rely heavily on irrationality and pseudo-science to come up with their conclusions about Islam. See some of Dawkins's rants here: http://theamericanmuslim.org/...

    They mirror those of a ultra-nationalist and conspiracy theorist.

    Take Sam Harris for example. His conclusions about Islam do not rely on objectivity or science and his conclusions have been debunked by both Scot Atran and Richard Pape.

    Harris’s views on religion ignore the considerable progress in cognitive studies on the subject over the last two decades, which show that core religious beliefs do not have fixed propositional content (Atran & Norenzayan, “Religion’s Evolutionary Landscape,” BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES, 2004). Indeed, religious beliefs, in being absurd (whether or not they are recognized as such), cannot even be processed as comprehensible because their semantic content is contradictory (for example, a bodiless but physically powerful and sentient being, a deity that is one in three, etc). It is precisely the ineffable nature of core religious beliefs that accounts, in part, for their social and political adaptability over time in helping to bond and sustain groups (Atran & Ginges, “Religious and Sacred Imperatives in Human Conflict,” SCIENCE, 2012). In fact, it is the ecstasy-provoking rituals that Harris describes as being associated with such beliefs which renders them immune to the logical and empirical scrutiny that ordinarily accompanies belief verification (see Atran & Henrich, “The Evolution of Religion,” BIOLOGICAL THEORY, 2010).

    Harris’s generalizations of his own fMRIs on belief change among a few dozen college students as supportive of his views of religion as simply false beliefs are underwhelming. As Pat Churchland surmised: "There is not one single example in [Harris’s work] of what we have learned from neuroscience that should impact our moral judgments regarding a particular issue. There may EXIST examples, but he does not provide any.” (personal communication 2/24/11; see also the fMRI work by our neuroeconomics team lead by Greg Berns in the theme issue on “The Biology of Conflict,” PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY, 2012).

    http://www.thisviewoflife.com/...

    Hitchens of course was a neocon who loathed Muslim violence but championed the Iraq War, which killed millions of innocent people.

  •  the problem with Dawkins is not his atheism (4+ / 0-)

    it's his over-the-top narcissism

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 03:43:59 AM PDT

  •  Show-offs appear in many venues, including (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat

    academic arenas. How can one tell a show-off? S/he attracts the spotlight to himself, rather than his product. Indeed, production may be entirely motivated by a personal desire to shine.
    Oddly, George W. Bush was aware of the media lighting being provided by Klieg Lights and mentioned them almost as if he'd become aware that being lit up was not all he'd imagined when he auditioned for the job.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 03:46:20 AM PDT

  •  Include Neil deGrasse Tyson in on it. (6+ / 0-)

    He says the same thing in most of his speeches.

    They are pointing out the same "smart people are actually stupid" and "this world is not important, only heaven is" thinking that we see develop in all of the religions of Abraham.

    Defend these patriarchal, atavistic religions all you want. They don't make the world a better place.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 03:53:29 AM PDT

    •  There is a massive difference (0+ / 0-)

      Neil deGrasse Tyson does talk about the dangers of allowing religious fundamentalism to dictate public policy all the time. He does not spend his time bashing entire religions.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:14:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How can you claim that's a difference (0+ / 0-)

        when it's something both share?  The people who are claiming that these tweets constitute bashing entire religions are being dishonest.  They're a counter to the claim that Islam is scientifically superior.

  •  The problem with Dawkins... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    He is one of the most eloquent authors of biological/evolutionary material in a century. His "Ancestor's Tale" is a classic and everyone who loves biology should read it.

    BUT he has taken on his own jihad against anyone who is not as stridently atheistic as he is, and it's a shame. I end up having to read excerpts from his book to my college classes in a "brown paper wrapper." The vitriol with which he tries to make his points dilutes the obvious scientific truths in them. (Case in point: He uses Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice as subjects in a photo about evolution in the book. Later, cracks about Tony Blair. Why?)

    I've spoken to mutual associates, who say he's just "taken it" too long. That's nonsense. In this country we have advocates for great evolutionary biology like Eugenie Scott and Kenneth Miller (Dover vs Delaware) who promote good science without getting mean and nasty about it. When over half the country claims they don't believe in evolution, attacking their core values isn't going to get us too far.

    But I do not agree with you that atheists find common ground with xenophobes either. No evidence for that. The psychology that predisposes a person to extreme fundamentalism may also predispose to xenophobia (research-based) but even that is just a correlation, not an accusation.

    •  Well, when one surveys the boundless death (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishtroller01, dhonig

      fear, theft and mayhem perpetrated by the religious in power or seeking power, then it is understandable that there is some bitterness and intolerance for the faith and superstition that is at the foundation of these crimes and crusades.

      Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

      by StrayCat on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 05:50:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree that his Tweet is logically dubious (4+ / 0-)

    but the argument that Islam has been unproductive for humanity and an obstacle to modern scientific enlightenment is obvious.  Furthermore, the accusation that Dawkinsian atheists are not humanists seems to come out of nowhere.  Humanists stand for something, and you can't claim that if your opposition to religious nonsense stops the moment it might offend someone.

  •  You put in words something I couldn't grasp (4+ / 0-)
    The problem with the New Atheists is that they are atheists without being humanists. And the denigration of the humanistic values of pluralism, appreciation (rather than just tolerance), and the respect for the equal dignity of all are what make New Atheism as hostile, obsessive, and genuinely unpleasant as it so often is.
    Very well said.
  •  All I know is that Dawkins (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OnlyWords

    tends to spend his time saying things that violate the 'DBAD' rule.  I suppose, if you wanted to bother to try and distill something even vaguely sensible out of that tweet, you might come up with 'Dawkins believes that religion and science per the scientific method are largely (entirely?) incompatible, and thus 'faithful' people aren't likely to win prizes handed out for doing science'.  Given his disdain for all religions, I'm not sure he's even showing Islamophobia specifically here, but rather that he attacked Islam because it's an Islamic holiday, and had it been, say, Easter, he would have tweeted out an attack on Christianity instead.

    An interesting question, if someone despises all religions, do you attach multiple 'phobia' labels to them, one for each religion, or just come up with a single 'phobia' label?

    •  He does it because in a sense (0+ / 0-)

      someone has to stand up to and counter all the bigotry and vitriol against atheists.  Dawkins is the world's most prominent atheist and the hardcore theists would have killed him long except that in so doing they would be proving him right.

      Another thing a lot of anti-Dawkinsianism (as seen in the opening post) doesn't understand is that Dawkins has a lot more prominent supporters in the world of intellectuals and scientists and other elites than they imagine.  Dawkins is sort of the volunteer to direct the trench battles and argue with the mental unhealth that underpins a lot of religious absolutism.  The real stakes in this argument are not about whether religious metaphysical constructs are real or not, they are sanity vs insanity.  Which is always a very painful and high stakes argument but it is the great and serious distinction in human life.   In some ways it can be a very intellectual and sophisticated argument but at bottom it really isn't.  It's about moral and intellectual courage.

      In this generation in Western popular culture and politics (early 1990s-late 2010s) atheism is a marginal phenomenon with a small cultural and political movement largely made up of and sustained by disgruntled and controversial educated middle aged Western white men.  But that is also a description of the Beatnik movement around 1960- the atheist thing is probably likewise a decade from breakthrough.  And becoming an established mainstream stance within a generation.

  •  Dawkins misses the point. (3+ / 0-)

    It's not that Islam hasn't produced any prize-winners recently, it's that it oppresses people terribly.  And I'm against oppression.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 04:56:56 AM PDT

  •  Dawkins started a dialog (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fishtroller01

    which is better than having wars over religions. I think there is merit to what Dawkins is doing whether we agree with him or not. And the recent social media phonemenon makes such dialogs inescapable. I am fine with the arguments as long as we are civil and open minded...

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 05:41:40 AM PDT

  •  "Trinity College has won more than Mormons" (0+ / 0-)

    Lots of Mono here.

    "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

    by Utahrd on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 06:17:38 AM PDT

  •  People believe different things for different (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    reasons. The more abstract and cosmic the belief, the harder it is to discern that reason. I don't know if there really is such as thing as a New Athiest, as opposed to and Old Athiest.

    Most Athiest seem to be decent on a personal level. Then again, most Muslims seem to be decent on a personal level. Then again, most people seem to be decent on a personal level.

    It's when people start to get consumed with the power of their abstractions that oftern times things go wrong. (I have this idea, it's called Christianity / Athiesim / Capitalism / Communism / Basically Most-Isms) Human beings are abstract thinkers, can't help it, we always will be, and that's often to our advantage. But because we can think in the abstract, and recognize that others are doing the same, we can also inherently form tribes based on abstract notions.

    For the most part, our tribes of abstraction live together in relative peace. But there will always be those of any concievable tribe which bristle at the mere existence of another...and that's probably more a function of personality than belief set. Indeed, telling me someone is an athiest does little to inform me as to whether or not he is a social darwinist or a humanists, right wing or left wing, kind of sellfish, smart of dumb. Anymore than someone telling me they're a Muslim of or a Siek or a Jew.

    nevertheless, the super-tribalist among us do like to suggest that little oblique piece of information can some up everything about a person, just some of them argue telling me a person is black or asian is enough to know everything of consequence about them...or whether their North Korean or Asian.

    But when you're dealing with populations that number in the millions, any one single common identifier is of limited value when it comest to estimating personal traits, such morality. Frankly, there are too many athiest in the world for being an athiest to mean much of anything in itself at the personal level.

  •  Hold it just a second. (5+ / 0-)

    This diary is about Dawkins' sin of broad brushing Muslims and then this is including in the discussion...

    "The problem with the New Atheists is that they are atheists without being humanists. And the denigration of the humanistic values of pluralism, appreciation (rather than just tolerance), and the respect for the equal dignity of all are what make New Atheism as hostile, obsessive, and genuinely unpleasant as it so often is." (Suggestion here.. check out the charity work of the Dawkins Foundation).

    And this...."New Atheists , on the other hand, find common ground with the neo-cons and the xenophobes opposed to pluralism and mutual respect." Seriously?
    Could you provide us a list of all those who are members of the "New Atheists"?  

    Methinks you lost your own argument.

  •  religion, in general, is getting more obnoxious... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fishtroller01

    ...and so atheism, in reaction, is getting more obnoxious.

    I think the point Dawkins is trying to make is that Islam has done the Middle East no favors.   It used to be the centerpoint of most of the world's wisdom and a great innovator of thought.  Since Islam took hold, it's been falling behind the rest of the world.  A preoccupation with religion has been the reason.

    The same thing is happening in the United States with Christianity.  It's an uncomfortable fact, but it's true nonetheless.   And that frustrates many of us.   I live in Mississippi, and Southern Baptists have an obnoxious, hateful, repressive stranglehold on this place.

    I honestly don't care if someone has a religion or not.  If it makes you happy and gives you peace, you can believe anything you wish.   If worshiping Gamera the Flying Turtle makes someone have nicer behavior and gives them happiness, then I'll still privately think their belief is absurd but I'll be all for them having it and would never try to argue them out of it.

    The problem is, the people with the absurd beliefs want to make rules for the rest of us.

    And, as you said above, they want their beliefs "appreciated" rather than tolerated.  That's a little much to ask.  There's no reason I should appreciate anyone believing something silly.  I'll appreciate their behavior, and if that stems from a belief then that's cool... but I'd appreciate the behavior whether they held that belief or not.   Same with the misbehavior.

    Locally, we just had a board of aldermen -- right-wing Southern Baptists -- kick a woman out of her job with the Mayor's office because they "prayed about it" and "this is what the Lord wants me to do."   They gave no reasons why they fired her, because they couldn't - the woman's work has been so exemplary she's won state-wide awards for it.  The truth of it is, they fired her because she's a lesbian and lives with another woman.  That's what they "prayed" about and decided that's what "the Lord wants them to do."

    I don't for a second respect that Alderman's beliefs.  I respect his right to have those beliefs if he wishes... but the belief itself?  When it's made him do something unjust and backwards and wrong?  Hell no I don't respect his beliefs.  What's to respect?  He's used it to behave like an asshole and make himself into a "proxy-God" who wrongs others, based on some bullshit about doing "the Lord's will."   Tolerance is all that man's entitled to, and tolerance is more than he's shown for others.

    Atheism is growing more obnoxious in general. I'm an atheist and I'll admit that.   But religion is also growing more obnoxious, so there's a reactive push-back.  It doesn't mean it's a good thing for atheists to be doing, but I understand where it's coming from.   And if you want to be humanist, you'll have to understand that, most of the time, humans react to stimuli.  Occasionally I get fed up and I react myself.  Not good, perhaps, but it happens.  Hit and I'll hit back.  

    That said, Dawkins can be a fun read but he's never been my chosen representative.

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 07:46:40 AM PDT

    •  For what it's worth, this Southern Baptist... (0+ / 0-)

      ...is in complete agreement with you on those points.

      As soon as it turns into imposition of beliefs on others or the use of government power to implement such things, well, that actually goes against what Christ taught.

      Your aldermen should be taken to court, and that woman should get her job back, plus back pay and damages.

      To borrow your phrase - folks like that have never been my chosen representatives.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 11:07:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Twitter isn't news ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    ... and certainly not a deeper commentary on atheism than the latest book release by Thomas Mates.

  •  It's surprising to hear this from Dawkins, but... (2+ / 0-)

    in his defense (yes, I will defend him, so if you don't like it don't read it), this is not the first time that scholars have noted a disparity between scientific and technological progress in Western and Middle Eastern societies, particularly in strict Muslim societies. There does appear to have been a shift in the Middle Ages where an earlier spirit of inquiry and dissent was discouraged as the wealth and power of the Caliphate grew. While Western countries developed a distinction between temporal and spiritual leaders (church and state), such a distinction was discouraged by the dominant interpretations of Islam. Strict religious leaders, who often had the power of kings, were not keen to allow challenges to their authority or their viewpoints. Deviation from orthodox practices, including minor things, like the exact manner in which prayers are said, were often heavily cracked down upon. The derisive term for such perceived heresy was often translated as "innovation." So, in a religious context, innovation was seen as bad, and perhaps this has translated into thinking that other types of innovation are suspect as well.

    Despite a relative large number of people with PhD's and other advanced degrees in many parts of the Middle East, the number of patents and technological breakthroughs seems quite low compared to the West. Technology based start-up companies do not seem to flourish in the Middle East. Yet, when many of the same people come to the West, they are often very successful. So, there may be a number of cultural, political, and perhaps religious influences that could hold back some scientific progress from taking root in the Middle East. But, it is obviously a complex picture, where all the blame cannot be laid at the feet of Islam.

    Don't get me wrong, though. I agree with Dawkins about the generally pernicious effect of many religions. If I had to pick some of the most pernicious religions, I would put Islam up there with Scientology and Mormonism as some of the most destructive religions yet created. But, I realize for people born into such religions that any attack on the merits of their religion will be interpreted as a mere personal insult on them. So, I don't think making such statements is an effective way to get people to question and change problematic aspects of their belief systems. However, at least in the West we can question beliefs without being murdered for it. Many Muslims would happily murder anyone criticizing Islam and have a serenely clear conscience about it. That is a problem, no matter how politically correct and tolerant we try to act about it.

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:28:34 AM PDT

  •  Ah no. It might be nice, but Atheism is.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fishtroller01

    ... the school of those who realize religion and belief in a supreme being, etc is all a total crock of shit, and frankly those who do "believe" such nonsense are literally idiots.

    There is NO moral equivalency to "I believe in no god" and you "believe in god".

    One is a reasoned scientific conclusion based on fact and observation, the other is an utterly unrealistic fantasy based on superstition, lies, falsehoods, fairy tales, and propaganda by others with agenda's to control and misinform for money and power.

    There is literally NO DIFFERENCE in "believing" in God, and "believing" the Earth is flat and 6,000 years old.

    To assert that someone holding that there is no god and no religion, has to also be "HUMANIST" and oh so understanding of those self-deluded, in order to be correct.... is itself idiocy.

    I don't HAVE to like you, I don't HAVE to respect you and your fantasy and superstitions.... that has nothing to do with the validity or insanity of your positions and beliefs.

    The definition of Atheist does NOT include, oh, and be nice to the poor deluded fools who "believe" in fairy tales. Sorry.

    As for Dawkin's Islamic slamming, I read it as more a criticism of the lack by Islamic SOCIETY and GOVERNMENT to be involved in the science and research efforts of man kind, and contribute to knowledge and understanding of the real world.

    For a time long ago, there had been great efforts in science and mathematics in the Muslim world, and then the efforts, for whatever reasons, all but evaporated for the last few hundred years.

    It is just an observation, and to the extent is points a finger of blame, that blame is aimed at the society which is clearly not investing (or allowing to be invested) the resources in science and research. I think Dawkin's was above all pointing a finger to that reality.... tangible measurable reality. And rhetorically asking, gee why is that?

    2 Nobel's for science in 100+ yrs, and even they were working on projects from the secular democratic governments of the US/EU in concert with Universities.

    I think Dawkins has a point in effectively condemning those who openly claim and espouse the great scientific advances and accomplishments of Muslims, and the vast number of Muslim people's on Earth.... and yet no list-able accomplishments have come from any of the modern Islamic societies in centuries. One has to wonder, why?

    Perhaps, Houston, Islam has a problem with science. Maybe the drive to go back to the 8th century is simply incompatible with scientific accomplishments.

    I have no doubt I'll now be hit-rated for merely questioning the clearly questionable, because it isn't politically correct. Oh well.

    •  WTF....???!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg

      And I think this exact rant of multiple fallacies and barely implicit Islamophobia now presenting itself through many ''New Atheists," whatever the hey that terminology implies, is what this diary was getting it; proving thus atheism is no more or less susceptible to bigotry or inconsistent, contradictory platitudes or stated dogma as the religious.

      Maybe the fact more Middle Eastern ''development'' or Islamic individuals being granted the Nobel Prize has to do with the historic Eurocentrism and Western World exceptionalism inherent in a great deal of these awards, period.  From everything I can tell not as many Africans, Asians, Poor/Working Class members, Women, LGBT folks or non-Christians of any faith or non-belief have been awarded the prize that much, at least in proportion to their global populations. There's no need to make specific scapegoats regarding the intelligence, capabilities or inherent ''wrongness'' of any of them frankly; I'm sure they can make some convincing retaliation arguments to this nonsense if given the chance.

      "Life is indeed a mystery; everyone must stand alone....Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to get through this thing called life!"

      by Politikator09 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 10:37:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of the problems with this "Nobel Prize... (0+ / 0-)

    Argument," and Dawkins is hardly the first non-Muslim to use it, is that it's irrelevant to the lives of the vast majority of Muslims.  Muslims have a far different priority in mind than simply to win Nobel Prizes, Olympic medals, or most other types of awards.  We celebrate the achievements of those who do win awards, but that doesn't mean that we're focused on trying to win the awards as well.  As I said, we have different priorities and, insha'allah, we'll receive what we desire in the future.

    Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

    by JDsg on Sat Aug 10, 2013 at 12:28:32 AM PDT

  •  Richard Dawkins' only mistake here was (0+ / 0-)

    in trying to distill a complex argument down to a 140 character medium.  His longer-winded version of the argument posted o his website was far better.  Trying to express arguments in Twitter is a terrible idea.  People who claim Twitter's character limit forces people to be more clear and precise in their speech get it completely wrong.

    What the character limit actually does is tilt the playing field in favor of those who's arguments are simplistic enough that 140 characters isn't really imposing any hindrance upon them.

    Twitter is only good for quick sound-bite arguments, not rational thought-out ones.  Trying to express a rational though-out argument via twitter just strips out critical parts of it and gives free ammunition to those who have an ulterior motive to deliberately twist what you meant.  It's easy for people to do that when the medium doesn't allow you to state what you really meant in exact detail.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site