Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris & Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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A Celebration of Reason – 2012 Global Atheist Convention
13-15th April – Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre
Presented by the Atheist Foundation of Australia


A Celebration of Reason – 2012 Global Atheist Convention
13-15th April – Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre
Presented by the Atheist Foundation of Australia

http://atheistconvention.org.au
http://atheistfoundation.org.au

Written By: Atheist Foundation of Australia
continue to source article at youtube.com

55 COMMENTS

  1. Near the end of this video Sam Harris suggests that science can provide nothing to adequately fill the “*Santa Claus shaped hole*” in a former believer’s life.

    Oddly enough the answer, a jolly Daniel Dennett, was sitting right next to him. 

     

  2. Working as a math teacher I made no bones about my lack of belief, whenever the topic came up. This got me invited to a church service about religion/atheism by the pastor (the father of one of the students).
    I gave a talk about misconceptions of atheism, about replacing myth wth reality (cosmology, biology) and about ethical progress (antiracism, feminism, acceptance of gays, human rights) having purely secular roots. I emphasized commonalities and was quite successful because I didn’t challenge the beliefs of the (mostly elder) believers.
    At lunch, after the event, I made sure I was sitting with the young members of the congregation and they pestered me with questions. That was the perfect time to point out the ridiculousness of their belief system. I’m quite sure, some of them will start thinking.

  3. I’m surprised Sam Harris didn’t remind the audience that moderate believers are the power base and the passive support of all fundamentalisms. The problem with religion is not extremism ; the problem is religion itself.

  4. Richard wondered why religions seem to flourish by making life harder for their followers. What springs into my mind is: Zahavi’s handicap theory. If you florish despite your religion you must have really good (genetic) properties which makes you attractive to possible mates.

  5. I thought the initial conversation about Islam and FGM was pretty weak. Are there really a lot of liberals out there who defend FGM in the name of multiculteralism? I haven’t met them or heard from them. Of course its always possible to find some fringe people especially in Academia who will say crazy things, I know Harris has quoted a few in his books, but to pretend that there is some major issue, as if liberals everywhere were defending FGM seems to be knocking down a straw man to me. Also, when we talk about things like Islamophobia its wrong to pretend that all instances where people are concerned about it are groundless.  At least in the US there is a huge and well funded network dedicated to putting out lies about Muslims and Islam. The manufactured controversy over the “ground zero mosque” is a good example. 

  6. I’m not gambling with the position of RD’s remarkable head by suggesting that Islam is slightly overrated as a belief system and positive force in this world, am I? I do want it to remain on his shoulder’s you see.

  7. About whether western liberals should single out Islam for special treatment, what would a Martian observe if measuring the violence metered out by west on Islam, compared with the violence of Islam on the west?

    The west has got the military budgets, the hardware, the invasions, the occupations, the bases, the drones, the history of torture, the frequent violations of sovereignty, and overwhelmingly higher death tolls (versus the Islam’s puny home-made IEDs, etc). 
    Blame & criticism should be levied in proportion to the violence inflicted. If Muslims commit 50% of the violence, they should get 50% of the criticism. If 90%, then 90%, if 10%, then 10%

    In this light, should western liberals spend all their time criticising Islam? They spoke out about the war in Iraq in 2003 and were totally ignored by their governments (& opposition parties). So what chance have they got in influencing policy in other countries if they can’t even influence policy in their own country?

    I don’t think it should be one or the other, but both western and non-western practices that come under criticism.

     

  8. Exactly. In fact if you go back in time a bit the left has always been at least as critical of Islam as the right. It was the right wing that encouraged Islam as a defense against godless communism. The CIA helped groups like the Muslim brotherhood and Al Queda get started.  The mysogynistic policies of such groups are much more consistent with the women hating policies of the right then the left. One day I would love to hear Harris talk about all the laws being passed in the US to restrict the rights of women.

  9. Just a comment on the “lazy” characterization of the religious.  I see it more as comfort and complacency in life in general.  Those folks who live fairly comfortable lives and don’t really have to think for themselves because they have a decent place to live, decent food on their tables, decent clothes on their backs…all they want from life is “happiness” and a sense of belonging and to know that they will go on forever and ever (amen).  I don’t think we can discount the lure and draw of “Eternal Life”, the promise that all of your dead relatives (just our favourite ones, I guess…we don’t really want to see Crazy Uncle Earl again, do we?) will be waiting in warmth and a glow of love when you pass on…in my experience, most people REALLY like that mythology, enough to convince themselves that they “believe” it.

    What do we do about those people who are just too comfortable, complacent and intellectually “lazy” to want to bother to change from a religious perspective to a rational one?  There really are people who are not curious at all, who “like church” and aren’t interested in having their minds changed.  They don’t read non-fiction.  They don’t read fiction–or they don’t read fiction that is too “hard” or “long” or books that “make them think” (?!).  They aren’t interested in scientific TV shows or documentaries.  To me, it’s distressing how many “normal”, everyday people I come across that say things like; “I don’t want to think that hard in my free time…lol, hahaha…”. 

    Now, these are what I’d call “benign” Theists…their views are usually socially progressive, they have a “live and let live” philosophy of life…but aren’t these folks the people we should be engaging? What do we as rational, intellectually curious people, DO with folks like that?  Personally, I’m a non-confrontational kind of girl and I don’t want to risk alienating friends, aquaintances, neighbours or other “school Moms” by being too strident in my approach.

  10. At apx. minute 36 Richard starts asking what makes a suicide bomber.  If he is going to ask such questions he should pay attention to the actual research people have done. Robert Papes has done extensive research on this. Can’t figure out how to make a link here, I’ll just insert the URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…  He found that unlike what we might imagine the best predictor for terrorism had nothing to do with religion. The best predictor for what makes terrorists based on the extensive database he created was when a large power like the US inserts troops on the ground into a smaller country. When Papes talked with actual Islamic terrorists they didn’t say that they did it for the glory of God. They talked about various things they experienced or heard about where civilians were killed, injured, and raped by foreign troops in their county. I agree that religion can be a great catalyst in helping people do irrational things but its not supported by the data to claim that it is the only or even the primary motivator for suicide terrorism.

  11. Sorry to take issue with you here Red Dog, but I don’t believe anyone is saying that religion is the only or even the prime motivator for suicide bombers. What is clear is that Islam allows the potential terrorist to overcome the 2 major fears on his/her path to destruction: Fear of dying (paradise loves jihadis), and fear of the family being shamed (families of suicide bombers are invariably treated like heroes in the local community). Islam thus provides an invincible cloak of glory to the budding killer, and all that is then needed is a cause.

    Pape is probably correct in stating that reducing the presence of foreign troops where they are not wanted would reduce the number of suicide attacks, but this is missing the point by a country mile. Islam is the “petri dish” which allows poisonous ideas to grow and flourish. Aside from it’s cloak of glory, Islam encourages thinking like the oppressed underdog, the them-and-us mentality, the honour of righteousness, the virtue of being deceptive in the face of the non-believer, the moral depravity of the imperialist West, but these things will never show up in the bomber’s Facebook motivational poster collection. Injustice, whether real or perceived will always be top of the list of reasons for any jihadi, but you can bet your bottom dollar that while he is pressing the detonator, he’ll be shouting “Allahu Akhbar” because he will have the full support of Allah in his endeavour, allah will provide a harem of virgins to deflower, allah will look after his family when he’s gone, and he will be a hero in his community and among his peers.

    It appears Pape is respected in his field, but his kind of accommodationism is weak, shallow and worrying. To illustrate this, when asked what drove him to kill so many people, Anders Behring Breivik invoked the threat of Islam to Norway and the Western world and gave a list of reasons justifying the killing of so many innocents. While he believes his reasons are valid, and that he was saving the Christian West against the muslim hordes, any sane person recognises that Breivik was a delusional, psychotic sociopath with a crusade fetish. Breivik himself would never list these diagnoses – he considers his mental state to be normal and not deluded at all, but this psychiatric “petri dish” that allowed Breivik’s ideas to grow and flourish will be studied by shrinks for years to come. I contend that the “petri dish” effect allowed Breivik to don a cloak of invincibility in the same way that Islam allows and encourages its followers to deliberately murder, maim and torture innocent people.

    It is time that influential people like Pape put more than one question on their why-are-you-a-suicide-terrorist questionnaire and looked under the surface at what drives this kind of action.

    Al

  12. “but I don’t believe anyone is saying that religion is the only or even the prime motivator for suicide bombers.”

    At minute 36 Dawkins asks the question “what makes a suicide bomber” He is a well respected scientist and normally I have great respect for everything he does. But he should show the same integrity here as he would on any other subject. All he does to answer the question is make anecdotal arguments. “it seems to me” “once you get a kid in a madrassa…” with absolutely no data at all to support his hypothesis. If a biologist did this regarding evolution Dawkins would rightly call him on it. 

    And there IS evidence and it REFUTES what he was saying. I’m not saying that Papes work is definitive. Perhaps he is wrong and Dawkins is right but Dawkins should look at research done by Papes and others if he wants to continue to discuss this topic. 

    “It appears Pape is respected in his field, but his kind of accommodationism is weak, shallow and worrying.”

    Listen to yourself. Is that your idea of critical thinking? Essentially what you are saying is that you can’t refute what Papes says but you still don’t like his conclusions so you will dismiss him by calling him names “accommodationism is weak, shallow”. The whole point of critical thinking is you challenge your own beliefs. As atheists we are predisposed to believe negative things about religion. Hence we are especially responsible to examine the data that exists and see if it supports our preconceived notions about the bad effects of religion and in the case of suicide terrorism there are other major factors besides religion that Dawkins, Harris, and the rest are ignoring. 

  13. Survivors of the great plagues and the rheydeyheyshen’ sickness discover the remnants of various books written in an archaic language and of unknown authorship .  The books tell of a supernatural saviour who seeks to rid the world of evil.  These books are hailed as the true word of God.  In diverse places, the books are read slightly differently: experts argue as to how they should be interpreted.  Fighting breaks out amongst those who can’t confine their disagreement to civil discussion.  Schisms develop.  People die for their belief; people kill for it.  The books answer many of the questions people have about life.  Other books are forbidden on pain of death.  The civilised world worships the saviour:  Our Lady Nancy Drew – Peace be upon Her.  

  14. “So, with that said, there is a clear logical path from “Kill the infidel” to “suicide bomb”.
    There really is no argument that can discount that axiom.”
    The whole point of critical thinking is you rely on facts and theories not simply on logical arguments divorced from the real world. A lot of things that seem inherently logically true turn out not to be so. And I’m not saying that there is no connection between religion and suicide bombers. What I’m saying is that we should apply the same standards of evidence based reasoning and keeping an open mind to this topic as to any other topic. And when we do that there is significant evidence that religion is not the only reason and probably not the main reason that people become suicide bombers. Did you look at the Pape video below? His arguments and data are convincing and if you don’t agree you should address them not simply state that what you believe is an axiom that is beyond argument. 

  15.  What Richard Dawkins said about degrees of religion is right. As a atheist, when I look at mainstream Christianity as practiced in Britain I regard its operations as benevolent in the main. But when I look at the poison of Islam, especially radical Islam, I regard it with horror and revulsion and long to combat it with all my power. It is absurd and stupid to put all religion in the same basket. Christianity has one great merit compared to Islam; it has always had a critical self-questioning culture which has rid it of most of its past follies. Nothing of the sort exists in Islam. It is a belief system in need of a total overhaul to bring it into the 21st century from its  present medieval beliefs.

  16.  It has everything to do with religious belief, i.e. Islam. Have you ever heard of a Buddhist suicide bomber? Or a Catholic suicide bomber? Or a Hindu suicide bomber?
    Come on my friend, get real.

  17. Of course Islam should be singled out as the nastiest manifestation of religious irrationality in the world today. Look at the attacks on churches in Nigeria and Indonesia (not to mention Pakistan and Iraq). Try being a free woman in any muslim country. My partner comes from Iran, she’ll tell you all about it. You no doubt think that its OK for muslims in Africa to mutilate their daughters’ genitals. Well, if you really think that you sicken me.

  18.  “Have you ever heard of a Buddhist suicide bomber?” 

    Yes. The Bushido version of Buddhism was part of the dogma of every Japanese soldier in WWII. There are countless examples of Japanese soldiers who were or pretended to be wounded and blew themselves up when Americans were near. Not to mention the Kamikaze pilots who flew their suicide bombs into American ships.

    Oh and by the way the largest perpetrator of suicidal terrorism between 1980 and 2003 and the group that literally invented the “suicide vest” was the Tamil Tigers, a Marxist, Atheist group from Sri Lanka, not a Muslim nation. This is documented in Table 1 of Robert Pape’s book Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.

  19. Also, the Tamil Tigers formed in reaction to the Sri Lankan law change, regarding the language spoken in schools. This wasn’t ideal for the Tamil people, who lived in rural areas, in the outskirts of Sri Lanka.

    You might as well call them secular, rather than atheists. I don’t see how them being atheists really had anything to do with their ideology. They were rebelling against a law they saw as unfair. They weren’t bombing in the name of atheism.

    There is a huge difference, but only to those willing to accept that not everything is so simple.

    Islamic suicide bombers are definitely doing the bombing because of their religion and what it prescribes. The Tamil tigers, on the other hand, are responding to a political ideology, which they disagree with. The fact that they might be atheists has little to do with anything, consider they were not defending their actions with atheistic ideology.

    They were also Sri Lankans, do we consider them to be murdering in the name of Sri Lanka? Just because they are Sri Lankans? How about the fact that they are humans and probably humanists, even moralists, does that mean they were bombing because of that ideology?

    No, we blame the ideology that says “go bomb”, not the incidental fact that they were atheists.

    Not to mention, everyone is an atheist in regards to one god or another. Hell, by that standard the pope is an atheist and does what he does based on his atheism…

    No, the pope does what he does based on his religious ideology, which is explicit in it’s bigotry, hate and commandments to do wicked, vile, murderous acts.

  20.  “You’re trying to say that “No, no, no, it’s political, economical and
    ecological problems (no doubt created by Americans) that make these
    people behave like this. This is a fallacy and I could point to many
    places on Earth where those things are present and they aren’t producing
    suicide bombers.”

    That is one of Sam Harris’s favorite arguments: “where are the Tibet suicide bombers?” Actually Prof. Pape has a response to this. His theory is not that its just political repression that causes terrorism but a very specific kind, when a democratic power has troops occupying another weaker nation. That explains why there are no Tibetan terrorists. The leaders of China (and just about any non-democratic country) aren’t going to for a minute change their policies because of some dead civilians. It is democracies that are most vulnerable to terrorism because they are responsive to the opinions of the people. And the data are a remarkably good fit to his theory.   The best predictor of whether there will be terrorism is if a democracy has occupation troops, not whether the potential terrorist is Islamic or Atheist or whatever.

    You seem to be under the impression that I’m somehow supporting Islam or terrorists over the US. That is not the case. I don’t like Islam either. I just don’t want my preconceptions and biases to get in the way of rational thought. And explaining the motives for a crime does not justify the crime. This was something that anyone who tried to have a rational discussion about 9/11 still has to deal with, if you try to explain the rational for the attack you are immediately branded as a terrorist apologist which is nonsense.

  21.  “Islamic suicide bombers are definitely doing the bombing because of
    their religion and what it prescribes. The Tamil tigers, on the other
    hand, are responding to a political ideology”

    So when a Muslim commits a suicide attack it is because they are driven by their religion. When an Atheist does so however it is for political reasons. Doesn’t that strike you as a inconsistent, and far too convenient for atheists? Another theory that is far more consistent is Pape’s hypothesis that in both cases political motives (resisting the occupying army of a democracy) is the main motivator.  (BTW, Pape also includes religion as a secondary driver, something that helps make conflicts more extreme).

  22. “The Tamil tigers is the best you can come up with and they are nothing like actual atheists.”

    I see.  And if I give you another group I’m sure they won’t be real atheists either. Its so ironic because I’ve literally had this same argument almost word for word with Christians and Muslims:

    “Al Queda aren’t real muslims! Islam is really peaceful and can never justify attacks on civilians”

    “The Inquisition wasn’t done by Christians. Christianity is all about love the Catholic church at that time weren’t really Christians”

  23. “Your argument boils down to “they had no other choice, we were occupying their land”

    Well I’ve already tried to say this once but I will try one more time. I am absolutely not saying that. Explaining why someone committed a crime is not the same thing as providing a moral justification for that crime. I don’t endorse violence anytime as a solution to political problems. However I am consistent. I think its as wrong for the US to kill civilians in Iraq as it is for Al Queda to kill them in the US. 

  24. “If you don’t let your preconceptions and bias get in the way of rational thought, then why haven’t you ONCE addressed my point about their holy text saying “Kill yourself for the faith”.

    I have read the Koran. It does not say “kill yourself for the faith”. It does provide passages that endorse violence and can easily be interpreted to support violence against non-believers as does the old testament and new testament. (I admit Harris is correct there is more violence in the Koran)

    Now you say that atheists (The Tamil Tigers) unlike Muslims are not motivated by their beliefs to kill. I’ve also read Marx and Lenin as well. Lenin especially did and justified some pretty violent stuff.  And most theists would claim that the emptiness and nihlism of atheism lead to saying “the ends justify the means”. 

    The question of what motivates a person who commits a crime is complex. I tend to avoid such discussions because in my opinion they tend to quickly veer off from what could be called a scientific discussion into people just spouting their opinions. Psychology is one of the most immature of the sciences and yet ironically historians, pundits, etc. feel quite secure in making all sorts of statements about why someone does something when they would never venture to explain the path a cannon ball takes even though that is a problem that has a definite mathematical answer. 

    However, we do have some data. The book I mentioned earlier by Robert Pape Dying to Win The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism and the Youtube talk I linked to.  For that book he interviewed actual terrorists and just asked them “why do you do what you do?”  None of them said “to kill the infidel” All of them talked about how their friends and family had been killed, tortured, or raped by the US. 

    And I will say for the third time, when I mention that I’m not justifying them or saying they were right to do what they did. I’m just trying to give the best explanation for why they did it. 

  25. When an atheist toddler hits another atheist toddler, is it an atheist on atheist crime?

    In other words, Tamil tigers were not ‘The atheists’ that we refer to as actual atheists. AND AGAIN, THEY WERE NOT DOING THEIR DEEDS IN THE NAME OF ATHEISM.

    Saying they were atheists says almost nothing about their ideology. It simply eliminates one worldview. Just because it’s so commonly adopted doesn’t mean it is really that important. Anyone can discount religion. They have an entire arena of ideas to chose from aside from discounting theology.

    Those people HAPPENED to be atheists. There is a huge difference. Again, I asked you for the document that said to attack and bomb in the rationale and for the ideology of atheism and spreading atheism.

    Okay, then your example is a false equivalent. They are not equal.

    I doubt “death to America” is in the Quran, either. Does that mean that they don’t believe it?

    The motivation for violence against other people more often than not is a religious motivation. That much is completely evident.

    A study I glanced at today found that countries whose majority religion was that of a vengeful and hateful god were dominantly rife with crime, poverty, war, etc. compared to countries with a majority benign god.

    It’s really no wonder to any seriously thinking person that Islam is violent and is the cause of much violence and certainly is the prime mover of suicide bombing and just violence against other groups in general. They are the most hateful people on Earth. Demonstrably.

  26. “And your argument really, really, really does only boil down to “they had no choice, was our fault”. I could get it even shorter if I tried. I’m paraphrasing, it’s useful. Do you seriously think you’re the only person I’m debating right now?”

    I apologize. I had no idea you were debating other people as well. I’m honored that you devoted so many words to reply to me. I’m not going to respond to any more of your comments on this topic though. Its obvious we just aren’t communicating. I admit I have repeated myself but only because it seemed to me that you never got the points I was making the first time.

    I would like to end on a meta point about rationality and debate in general. My philosophy is that I need to be especially critical of my own beliefs. So I will work extra hard to see the point of view of a theist. If someone criticizes US foreign policy I pay more attention to that criticism then to criticism of other countries. Contrary to the standard propaganda its not because I “hate America” or because I’m an “accomodationist”. Its because I understand that humans are great at rationalization and self deception and I want to find the truth no matter whether its comfortable for me or not. Hence, I should be most critical of ideas that reinforce what I already believe. In fact its because I actually love America that I criticize it. I believe this country has, in spite of many mistakes, set an example for ethical behavior among nations in the past. I want us to return to that. 

  27. >[Christianity] has always had a critical self-questioning culture

    This weird thing Christianity has about gays has only the feeblest biblical justification, but it has become the lynchpin of the faith.  It is the most important belief. The Quakers questioned this back in the 1960s, but for the rest of Christendom, it is stronger than ever.  It is going way off the deep end in Africa. 

    The Bible is more clearly full of error than the Qu’ran which is more poetic and refrains from discussing scientific matters.  This is part of why fundamentalism in Islam is more robust. Also people get a broader secular education in Christian countries. I think you will find education creates cracks in Islam too.

    The cheap eBook reader will be the undoing of religion.  It will give everyone access to pretty well everything there is to read.  Religion works by keeping people in the dark.

  28.  Islam cannot be reformed.

    Christianity has it’s basis in the example of the Christ, who’s message was fundamentally one of love and forgiveness. Islam on the other hand has as it’s guiding example, a megalomaniacal, totalitarian, massmurdering, theif, robber, rapist, misogynistic pedophile in the form of Muhammad.

    The people themselves can transformed of course, as anybody can alter their belief systems, but the Islamic theopolitical ideology itself, is abhorrent.

  29. I must disagree with Dennett on the issue of religion changing more over the next 20 years than it has in its past. The major tenets of Islam, for instance, have not changed in the last 1,400 years and will likely remain the same for the next thousand. However, the proportion of its followers who can be coerced into submission long enough or well enough to guarantee “permanent damage” might reduce over the next 20 years. Having said that, the kind of religious extremism possible and seen even today is incomparable to anything in its past and this can only be exacerbated by technological progress in the near future.

  30. I don’t think RD is suggesting that a person’s faith or their life situation is a direct predictor of terrorism; of cousre many factors can play a role.  I think he was trying to point out that while we may be upset about our real world circumstances, (occupied, raped etc.), that a person’s actual literal & true belief in a divine promise of life after death – and a glorious one at that – is a potentially more dangerous combination than if one or the other were not present.  That is an important distinction.  There are plenty of followers of Islam, the majority in fact I expect, who wouldn’t even think about blowing themselves up because someone is occupying their country or even because some occupier raped their mother.  It’s the hardcore literal fundamentalists that RD is talking about who wouldn’t even arrive at this conclusion if it weren’t for the promise of greater glory, if not simple revenge, in death. 

  31. I taught Biology and English in a Thai Catholic school for a year. I did away with the lessons on the digestive system and taught Evolutionary Biology instead. The kids loved it. One asked me one day, “How does Darwin explain the Garden of Eden?”, to which I replied “He doesn’t”. Next week that kid was carrying the God Delusion around school in the ultimate display of rebellion, a week later there was another with “The Ancestor Tale”. Religious schools are a great place to spread reason, it appeals with the students desire for non conformity :)

  32. From the first part of the discussion, can any one tell me about non muslim liberals that defend genital mutilation? The whole panel was condemning these people. But I cant think of a single person that was not a muslim that I have ever heard defending genital mutilation with “dont judge some one else’s culture” argument.
    But maybe its just in the UK? Or maybe I’m just not well-read enough?

  33. Problem is, congregations are not going to subject their pastors to any sort of vetting, not in Texas Baptistland anyway, unless they commit some sort of blatant sexual “transgression” or get a divorce.

  34. ‘Atheist toddler’? Don’t let Richard catch you using that phrase. Branding a child who is too young to decide for itself what it believes an ‘atheist’ is disgusting. Imagine if someone refered to a ‘Christian’ child hitiing another ‘Christian’ child. Vile. As for your assertion that the majority of violence is caused by religion could you explain what religion had to do with WW1? With WW2? If Harris’s ‘End Of Faith’ had happened in 1913 would these wars not have been fought? If Dawkins had been announced ruler of the world and every believer bacame an atheist before the Communist uprisings of this century would the 100,000,000 people killed by the communists in the last 100 years have been saved? War and gencocide would continue as usual tomorrow morning if the notion of god was wiped from the collective human mind tonight. Human beings are capable of committing evil acts in the name of religion but also in the name of nationalism, tribalism, as well as explicitly anti-religious ideologies like communism.

  35. Sorry I hit like when I ment to reply. 

    1.  Almost all religions are anti gay in most of their cults.  In Africa, Islam, Christianity, and Catholisum have all advocate for the human sacrifice of gay people.  I guess like the inquistion, they will shed no blood but let the secualr authorities carry out the killing, but is is still done in the name of god. 
    2.  Papal infalibility is not part of a critial self-questioning culture nor did Luther, Calvin, or Knox on the Protestant side take to critical thinking.

    3.  If the Bible is bs the Quran is equally so.  While both books contain some good advice they are both full of it in terms of just simple arithmatic, yes I have read an offical Saudi translation.   

  36. Tell this to the millions dying from HIV infections because the example of Christ is not to have reported sex and therefore Catholic and Protestant dominated countries outlaw condoms, the christians let these people just get infected and die and use if for fundraising by taking care of them poorly in the last days of their lives.  Bullying people into having children that will ulimately with population explosion result in some of the nastiest wars and rationing the world will ever witness, where the heck is the love here?

  37. I don’t think you can blame most Liberals, we just don’t have the political juice anymore but there are a small group who when elected don’t want to do anything and they are the ones getting media coverage.  Most liberals I know, and I have been active in community organizing and politics, when female genital mutalation is explained are not in favor of it, it a subject many have never even heard of.  If I had not been on the board of a non profit with a anti-circumsion advocate several years ago, I would have just thought it was a little knick and a silly ritual while wondering what the fuss was.

  38. All the argument about whether Islam or any religion makes people undertake suicide missions, misses the point. Its not the particular religion, it’s faith, and that doesn’t motivate them to do the deed, it ENABLES them.
    Take the guys who flew the planes into the World Trade Center. No possible way would they have done that if they didn’t believe in an afterlife.
    Sometimes heroic non-beleivers may lay down their lives for others in the heat of battle. Those men planned their own inevitable deaths months in advance, in cold blood.
    Without belief in some sort Paradise, there would be no suicide bombers. It’s that simple.

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