Calm reflections after a storm in a teacup – Polish translation below

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You have surely heard something like the following two statements, often uttered with a measure of truculence:-

 1. “There are 1.6 billion Muslims, nearly a quarter of the world’s population, and we are growing fast.” There is even, sometimes, a hint of menace added. In the words of Houari Boumediene, President of Algeria, “Le ventre de nos femmes nous donnera la victoire” (the belly of our women will give us the victory).

2. “Islamic science deserves enormous respect.” There are two versions of this second claim, ranging from the pathetic desperation of “the Qu’ran anticipated modern science” (the embryo develops from a blob, mountains have roots that hold the earth in place, salt and fresh water don’t mix) to what is arguably quite a good historical point: “Muslim scholars kept the flame of Greek learning alight while Christendom wallowed in the Dark Ages.”


Putting these two claims together, you almost can’t help wondering something like this: “If you are so numerous, and if your science is so great, shouldn’t you be able to point to some pretty spectacular achievements emanating from among those vast numbers? If you can’t today but once could, what has gone wrong for the past 500 years? Whatever it is, is there something to be done about it?”

Twitter’s 140 character limit always presents a tough challenge, but I tried to rise to it. Nobel Prizes are a pretty widely quoted, if not ideal, barometer of excellence in science. I thought about comparing the numbers of Nobel Prizes won by Jews (more than 120) and Muslims (ten if you count Peace Prizes, half that if you don’t). This astonishing discrepancy is rendered the more dramatic when you consider the small size of the world’s Jewish population. However, I decided against tweeting that comparison because it might seem unduly provocative (many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews) and I sought a more neutral comparison as more suitable to the potentially inflammable medium of Twitter. It is a remarkable fact that one Cambridge college, Trinity, has 32 Nobel Prizes to its credit. That’s three times as many as the entire Muslim world even if you count Peace Prizes, six times as many if you don’t. I dramatised the poverty of Muslim scientific achievement, and the contrast with their achievements in earlier centuries, in the following brief tweet: “All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

And then the storm broke. About half the responses were supportive, and I am grateful for them but I’ll concentrate on the attacks because, obviously, they are the ones that need a response. Rather than quote particular tweets individually, I’ll condense families of attacks into generalised form:-

You’re a racist (actually usually written as “Your a racist”)

If you think Islam is a race, you are a racist yourself. The concept of race is controversial in biology, for complicated reasons. I could go into that, but I don’t need to here. It’s enough to say that if you can convert to something (or convert or apostatize out of it) it is not a race. If you are going to accuse me of racism, you’ll have to do a lot better than that. Islam is a religion and you can choose to leave it or join it.

But aren’t Jews a race? And you can convert to Judaism

Yes you can convert to Judaism and no, the Jews are not a race. You can argue about whether Judaism is a religion or a cultural tradition, but whatever else it is it is not a race. That was one of many things Hitler got wrong. But if you want to bring up the Jews, I’m happy to drop Trinity, Cambridge and give you the truly astonishing Nobel Prize figures for Jews. You’ll find it won’t bolster your apologetics.

Race is not a biological concept at all but a socially constructed one. In the sociological sense you can convert to a race because race is a social construction.

There may be sociologists who choose to redefine words to their own purpose, in which case we have a simple semantic disagreement. I have a right to choose to interpret “race” (and hence “racism”) according to the dictionary definition: “A limited group of people descended from a common ancestor”.  Sociologists are entitled to redefine words in technical senses that they find useful, but they are not entitled to impose their new definitions on those of us who prefer common or dictionary usage. You can define naked mole rats as termites if you wish (they have similar social systems) but don’t blame the rest of us if we prefer to call them mammals because they are close genetic cousins to non-social mole rats and other rodents.

OK, maybe you aren’t strictly a racist, but most Muslims have brown skins so you are in effect a racist

Incidentally, the reverse is not true: huge numbers of brown skinned people are Hindus or Sikhs or Buddhists. But in any case, I’m a lot less interested in skin colour than you seem to be. I don’t think skin colour has the slightest bearing on ability to win Nobel Prizes, whereas it is highly probable that childhood education in a particular religion does. Educational systems that teach boys only memorisation of one particular book, and teach girls nothing at all, are not calculated to breed success in science.

OK, you aren’t a racist at all, but you are a bigot, giving needless hurt and offence

How can the assertion of an undeniable fact be bigotry? Do you deny the fact that Trinity College has produced more Nobel prize-winners than all the billions of Muslims? Actually this raises the interesting question of whether, and under what circumstances, we should refrain from stating uncomfortable facts for fear of giving hurt and offence. I raised this question in a later tweet, out of genuine curiosity. The answers I got were all of the “white lie” form. You don’t go out of your way to tell people they are fat. You may even lie to cheer them up. Fair enough.

Well, quoting an undeniable fact may not be bigotry in itself but you left an offensive, though unstated, implication dangling on the end of the fact

You may be reading in an implication that I didn’t intend. Since (unlike many tweeters, apparently) I am firm about Islam being a religion and not a race, I certainly didn’t, and don’t, imply any innate inferiority of intellect in those people who happen to follow the Muslim religion. But I did intend to raise in people’s minds the question of whether the religion itself is inimical to scientific education. I don’t have the answer, but I think it is well worth asking the question. Has something gone wrong with education in the Islamic world, and is it a problem that Muslims themselves might wish to consider? Just to throw in a separate piece of information, colleagues lecturing to aspiring doctors in British universities inform me that Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution. And I have myself interviewed, for television, pupils and teachers at one of Britain’s leading Islamic secondary schools – one with impeccable Ofsted ratings – where I was informed by a teacher that literally all the pupils reject evolution.

Cambridge University, like other First World Institutions, has economic advantages denied to those countries where most Muslims live.

No doubt there is something in that. But . . . oil wealth? Might it be more equitably deployed amongst the populace of those countries that happen to sit on the accidental geological boon of oil. Is this an example of something that Muslims might consider to improve the education of their children?

Why pick on Muslims? You could arbitrarily pick on plenty of categories of people that have achieved far less than Trinity College, Cambridge

Again, fair point. Somebody mentioned redheads (neither he nor I have figures on redheaded scientific achievement but we get the point). I myself tweeted that Trinity Cambridge has more Nobel Prizes than any single country in the world except the USA, Britain (tautologically), Germany and France. You could well think there was something gratuitous in my picking on Muslims, were it not for the ubiquity of the two positive boasts with which I began. Redheads (and the other hypothetical categories we might mention) don’t boast of their large populations and don’t boast of their prowess in science.

Trinity College is a Christian foundation. Its full name is “the College of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity”.

Er, yes, that could be kind of the point. Christendom has moved on since 1546 when the college was founded. If Islam has not moved on during the same period, perhaps Muslims might consider asking why, and whether something could be done about it. That was sort of why I added the final sentence of my original tweet: “They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

Muslim scholars gave you algebra and alchemy

Thank you, I’ll take algebra. But alchemy? Are you sure you want to own alchemy? In any case, once again, a substantial half of my point was that Muslim scholars did indeed grace a golden age, so it is all the more poignant to ask what went wrong and what should be done about it.

How many Nobel Prizes has Richard Dawkins won?

This is getting silly, it really has the scent of desperation but it was tweeted remarkably often. I am one person, Muslims are 1.6 billion.

How many Nobel Prizes have been won by atheists?

Now that’s a really interesting question, one that I would sincerely love to see answered. I suspect that the truculence with which the question was posed might turn out to be misplaced – and that’s an understatement. Polls of the US National Academy of Sciences and of the Royal Society of London give almost identical results and suggest that an overwhelming majority of elite scientists (and a lesser majority of scientists as a whole) have no religious faith, although many might nominally be recorded as, say, baptised Christians or Bar-Mitzvahed Jews. I would love to see a well-conducted study of the beliefs of Nobel prizewinning scientists. My guess is that a large majority would self-describe as atheist or agnostic. And a further substantial number would say something like “I might characterise my awe at the universe as ‘spiritual’ but, like Einstein, I have no belief in a personal god and follow no religion.” I’d be very surprised if a single prize-winner were to say “I believe Jesus was born of a virgin and rose from the dead” or “I believe Mohammed rode through the sky on a winged horse”. But those are all conjectures and I would love to see the research done.

Henry Kissinger won a Nobel Prize. That just shows how worthless they are.

That was a Peace prize, and the Peace prize does have a rather more controversial reputation. Mother Teresa won it, after all, and said in her acceptance speech that abortion was the “greatest destroyer of peace in the world”. I’d be happy to subtract the Peace prizes. Trinity would lose only one of its 32 and Muslims would lose fully half their tally. Because of the second of the two boasts that I mentioned at the outset, I was in any case primarily interested in scientific achievement. If we count only science prizes, discounting Economics, Literature and Peace, Trinity’s count drops to 27 and the Muslim count drops to two (and even that includes the great theoretical physicist Abdus Salam, who left Pakistan in 1974 in protest at his particular version of Islam being declared “non-Islamic” by its parliament). Bizarrely, some counts of Muslim scientific Nobelists are boosted by inclusion of that quintessential Englishman Sir Peter Medawar (born in Brazil, his father was Lebanese, a Maronite Christian).

Your a dick.
I’m an athiest but you make me ashamed to be an athiest.
Your a disgusting piece of shit

Oh dear, you’ve got me there. Devastating arguments, no come-back.


Chłodne refleksje po burzy w szklance wody

Autor tekstu: Richard Dawkins
Tłumaczenie: Małgorzata Koraszewska

Z pewnością słyszeliście wersje następujących dwóch zdań, wypowiadanych często z dawką buńczuczności:

1. „Jest 1,6 miliarda muzułmanów, niemal jedna czwarta populacji świata i szybko powiększamy się". Czasami jest w tym nawet odcień groźby. Słowami Houariego Boumediene’a, prezydenta Algierii: "Le ventre de nos femmes nous donnera la victoire"(brzuchy naszych kobiet dadzą nam zwycięstwo).

2. „Nauka islamska zasługuje na olbrzymi szacunek". Istnieją dwie wersje tego drugiego twierdzenia, od żałosnej desperacji w „Koran antycypował nowoczesną naukę" (zarodek rozwija się z kropli, góry mają korzenie, które utrzymują ziemię w miejscu, woda słona i słodka nie mieszają się) do tego, co jest całkiem poprawne historycznie: „Uczeni muzułmańscy utrzymywali przy życiu płomień nauki greckiej w czasach, kiedy chrześcijaństwo pławiło się w mrokach Średniowiecza".

. . .

Czytaj dalej

Written By: Richard Dawkins
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402 COMMENTS

  1. Dear oh dear, Richard, you make a reasonable comment about a religion and what happens?

    It just shows how important it is to question religion(s), regardless of the usual cries of victimisation and worse.

    Your question has long intrigued me and the answer may also explain why Islam does not seem to have modernised at all unlike some other religions.

  2. Well said Professor. Shame you had to waste time responding to such nonsense when you could be laying into the latest rubbish that Ray Comfort is promoting.

  3. Richard, I’m delighted you’ve given this detailed explanation of the point you were trying to make, because it’s exactly how I interpreted your Tweet. You were obviously reacting to the claims that are often made about Islam being so enlightening.

    It’s a shame so many intelligent people didn’t grasp that. So many people still confuse religion with race, and they also have great difficulty in understanding what “Muslim” means.

    Some journalists (such as Tom Chivers of the Telegraph) said they had no problem with you criticising Islam, but they didn’t like you mocking Muslims.

    It was obvious to me that your statement that Muslims have won so few Nobel Prizes was an inditement of the Islamic upbringing and education they received (what else could it possibly be an attack against?), and not a personal attack on the inherant character of every person who happens to have been branded a Muslim (how ridiculous would that be?).

    A person is only a “Muslim” in respect to the fact that they have been indoctrinated into the Islamic faith. In no other respect is anyone a “Muslim”. Nobody is a “Muslim” due to their place of birth or residence, or the colour of their skin, or any other simple genetic feature. When referring to any general characteristics that may apply to Muslims, one can only be referring to their upbringing and education.

  4. “Like” if you read the whole thing in Professor Dawkins’ voice, and spent most of that time grinning.

    Just brilliant.

  5. The ARABIC science that went on in the dark ages was due to the fact that Islam at the time, unlike Christianity, did not forbid study into the natural world or see it as blasphemous. So that’s the best that can be said of Islam’s contribution to science; that it kept out of the fucking way for a little while so people could do the science. Great praise…I guess. Naturally as soon as Islam started to get in the way of Arabic science all the progress stopped.

  6. I am really glad you haven’t been intimidated into backing down from this by the like of intellectually veiled thugs like Mehdi Hasan and blinkered lefties too numerous to mention. You are right, as someone pointed out on Twitter, Neil deGrasse Tyson made exactly the same point in his brilliant lecture in 2006, but the white liberal left didn’t jump down his throat. I wonder why. Go Richard, go – there are more people behind you on this than you might think.

  7. When the evidence from the figures is overwhelming – any diversion from the disliked reality is a good theist diversion from reality! –
    The compulsion to look away from those embarrassing and uncomfortable facts and quickly concoct a distraction, is a desperate need in the “faith-full”.

  8. Looking at the Twitter responses, it would appear that the “your a…..” all come from someone with multiple accounts !

  9. The controversy piped up by the press by your tweets is a non-issue. Never do the politically correct thought police pipe up whenever you write something about Christianity. One particular article on The Independent blogs I found particularly hilarious (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/not-in-our-name-dawkins-dresses-up-bigotry-as-nonbelief–he-cannot-be-left-to-represent-atheists-8754183.html) this was written by a gay man, who would be executed if he lived in a state run by the people he is defending.
    The environment for critique of Islam in the UK is set up for the criticizer to fail. It disgusts me that our supposedly respectable press defend an ideology that throws acid in the faces of women, executes homosexuals and suppresses scientific advancement.

  10. A largish part of RD’s user of twitter is to craft a tweet that is factually correct, but designed to provoke an outraged response. This was one such and I would say it worked as designed. So yes, all very interesting points, but let’s not claim this is anything other than sophisticated trolling.

  11. There are too many other groupings of people who also have few Nobel Prizes. It’s an easily dismiss-able statistic. But equally those people attacking Dawkin’s didn’t call him racist when he spoke about Christians. Hopefully Saudi’s and UAE will make scientific progress enjoy it and adapt Islam. The way Jews adapted Daniel ch1 to mean experimentation was recommend by God.

  12. There’s this expression “Muslim Science”. I always get a strange feeling when I hear or read that expression. In the past, hundreds of years ago, there may have been Muslims doing math and some other kinds of research we may call science (for the sake of the argument), but was what they were doing “Muslim Science”?
    If we would comply to what they did was Muslim Science, isn’t then the theory of Newtonian Gravity “Christian Science”? I’ve never heard anyone referring to it in that way. So why call science done by Arabs, Persians or Ottomans that had the Islamic religion “Muslim Science”?

    Throughout history the search for how the universe works has been out of curiosity. Many of these were religious and were trying to find out how God, Allah, Brahma or whatever your creating divinity is named, put together everything we experience. Indian people did their part of math and astronomy as well, even before anyone else did. That doesn’t make it “Hindu Science”.

    So if we could stop referring to religion when it concerns curiosity and science, that would be great. There was “science” (dependent on how one would define that) in many area’s of the world, in China, India, the ancient Greece, the Middle East and Europe and the Ancient South-/Americans knew a thing or two about math and astronomy as well and were able to construct large cities and buildings by using that knowledge.

    Science is science, even though the definition of that word may have changed over time. We shouldn’t refer to it with the religion of the person that’s doing the investigating. What it all comes down to is that humanity, wherever they live and no matter what their religions are, are curious beings and want to figure things out for philosophical knowledge or to improve the quality of their lives, and let’s not forget, to fight more efficient wars. There’s not really much more to is as far as I’m concerned.

  13. In reply to #15 by GeneJunkie:

    There’s this expression “Muslim Science”. I always get a strange feeling when I hear or read that expression. In the past, hundreds of years ago, there may have been Muslims doing math and some other kinds of research we may call science (for the sake of the argument), but was what they were doing “…

    Muslim interest in science was religiously motivated – nearly all well-known names were “religious” figures. Why don’t you find out. Then comment.

  14. Just conceivably the supposed disproportionately low number of Nobel Prizes awarded to Muslims proves the prevalence of discrimination against Muslims.

  15. In reply to #1 by gcb01:

    Dear oh dear, Richard, you make a reasonable comment about a religion and what happens?

    It just shows how important it is to question religion(s), regardless of the usual cries of victimisation and worse.

    Your question has long intrigued me and the answer may also explain why Islam does not seem t…

    His intent was to demean – hence the bullshit about “facts” and “offense” – he caused this pissy “storm”. Many atheists have noted – Dawkins is going the way of hate.

    Hence – the mentions of Geert Wilders – the pretense that he doesn’t Wilders is extreme right-wing. Initial support of someone like “Ali Sina”.

    He is fast going the same way as Hirsi-Ali. She sold her sould to the right wing . . . and even mimics them. Hence the declaration – All Muslims should be converted to Christianity.

    Dawkins is turning to hate . . .

  16. A cursory glance at the at the list of the top two hundred universities, according to the Times Higher Education Supplement, throws up the USA, various European countries (including the UK), Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Taiwan. No poor countries on the list. World University Rankings

    What about the rich Muslim states?. That would be a handful of tiny Gulf states and Brunei. In terms of GDP per capita, Saudi Arabia is not a rich country compared to the UK.

    So, it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of the economic wealth of nations and of their unversities in providing a setting for academic excellence. This is not to deny that an addiction to supernatural religions, and the barbaric practices embedded in them, is not a barrier to intellectual achievement.

    A particularly interesting comparison would be between Palestinian and Israeli universities to see what part religion played in the standards they reach, if to any significant extent, as opposed to economic (and other) circumstances .

  17. Especially Islam is a very ruthless religion, therefore no deference is advisable when criticising Islam!

  18. In reply to #3 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

    Richard, I’m delighted you’ve given this detailed explanation of the point you were trying to make, because it’s exactly how I interpreted your Tweet. You were obviously reacting to the claims that are often made about Islam being so enlightening.

    It’s a shame so many intelligent people didn’t gras…

    It is not just Chivers that has noted that Dawkins has the need to “demean” Muslims. . . the list is growing.

  19. In reply to #16 by pixelrow:

    Muslim interest in science was religiously motivated – nearly all well-known names were “religious” figures. Why don’t you find out. Then comment.

    So onccccccce agaaaaain it comes back to the question; why are modern Muslims not similarly motivated by Islam to do science today? Either 1) it’s just a big fat lie, or 2) the Islam we know today is so far removed from the Islam of a millenia ago that they are barely the same thing and modern Islam should take no credit for past achievements anymore than the modern Italian government can boast about the accomplishments of the Caesars.

  20. Thank you for this, it’s been hectic fending off the hoards of twisted knickers on facebook. This article has been linked on the Foundations page.

  21. Richard, I’m an Ex-Muslim and I live in Egypt and more than boasting about how Islam contributed to science, many people in here -sadly- think that “Science” is being controlled by people who want to destroy Islam “Like illuminti, Freemasons…etc” So you shouldn’t take a word from it.
    More of that I remember a Saud-Arabian Sheikh literally said: “Let the infidels of the west do their best in science so that we could enjoy their work while we are sitting here enjoying our religion”.
    And there’s a guy in here called ” Zaghloul Al Nagar” who is trying to prove that scientific explorations were long before written in Qur’an, sadly this man has convinced many people that camels’ urine works as a medicine for healing others.
    Science and Islam Don’t Mix.

  22. In reply to #5 by dnico:

    The ARABIC science that went on in the dark ages was due to the fact that Islam at the time, unlike Christianity, did not forbid study into the natural world or see it as blasphemous. So that’s the best that can be said of Islam’s contribution to science; that it kept out of the fucking way for a li…

    It is abundantly clear – you know nothing about the subject. Else you would know that the Science was not “Arabic” – as most Scientist/Scholars of note were non-Arabs!

    What did most of them have in common? Oh, they were noted authority on religion too. . . why don’t you read up on the subject? Don’t worry – there is enough material by non-Muslim scholars out there.

  23. When trying to understand the Arabic/Islamic Golden Age, I think one must remember that the empire had expanded very rapidly.

    So of course it took some time to train enough theologians to mess everything up.

  24. In reply to #16 by pixelrow:

    Isn’t that what I said, about the religious motivation? Maybe you should read first and then comment?

    And one may argue that religion in itself was a way to explain the world.
    But still, and I’m not going to repeat myself too often, Newtonian Gravity is not “Christian Science”, so why would anyone refer to science done by Muslims as “Muslim Science? It’s well known that Newton was a devout Christian and was trying to figure “The Great Works of God”.

  25. Setting aside the furor and hyperbole for a minute, the problem I have with the entire thesis is that it barely rises to the level of thesis at all, leaving aside the question of correlation and causation. In fact, in this essay you specifically mention that Jews have won 120 Nobel prizes – that puts them in 2nd place, behind the US but ahead of the UK! Even if you are making a claim about religion in specific (Islam), if you are trying to draw a causal link you need to explore the variables that drive ANOTHER religion to succeed so well.

    I also question the use of the Nobel prize as a useful metric for almost anything in the first place! There are only about 700 awards over the last ~100 years – significantly less if you count the scientific prizes. A gross undersampling by any measure, even discounting the biases in the award process.

  26. In reply to #6 by Begotten:

    I am really glad you haven’t been intimidated into backing down from this by the like of intellectually veiled thugs like Mehdi Hasan and blinkered lefties too numerous to mention. You are right, as someone pointed out on Twitter, Neil deGrasse Tyson made exactly the same point in his brilliant lec…

    If Dawkins was asked . . . he might turn out be one of the . . . “blinkered lefties”. However – he is going to the dark side as it were.

  27. That Neil deGrasse Tyson made the same point about Nobel Prizes and Muslims was one of my thoughts as well, yet no one went off the rails about it then. Keep on going, Richard!

  28. It’s really ridiculous that you are forced to mount a defence of this nature, over simply stating an interesting fact. That said, I am glad you have done so. It was an entertaining read, with some new enlightening information included.

    It’s amusing that Mehdir Hasan’s only response is to question your comments about some muslim medical students boycotting evolution lectures. He seems to have no come-back on your actual point.

  29. Islam gave us algebra because The Qu’ran didn’t consider it heretical. It also made advances in medicine, would those advances have been made had their religion forbade its study? You can credit a society with sceintific discovery but when scienific discovery is only within the boundaries prescribed by a particular faith it does not disprove that faith is not a limiting factor to scientific discovery.

  30. You obviously don’t watch Homeland. How many muslims sleepers have infiltrated Trinity I wonder… Seriously though, is there a ‘faith’ box that Nobel prize-winners have to complete before getting their cheque, or are you guessing how many Islamics won prizes by correlating nationality or perhaps even just having a middle-eastern sounding name? Is this scientific analysis or a drunk using a lamp-post (no offence intended oh great and sober Dawkins)? So whilst I fully support your point that ‘holy books’ are the start of man’s understanding of his universe and clearly not the end of it, we need to be careful in the use of statistical sources to support that argument. It’s easy and important to condemn lazy thinking, not so easy (or sensible) to condemn lazy thinkers. One challenges ideas (valid), the other challenges why people have those ideas (complex at best).

  31. Would the statement: “Muslim education is not conducive to scientific innovation & has not been since the Middle Ages. This is evinced by a paucity of Nobel prizes won as compared to, say, Trinity College, Cambridge” be considered equivalent, yet less objectionable?

  32. In reply to #15 by GeneJunkie:

    There’s this expression “Muslim Science”. I always get a strange feeling when I hear or read that expression. In the past, hundreds of years ago, there may have been Muslims doing math and some other kinds of research we may call science (for the sake of the argument), but was what they were doing “…

    It’s true, this parlance should not be used by rationalists, we should not be playing their game. We are getting bogged down in minutiae when we should be driving the main point home; Religion may very very very occasionally be conducive to scientific advancement (the fact we have to go 1000 YEARS into the past in regards to Islam, and back to Newton for Christianity, should speak volumes), BUT, religion by far and away LOVES TO BE THE CAUSE OF SCIENTIFIC STAGNATION AND RETARDATION. Saying that Islam, or any religion, was or is great because once upon a time it was conducive to the invention of algebra is like the famous last excuse for fascism in that it made the trains run on time. On net balance, the world, including science, is better off without religion.

  33. In reply to #10 by Lorcán:

    Looking at the Twitter responses, it would appear that the “your a…..” all come from someone with multiple accounts !
    Ha! Now that is interesting

  34. I watched yesterday’s, erm, debate on Twitter with some interest. It was apparent from your first tweet that things were going to get a bit heated. A problem with Twitter’s 140 character limit is the difficulty in saying all that you might want to say for clarity and so your piece here today is welcome.

    My response to the matter is twofold. First, on the substance of the issue itself, it still seems to me that you might want to allow a little more for the potential effects of social and economic factors in determining numbers of Nobel prize winners. While I agree with you that holding as true the tenets of the Islamic faith is irrational, I am less sure than you that it is Islam itself that is responsible for muslims failing to produce the numbers of Nobel prize winners that their numbers might lead us to expect.We might want to consider the effects of prejudice, economic disadvantage and consequent poorer access to the best educational facilities might have on muslims within the developed world. We might also want to consider what advantages those who attend Trinity might have over not just muslims but over the majority of the rest of society. In short, science and education operate within a broad social context and I am not persuaded by the evidence that it is Islam, uniquely or even largely, that can be held responsible for the low number of muslim Nobel prize winners.

    A second, broader, point concerns the nature of some of the objections put to you. I fear that the tone of some of them is part of a wider problem that the range of acceptable opinions that may be uttered in public is becoming narrower. Opinions that fall outside a particular range must be characterised as some version of cranky or mad or must be criminalised as they are deemed harassing or offensive. One example would be the man who posted a picture of a burning poppy on Armistice Day and was arrested; another would be the man who was arrested for calling a police horse ‘gay’; a third would be the excessive efforts taken by police to avoid the royal family having to see evidence of protest at the royal wedding. Free speech, including the right to express unpopular or offensive views, seems to be under attack. I may not agree with what you said on this occasion but I defend your right to say it.

  35. I don’t believe that you are so naive as to be unaware of the implicit meaning of your statement, and your further defense, not repeated here I notice, of the inestimable and assailable neutrality of the statement of fact. Linguistic and paralinguistic forms of communication rely on praxis, the pragmatic, context and co-text, in order to transmit meaning. You are well aware of this. The mere statement you made, in context, was designed to inflame and illicit a response. If you had simply stated, similar to above, “I intend to raise in people’s minds the question of whether the religion itself is inimical to scientific education” then that is clearly a topic for debate (and 120 characters).

    Was offense intended? I don’t know. It was given, however, and I would argue that those who were offended by it (and many of them fans of yours, going by the Tweets) have a valid point. There is a clear inference there. If nothing else, it smacks of elitism.

    I’d like to refer you to the recent address given by Malala Yousafzai at the UN. She is without doubt the greatest advocate for the education of Muslim boys and girls all over the world, an inspiration to perhaps millions of children. But the speech we saw on the news had been edited to remove all reference to her faith, the faith that gave her strength and inspired her to go on, and she does not see as incompatible with her studies or desire to become a doctor. As she said, it is true that secular education is being suppressed and the education and position of women in society in particular is being violently opposed by the Taliban (a group whose beliefs are no more than 200 years old, based in Wahabism, a corruption of Sunni and the foundation of Saudi faith and society, as it happens).

    Also the contribution to modern science provided by the translators and conservators of the ancient scientific and philosophical texts as well as the further work carried out by these scholars cannot be underestimated and should not be glibly mentioned and put aside (particularly as Franco tried to remove historical references and even the real names of the likes of Ibn Rushd – who I only ever knew as Averroes).

    But I would say that the example of Malala and her family indicate that your stated and clarified assertion that the Muslim faith is inimical to scientific education is false.

  36. Richard Dawkins would have said, and if Nobel Prizes would have existed in 859: “All the world have fewer Nobel Prizes than The University of al-Qarawiyyin, in Fes, Morocco (the oldest existing and continually operating educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and is sometimes referred to as the oldest university, although some scholars dispute that the term, also founded by Fatima al-Fihri a WOMEN).
    So it is a fact, and I don’t see where is the problem here.

  37. The above are the easiest skittles to knock over. It remains a fact that the Nobel Prizes are open to all. Like The Ritz Hotel (I stole that line).
    Muslims, for the most part, are not in the Club. I accept that for the last four hundred years or so, the aforementioned Arab scientific “Spring” has been conspicuous by its absence, as the potent tribal drives were increasingly subverted and smothered by the Mullahs. We might wonder whence that initial spring originated,but that is another subject. This is about Nobel Prizes, cock-size hubris. Modern Islam also encompasses vast areas of humanity such as Indonesia. Are they in the Club? Should we instead save our scorn solely for the Arabs, purely because they once were keepers of the flame?
    As I pointed out on Twitter, Rabbis often use the numbers of Jewish Nobel Prize winners as proof positive, or at least solid indication, that Jewishness somehow invests one with an innate superiority of sorts. Is this healthy? One hates to bring in the H word this early in the discourse, but Hitler felt much the same, and can we be sure that the number of Jewish gong-bearers has no impact on the mentality of the Israeli Ubermenschen? As a Scot, can I use the numbers of great Scottish inventors, movers and shakers as indicative of my own superiority, even though I only left school with three O Levels?
    The fact that oil-rich Arabs have done very little to advance mankind in any sense for the last four/five hundred years has more to do with the fact that they live in a wasteland. You might just as well cite Australian aborigines. I bow to no-one in my scathing criticisms of the UAE for their backward, mediaeval mindset, but they have only been aware of their oil wealth for half a century, hardly time to overthrow despots, instil democracy, welfare states and an adversarial legal system, even if they wished to.
    We are the products of our landscape, and where that landscape offered us a bounty, and therefore the leisure time to think and to innovate, we flourished. Ultimately that led some of us to Nobel Prizes. I should think there’s a lot of leisure time at Trinity College, Cambridge.

  38. I have a problem with Richards’ point that muslims should just use the oil wealth they have on better education and research. It is ignoring the fact that in many muslim countries dictators are in power.Those dictators not only control the oil wealth but also the scientific research. One can’t expect groundbreaking research done in a country that doesn’t allow freedom of thought, let alone freedom of researsh. In many cases those dictators were installed and kept in power by western countries. So we are partially to blame on that front.
    I think you could also partially explain the relatively small numbers of African Nobel price winners

  39. Funny that nobody remembered when you were campaigning for Nobel peace prize for Malala Yousafzai, a muslim. Perhaps she would first thank allah when she would get the prize.

  40. I’m not sure Richard is being fair.

    Consider Jared Diamond’s thesis (“Guns, germs and Steel”) that development depends on native plants, animals and geography. The Muslims arose in the fertile crescent but long after its peak (2000 BCE), and as it was slowly going down hill due to soil exhaustion.

    Due to “Diamond” factors Europe has risen to prominence over the last 500 years, set up colonies in the Americas and Australasia, and conquered or dominated every other culture. No one is going to do well if crushed between poor soil and a “European” boot.

    Trinity College Cambridge is the academic centre of the worlds dominant civilisation. It is no wonder it has produced so many Nobels.
    Muslims haven’t, but what is the count for Africa, China, India, South America? I guess that if all Nobel laureates were categorised by region, religion, and socio-economic background at childhood, winning a Nobel would correlate strongly with moderate wealth of the family and region. I suspect poor, third world Hindus, Christians and Buddhists do as badly as Muslims.

    Oil wealth should be making a difference, but its only 100 years old, and medieval culture means the Kings and courts, and the “European” oil companies get the lion’s share. Islam may be confounding more equitable social systems, but on the other hand such
    disparities of wealth are hardly anathema to the US right wing which represent half the voters of the worlds no. 1 superpower.

    Given Richard’s “tease”, and his continual hint “so what are you going to do about it?”, I hope oil money can be converted to education, and education into Nobels. However, while I feel that Jared is better at explaining the past that Richard, Richard might have predicted the future. I suspect Islam is hindering scientific progress, but that is because it has “lost” the last 500 years due to losing the “Jared” race and modern science and medieval religion don’t mix.

  41. Imagine you found a hidden society or an alien planet, that was educated and scientifically advanced, but had never invented religion. Would you say “let’s introduce Islam [insert whatever religion here] to this society, they will surely do even better by having it”? Anyone?

  42. “colleagues lecturing to aspiring doctors in British universities inform me that Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution.”

    What I think you mean is SOME Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution. The omission of that key word allows an ambiguity to enter that suggests your argument is much stronger than it really is.

    With regard to your tweet, it may be factually correct that few Muslims have won a Nobel prize, but what conclusions does this allow you to draw? The answer is – none of any meaning unless it is taken in conjunction with other statistics (which you admit you don’t have).

    With both medical students and Nobel Prize winners, you neglect the scientific approach you advocate so passionately. When you scratch the surface of what you’ve said, all that’s left is another bit of selectively anecdotal mud-slinging to re-enforce your existing prejudices.

    Finally, to have published this on the feast of Eid Al-Fitr demonstrates either a total ignorance of Islam or a deliberate desire to cause offence. Either way, your righteous indignation rings very hollow.

  43. Dear Mr Dawkins, this is all very depressing. For future strategy in your polemic, read “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath (you’d like them, liberal, Harvard types…) The concept which I refer to is “bright spot” thinking. If faced with a whole big situation that you don’t like and want to change (Islam, in your case), rather than attack the negative head on, look for situations within the system that actually look good and publicise those, hoping the good practice will spread. I would recommend you focus relentlessly on the many instances of Muslim activity that is commendable (you know, charity, peace, love, scientific achievement, rejection of fundamentalism, desire for reform of retrogressive forms etc…) and promote its wonderful aspects to others. Your current tactics, in my seven year experience of Philosophy classrooms, polarise needlessly – the unthinking who are instinctively opposed to religion (no problem with the latter) worship you and then get really nasty about anyone of faith, the unthinking who are religious galvanise and really despise you, and the moderates tend to really dislike your tone, content and vast generalisations / straw man arguments etc… You could be such a force for good, promoting reason, but “on the ground” you do not, in my experience, bring such consideration into being.

  44. A lot of people are missing the main point that proponents of Islam frequently boast about its academic history, and claim (in common with other religions, of course) that it is the THE path to enlightenment, peace and an understanding of the world.

    Numerous other groups whose members have also won few Nobel prizes do not make the same claim.

    If a school was making claims that it provided a great education, would it be wrong to point out the fact that few of its pupils attained good grades? Or should we keep quiet about it, stick our heads in the sand, and let the school carry on with its ludicrous boasts, allowing more and more people to fall for its nonsense and receive a stifled education?

  45. In reply to #44 by Humbug:

    “colleagues lecturing to aspiring doctors in British universities inform me that Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution.”

    What I think you mean is SOME Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution. The omission of that key word allows an ambiguity to enter that suggests your argument is mu…

    Well of course I meant SOME. Isn’t it blindingly obvious that I couldn’t possibly have meant all? It is common English usage to omit the “some” in such a sentence. “It’s a lovely day, birds are on the wing” clearly doesn’t mean ALL birds are on the wing. No doubt some are on their nests. The “some” is implied as a standard convention in the English language.

    To mean “all”, I would have had to be furnished with complete statistics from every lecture to medical students in every university in the country, which is clearly ridiculous. If it makes you feel better, mentally insert the word “some”, though I am baffled as to how anybody could possibly think I meant anything else.

    Richard

  46. But again, you are lumping anyone who defines as a “Muslim” in the same boat. It seems that Richard Dawkins and followers conflate repressive regimes (Saudi, Iran etc….) with a theological belief (Islam, which also belongs to two boys in my class a few years back, one of whom is studying Medicine at Cambridge and the other who has just finished a law degree at Durham – both devout and both really wonderful people who love humanity)….

  47. That’s a great reply Richard. I’m amazed how people can be offended by facts while having no problem, or at least little problem, with the intolerance of the quran. Critical thinking, it seems, is far less common than it should be. After reading a lot of the twitter criticism directed toward you, I can’t help thinking there are other agendas at play here and scores to settle. As Christopher Hitchens said to his critics “Take a number and get in line”. There appears to be a very long, and butt hurt, line hoping for your slightest error. For what it’s worth you have my 100% support.

  48. Been thinking …

    As a specific counter to an individual stating that Islam is currently important for science, it is a brilliant put down.

  49. attack the individual instance of injustice/bigotry etc, never a whole religion/belief system. Simple, obvious, but neglected by the champions of reason….

  50. “many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews” Can I get some sources backing this up?

  51. 1.6 billion Muslims? You’ll have a certain Muslim ‘social commentator’ gnashing his teeth at that and calling you an Islamophobe, because he insists it’s 2.4 billion. The fact your friend, Medhi Hasan also says it’s 1.6 billion, maybe they can fight it out between them. Maybe it might have been less of an uproar, if it had been, artcle first, then Twitter to back up article, rather than the other way around.

  52. In reply to #53 by ZachS:

    “many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews” Can I get some sources backing this up?

    Muhammad Morsi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Denier of holocaust, to name a few.

  53. Original article and this follow up are both frankly self indulent, an insult to decent secular folk and unhelpful.

  54. In reply to #55 by prabo.bhil:

    In reply to #53 by ZachS:

    “many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews” Can I get some sources backing this up?

    Muhammad Morsi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Denier of holocaust, to name a few.

    Exactly, I was going to suggest Zach search media from places surrounding Israel. And perhaps a little thing called Hezbollah.

  55. I agree with almost everything in this calm reflection.

    But I don’t understand why you can’t see that this tweet alone, without all this additional language here, can be considered just antagonizing.

    sure its a fact.. But its also a fact that Hindus and Buddhists (whom you mention in your reflections) combined are about as much as muslims also have less Nobel prize winners than Trinity College.

    Indian students are making great advancements in science and tech. So why is this still the case? Maybe the nobel committee has some biases toward the asians..

    One might also bring in the effects of colonialism on science education in post colonial countries?

    My point is that the fact is there and in this reflection you bring some great points, especially about oil wealth, but you can’t make a statement like you tweeted without understanding the nuance around the reasonings.

    Is puritan islam a problem toward education. Yes. Does it explain the disparity, Far from it.

  56. Stay strong Richard, this is not a religious battle it is an entirely political war. Unfortunately those with the most to lose are usually the ones who remain silent.

  57. It’s critical to keep civilization progressing toward logic & reason, and away from archaic belief systems that promote an “Us v. Them” mentality. So no, we can’t just turn a blind eye and allow the ignorance of the religious to endanger innocent people with their delusions – and Muslims are the most dangerous among them. We must question the illogical & irrational and call them out on their unsupportable beliefs and the dangerous consequences they have on society. To me, it’s ludicrous that we’re living in the 21st century and still have people taking religion seriously. Bravo Richard Dawkins – thank you for keeping it real – I, for one, am proud to have you as a spokesperson for atheism. Let this one last “god” go the way of Greek mythological figures… and soon!

  58. In reply to #51 by finchbrownjacket:

    attack the individual instance of injustice/bigotry etc, never a whole religion/belief system. Simple, obvious, but neglected by the champions of reason….

    But… all religion and belief is what we attack here. All the time. conscientiously. And with reason.

  59. Mr. Dawkins and other readers:

    The widely-disseminated, and now widely-held, view that “Muslims invented algebra” is inaccurate.

    Available evidence implies that mathematicians of ancient India should be credited with “inventing algebra,” along with inventing the number zero, the decimal number system and arithmetic based on the decimal system. Indian mathematicians Aryabhatta (circa 500 AD) and Brahmagupta (b. 598 AD) and others were doing work in algebra before Islam even came into existence. In the 8th century, some India scholars went to the Muslim world and transmitted their knowledge to the people there. That ushered in a period of “scientific awakening” in the Muslim world that fostered mathematical talent such as that of Al-Hindi and Al-Khwarizmi.

    The following excerpt from: Chapter 8, Indian Mathematics: Redressing the balance, by Ian G Pearce makes it clearer.

    ‘A translation of this work, thought to be Brahmagupta’s BSS, was subsequently carried out by al-Fazari (and an Indian scholar) and had a far-reaching influence on subsequent Arabic works. The famous Arabic scholar al-Khwarizmi ((ed. inaccurately) credited with ‘inventing’ algebra) is known to have made use of the translation, called Zij al-Sindhind. Al-Khwarizmi (c. 780-850 AD) is known to have written two subsequent works, one based on Indian astronomy (Zij) and the other on arithmetic (possibly Kitab al-Adad al-Hindi). Later Latin translations of this second work (Algorithmi De Numero Indorum), composed in Spain around the 11th century, are thought to have played a crucial role in introducing the Indian place-value system numerals and the corresponding computational methods into (wider) Europe. Both Indian astronomy and arithmetic had a huge impact in Spain.’

    Indian mathematics was also transmitted eastward into China, Japan and elsewhere, partly through the spread of Buddhism. I think it is accurate to claim that India was the dominant contributor to mathematics during the period of, roughly, 800 BC to 1400 AD. Modern mathematics (Newton laid important foundations for it) essentially picked up from where ancient, classical and pre-modern Indian mathematicians left off.

    The survey at the link above is a good start into the subject, but there have been other works on the subject in the recent years. Fields medal winner David Mumford has investigated and written about it.
    See the links:

    Review of Mathematics in India by Kim Plofker, Notices of the AMS, 2010, pp. 385-390. Link to notices

    Works on the History of Mathematics, by Prof. David Mumford

    and Kim Plofker’s book:
    Mathematics in India

    Thanks.

  60. In reply to #47 by Richard Dawkins:

    Professor Dawkins,

    My point is that your statement could apply to anything from 1% – 99% of Muslim students and is precisely the sort of subjective, emotive language you routinely condemn. The fact that you’ve chosen to mention it here suggests you think it’s a large-scale problem, but you don’t reveal the evidence you have used to arrive at this conclusion other than some anecdotal conversations.

    Isn’t one of your mantras not to blindly believe things we’re told but to challenge the evidence? Otherwise, all such statements do is reinforce the bigotry of unthinking people.

  61. In reply to #51 by finchbrownjacket:

    attack the individual instance of injustice/bigotry etc, never a whole religion/belief system.

    The injustice/bigotry is embedded in the dogmas of the religion.

    Simple, obvious, but neglected by the champions of reason….

    It never ceases to amaze, how those with the blinker of bias, like to lecture others on “reason” having missed the point!

  62. *In reply to #64 by Alan4discussion:

    Being an atheist, I’m not biased towards religion. I just know so many Muslims who are wonderful, educated, compassionate and full of love, often linked to tenets of their theological outlook, to have too much time for the climate that Richard Dawkins’ seems to provoke.

    Alistair MacIntosh, author of “Soil and Soul” ends that book by imploring his readers to ask of ideas “are they concerned with the blossom” (which I take to be a sound metaphor for human flourishing) – I find that many ideas within religious frameworks to fit the bill, and sometimes they come with dimensions that I disagree with (such as being underpinned by belief in a deity), but due to the absolute beauty of their expression, I’m not going to want to tinker with my incredibly big brain…. (and the last three words should not be taken too seriously)

  63. In reply to #55 by prabo.bhil:

    In reply to #53 by ZachS:

    “many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews” Can I get some sources backing this up?

    Muhammad Morsi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Denier of holocaust, to name a few.

    Morsi seems to be a radical and evolutionary biologist when he notices Jews are descendant of monkeys (apes) and pigs. The last couple of weeks there’s this quite controversial hypothesis floating around humankind (Muslims included) are descendants/hybrids of chimpanzees and pigs:
    http://phys.org/news/2013-07-chimp-pig-hybrid-humans.html and
    http://phys.org/news/2013-07-human-hybrids-closer-theory-evidence.html

    This makes me LOL 🙂

  64. In reply to #63 by Humbug:

    In reply to #47 by Richard Dawkins:

    Professor Dawkins,

    My point is that your statement could apply to anything from 1% – 99% of Muslim students and is precisely the sort of subjective, emotive language you routinely condemn. The fact that you’ve chosen to mention it here suggests you think it’s a…

    How dare you ask Prof. Dawkins to provide more than anecdotal evidence and be precise about what he means!!!! Since when did being precise ever do anyone any good? Richard’s anecdote about his mate telling him about Muslim students boycotting lectures on evolution is good enough. As a critical thinker, I think the best thing to do is uncritically accept everything Richard Dawkins says.

  65. In reply to #48 by finchbrownjacket:

    But again, you are lumping anyone who defines as a “Muslim” in the same boat. It seems that Richard Dawkins and followers conflate repressive regimes (Saudi, Iran etc….) with a theological belief

    Perhaps you missed the point that Iran is ruled by the “Grand Ayatollah” and that The legal system of Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia, Islamic law derived from the Qu’ran and the Sunnah (the traditions) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

    (Islam, which also belongs to two boys in my class a few years back, one of whom is studying Medicine at Cambridge and the other who has just finished a law degree at Durham – both devout and both really wonderful people who love humanity)….

    Maybe they are like the Islamic student who took time out of his final university medical exam to face Mecca and pray!

    In any case those adopting western cultures are not typical of the vast numbers where Islam dominates (such as Pakistan ) where fundamentalists are running around killing each other.

  66. I am hardly surprised, and I think it is no use to try to back up an obviously correct factual statement that you made. Islamists already know that religion is an obstacle towards scientific advancement, they just don’t like it when you say it.

    Turkish minister of environment and urbanizaton Erdogan Bayraktar publicly stated last week: “We are a Muslim country, with a 99% Muslim population. (…) Given this ‘situation’ we are in, we can’t make discoveries or inventions. We are an agricultural community, we should focus on training intermediate employees”.

  67. In reply to #68 by Alan4discussion:

    “Maybe they are like the Islamic student who took time out of his final university medical exam to face Mecca and pray!”

    No, I don’t think either would do that. But you, in your wisdom, are probably far better to judge these Muslims that I am, after having known them for many years… do you see the issue with blanket statements?

    I know this will appear a cheap shot, but the whole affair seems as intellectually skilful and helpful as a religious person (not me, I’m an atheist) pointing our that Stalin and Mau were atheists…. look where that road leads. Can’t we achieve a more intelligent analysis of humanity than insisting on tribal labels that individuals contained within (from our perspective) may or may not subscribe to.

  68. Well said Richard, especially the finale! It’s extremely difficult to rationalize and/or debate with some of the lesser evolved members of our species, but “your” one of the best!

  69. Richard, well done on fighting your corner.

    This has been whipped up by the likes of Mehdi Hasan and Owen Jones, hell bent on labelling anyone who criticises Islam as a bigot. It is truly shameful behaviour on their behalf.

    Your support for the oppressed in the Muslim world, and support for people such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks alot more about your moral fibre than the smears laid at your door.

  70. Well done Richard.

    There’s far too much pussy-footing around Islam.

    And it’s time that more people realised that religion and science are incompatible.

  71. What is ironic, of course, is that atheists, myself included, have long been condemned as “cowards” by many christians for not questioning Islam. I am sure you will have been on the end of that particular criticism as well.

  72. As Richard Dawkins points out there is a good historical point which is often raised “Muslim scholars kept the flame of Greek learning alight while Christendom wallowed in the Dark Ages.”

    Ironically, however, that is a very Eurocentric view. Islamic philosophers, most notably Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd) attempted a fusion of Greek philosophy and Islamic theology which was influential on Christian theology (especially Aquinas) and the incorporation of Aristotelian natural philosophy into the core curriculum of Western European universities.

    In contrast, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd were regarded with suspicion by the establishment theologians in Islam because some of the conclusions they drew from Aristotelian philosophy were contrary to central Islamic beliefs. The most influential Islamic theologian on this point was al Ghazali, who wrote a work called The Incoherence of the Philosophers, pointing out the contradictions. Post al-Ghazali, Greek philosophy played no great role in mainstream Islam. Since modern Western science metamorphised out of natural philosophy, it carried the same taint.

    Now here’s another irony. The points which al Ghazali challenged the philosophers on included:
    – atomism. Aristotelians rejected atomism. Al Ghazali was from a school of atomists.
    – the eternity of the universe. The philosophers said the universe must be eternal because otherwise God would have to change his mind. Al Ghazali said that the universe had a beginning in time.
    – the soul. The philosophers said the soul was a different substance from the body and was immortal. Al Ghazali said that the soul required the body and dies with the body (the point at issue was that Islam contemplated bodily resurrection)

    So modern science sides with the theologian not the natural philosophers.

    Another point of scientific interest is that al Ghazali was an occasionalist, meaning he believed that God was responsible for all changes in the world and could act outside the constraints of natural law (the appearance of laws is simply God acting from habit in most cases). His discussion is the nearest thing I have seen twentieth century debates about indeterminacy in quantum mechanics before quantum mechanics, including a parallel of sorts to Schrodinger’s Cat.

    All of which is intriguing and even amusing to people with an historical bent. But the real reason that al Ghazali is of current relevance is this. In the second preface of the Incoherence of the Philosophers, the person who has been described by some as the most influential theologian in Islam after Mohammed (he also had a major influence on Sunni orthodoxy and the acceptance of Sufism) had this to say:

    [on theory that eclipses are caused by interposition of Earth or Moon between the other body and the sun] “We are not interested in refuting such theories either; for the refutation will serve no purpose. He who thinks his religious duty is to disbelieve such things is really unjust to religion, and weakens its cause. For these things have been established by astronomical and mathematical evidence which leaves no room for doubt. If you tell a man who has studied these things – so that he has sifted all the data relating to them, and is, therefore, in a position to forecast when a lunar or solar eclipse will take place, whether it will be total or partial, and how long it will last – that these things are contrary to religion, your assertion with shake his faith in religion, not in these things. Greater harm is done to religion by an immethodical helper than by an enemy whose actions, however hostile, are regular. For, as the proverb goes, a wise enemy is better than an ignorant friend.”

  73. While I commend your efforts to advance atheism, you should not do so at the expense of the scientific method.

    [Link to personal blog removed by moderator.]

  74. THIS–> (((“arguably quite a good historical point: “Muslim scholars kept the flame of Greek learning alight while Christendom wallowed in the Dark Ages.”)))

    I don’t see this as a valid point to this particular discussion as it fails to address the REASONS that Christendom “wallowed in the Dark Ages” behind the “brilliant” Islamic scholars. Christendom befell hostile Islamic invasion and rule. Their churches converted to mosques and/or destroyed and replaced with mosques… Christians were subjected to persecution, conversion, death, exile, etc.

  75. You’re a racist (actually usually written as “Your a racist”)

    Indeed. See also facist[sic]. You can instantly tell the quality of the upcoming argument from this key performance indicator.

    These will also be the same people who confuse border control and migration policy with race. As if a traveller spontaneously changed race upon crossing a border.

    All the above are often either Owen Jones or followers of his.

  76. In reply to #13 by aliking:

    A largish part of RD’s user of twitter is to craft a tweet that is factually correct, but designed to provoke an outraged response. This was one such and I would say it worked as designed. So yes, all very interesting points, but let’s not claim this is anything other than sophisticated trolling.

    Designed to provoke an outraged response? Perhaps his tweets are designed to promote open, honest dialogue. The outraged response is simply a by-product. “Sophisticated trolling”? How does one troll his own time-line? Anyone is free to block him. I’d say those who respond with ad hominem attacks and misinformation are the trolls, however polished or uncouth their manner may be.

  77. In reply to #58 by klifferd:

    I agree with almost everything in this calm reflection.

    But I don’t understand why you can’t see that this tweet alone, without all this additional language here, can be considered just antagonizing.

    sure its a fact.. But its also a fact that Hindus and Buddhists (whom you mention in your reflecti…

    I thought RD addressed your questions/points quite well before you’d even presented them;
    in his opening statements and quotes.
    and in appx section nine; subtitle begins “Why pick on Muslims? You could arbitrarily pick on plenty of categories of people […]”

  78. In reply to #78 by Smill:

    In reply to dazzler84, post 73. Is he in a corner? Interesting…

    I didn’t really mean it in the sense of RD being in a corner, not sure if you are from the UK, but to me it basically means putting up a good fight!

  79. I really get tired of people saying how awesome Twitter’s 140 character limit is because it supposedly forces people to write in a more intelligent, clear way. No. It does the opposite. Many intelligent concepts are impossible to state accurately in 140 characters. To get them to fit, you have to resort to accepting that you’ll issue a statement that has quite a bit of fuzziness and requires a lot of reading between the lines on the part of the viewer.

    And when the viewer has an agenda, you won’t like how they read between the lines and claim to know what you “really” would have said if you had more characters to use.

    Einstein famously said that ideas should be “made as simple as possible but no simpler”. Twitter is a case of trying to make them simpler than is actually possible.

    As such, this sort of explosion of outrage is inevitable on Twitter because the medium is one in which people who think in trite sound-bites and oversimplifications get an enormous advantage. Their communication isn’t hindered at all by the 140 character limit.

    It takes more words to debunk a bogus claim than it does to speak a bogus claim.

  80. The real problem with Islam is that it can not change. The Quran is the Perfect Word of Allah and Muhammad is the Example of the Perfect Man. Nothing needs to change as it’s already perfect. (quran 5:3) The only sort of reformation Islam can do is to become more Islamic because the fault lies with the Muslims not Islam.

    It is of course far from perfect, because it’s perfection is a belief and not reality. The Earth is as flat as a carpet, the stars are closer than the moon and the hadiths? Well, they are a mine of information. Hadiths connected to Quran 4:95 is very interesting research.

    Convincing Muslims that the Quran isn’t Allah’s word is quite easy but Islam is not just a book it’s a way of life that encompasses everything from sleeping on your back to peeing sitting down. Dealing with all that is a mammoth piece of work.

  81. ” I thought about comparing the numbers of Nobel Prizes won by Jews (more than 120) and Muslims (ten if you count Peace Prizes, half that if you don’t). This astonishing discrepancy is rendered the more dramatic when you consider the small size of the world’s Jewish population”

    “given the the small size of the world’s Jewish population”s started with these words. And many today can – and would have factual backing for -citing more diverse indicators than Nobel prizes to use the same lines to paint a narrative, and not a positive one for Jews. Tosser.

  82. Islamophobia is racism

    Jews are not a race. Muslims are not a race.
    Anti-Semitism is racism. Islamophobia is racism.

    Obvious, isn’t it?

  83. How many Ex-Muslims were prize winners, actually? If anyone here has the numbers, I’d very much like to know.

  84. In reply to #88 by Rick Turnip:

    The real problem with Islam is that it can not change.

    That’s true in theory but false in practice. Exactly the same argument applies to Christianity.

  85. Hat tip again Sir. This again highlights the immediate resorting to the most slanderous accusation one can make “your (sic) a racist”. This is a serious impediment when trying to have a discussion about population or immigration as well as religion, and has served to stifle public discussion of these important matters. Thanks to you and others with courage to state the facts and defend them so rationally, we might one day get to discuss these matters rationally. Kind regards,

  86. In reply to #94 by aldous:

    In reply to #88 by Rick Turnip:

    The real problem with Islam is that it can not change.

    That’s true in theory but false in practice. Exactly the same argument applies to Christianity.

    It did not change at all since the Inquisition? Not even a little bit?

  87. In reply to #92 by aldous:

    Islamophobia is racism

    Jews are not a race. Muslims are not a race.
    Anti-Semitism is racism. Islamophobia is racism.

    Obvious, isn’t it?

    Islamophobia; a nonsensical (yet highly effective) term conjured up at an IIIT meeting to help portray Islamic Supremacists of the Muslim Brotherhood & Co. as “victims” — and to deflect from their agenda in the Western world. It is widely used to discredit critics of Islam — to discourage honest dialogue about the tenets of Islamic teachings — and to demonize those who dare address the advancements of Islamic Supremacism, the escalating worldwide violent Jihad and the oppression and human rights violations of Sharia law.

    More aptly, IslamoFAUXbia.

  88. I am not convinced that Algebra came from Islam or from the Arabs. At best it was passed on from India through the Arabs to Europe.

    “Modern algebra was born, and the mathematician had thus formulated the basic rules: by replacing “fortune” and “debt” respectively with “positive number” and “negative number”, we can see that at that time the Indian mathematicians knew the famous “rule of signs” as well as all the fundamental rules of algebra”.
    (source: The Universal History of Numbers – By Georges Ifrah p 439).

    Florian Cajori (1859 – 1930) Swiss-born U.S. educator and mathematician whose works on the history of mathematics says:
    “Indians were the “real inventors of Algebra”
    (source: Is India Civilized – Essays on Indian Culture – By Sir John Woodroffe Ganesh & Co. Publishers 1922 p. 182).

    Friedrich Rosen (1805-1837) edited and translated in 1831, The Algebra of Mohammed ben Musa. This is the oldest Arabic on mathematics and it shows that the Arabs borrowed algebra from India.
    (source: German Indologists: Biographies of Scholars in Indian Studies writing in German – By Valentine Stache-Rosen p.24-25).

    “Algebra went to Western Europe from the Arabs – i.e. (Al-jabr, adjustment) who adopted it from India rather than from Greece. Sir Monier-Williams, T. S. Colebrooke, and Macdonell hold that the Arabs got Algebra from the Hindus. The great Indian leaders in this field, as in astronomy were Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, and Bhaskara. The last appears to have invented the radical sign and many algebraic symbols. These men created the conception of a negative quantity, without which algebra would have been impossible; they found the square root of 2, and solved, in the eighth century A.D., indeterminate equations of the second degree that were unknown to Europe until the days of Euler a thousand years later. They expressed their science in poetic form and gave to mathematical problems a grace characteristic to India’s Golden Age. “

    Henry Thomas Colebrooke (1765-1837) wrote: “They (the Hindus) understood well the arithmetic of surd roots; they were aware of the infinite quotient resulting from the division of finite quantities by cipher; they knew the general resolution of equations of the second degree, and had touched upon those of higher denomination, resolving them in the simplest cases, and in those in which the solution happens to be practicable by the method which serves for quadratics; they had attained a general solution of indeterminate problems of the first degree; they had arrived at a method for deriving a multitude of solutions or answers to problems of the second degree from a single answer found tentatively.”

    “And this, says Colebrooke in conclusion, was as near an approach to a general solution of such problems as was made until the days of La Grange.”
    (source: Miscellaneous Essays – By H. T. Colebrooke Volume II p. 416 – 418).

  89. If you think Islam is a race, you are a racist yourself. The concept of race is controversial in biology, for complicated reasons. I could go into that, but I don’t need to here. It’s enough to say that if you can convert to something (or convert or apostatize out of it) it is not a race. If you are going to accuse me of racism, you’ll have to do a lot better than that. Islam is a religion and you can choose to leave it or join it.

    This has been discussed so often here that it’s hard to believe Richard isn’t familiar with the counterargument. Islam punishes apostasy with death. That’s the official line the Qur’an takes. And people are born into the religion. There’s a mantra in New Atheism which states ‘there’s no such thing as a religious child’. Technically true of course, but unhelpful. Most Muslims are members of that faith from the moment they’re born until the day they die. The entire argument about racism as it relates to Muslims hinges on this one simple truth.

    Saying, from the comfort of a secular country like England with its neutered, toothless form of Christianity, that a Muslim in Saudi Arabia has a choice in her religion and can leave it at will is disingenuous at best.

    Yes you can convert to Judaism and no, the Jews are not a race. You can argue about whether Judaism is a religion or a cultural tradition, but whatever else it is it is not a race. That was one of many things Hitler got wrong…

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck… I’ll try to keep the sarcasm to a minimum as I’ve recently had another comment edited for excessive snarkiness, but of all the things it’s possible to rebuke Adolf Hitler for, I think misidentifying the target of his ire should come pretty low on the list. If they get the internet in Heaven, the Führer, who as a good Catholic must surely be resident there, will be slapping his forehead in embarrassment that way back then he thought the Jews were a race when they are in fact part of a religious or cultural tradition. Gott im Himmel, if only he had known! The entire course of history would have been… exactly the same.

    It’s pointless to argue over semantics where bigotry is concerned. Ask the Buddhist monks who are spearheading the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Rohingya Muslims in Burma whether those people chose to be Muslim and you’ll be met with blank expressions. They don’t care anymore than the Nazis cared.

    …But if you want to bring up the Jews, I’m happy to drop Trinity, Cambridge and give you the truly astonishing Nobel Prize figures for Jews. You’ll find it won’t bolster your apologetics.

    Please do. I genuinely thought… hoped… prayed even that Richard of all people would not subscribe to the attitude that all religious types are deserving or our disesteem, except when it comes to Islam, in which case aren’t Jews and Christians brilliant by comparison!!

    I have a right to choose to interpret “race” (and hence “racism”) according to the dictionary definition: “A limited group of people descended from a common ancestor”.

    Richard can be a little selective occasionally when it comes to the dictionary definitions he’s prepared to accept. The word Islamophobia is one he regularly takes issue with, maintaining as he does that:

    I do attack Islam but Islamophobia is, of course, a ridiculous word. Islam deserves no more protection from being ridiculed than Christianity does and nobody talks about Christianophobia. It’s a public relations coup that somebody has achieved by inventing this word. It is a ridiculous word; it should never be used.

    He was perhaps taking his cue from his friend Sam Harris, who in slightly more paranoid tones said:

    There is no such thing as “Islamophobia.” This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia. And it is doing its job, because people like you have been taken in by it.

    Dictionary.com though defines Islamophobia as:

    hatred or fear of Muslims or of their politics or culture

    Wiktionary describes it as:

    The fear or hatred of Islam or Muslims.

    Oxford Dictionaries calls it:

    a hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.

    The internet seems to understand the meaning of this word, and we know how dumb that thing is most of the time. Why are Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins so discombobulated by the term?

    New Atheism seems determined to define Islamophobia on its own terms. You have to wonder why this is. Why is it such a thorn in the side of those like Harris and Dawkins? Richard is quite right when he says that ideas have no automatic right to be respected. But people do, don’t they?

    Perhaps it has something to do with the -phobia suffix and its connotations of irrationality. Stupid people have phobias, not us logical types. I’m a college-educated, tenured, published, respected superstar of science. How dare you place me in the same category as some house frau who screams and jumps onto the kitchen table every time she sees a spider.

    I don’t think that’s it though. I can’t escape the impression that the word is anathema to New Atheism because the movement considers itself a liberal one – pro-gay, pro-choice etc – but has chosen to get into bed with some pretty repulsive individuals. Richard has shown his support for the neo-Nazi Geert Wilders…

    On the strength of ‘Fitna’ alone, I salute you as a man of courage who has the balls to stand up to a monstrous enemy

    …and the person in this atrocious and inflammatory bit of hate speech, a hero to and apologist for the far-right English Defence League and British National Party who is regularly given a forum on the Clear-Thinking Oasis to voice his noxious diatribes. Although not so much recently, thank the gods.

    My view is that these well-meaning, intelligent as sin but politically naive individuals, excited that their movement was taking off, showed some bad judgement when it came to making friends. New Atheism is currently undergoing something of an identity crisis as a result. Its liberal, intellectual, pro-choice, pro-gay leaders are understandably miffed at being called racists and bigots – I’m sure it cuts them to the quick. But they need to take some responsibility for their choices. I don’t think Richard is racist per se. I wouldn’t be a member of his website if I thought he was.

    Not everyone who thinks New Atheism is on its way to becoming a movement characterized by bigotry bases their opinion on stuff like this storm-in-a-teacup tweet. Some of us have arrived at this view over time. We’ve listened, we’ve read, we’ve absorbed. And we’ve been left with a bad taste in the mouth.

  90. Dear Mr Dawkins,

    All this storm that happened in the last 2 days just show that in the modern UK there is a well stablished and systematic censorship over whoever who dares to criticise Islam. I’ve read 4 articles from writers that were very keen to portrait you as a bigot, racist and even a extremist muslim cleric just because you stated an undeniable fact, thats the modern Britain!

    But i’d like to thank you for your boldness, you must remember that the History is made by scientific british men like you, Darwin, Newton and others who challenged religions and faced the dangerous consequences of it! You will be remembered and praised as the man who brought a new wave of Enlightenment to modern Britain! CCONGRATS!!!!

    Sydnei Vasconcelos

  91. Calm reflections you say? Perhaps a few observations then. The original premise that Muslims are currently incapable of significant scientific achievement is dubious at best. Even if a Muslim were to create a Unified Theory or win a Nobel Prize are you somehow saying that you would know or is that based on your belief about the nature and character and personal characteristics of all Muslims or all people of Arabic ancestry? Being Muslim does not preclude being a scientist or intelligent or an intelligent successful scientist.

    Even the title of this post is telling, dismissing the concerns and discussion as a tempest in a teacup. Dismissive and degrading.

    The bulk of this article then attempts to avoid the entire assertion instead heading into a pedantic war of trivialities.

    Given those points I then move to the contrary. If there is active obstruction to education, intelligence and scientific inquiry within the Islamic/Muslim community then I too would object. Since I have many friends and have worked with several with multiple University degrees in Science I do believe that you should probably paint with a much more pointed brush.

  92. finchbrownjacket commented:

    I just know so many Muslims who are wonderful, educated, compassionate and full of love, often linked to tenets of their theological outlook, to have too much time for the climate that Richard Dawkins’ seems to provoke.

    They sound great. Clearly they are very liberal Muslims that wouldn’t mind me showing up in a bikini for a backyard barbeque carrying a six-pack of beer.

    I took a trip to London a few weeks ago and found myself dealing with the heat (sweating) in a short sleeved top and a mid-thigh length skirt while many many women around me were dressed in full black burqas. (Their husbands were wearing t-shirts and shorts.) It was a bit disconcerting that I saw so many conservatively dressed Muslims for the first two days. Even my flight to London via Canada was about half Muslim with many women covered up. I couldn’t help thinking that they would dress me the same way if they could. I hoped that all the women were naked underneath and taking plenty of vitamin D supplements. No matter how loving you say they are, many of the Muslims with a liberal theological outlook would still have me living a life far different than the one I would want for myself and other women I know. Somehow, I find this possible reality and the reality of many Muslim women more unsettling than Richard commenting on the lack of Muslim Nobel Prize winners.

  93. Re: “Your a dick”

    You may not be a Dick, but you certainly are a Richard, which renders the mistake of calling you a Dick a bit more understandable. And of course, if you decided to become a Dick tomorrow, I’m certain that such a change in preference would be a bit easier to achieve than becoming a Chuck or a Jimmy.

  94. In reply to #101 by amiableCDN:

    RD: “I certainly didn’t, and don’t, imply any innate inferiority of intellect in those people who happen to follow the Muslim religion. But I did intend to raise in people’s minds the question of whether the religion itself is inimical to scientific education.”

    amicableCDN: “are you somehow saying that you would know or is that based on your belief about the nature and character and personal characteristics of all Muslims or all people of Arabic ancestry?”

  95. If we are going to treat all equally then why do the Jews get a free pass. The Chinese are spread all over the world but share some common racial characteristics and probably behavioural ones as well. But their religion is treated separately. Can you be a Jewish christian? The Chinese are doing phenomenally well without a common religion proving Dawkins point, but have few Nobel prizes disproving it.

  96. The Crafoord Prize (an award closely associated with the Nobel Prize which honors those from disciplines not done so by the Nobel Committee such as the geosciences, biosciences, astronomy and mathematics) doesn’t indicate any recipients hailing from nations with Islamic theocracies.

    I very much hope these historical facts about Islamic recipients being poorly represented among Nobel winners (despite a claimed population of over a billion), can become a relic of the past starting immediately. As one species under one atmosphere, I think that’s an idea all humans should be able to get behind, eh?

    Mike

  97. You have articulated succinctly a strong rebuttal to the Twitter “storm” of invectives, bile and outright hatred. Well done Mr. Dawkins

  98. In reply to #99 by Katy Cordeth:

    Sam Harris’ depiction of the term “Islamophobia” is neither paranoid nor fabricated. Nor is it likely, as per your assertion, that Harris was the first share the apt definition with Richard Dawkins.

    The term was, indeed, coined at an IIIT meeting for the very purpose of launching a new phase of the Muslim Brotherhood’s relentless “information warfare” as per Abdur-Rahman Muhammad.

    Abdur-Rahman Muhammad was actually present at the aforementioned IIIT meeting — and witnessed the brainstorming session, firsthand. At the time, he was a member of IIIT (International Institute for Islamic Thought) one of many front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood. He has, since, left the radical institution. In favor of a moderate interests, he has become a part of “The American Islamic Leadership Coalition” and has written about his experiences.

    Harris, Dawkins and many others (including myself, Post #92) have simply restated Abdur Rahman Muhammad’s account in our own words.

    Your citation of dictionary definitions does not refute the account of the term’s origin, purpose and design. Actually, that the term has recently made its way into dictionaries (other than The Urban Dictionary) is one of the many signs of the success of the IslamoFAUXbia campaign. As is your sadly misinformed commentary.

    You may also want to download a copy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Explanatory Memorandum on Strategic Goals for North America” and read it.

  99. “I’m an athiest but you make me ashamed to be an athiest.”

    I was just teaching my children about people who pretend to be in a group just so they can seem legitimate when they disagree with an argument, or in order to make the entire group look bad. It baffles me that someone as intelligent as Dawkins would give a second glance at that comment, let alone copy/paste/half reply to it.

  100. The weakness in Richard’s argument is to draw a comparison with the population of Trinity College. The membership of this redoubtable institution is not a population that can be compared to a religion, race, country or continent. A top college in a top university has the purpose of finding and concentrating scientific excellence from much larger populations. Having said that, there is a very plausible argument that the conformity or religious training imposed in any fundamentalist doctrine are the enemy of the challenge, creativity, rigour and curiosity required to achieve excellence in science. I suspect it is the prevalence of deep religious belief (aka fundamentalism) that has the inverse relationship with excellence in science, rather than nominal religious designation of a person or society. So people defined as Jewish may have more Nobel prizes per head, but how well do Orthodox Jews do?

  101. Sometimes, I can almost see a world where Religions effect on society might almost be eradicated – perhaps in my young children’s lifetime. The work that Richard does and Hitch did, many other tireless campaigners for an intelligent secular society is commendable and I follow their work avidly. Then I read twitter and my hopes fade.

  102. “many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews”

    Zionist.

    I think you should have led with that. They win Nobel Prizes, and they can take a joke. See what comes crawling out of the woodwork, take on the thought police who is becoming restless these days.

    Maybe a fight too far.

    In reply to #111 by Clive_Bates:

    The weakness in Richard’s argument is to draw a comparison with the population of Trinity College.

    No, it’s to show that 1.6 billion people living under a rigid, archaic ideology don’t amount to much when it comes to further human progress.

    Then after you have stopped frothing at the mouth, could we discuss it?

    It’s called a poker. Stir the beast, ect…

  103. My Calculus III teacher is originally from Iran. When the Shah was in power he was sent to the U.S. to go to school. Returning to Iran he became a teacher. After the Islamists took over, while explaining to a class how to graph an equation, he told his students that in America and Europe they had little boxes with buttons (calculators) that could graph the equation in seconds. The next day he was arrested, beaten, and accused of being a spy. Eventually he was released and left the country. Somehow I don’t think that the difference in the Nobel prize statistics is do to Islamic scientists being selected against by bigots. People of faith, particularly those who justify their power over others with religion, have historically been opposed to questioning that might undermine their beliefs and authority. Without questioning science does not exist.

  104. The sub-text of Richard’s original post (IMO) was that an Islamic “education” discourages the learning of science and stifles intellectual curiosity. If that is the case, I also worry about the rise of the scientophobic Christian right in the USA. How many Nobel Prizes will be won in the future by kids who have been brought up to believe in Creationism or its mendacious fellow-traveller, “Intelligent Design”?

  105. I’m an atheist and you have done nothing but cement my lack of belief in these idiotic ideologies. Whatever Islam was in the dark ages, it is today an authoritarian cult, bent on violence and total domination over those who choose not to believe, or who criticise. I fully agree with those who say that ideas should not have the protection of the law, only people. Carry on the good work Mr Dawkins. Your work and writings can only inspire those who look at the world with an open mind and reasonable logic.

  106. “Islam is a religion and you can choose to leave it or join it.”

    I’m not very comfortable with this part. Leaving Islam might be easy in the UK, but in most Muslim countries (which are the places where the majority of the Muslims in the world reside), it’s synonymous to suicide. Over here, declaring you’ve left Islam is like asking to be assassinated or persecuted for the rest of your life. At the very least, one is disowned by one’s family and becomes a social outcast. If you ever meet people like me in public, for example, we would never admit to having left Islam, for safety and social security reasons. I know several rational free-thinkers who publicly identify themselves as Muslims for the same reason. So, what I’m trying to say is, no matter what one here choose to believe (or not believe) the term “Muslim” remains connected with one’s identity pretty much all his/her life. So, in a way, it is sort of a race, in the sense that one can’t separate oneself from it. At least in some parts of the world.

  107. Sir, you give me the impression that atheism is about bashing religions particularly Islam. Anyways I am a Muslim and a science student. Chemistry is my major. One reason of pursuing science is that my religion encourages to explore the realities of universe. Unlike what you are trying to stereotype here. Studying science makes one a good believer. It made me one. And your whole speculation is going wrong with respect to me. I wish you could be more open hearted and try to comprehend what other’s faith are about. Instead of targeting what others have to say. Positive criticism is always appreciable. But this isn’t one. With all due respect you have disappointed me, Sir.

  108. In reply to #70 by finchbrownjacket:

    In reply to #68 by Alan4discussion:

    “Maybe they are like the Islamic student who took time out of his final university medical exam to face Mecca and pray!”

    No, I don’t think either would do that. But you, in your wisdom, are probably far better to judge these Muslims that I am, after having known them for many years…

    This is a strawman diversion, which misses the point that your cherry-picked anecdotal example of a couple of western educated Muslins was being compared with my anecdotal example of a student who put his Islamic views ahead of his western medical training. I made no claim to better judge your individuals, but suggested their western education contrasted with the more extensive “madrassa education” elsewhere!

    do you see the issue with blanket statements?

    I do see the issue of your blanket statements in trying to project anecdotal examples, while ignoring my references to the greater world Muslim populations in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Pakistan, and Iran, where Sharia repression rules or attempts to rule.

    @68 – Perhaps you missed the point that Iran is ruled by the “Grand Ayatollah” and that The legal system of Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia, Islamic law derived from the Qu’ran and the Sunnah (the traditions) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

    I know this will appear a cheap shot, but the whole affair seems as intellectually skilful and helpful as a religious person (not me, I’m an atheist) pointing our that Stalin and Mau were atheists…. look where that road leads.

    It is indeed a cheap shot, and a totally invalid one which ignores the widespread Islamic politics.

    Can’t we achieve a more intelligent analysis of humanity than insisting on tribal labels that individuals contained within (from our perspective) may or may not subscribe to.

    Tribal labels fit tribal cultures! The intelligent analysis of this is the point you are missing. You seem to be living in a western bubble from which cannot look out into the wider world situation.

  109. Such a short array of words; meaning so much. Well done and keep it up Richard.

    I always smile reading the unreasonable responses to reason.

  110. “Islam is a religion and you can choose to leave it or join it.”

    This is a most fundamental point when considering how and who to “attack”. The problem with criticism of a religion is the seemingly diffuse point of leverage and the near comprehensive misapprehension of who and/or what is being blamed. Even before “death for apostasy” works its evil trick of cohesion, there is the social disgrace and exclusion in most other fundamentalist religions for falling into disbelief. Its really difficult for ordinary folk to do anything with their burgeoning doubts sometimes.

    Whilst the broad attack on the poisonous nature of a religion can rouse the anti-theist troops and hearten a few trapped atheists it does little to achieve the single most useful political end, which, I propose, is to drive a wedge between the exploited religious masses and their religiously exploiting leaders. These are the inciters over cartoons, over or Koran burnings. The broad attack creates some collateral damage of polarisation, reducing future access to minds.

    Richard could have done better than choose the rather occidentally biased Nobel prize to illustrate the disproportionately poor scientific performance of Islamic countries. China is a confounding case in point.

    He must quantify problems where ever he raises them ([Some] Muslim students don’t attend evolution lectures still says too little). Anecdotes can be data points with honest observations or they can be snatched out of your hands and used against you by imputing malice where none may exist.

    Small changes in how Richard does things could improve substantially their political efficacy.

    I have no love of the tweets. This is not an area for aphorism but for a sustained and focused political campaign. I think Sean Faircloth (though not without fault) has a little more political savvy and professionalism. I wish Richard would a little less shoot from the hip but rather discuss with Sean and others before posting/tweeting. Things are getting good, its time to kick the quality up a notch.

  111. Richard, you have to concede that the reaction from Muslims was as if they have been spat upon and that you couldn’t have expected much less – it was as irrational response. Of course you wanted to provoke a response but I don’t think the reaction you got is taking the world to a safer, more rational and religion-free place in this instance. On Twitter there is no room to write your rational and considered written arguments and those same people don’t have any respect for simply stated facts – they have faith instead – and will always imbue your short quotes as full of malice towards their religion. Your articles and books, and even better, your personal and video appearances, are the best media for you to argue on. This post on RDFRS is far less likely to induce an automatic defensive response from Muslims as it contains an argued case. Keep up all the good work but beware Twitter doesn’t undo the good you are doing.

  112. In reply to #121 by Rafia Asif:

    Sir, you give me the impression that atheism is about bashing religions particularly Islam. Anyways I am a Muslim and a science student. Chemistry is my major. One reason of pursuing science is that my religion encourages to explore the realities of universe. Unlike what you are trying to stereotype…

    Just out of curiosity, how do you square the claims of the Quran with biological evolution, and how did horses evolve wings?

    And how do you square the claims that the sun orbits the earth with the know fact that the opposite is true?

  113. In reply to #67 by The Grapes of Roth:

    “As a critical thinker, I think the best thing to do is uncritically accept everything Richard Dawkins says.”

    Your post made me smile, but then it occurred to me that some of the people who “liked” what you said may have thought you were being serious. How ironic that Professor Dawkins, in having his unsubstantiated theories blindly accepted without question, is at risk of turning into the very thing he claims to detest.

    You can rest assured, however, that I’ll be more scientific than Professor Dawkins in the conclusions I draw from this piece of evidence and not extrapolate it across all his followers.

  114. Whatever you may think of so-called Islamic science of the first millenium, it should never be mentioned in one sentence with Western science of the second and third millenium. They have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. Western science (and technology) is a mighty, high rise building with many windows, erected over the centuries by hundreds of thousands of brilliant minds, whereas Islamic science (in actual fact pre-Islamic science) is nothing more than a crumbled mud brick house.

  115. In reply to #121 by Rafia Asif:

    Sir, you give me the impression that atheism is about bashing religions particularly Islam. Anyways I am a Muslim and a science student. Chemistry is my major. One reason of pursuing science is that my religion encourages to explore the realities of universe. Unlike what you are trying to stereotype…

    How do you reconcile the fact that your holy book says salt and fresh water don’t mix when, as a science student, you could conduct a simple experiment to show that they do? You say that “studying science makes one a good believer”, but a scientist should only believe in facts that can be supported by evidence. There is no evidence for the existence of God, so as a scientist you should not believe in it, or at the very least remain sceptical, until such evidence can be produced.

  116. I noticed that no response ( that I saw) took it as corrective criticism. You would think there might be a few out there “WOW, that’s an interesting fact, how can we as Muslims (I am not) improve the science education of our children”. You should ask yourselves, can we as Muslims stop throwing acid in the faces of little girls? Can Biology students sit through an Evolution lecture without it becoming an attack on scripture. What holds Muslims back in science is their religion. And saying this in public is too thought provoking for many Muslims. It’s easier to attack the messenger because if Muslims are able to silence a few of them, fear and intimidation should curtail the rest. And then they don’t have to deal with the message.

  117. In reply to #126 by dreamkid:

    Richard, you have to concede that the reaction from Muslims was as if they have been spat upon and that you couldn’t have expected much less – it was as irrational response. Of course you wanted to provoke a response but I don’t think the reaction you got is taking the world to a safer, more rationa…

    I agree that Twitter is not the best medium for Richard. Yes, he has broader audience, but his good efforts are overlooked by people looking for the opportunity to fight with him. Is negative attention productive? I’m not so sure. History will tell. I personally dislike that he argues with people that do not deserve the least bit of of his attention. He has always carefully chosen who he would debate in person. With Twitter, this discretion seems to be thrown to the wind.

  118. I was wondering if you had a sense when sending that tweet that you would raise so much discussion and criticism?

  119. Richard, nothing that you have written could reasonably be disputed or regarded as racist in any way.
    I feel you are a lone voice of reason in a world of unreason.
    The ad hominem attacks show the paucity of their arguments against you.
    I have known many deeply religious people including Muslims and Christians and they are generally reasonable intelligent and pleasant people who become completely the opposite if you offer any criticism of their religion.
    The organised religions are all man- made constructs whose sole reason for existence is to maintain the power and influence of a priestly caste and to censure any reasoned argument or dissent or anything that threatens that power.
    This is the antithesis of the environment required to make advances in science and social advancement.
    Please don’t ever let them stifle your voice.

  120. In reply to #121 by Rafia Asif:

    Sir, you give me the impression that atheism is about bashing religions particularly Islam. Anyways I am a Muslim and a science student. Chemistry is my major. One reason of pursuing science is that my religion encourages to explore the realities of universe. Unlike what you are trying to stereotype…

    Hi Rafia

    Serious question because I’m interested:
    Can I ask, as you’re a science student and a Muslim, where you stand on evolution? How old do you believe the Earth to be?

    Thanks

  121. In reply to #99 by Katy Cordeth:

    If you think Islam is a race, you are a racist yourself. The concept of race is controversial in biology, for complicated reasons. I could go into that, but I don’t need to here. It’s enough to say that if you can convert to something (or convert or apostatize out of it) it is not a race. If you are…

    You are completely wrong as usual, Katy Cordeth. A phobia is an irrational fear, but it is highly rational to be scared of Muslims. In fact, the more Muslim you are scared of the more rational you are. I really think it’s about time that you got in line and started being scared of Muslims, too, like the rest of the ‘rationalists’ and ‘ critical free thinkers’. I can think of no bad decisions in history that were made when people were immersed in a climate of intense fear.

  122. Dear Richard,
    I found both the original fact in twitter, and the explanatory article, interesting but unsurprising. However, I would like to add some of my own experiences which may provide additional (anecdotal) evidence for your root cause analysis of the reason for the stats.
    To explain my ‘agenda’ in case there is any doubt on reading my points – Every single person in my direct family is a ‘committed’ (whatever the correct term should be!) atheist and ‘scientist’ – from my parents born in the 30s (my mother interviewed her humanist funeral celebrant in the hospice – inspirational!), to my siblings and children. We are long-time supporters of yours and appreciate your articulate views on the dangers of all religions and religious thoughts.

    My father lived and worked in Indonesia for 40 years (he would want me to add – still consults there 4 times a year!) – and it became my second home over all those years. During a holiday in 2007 I was offered a job in a (very) Christian organisation, building and commissioning hospitals across the nation – how bad could it be??

    It’s challenging to be undramatic about it but, along with the lovely, charming people and the interesting, challenging work, the Christianity was hell – evangelical, prayers during meetings, weird modern hymns with hand holding, nepotism providing jobs for fellow church members, work presentations on ‘inspirational’ leadership complete with big build up to a slide with stars, searchlights and the traditional renaissance picture of Jesus, (puhlease!!)

    Anyway – I found the differences in work culture very interesting to observe and tried to adapt many modern (Western) practices to work there. I was also studying for a Masters which included a module on international HR Management where I discovered the (not uncontroversial) Geert Hofstede findings – this applies categories and scores to the, usually, ‘soft’ study of culture. That, combined with my knowledge of their archaic education system – totally by rote, no arguing/discussing with the teacher, no projects (individually or in groups), led me to understand, although not easily accept (!) their general approach to business meetings – group not individual responsibility, no contribution to the discussion and purely in attendance to take notes and be told what to do. These were Indonesians who had undertaken a complete Christian schooling (Genesis instead of Evolution, and all!).

    It is no wonder to me that this culture does not give birth to many innovative scientists.
    However, to slightly contradict myself – it would be interesting to research into how this culture does also breed a few (very few, but providing significant impact) entrepreneurs and billionaires!

    To summarise – my main point is that it is possibly the Asian culture and its education system, as well as religious teachings, generally, that is a key cause of the paltry number of Nobel prizes, rather than purely Islam itself.

    I’d be very interested to hear your views on this.

  123. My dear Richard, not that you’ll ever read this I’m sure, but in all guileless (Ha!) sincerity, God bless you.

    Allah the merciful, the compassionate make His face to shine upon you.

    And yes, I’m a postmodern Christian (I know, I know … WHY?!), who has been a raging, cultic, homophobic, hanging, flogging, racist, Islamophobic, sectarian, fundament-alist bigot. Furthermore you published The Selfish Gene a year after I was an anti-evolutionist studying biology at Lancaster. … True. And as a Christian being dragged in to the C21st since the cult I was in had an epiphany in ’95, I became more and more your apologist. I could see what you mean. I still do. In every regard. It was exponential as these things are, only manifestly in the last 10 years or less. And I’m a near 60 mediocrity with a more than I deserved 3rd.

    Even recently I replayed in my head something you said some years ago about crime and punishment which I shook my head at at the time. But it stayed with me and subverted me, tied in with the writings of Brian McLaren and other postmodern Christians. And Muslims. And Jews. And secularists. Only last week I found myself massively shifted, for me, on the People of the Book’s near universal projection of the wrath of God.

    But Richard ( : ) ) in all of that, in all of you being one of the greatest minds of our age, in all of the absurd hubris of what I’m about to say, that you will never read, it’s still ‘true’. I trump you Richard. Or rather … Jesus does : ) I’m wheezing out loud at the absurdity of my saying this to you. And it’s STILL true.

    Richard, His command to you is this: Love your enemies. Embrace them. Us. I certainly embrace you. I admire you greatly where I used to ignorantly sneer. I now ignorantly … love you. Embrace us Richard. Embrace broken humanity in all its, our foulness. Our psychosis. Our gibbering, ignorant, meme infested fear.

    You are a superb, modern, old-school, adversarial rhetorician. A master. One of the best there will ever be.

    But it’s over Richard.

    Like evangelical (puritan, Calvinist) Christianity, with which you seem to have so much in common. It’s peaked.

    I’m done with eternity Richard, that’ll take care of itself. All we need NOW is love. THAT is the greatest challenge I am your equal in, and you mine.

    And NO, I don’t want you to find Jesus (you’ve been a character in a book I’ve been ‘writing’ for years who does that, despite himself) or Muhammad, I trust you will stay an implacable foe. Yet become enemy mine. Subversion works both ways Richard : )

    Has anyone ever tried this with you before?

    If so, I’m sorry to have wasted the time you will never waste on this.

    If not.

    God works in mysterious ways Richard : )

  124. Hello Richard. I think your tweet was wrong because there are a lot of reasons behind the fact that nobel prizes are rare in muslim countries, and also behind the fact that muslim countries are shitty (not all but lots of them are) : I’m not sure that religion is always the problem – not worst than nationalism and the colonial legacy (related factors) imho.
    Islam as you may know is not an anti-science religion, generaly : it is less anti-science than christian evangelism for instance. But religion is often the enemy of science anyways : the great arab scientists of the middle age had to struggle against dogmatic religious people in their time, yet they achieved great things – a lot more than keeping the Greeks heritage, for instance in surgery and medecine. See a guy like Ibn Nafis who described lots of parts of the body, who did a lot about ophtalmology and who wrote the very firts science fiction book of all times (in many specialists opinion, but I didn’t read it). Present muslim countries have very little (if any) science-fiction, and I’m interested in that question : could this world (not only with religion but with all aspects of his culture) be huddled up on its past ? Are all those countries similar ? Do they have the same problems ? I guess they don’t.
    Sorry if I’m messy here (english is not my first language), but I think you shouldn’t spread too easy thoughts as this one there, because history is complicated, and you can’t ignore that.

  125. I don’t feel I have any kinship with American Nobel prize winners. Nor do I think they have a unique “American” character that would make delineating along such lines meaningful. Instead I assume when people -who are not xenophobic or any other nasty word- talk about “American” Nobel Prize winners they emphasize America because they want to convey their belief/hope that America provides excellent opportunities for scientific advancement, and not because they think being American enhances the scientific mind. (I see you laughing, :shakes finger at you: )

    The same seems to be the case here. Richard is suggesting that Islam provides fewer opportunities for scientific advancement than even just a single institution not operating under Islam. He is not saying that Muslims share a “bad at science” trait bestowed on them by Islam.

    I think then that you could best argue against his comment -provided you want to argue against a Twitter comment (I’m talking about one. I must be depressed)- by showing why the prizes don’t indicate more opportunity, or aren’t awarded objectively, or why this shouldn’t bother most Muslims because even if it does predict opportunity, winning such prizes is only one aspect of scientific achievement and people can do a lot without ever having a representative so much as attend a ceremony.

    Or you can just be consumed by your emotions -understandable- call the guy a racist and hurl insults -less so.

  126. Richard,

    one point in your article that stuck out to me was about the scholarship, not of Muslims, but of economists. Although I empathize with your frustration about right-wingers hijacking your selfish-gene idea for their economic ideology, your idea itself very much is neoclassical economics — only applied to genes rather than households and firms. So when you grouped economics with the intellectually-fuzzy Nobel Prizes instead of the sciences, that surprised me. Does this reflect a serious conviction of yours or was it just a barb? If it’s the former, I’d love to hear you expand in a future article.

    If you are interested in exploring the question further, you may want to talk to Paul Krugman of Princeton University. He’s a Nobel-Prize winning economist, liberal columnist for the New York Times, interested in exploring the relationship between evolution and economics, defending the scientific process in economics against right-wing think-tankers, and a fan of yours. I’m pretty sure he’d be happy to talk with you. And he would be the ideal person for you to check with before committing yourself to a view on economics.

  127. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/not-in-our-name-dawkins-dresses-up-bigotry-as-nonbelief–he-cannot-be-left-to-represent-atheists-8754183.html
    regarding the last bit of this article, I would love to hear an actual response towards atheists who say you’re bigoted. The above article is a good read on why some of us atheists are calling you a dick, but its a lot less unpleasant / retarded compared to most comments you may have read.
    Maybe its a good place to start?
    Ps, loved the god delusion. Just thought I’d let it out.

  128. In reply to #42 by God fearing Atheist:

    I’m not sure Richard is being fair.

    Consider Jared Diamond’s thesis (“Guns, germs and Steel”) that development depends on native plants, animals and geography. The Muslims arose in the fertile crescent but long after its peak (2000 BCE), and as it was slowly going down hill due to soil exhaustion….

    I’m afraid I couldn’t get past page 10 of Diamond’s book. After proclaiming the mental superiority of New Guineans for being able to erect shelters in the jungle and their lack of TV watching I couldn’t take the white guilt and lefty PCness dripping from the pages. I was afraid I couldn’t trust Diamond’s analysis after such shocking display.

    The real point to make is how in the Islamic world culture and religion are intertwined and in the West those cords have been largely broken.

  129. Science in the Middle East during the Islamic Caliphate was as Islamic as today’s Science is Christian.

  130. In the interest of fairness, I think my main observations would be that a) The Nobel Prize is a western achievement and the Muslim World is not a member of Western Society (and for reference, it would be interesting to know the current number of say Chinese winners). How much do we truly know about the past and current scientific achievements of such a closed-off society? Are Muslim scientists motivated to publish their works in scientific journals and thus be recognized?

  131. Sir, The vitriol and attacks coming your way these days are symptoms of your huge success over recent times in lifting up the Atheism agenda out of the darkness.
    For so long atheists have kept quiet, stayed silent, avoided any commotion. For so long we have sat and listened to the bitter and viscous attacks on ‘godlessness’ from the pulpit and many political ‘pulpits’. But YOU have played a leading role in empowering the rest of us to stand up and say No More !
    This is what has changed the landscape. Suddenly atheism has a voice, and now it has many voices. Suddenly we, the rational and scientific ones, are a threat to the previously untouchable landscape of the big religions.
    So their response is to target YOU and anyone they can find. The tactic is to diminish you in any way they can. They call you, and many of the rest of us too, ‘militant’, ‘aggressive’, ‘religious’ ! And this despite the fact that these religious are the most aggressive, militant and overbearing people on the planet 🙂
    Do the atheists have tens of thousands of followers preaching our beliefs every week in churches ?
    I hope Sir that you never back off, that you stay firm and tell it like it is for the rest of your days, and those days be long and fruitful and many.
    In one minor cautionary point – may I say that in my humble opinion Twitter is not a great way to disseminate real and important thoughts or messages. But that may be just me.

  132. In reply to #17 by Raymond Deane:

    Just conceivably the supposed disproportionately low number of Nobel Prizes awarded to Muslims proves the prevalence of discrimination against Muslims.

    A possibility. It seems to me the peace prize would be more subjective and open to discrimination than the science prizes, though. And yet Muslims do relatively better with peace prizes compared to science prizes.

  133. Dawkins is untouchable because his greatest ally is FACTS, and facts don’t care about your discomfort or offence.

  134. In reply to #62 by Algebra:

    Interesting. I see that the Field’s Medal winner list shows an even bigger effect.

    What a pity. Intelligence and talent are worldwide, it would be fantastic if encouragement to participate in mathematics could be given in Muslim countries. This one might get past any inbuilt resistance.

  135. In reply to #145 by golden.claw.77:

    In the interest of fairness, I think my main observations would be that a) The Nobel Prize is a western achievement and the Muslim World is not a member of Western Society (and for reference, it would be interesting to know the current number of say Chinese winners). How much do we truly know about the past and current scientific achievements of such a closed-off society? Are Muslim scientists motivated to publish their works in scientific journals and thus be recognized?

    The Nobel Prize is a Western creation, but not a Western Achievement, and has never been restricted so. It has always been awarded irrespective of who or where the Scientific work has been done.
    You may well be correct in assessing that Islam has discouraged publication of Scientific, and that just supports Dawkins statements. Islam has repressed education, science, learning and research. It has sought to limit and control it’s people by doing so. Ignorance is far more easily manipulated and controlled.

  136. I watched all that play out yesterday and it was very interesting to see. Glad you took the time to revise what you did mean to say (and no doubt did) outside of that dumb character limit.

  137. In reply to #151 by Corylus:

    In reply to #62 by Algebra:

    Interesting. I see that the Field’s Medal winner list shows an even bigger effect.

    And no India…

  138. Nobel Prizes aren’t produced like an apple from a tree. They are awarded upon individuals by others so, your statement is, in fact, not a fact. I’d call it a jab. So, are Muslims bad at science? I don’t think Nobel prizes are sufficient evidence of that. If you want to make a nuanced argument don’t tweet it. If you want to take more jabs at Muslims, keep it up.

  139. Fair enough, many Islamic countries are both materially and culturally backwards by a modern standards, and as a result, their scientific communities perform poorly. But what of it? The current pitiable situation in many Islamic countries is a result of contingent historical circumstances, such as unfavourable geopolitics not permitting colonial expansion during the 16th to 19th centuries (consider the Ottomans, for example) and, even more crucially, Western colonial rule during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. The ongoing, destructive middle Eastern crisis, coupled with Soviet and American meddling in the politics of the region, certainly has not helped to foster the stability and prosperity that allows scientific progress. It really has nothing to do with the character of the religion of Islam – even if religious fundamentalism is a significant part of the problem – and to imply a causal relationship between Islam and stagnation of scientific progress comes off as somewhat historically uninformed.

  140. You’d be surprised (or not) to learn that Abdus Salam, one of the two ‘muslim’ Nobel Prize winners (Physics, 1979) and Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, instead of being celebrated as a hero

    1. is not very well-recognised in Pakistan, nor taught about in schools to inspire young children;

    2. had the word “muslim” erased from his epitaph on the orders of the administration;

    3. and belonged to a minority muslim sect (Ahmediyya) whose members are prevented by Pakistani law from calling themselves muslims, are routinely murdered for their faith by muslim extremists (often with police/state complicity) and, in general, face regular discrimination and harassment.

  141. So, you’ve insulted any Muslim who does science, values science, works in science or studies science; (including Muslim children) by implying that “all the worlds muslims” produce less than another cultural group. This is political correctness 101; I’m sure there is a book on this stuff you could read and that there was a better way to form your statement. Ever consider apologizing? Ever admitted you were wrong?

  142. in my social circle, the main criticism of RD is that he’s mean-spirited, or a jerk. essentially the same as the “dont be mean to fat people” bit above. i think that, at least in a sense of tone, RD’s entire latter day fame as an outspoken atheist reduces down to a discussion of political correctness. it’s not politically correct to speak ill of religion. but that’s why i liked this piece, because it allowed him to speak directly to that, and by answering it to connect in the readers’ minds the REASON he criticizes religion: in this case, that it has a very strong correlation to a particular group of 1.6 billion humans being terribly behind in their understanding of the natural world.

  143. Cambridge has been going strong and attracting highly educated people from the world over for hundreds of years. Most Muslim countries have been very poor most of that time. It is a little sly to say that Muslim countries have oil money when that is rather recent.
    The reason why Muslims do not have an excellent education system is because most Muslims do not live in democracies.

    Still, I am sure that loony Christian bigots and Daily Mail and BBC followers will seize on the comments which ‘prove’ that people from Christian countries are better than people from Muslim countries.

    Richard is very good on the non-existence of God, but he is a bit dodgy on comparing the stupidity of religions.

  144. In reply to #159 by Hazen:

    “ever admitted you were wrong?”

    Hazen, my guess is that RD probably thinks that it is MORE wrong to remain silent when 1.6 billion humans remain so poorly educated about the natural world. Keep in mind that besides being a famous atheist and biologist and author, he is also an educator. Educators care about learning, and when they bemoan a lack of it, they do not do it because they enjoy insulting the ignorant. Consider the recent court cases of Christian Scientists being punished for allowing their children to die of easily treatable medical conditions. These parents often speak out against the “persecution” they suffer. Should the judges and prosecutors apologize for offending their religion?

  145. In reply to #159 by Hazen:

    So, you’ve insulted any Muslim who does science, values science, works in science or studies science; (including Muslim children) by implying that “all the worlds muslims” produce less than another cultural group.

    I thought the statistics did that! Are you suggesting you can’t read statistics, or are you just cherry-picking a few educated exceptions?

    This is political correctness 101; I’m sure there is a book on this stuff you could read

    I’m sure there are hundreds of books – full of fictitious garbage and special pleadings made up by religious apologists! Honest science does not do the oxymoron of “political correctness”.

    and that there was a better way to form your statement.

    There are “better” ways to misrepresent the information and mislead readers about poor standards of education in Muslim dominated countries!

    Ever consider apologizing?

    Apologising for stating honest and accurate statistical information, and presenting a reasoned comment based on this, is no basis for requiring an apology! If the educationally backward do not like being told they are educationally backward, perhaps remedying their ignorance would be a better option than playing at being offended by facts.

    Ever admitted you were wrong?

    Perhaps you would enlighten us by pointing out what information in the OP is “wrong” (ie incorrect or inaccurate).

  146. In reply to #159 by Hazen:

    So, you’ve insulted any Muslim who does science, values science, works in science or studies science; (including Muslim children) by implying that “all the worlds muslims” produce less than another cultural group. This is political correctness 101; I’m sure there is a book on this stuff you could re…

    Why is it that “Political Correctness” is so adverse to free speech? Why are people so offended by perceived “insults”? or even blatant, intended insults, for that matter? And above all, why are the majority of “Political Correctness” police so biased in their so-called “Political Correctness”?

    Rarely do you see throngs of “liberal” “progressive” activists get all-up-in-arms over comments, jokes, insults, cartoons, movies, etc., regarding ANY other religious group. Not with the levels of furor dedicated to defending and protecting Islam.

    All other religions are fair game, it seems. But critics beware! Keep your comments about Islam to yourselves. This would include any criticism; be it ill-informed opinion, well-informed opinion, incorrect and correct statements, facts, evidence, examples, etc. It might be best to not even mention this special ‘protected’ religion at all. Don’t even mention it, lest we be deemed UnmentionableReligionoPhobes. shhh…. mum’s the word.

    Many Atheist groups are guilty of this implied favoritism toward the unmentionable religion as well. If not vocally, at least by their silence. A silence they do not award to other faiths. When’s the last time you heard of an Atheist organization suing a public school for subjecting students to various forms of increasing promotion of the unmentionable religion? Oh no. But the slightest perceived ‘promotion’ of any other religion? Watch out!

  147. Would Professor Dawkins (or any of the other posters here) advise a university not to accept a Muslim who has applied to study medicine on the grounds that their faith is incompatible with the subject they are studying?

  148. In reply to #156 by Hazen:

    Nobel Prizes aren’t produced like an apple from a tree. They are awarded upon individuals by others so, your statement is, in fact, not a fact.

    Informed people would call it an “expert opinion”, – But that is what is being debated – the lack of scientific expertise in education systems in Islamic dominated states as a result of theists disputing and suppressing scientific expertise!

    I’d call it a jab.

    A jab at ignorance perhaps?

    So, are Muslims bad at science? I don’t think Nobel prizes are sufficient evidence of that.

    You could try an alternative measurement of mathematics, which had already been posted earlier and repeated @151 shortly before your comment!

    #62 by Algebra: – Interesting. I see that the Field’s Medal winner list shows an even bigger effect.

  149. In reply to #161 by jonbee:

    “Christian bigots”? While no doubt, bigotry exists on some level in every group, this common reference to Christians as THE bigots is getting old… especially when you’re defending one of the most bigoted religions on earth, in both practice and its teachings. Or is it those Christians who are wreaking most havoc worldwide?

    Yes, maybe its those dang Allah Akbarrrr!!!-screeching Christians who are going the world:

    ** beheading little girls in Malaysia for simply being Christian

    ** beheading Coptic Egyptian immigrants in New Jersey

    ** slaughtering Black people in Libya in “ethnic cleansing”

    ** massacring children in Nigeria and burning them alive in their dorms

    ** shooting Ticket Agents and passengers (in line) at LAX

    ** shooting Jewish women in a Seattle Jewish center

    ** throwing acid on teenage girls, in Zanzibar, for daring to dress “inappropriately” or sing during Ramadan

    ** throwing acid in the face of a 20yr old London woman for daring to work at the “evil” Victoria’s Secret

    ** beating gays in the streets of London

    ** massacring people in Mumbai

    ** blowing the lives, eyesight and limbs off marathoners and kids in Boston

    ** slaughtering innocent Syrians

    ** killing schools full of children in Chechnya, raping several of them including babies

    ** beheading people in Afghanistan because some stupid “Pastor” in Florida burnt some pages from a dang book

    ** Oh and those dang Coptic Christians in Egypt! Really gotta watch those guys! They’re the worst. One minute they’re in church — next minute they’re getting blown to bits in their own churches. Including a recent attack where the jihadists celebrated by smiling, laughing, and dancing on the blown-up, bloody body-parts of the victims — and screeching Allahu Akbarrr!!!! and for extra fun, video-recording the event.

    Yes, there are ugly people who do all kinds of ugly things, from every religion (including no religion), from every social status, every profession, every income-level and every walk-of-life.

    So bash Christians all day long. Insult them. Make fun of them. Criticize them. But be honest. Unless you believe that the Westboro Weirdo Brigade represents them, to label them as the THE bigots is disingenuous.. and frankly, rather bigoted.

  150. In reply to #161 by jonbee:

    Cambridge has been going strong and attracting highly educated people from the world over for hundreds of years. Most Muslim countries have been very poor most of that time. It is a little sly to say that Muslim countries have oil money when that is rather recent.

    Countries with religions like Islam are rarely Democratic because that religion in particular promotes dictatorships and discourages questioning authority, which is why some countries leaning towards authoritarianism are so loudly protecting Islam in the name of political correctness. It’s the one problem I have with Liberals. It’s like protecting the safety of a hyena in a cage with sheep.

  151. In reply to #161 by jonbee:

    Cambridge has been going strong and attracting highly educated people from the world over for hundreds of years. Most Muslim countries have been very poor most of that time. It is a little sly to say that Muslim countries have oil money when that is rather recent.

    Is it more recent than South Korea’s industrial and intellectual boom?

  152. Why didn’t Dawkins say instead; “The Nobel prize committee over the years has bestowed fewer awards to Muslim scientists than Cambridge scientists.” Because this fact requires our interpretation, it reminds us there ARE Muslim scientists and it fails to make his reductionist point(that “all the worlds muslims” suck at science). His jab was general, inflammatory and insulting to some Muslims. Deal with it. Don’t talk shit if you don’t want to start shit. It was bad way to talk about peoples and history. We could say the same about women but, why would you?

  153. In reply to #159 by Hazen:

    So, you’ve insulted any Muslim who does science, values science, works in science or studies science; (including Muslim children) by implying that “all the worlds muslims” produce less than another cultural group. This is political correctness 101; I’m sure there is a book on this stuff you could re…

    There is no such thing as “Muslim children” — only children born to Muslim parents. I was born a child of (nominally) Christian parents, but I was not a “Christian child”. I rejected Christianity and all other religions as soon as I was old enough to think for myself.

  154. The attacks seem too fueled with reactionary hubris to carry any reasonable weight at all.

  155. “Would Dawkins have tweeted another fact, which is that Trinity also has twice as many Nobel prizes as all black people put together? It’s just as true, but presumably he doesn’t believe that it’s because black people aren’t as clever?”

    It’s a good question.

  156. In reply to #174 by MJ-12:

    “Would Dawkins have tweeted another fact, which is that Trinity also has twice as many Nobel prizes as all black people put together? It’s just as true, but presumably he doesn’t believe that it’s because black people aren’t as clever?”

    It’s a good question.

    No, it’s not. It’s your choice and privilege to ignore this: “I certainly didn’t, and don’t, imply any innate inferiority of intellect in those people who happen to follow the Muslim religion. But I did intend to raise in people’s minds the question of whether the religion itself is inimical to scientific education.”

  157. The racism paradox

    Race is a discredited concept. Yet anti-Semitism is a form of racism. It seems that racism exists even if there are no races to be a target of it. The term anti-Semitism is misused to stifle debate. The misuse of a term does not mean that it is not valid and perfectly legitimate when used correctly. The same applies to Islamophobia. It’s parallel to anti-Semitism, both in its misuse and legitimate use.

    The accusations of Islamophobia against the factual statement that Trinity College has more Nobel laureates than the nation of Islam is ridiculous. Why this statement should be factually true is another matter. I would attribute it simply to the lack of economic development of Muslim countries under colonial regimes. The oppression of rational thinking by religious indoctrination and social conformity is an important secondary factor.

    The answer to the lack of human development in, for example, Pakistan lies in economic growth and accessibility to education, especially for girls.

  158. In reply to #171 by Hazen:

    Why didn’t Dawkins say instead; “The Nobel prize committee over the years has bestowed fewer awards to Muslim scientists than Cambridge scientists.”

    Because he is on twitter and there is a 140 character limit and he had more he wanted to say.

    Michael

  159. In reply to #166 by Humbug:

    Would Professor Dawkins (or any of the other posters here) advise a university not to accept a Muslim who has applied to study medicine on the grounds that their faith is incompatible with the subject they are studying?

    Is the student going to take all the courses including the ones on evolutionary biology ?

    Michael

  160. In reply to 105 StFual & 145 golden.claw.77 :

    I thought of the Chinese too. There are 4 chinese prize winners in the “hard” sciences physics, chemistry, medicine – actually, they’re all just in physics. Two of them emigrated and didn’t study in China, and the other two shared a prize.
    Now, either there is some aquivalent to religious damaging of science education in China, as Mr. Dawkins supposes there is in muslimic countries – dogmatic communism springs to mind first – or we’re dealing with different factors after all.

  161. Just absolutely true!! In my language there is an idiom ‘To step on wounded cat’s tail’. Richard Dawkins you are doing a great job. Muslims are in some kind of delusion and they just don’t want to face the reality. The problem is that this resistance to change has caused havoc and will continue for a longer period of time.

  162. Thank you for clearing up your point in a blog post.

    In reply to #12 by DocWatkins:

    The controversy piped up by the press by your tweets is a non-issue. Never do the politically correct thought police pipe up whenever you write something about Christianity. One particular article on The Independent blogs I found particularly hilarious (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/no

    You should really reconsider the ad hominem in your argument.

  163. I think the key fact that many people miss is that race is just a poor placeholder for where someone grew up. The social and cultural influences obviously have some considerable impact on a person’s development and worldview and are determined by where they grew up.

    Judging a persons race likely came about because, in antiquity when humans weren’t able to migrate very far easily, your appearance, i.e. your ancestors were a good indication of the environment and group you were raised in. A persons appearance contained a lot of mostly reliable information about a person.

    Now in modern times, appearance isn’t as good an indication of the conditions of a person’s birth. So the concept of race is less useful.

    But, just because something is useful doesn’t make it moral or prudent.

    So like Richard Dawkins expounded, racially based arguments are ignorant – they don’t realize the error in logic they’re committing – and foolish – they don’t realize the moral and social consequences of misplacing judgment.

  164. In reply to #174 by MJ-12:

    “Would Dawkins have tweeted another fact, which is that Trinity also has twice as many Nobel prizes as all black people put together? It’s just as true, but presumably he doesn’t believe that it’s because black people aren’t as clever?”

    It’s a good question.

    I don’t understand why it is a good question. If anyone who thinks it is a good question would like to explain it I would be interested in reading your explanations. I’m not being a smartass.

    If I understand the last part of that right then I’d want to ask, where did he say Muslims aren’t as clever? If this is just something you infer from what was said then don’t you think that a clarification on that point by the author i.e. they did not intend what you’ve inferred, should carry some weight?

    I certainly didn’t, and don’t, imply any innate inferiority of intellect in those people who happen to follow the Muslim religion.

    I think we can assume “cleverness” is covered by this statement.

  165. As much as I enjoy the open discussion about religion and the effect it has on its practitioners I have to say that I am uncertain if the number of Nobel prize winners is a good way to measure if a religion promotes science or not. If we instead of the number of Nobel prizes use the number of patents per capita granted in countries all over the world, it is easy to reach the conclusion that Buddhism (or Shintoism) can be great religions when it comes to promoting new inventions. Here is the URL to the list:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_pat_gra-economy-patents-granted

    The top five looks like this:

    Rank Countries Amount

    # 1 Japan: 994 per million people

    # 2 Korea, South: 779 per million people

    # 3 United States: 289 per million people

    # 4 Sweden: 271 per million people

    # 5 Germany: 235 per million people
    So Japan and South Korea crushes all competition. If we move down the list a bit to find the first country where Islam is the number one religion we come to place 26:

    26 Kazakhstan: 55 per million people

    which is followed by countries in the European Union like:

    27 Denmark: 52 per million people

    29 Spain: 42 per million people

  166. Well said Mr. Dawkins. What you said in your tweet was a factual statement and facts upset irrational people and religious people are irrational. If people are getting angry at caricatures, tweets, books and articles instead of beheadings, child brides, female genital mutilation and murders, then those people lost their touch with humanity.

  167. I have a right to choose to interpret “race” (and hence “racism”) according to the dictionary definition: “A limited group of people descended from a common ancestor”. (RD)

    Maybe so, but this is not the only sense of the word in common usage. The online dictionary also defines ‘race’ as “a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics”. On this definition , Muslims can be the targets of racist abuse and the term ‘Islamophobia’ is a valid label for this type of abuse. Needless to say, the term, like its counterpart ‘anti-Semitism’, can be used as a yah-boo word, having no factual or logical justification.

  168. “Islam is a religion and you can choose to leave it or join it.”

    Sadly in many Islamic countries this statement is wrong. You try leaving Islam and you could leave yourself open to being executed at worst or imprisonment at best.

  169. In reply to #13 by aliking:

    A largish part of RD’s user of twitter is to craft a tweet that is factually correct, but designed to provoke an outraged response. This was one such and I would say it worked as designed. So yes, all very interesting points, but let’s not claim this is anything other than sophisticated trolling.

    If you are suggesting here on Richard’s own website, that he is a Twitter troll, that would make you a troll here, wouldn’t it? Unless I have misunderstood you. The very nature of Twitter posting is to make a succinct remark that will garner attention. But the troll is hostile to the community in which he is posting. Richard was not. Are you?

  170. In reply to #18 by pixelrow:
    “Dawkins is turning to hate…”

    Pixelrow, I noticed that you join the RD net just two days ago. And here you are slinging accusations at Richard Dawkins. Did you actually read the entire article above, or have you simply arrived to shout a few insults and then will simply leave again, feeling righteous? If you knew what we do here (at our best) you would read the entire article and respond thoughtfully and politely to any individual points you disagree with. But simple-minded accusations like “Dawkins is turning to hate” just makes you a troll.

  171. I also think that it is a shame that Islamic scholars appear to be neutered by an over zealous theology. The sheer waste of talent is desperate. What is worse is the fury that is hurled at anyone who states the obvious by fanatics who find the truth to painful to debate. The obvious questions are always going to be the most difficult for these people but are the ones that need to be answered not screamed insults and threats at individuals when they are asked.

  172. Dear Professor Dawkins,

    As an admirer of BOTH your works, I am particularly depressed at the row that has ensued between yourself and Owen Jones over this ‘racism’ accusation.

    Firstly, since he is clearly a man with a good brain, I am utterly baffled by Jones’ accusation that you are a racist, which all of your works show you are absolutely not. Secondly, however, I am also baffled by the lack of comment from you on the perfectly obvious shared purposes of atheism and socialism. Why DON’T you write a great deal more about the two? It would be so very helpful to us all.

    Is it not time to recognise that Capitalism and Organised Religion are BOTH designed and determined to stamp out human freedoms? Aren’t both about rejecting rational thought? Aren’t both all about disenfranchising the masses? And, perhaps most importantly (for one half of humanity at least) aren’t both about ensuring that men remain in control of women?

    There are many on the Left who are in utter despair over the illiberal – and particularly anti-women – customs and practices of many Islamic communities, yet who are dreadfully afraid of looking like they have suddenly got into bed with fascists by complaining about it. With your public profile, you’re in a position to help. So is Owen Jones for that matter. Atheism and politics can’t just be considered in separate bubbles. Aren’t the dreadful inequalities of the world caused at least as much by economics and politics as they are organised religion?

    Thirdly, Islamic countries may WELL have produced fewer Nobel Prize winners than other countries (or indeed colleges in the rich Southeast of the UK), but that is SURELY a by-product of generally-higher levels of poverty in such countries, no? Since Islam is no more rational than Judaism, we surely can’t suggest that Islam is WHOLLY responsible for lack of academic advancement in such countries. Israel is relatively rich, so the religious absurdities of Judaism – at least as absurd as those of Islam – clearly haven’t prevented Israelis (who are mostly Jewish) from ‘doing well’ on the Nobel Prize hit parade.

    So I’d suggest your comparison isn’t REALLY a useful or helpful one. What WOULD be much more useful is if we all had a proper debate on the Left about both topics. Would you agree?

  173. The United States does very well on the Nobel prize list. The two main races in the United States, according to the US Census, are black and white. I wonder what conclusion we could draw if there is a prevalence of the white racial group among American Nobel laureates.

  174. In reply to #45 by finchbrownjacket:

    Dear Mr Dawkins, this is all very depressing. For future strategy in your polemic, read “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath (you’d like them, liberal, Harvard types…) The concept which I refer to is “bright spot” thinking. If faced with a whole big situation that you don’t like and want to change (Isla…

    Another brand new joiner,(August 9) attacking Richard for his Nobel Prize Tweet. Hmm. Several of you bounded through the door at exactly the same time. One might even suspect someone has suggested you all rush over here and attack together.

  175. In reply to #109 by angie.estrada.12327:

    In reply to #99 by Katy Cordeth:

    Sam Harris’ depiction of the term “Islamophobia” is neither paranoid nor fabricated. Nor is it likely, as per your assertion, that Harris was the first share the apt definition with Richard Dawkins.

    The term was, indeed, coined at an IIIT meeting for the very purpose of launching a new phase of the Muslim Brotherhood’s relentless “information warfare” as per Abdur-Rahman Muhammad.

    I find it sweet that you, Sam Harris and perhaps Professor Dawkins think the term Islamophobia was arrived at deliberately and then disseminated to the world in a sinister bid to allow those dastardly Muslims to go about their despicable plans in the West under the protection of our conventions on racism.

    Language for the most part doesn’t work like that. The coining of words happens organically. If there are people hostile to the Islamic religion or Muslims themselves and one is looking for a word to describe it then language has already furnished us with a template of sorts. You simply apply the suffix -phobia to whatever it is you’re talking about.

    There was no modern day Islamic Council of Nicaea where it was determined that a word was needed to, as you put it, launch a new phase of the Muslim Brotherhood’s relentless information warfare. This is classic conspiracy theory stuff that would make David Icke and Alex Jones proud. Even if there had been a meeting like the one you’ve mentioned, it was entirely unnecessary.

    Out of curiosity, what word would you prefer be used instead to describe events such as this one last year where a Muslim man was pushed under the wheels of a subway train, or this arson attack on a community center? Islamophobia seems fit for the purpose in my opinion, but if you have a better one I’m all ears.

    Your citation of dictionary definitions does not refute the account of the term’s origin, purpose and design. Actually, that the term has recently made its way into dictionaries (other than The Urban Dictionary) is one of the many signs of the success of the IslamoFAUXbia campaign. As is your sadly misinformed commentary.

    You mean your account of the term’s origin, gleaned no doubt from all the best and most reputable sources. Even if you and Harris are correct about the provenance of this word and the sinister reasons for its entering our language, that doesn’t nullify it or invalidate its usefulness. Once a word becomes widely known, it ceases to belong to its creator.

    You may also want to download a copy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Explanatory Memorandum on Strategic Goals for North America” and read it.

    Well, I’m halfway through the Unabomber’s manifesto at the moment, and then I promised someone I’d read Anders Behring Breivik’s treatise, so I’m up to my eyes in nutcase tracts at the moment. I do hope you’re not basing your opinion of over one-and-a-half billion of your fellow humans on a bunch of a-holes’ childish fantasy of world domination.

  176. In reply to #196 by markjamesrosbirkett:

    Dear Professor Dawkins,

    As an admirer of BOTH your works, I am particularly depressed at the row that has ensued between yourself and Owen Jones over this ‘racism’ accusation.

    I wouldn’t call an article by a journalist a ‘row’.

  177. This is a logical fallacy, false cause.
    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/false-cause

    You might as well ask a simpler question, why LA or Miami has so many beautiful women, and there might be more perfect 10s on one beach in a tropical paradise than the entire state of Alaska. What conclusions can you draw about the distribution of beauty based on the demographics of Miss Universe contest winners?

    What’s probably going on is that, the productivity of physicists follows a power lab distribution, (“Landau’s List”, see http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1301/1301.2706.pdf): a small number of really good physicists ought to outperform a larger number of mediocre physicists. Cambridge, simply had a higher concentration of the worlds best physicists, since talented people tend to “cluster” into a few nodes. And since the number of Nobel prizes awarded each year is a whole number, very close to 1, it does not reflect the large number of mediocre physicists out there (who will not be reflected in the statistics until they rise above a minimum threshold to be considered for the prize.)

    A few decades ago you could have made the same “Cambridge Nobel prize” argument about any country at all, or even most cities in the UK. Cambridge has more Nobel prizes than Bristol…ergo, there must be something in the water in Bristol preventing people from getting Nobel prizes. Correlation does not imply causation. China has only received 8 Nobel prizes to date…yet I doubt anybody would bet against China’s share increasing in the coming decades.

  178. In reply to #199 by Katy Cordeth:

    I find it sweet that you, Sam Harris and perhaps Professor Dawkins think the term Islamophobia was arrived at deliberately and then disseminated to the world in a sinister bid to allow those dastardly Muslims to go about their despicable plans in the West under the protection of our conventions on racism. Language for the most part doesn’t work like that.

    There is this guy that I’m sure neither Dawkins nor Harris has ever heard of called Steven Pinker 😉 who makes that argument very clearly in The Blank Slate and The Language Instinct.

  179. In reply to #201 by beavertail:

    Correlation does not imply causation.

    Technically, it does imply causation. It just doesn’t prove it conclusively.

  180. In reply to #199 by Katy Cordeth:

    Out of curiosity, what word would you prefer be used instead to describe events such as this one last year where a Muslim man was pushed under the wheels of a subway train, or this arson attack on a community center? Islamophobia seems fit for the purpose in my opinion, but if you have a better one I’m all ears.

    I agree with the rest of your post, but I’m guessing if those attacks were based on “looking Muslim”, it would technically be racism against Arabic peoples or people of Arabic descent.

  181. i just watched the richard dawkins interview on al jazeera (youtube;) my favorite part was when the interviewer asked, why do scientists get to have opinions on scientific topics, as opposed to the man on the street having a valid opinion?’

  182. I don’t understand why it is that Islam cannot be criticized. I hope you won’t let the detractors silence you because you speak for so very many of us.

  183. In reply to #197 by aldous:

    The United States does very well on the Nobel prize list. The two main races in the United States, according to the US Census, are black and white. I wonder what conclusion we could draw if there is a prevalence of the white racial group among American Nobel laureates.

    I still don’t get it.

  184. Richard, I am a rationalist Muslim [i.e. a rationalist who inherited a Muslim culture] and have admired your argument and logic. I have in fact questioned the Muslim Nobel prize deficiency in my book KHITAB-E-NAU and drawn extensive comparison, even with the Jews. But no Muslim was offended.

    Your tweet on the other hand offended a lot of Muslims who might otherwise sit up thinking. Why? Bad timing and style cast aspersion on your intention. It was Eid day when you administered your terse shocker. Even an unfortunate community has a right to have some good days in their life. Wish you had at least been more tactful [atheists are not precluded from following good manners, are they?], and been a little more friendly in tone and tenor.

    But I condemn all those that are attacking you personally, questioning your integrity and much worse, questioning the truth of your statement. Mohammed said: “Consider what is being said, not who says it”. What you said is true. And I join you in asking Muslims of the world to ponder why this and all such Muslim scientific and technological contributions are now so poor. What can be done in the interest of the Muslims, and of the world, to enhance Muslim interest and the pursuit of excellence in the contemporary fields of knowledge?

    May the controversy die down soon, but may the question continue to ring bells in the ears of those that can change things.

    Hasan Jowher [Link to own website removed by moderator]

  185. There is an interesting essay here
    http://www.paulgraham.com/cities.html

    in which the author asks “where is the Milanese Leonardo?”
    ” Practically every fifteenth century Italian painter you’ve heard of was from Florence, even though Milan was just as big. People in Florence weren’t genetically different, so you have to assume there was someone born in Milan with as much natural ability as Leonardo. What happened to him? If even someone with the same natural ability as Leonardo couldn’t beat the force of environment, do you suppose you can?”

    He then goes on to ask why Cambridge is the intellectual capital of the world (not sure if he means Cambridge, MA or Cambridge, UK). Basically, … what talented people also need is the right environment in which their ideas can flourish. When they cluster in a place, they produce results, which attracts more talent, and so on in an upward positive feedback cycle of success. Cities which do not have such positive feedbacks this remain stagnant in their backwaters.

    So it makes sense that the world should have a few cities that, like supernovae, outshine the rest of the planet by many orders of magnitude. These are the places where success generates more success. In other places, success generates jealousy, suspicion, negativity and corruption. Hence the sparks of learning never develop into a flame.

  186. In reply to #207 by Sean_W:
    Hello Sean,
    The point I was trying to insinuate is Richard’s claim that ‘race’ means primarily, or solely, “A limited group of people descended from a common ancestor” , is unwarranted. Saying that the definition of race as a ‘social construct’ is not common usage is mistaken. The US census lumps together people of diverse ancestry in the white race category. What’s more the population of the group is self-identified.

    I’m all in favour of his barbed tweets. I’d just like to refine his thesis a little.

  187. In reply to #202 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #199 by Katy Cordeth:

    I find it sweet that you, Sam Harris and perhaps Professor Dawkins think the term Islamophobia was arrived at deliberately and then disseminated to the world in a sinister bid to allow those dastardly Muslims to go about their despicable plans in the West under the protection of our conventions on racism. Language for the most part doesn’t work like that.

    There is this guy that I’m sure neither Dawkins nor Harris has ever heard of called Steven Pinker who makes that argument very clearly in The Blank Slate and The Language Instinct.

    I took the liberty of removing the winking emoticon from your response when quoting from it. I hope you don’t mind. The smiley-face one is acceptable ― just ― but all the others should be consigned to the deepest pit of Hell, along with ROFL, LOL, YOLO and all other pseudo-cute text speak. Only those who can recite the lyrics to a Justin Bieber song may use these devices, and only then so we can use it to embarrass them in years to come.

    I don’t quite get your comment. Are you saying that Steven Pinker makes the same argument Harris and Dawkins make or that he has refuted it and is on the side I’m on? I’ll go ahead and assume it’s the former (This is another of those occasions when I wish my recreational reading material didn’t mainly consist of detective novels and the Mr Men books ― oh Mr Tickle, will you never learn ― so I wouldn’t have to speculate).

    I quoted both Richard and Mr Harris in my earlier post on this thread (#99, I think) but I’ll repeat their statements now if I may re the origins of the Islamophobia word.

    Richard said:

    I do attack Islam but Islamophobia is, of course, a ridiculous word. Islam deserves no more protection from being ridiculed than Christianity does and nobody talks about Christianophobia. It’s a public relations coup that somebody has achieved by inventing this word. It is a ridiculous word; it should never be used.

    Sam Harris said:

    There is no such thing as “Islamophobia.” This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia. And it is doing its job, because people like you have been taken in by it.

    I know that great minds think alike, and Richard and Harris are pals so there’s no reason they shouldn’t echo one another over this issue and give voice to the same thought. But now you say ― we think ― that another of these heroes of New Atheism shares this point of view.

    So here’s the thing. I’m no genius, which is probably clear from most of my posts. Goodness knows these three guys put together are smarter than I am! But if it’s clear to me that Islamophobia is a perfectly logical linguistic construct ― object of fear or hatred plus -phobia suffix ― which needs no more explanation than simple, tried-and-tested rules of word formation to understand its origins and certainly didn’t require a clandestine symposium of evil jihadists to take place, its attendees dead set on determining how best to exploit Western guilt and our desire not to be seen as bigoted, for it to enter our vocabulary, why are three of the biggest brains in the New Atheist movement so determined not to accept such an obvious truth?

    Bigotry is despicable. Exploiting or hiding behind bigotry is even worse. No one should be allowed to get away with leveling the charge of racism at their critics if no racism is there. If the holy books are true after all then there will surely be an area in Perdition reserved for those Israelis who invoke the memory of the Shoah to justify persecution of Palestinians.

    To jump the gun, to lay the groundwork of a defense against being called bigoted yourself by claiming preemptively that such charges are impossible to level because the crime you’re accused of doesn’t exist, and jumping through linguistic and logic hoops to do so, is pretty shady behavior.

    Let’s leave redefining words so they mean what we want them to mean to the megalomaniacs, the tyrants … and to characters in works by George Orwell:

    It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.

  188. From its inception to about the time of the Mongol invasion, Islamic theology, jurisprudence, philology & hermeneutics developed in tandem with Scientific and Mathematical discoveries or assimilations. Philosophically, I think, they continued to progress and independently arrived at a type of Occassionalism we see in Descartes and Liebniz. Muslim scholars, in India, welcomed the theory of Evolution which the Xtian missionaries found so troubling but which delighted and put new heart into the Hindus and Buddhists. The reason for this was that Islam had made a distinction between alam al amr and alam al khalq- i.e. possible worlds in which heteroclite objects might exist- and this world in which things are ‘co-evolved’ in the sense of being radically inter-connected. Unfortunately, over the last thirty years, a simplistic Islamism has been developed to counter the crudity of the Govt. sponsored Socialist ideologies of the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies. Many Muslim intellectuals say- look we know our actual philosophy is sophisticated but the masses can’t understand it. Anyway, the language used by the philosophical poets was antinomian and associated with Sufism which has degenerated into Superstition and Idolatry.
    However, as Prof. Dawkins points out, a refusal to accept Evolution means the door of Science slams shut in one’s face. There is no branch of Knowledge where progress can be made save by its light.

  189. In reply to #211 by Katy Cordeth:

    But if it’s clear to me that Islamophobia is a perfectly logical linguistic construct

    Of course it is and that nukes

    There is no such thing as “Islamophobia.”

    right out of the water but not-

    I do attack Islam but Islamophobia is, of course, a ridiculous word.

    You have chosen to be unfair to Richard’s point that attacking a religion is not indicative of Islamophobia any more than attacking Christianity is an example of Christianophobia..

    I would be interested in a few more examples of Islamophobia. Pushing the guy in front of the train was certainly Islamophobic, but was also very probably mad.

    How much work do you think this word has usefully to do?

    Richard’s objection is fully contextualised. Attacking Islam is different from attacking Muslims.

  190. In reply to #211 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #202 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #199 by Katy Cordeth:

    I find it sweet that you, Sam Harris and perhaps Professor Dawkins think the term Islamophobia was arrived at deliberately and then disseminated to the world in a sinister bid to allow those dastardly Muslims to go about their despicab…

    I agree with you about the emoticons. I feel justified in using them because I only use them when I’m actually trying to make a bit of a joke and that only happens about once or twice a year. I was saying that Pinker agrees with you. He has an excellent general overview of language and some common misperceptions about it. I think it was in The Blank Slate but it could be The Language Instinct but I know its in one of them. So for example he takes on myths such as that Eskimos have 100 words for snow and more importantly that it would mean something deep about their thought process if they did.

    And he also takes on the PC people who want to outlaw this word or that going through some very interesting examples of words that went from inconsequential to “swear” words and then back again. “Fag” I think is one that has an interesting history. So I think he would agree with your assesment that its not correct to look at some word and think its a conspiracy. Your description of how words naturally evolve could have been taken from one of his books.

    And for the record I think its ridiculous to claim that there is no need for the word “Islamaphobia”. After 9/11 and through the present there are regular stories in the news about someone in the US getting attacked because someone thinks he’s a muslim. Sometimes the people aren’t even Muslims, Sikhs for example. Or look at the idiocy when they wanted to put a muslim community center in a building that used to have a strip club but was also near the 9/11 site. A strip club was fine but an Islamic community center was disrespectful to the memories of the 9/11 victims (even though many of them actually were Muslims). Thats bigotry and a very specific kind of bigotry. Just as it makes sense to have a word for that kind of bigotry when applied to gays it makes sense to have one for Muslims.

    The fact that bigotry can also be invoked by some people incorrectly is a separate issue. The more I see of Dawkins talking about Islam the more of a disappointment he is. Usually both sides of the discussion just seem so pointless to me its not even worth wading into it. Who give a flying fuck which groups have more or less nobel prize winners? The whole point of science is what counts are the ideas not which group comes up with them. And I’m very disappointed with Dawkins for descending to this kind of petty “my group is better than yours” nonsense. I used to think he was better than that.

  191. In reply to #214 by Red Dog:

    I’m very disappointed with Dawkins for descending to this kind of petty “my group is better than yours” nonsense.

    This very unfairly imputes a motive I believe to be entirely absent.

    I think Richard’s errors of judgment do not need to be sourced in malice and pettiness to make sense.

    I suspect he would rather that was phrased, “why isn’t your group doing as well as this other group?” especially after his invocation of Islam’s former scientific glories. It is a goad entirely to do better.

  192. In reply to #208 by Hasan Jowher:

    Your tweet on the other hand offended a lot of Muslims who might otherwise sit up thinking. Why?

    Tweeters’ tweets are sent to their followers. Do ‘a lot of Muslims’ follow Richard in order to be offended? If they picked them up in the media, blame the media for megaphoning them.

  193. Such kind of reflections seem to get banned frequently in german media when they are posted by readers in the media’s internet forums.

  194. I’m in favour of shining a light on the backward looking ignorance of Islam and all other religions, in order to expose the lack of progress made by revelation as opposed to the Scientific Method, however after reading the posts, it would seem that winning a Nobel is the exclusive territory of white males operating in rich western nations. Perhaps the Tweet was rather ill advised.

  195. I know I’m too late to claim ‘logophobia’ as my own coinage, but ‘fear of words’ , or of the particular word ‘Islamophobia’, is rife. Wikipedia is your friend. You can find the twin concept ‘anti-Semitism’ in Wikipedia, of course, and its relevance is so fully accepted that there’s no need to go looking for definitions.

    Since, so many people have a block about the word “Islamophobia”, I’ll quote the Wikipedia article. Seemingly, the aversion from the word makes it impossible for them to look it up for themselves.

    Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred towards, irrational fear of, or racism[1] towards Muslims.[2][3][4]

    In 1997, the British Runnymede Trust defined Islamophobia as the “dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, [the] fear and dislike of all Muslims,” stating that it also refers to the practice of discriminating against Muslims by excluding them from the economic, social, and public life of the nation. The concept also encompasses the opinions that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion.[5

    It seems necessary to keep repeating that both “anti-Semitism” and “Islamophobia” can be misused to disrupt rational discussion. This does not detract from their legitimate use.

  196. In reply to #214 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #211 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #202 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #199 by Katy Cordeth:

    I find it sweet that you, Sam Harris and perhaps Professor Dawkins think the term Islamophobia was arrived at deliberately and then disseminated to the world in a sinister bid to allow those dastardly…

    Wow. Quick response. I spend ages crafting my comments and you respond to them in the blink of an eye. I’m surprised by what you said about Stephen Pinker because I genuinely thought that as someone who is given a lot of airtime on this site he would be of the Dawkins/Harris view re this issue. Birds of a feather and all that. New Atheism’s hierarchy seems sometimes to be a bit lacking in the area of humanity.

    Can I be honest with you and say that I’ve been delighted by this thread. Usually when Richard posts an article the majority of responses are so fawning they make me want to vom. I came upon this one when about eighty comments had been made. I read them all, expecting the usual “Ooh, you’re so brilliant, Richard”, “Stick it to the Muzzies, Richard”, “Give the sand-monkeys hell, Richard” stuff, and was surprised that most of them, I think, actually seem to be critical.

    This is why I became a member of this site: to hear from non-religious and religious people. This thread, with its 200-plus comments so far, is what an internet forum should be. And I don’t just mean the unusually large number of posts. Many of those who have commented are new members. Well stick around you sons of bitches, this site needs you! If you’re a Muslim don’t be put off by those who say “snrf snrf, so, so you believe in snrf flying horses do you?!!” If you’re a Christian, don’t feel you have to defend Noah and his wife Joan’s Ark. We get that most of you know the story is apocryphal.

    Don’t be bullied. Me and Red Dog have got your back. Zeugy too I think. And PG, and Phil, and Nitya, and Susanlatimer, and Laurie, and bluebird, and a bunch of others, none of whom derives his or her self esteem from showing religious folks how stupid they consider them to be or are so determined to bombard these interlopers with pristine atheist logic that they can’t understand how someone can be religious and be an intelligent, productive human being into the bargain. The lack of feeling for one’s fellow human animals shown on this site is almost palpable at times. Give me a friendly Christian or Muslim over a dickish atheist any day of the week.

    I do have to take issue with you though, Red Dog, over this assertion:

    Thats bigotry and a very specific kind of bigotry. Just as it makes sense to have a word for that kind of bigotry when applied to gays it makes sense to have one for Muslims.

    It’s common knowledge that the word homophobia was decided on in 1972 when a conference, the so-called Council of Nufters, was held in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, spearheaded by Barney Frank, Sandi Toksvig, David Sedaris, Elton John, a minus-one-year-old Neil Patrick Harris, and chaired by the then Prime Minister of Great Britain Edward Heath. I know this to be true because I seen it on the internet.

    …..

    And they’re all eight foot alien lizards.

  197. Dr. Dawkins, as an atheist, I appreciate the work you do so much, but I just facepalmed all over the place when I saw this comment from you. I’m getting my PhD in Sociology, with an emphasis on religion, and teaching gender at my university, and while I am not a scholar (yet!) I voraciously read what scholars of religion write. You’re attributing to religion what can more parsimoniously (and accurately) be attributed to poverty, lack of education, and culture.

    One of the most robust findings in the scientific study of religion is that people use religion as a “tool kit” from which they can draw ideology which supports exactly what they already wanted to find. You want to be pro-slavery? You can find support for it in your holy text. You want to be anti-slavery? You can find support for it in the same holy text. It’s my own pet theory (not held by other scholars of religion — this is only me) that what makes a world religion a world religion is its flexibility — the ability of that religion to blend fairly seamlessly with a variety of cultures, and the ability of its believers to preach nearly anything and find “support” from its holy texts. Just like I taught my undergraduates last week (with many concrete examples) any major world religion can be interpreted as pro-woman or anti-woman, pro-gay or anti-gay, pro-capitalism or anti-capitalism, and to address your tweet, they all can be interpreted as pro-education or anti-education. And how could it be otherwise, in a world where globally, every major world religion is interpreted and reinvented in ways that often make denominational branches virtually unrecognizeable to one another?

    Islam is not the problem, but a culture of anti-intellectualism and traditionalism which pervades the Middle East is. Islam could be interpreted in a pro-science way, and someday it may be. After all, as you pointed out, Islamic culture was at one point, pro-science while Christian culture was anti-science, and then over a millenium, the roles have reversed. If Islam can go one way, and then another, how can the religion itself be the driver of a culture’s intellectualism or lack thereof? And how can that religion then be implicated in a lack of Nobel Prizes?

    Check out Inglehart’s 2006 research, “Mapping Global Values,” in which he found that traditionalism is most closely tied with economies. Religion matters some in creating global values, but economies matter much, much more. All major world religions give people a broad set of tools in the tool kit, but what they choose to build with that tool kit is dependent on their cultures, which are mostly shaped by their economies.

  198. In reply to #221 by SocialLiz:

    Islam is not the problem

    I wish you were right, but no, all religions are not the same, and you cannot expect them to evolve the same way.

    For example, there is not one single incitement to violence or blind faith in the Buddhist Dhammapada, contrarily to the Koran and the Hadith, which are rife with them.

    Also, according to the Hadith, Muhammad personally slit several throats on the battlefield, not the behavior of, say, Jesus Christ.

    So, to put it briefly, some religions like Islam or Scientology will always be more problematic than others.

  199. Sorry to have wasted my time on such mindless babble (referring equally to the tweets and responses). Once again we are guided into the assumption that the emergence of Western science occurred within a socio-political vacuum devoid of influence from the non-West, a claim which has been roundly refuted in, e.g. Feminist post-colonial social theory. Not to mention, the Nobel prize commission itself has only begun to pay attention to “western science” conducted in the “non-West” within the past few decades – so Britain has had quite a head-start. To suggest that the Nobel is an unbiased litmus test of rational thinking (even in the West the Nobel has been dominated by men, while posthumous research has proven women often provided a – if not THE – substantial contribution to major finings awarded the Nobel) is not only “dickish” and Euro-centric, but it’s simply inaccurate and unbecoming of an “objective” scholar. In the same vein, the suggestion that oil-rich nations refuse to allocate their revenue toward Western-style education conveniently avoids the fact that only a small percentage of the revenue actually finds its way in the hands of a wealthy few (who, having been made wealthy from neoliberal capitalism probably don’t give two ideological shits what children learn in school as long as they don’t have to pay for it) within predominately Muslim polities while the rest of it is siphoned off by large multinational corporations mostly based in the U.S. I would have expected better research and more comprehensive citations from you, Dr. Dawkins.

  200. In reply to #222 by Fouad Boussetta:

    In reply to #221 by SocialLiz:

    Islam is not the problem

    I wish you were right, but no, all religions are not the same, and you cannot expect them to evolve the same way.

    For example, there is not one single incitement to violence or blind faith in the Buddhist Dhammapada, contrarily to the Koran and the Hadith, which are rife with them.

    Also, according to the Hadith, Muhammad personally slit several throats on the battlefield, not the behavior of, say, Jesus Christ.

    Jesus Christ, you say? He’d be the lad from the Bible. The book that tells you to bash infants against rocks; that queers are an abomination; that adulterers should be stoned. Kudos, Fouad, on using Buddhism as a way to defend Christianity in an attempt to malign the hated Muslims.

    Buddists don’t need incitements to do their sweet thang in Myanmar though, do they? Does this mean the Buddhist religion of which you’re so fond, with their lovely statues of course, is _de_volving?

    I’m not so sure, neither, that in terms of cultural heroes a pacifist icon is necessarily always superior to a throat-slitting one. If your land is being invaded by those determined to kill you and rape your wives, sisters and daughters, a leader who’s handy with a box cutter might be preferable to some wuss who insists on always turning the other cheek.

    Am I thinking of another RDnet member or was it your good self who on another thread said pacifism is never an option, Fouad?

    So, to put it briefly, some religions like Islam or Scientology will always be more problematic than others.

    Evidence for this assertion, please.

  201. Prof Dawkins, I wish there were more voices like yours. These muslims do not realize that the question you raised is in fact in their own interest and they should be asking this question if they ever want to get out of the hole they are in.

  202. Richard Dawkins, your assumption that nobel prizes are fair should be questioned first.

    When it comes to Islam and muslims, as we see in Egypt case recently, so-called modern western world forgets everything they know about democracy. So please stop insulting at muslims. No muslim scientist believes nobel prizes are given fairly, nor do they die for getting one. And don’t try to give advise using silly arguments when you should be ashamed of more vital things.

    Muslims are not progressing in science well. This is because of your nation UK’s and other western worlds colonization policies over the past 250-300 hundred years. We see the effects of western worlds hidden agenda in Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Libya etc. where you want to export democracies. No muslim believe these lies anymore.

  203. Richard, it’s rather odd to compare a global religion with a tightly focused educational faculty. Why did you use such an unbalanced pair?

  204. gcb01, Richard made what I see as an unbalanced comparison. It wasn’t structured as a question in the form I saw it in, but as an apparent statement of fact. I agree that there are aspects of all religions that should be questioned, but surely constructive criticism is the approach one should expect from a rational and logical individual such as himself?

  205. In reply to #226 by WeyselGuzel:

    ~Muslims are not progressing in science well. This is because of your nation UK’s and other western worlds colonization policies over the past 250-300 hundred years.~

    Western colonization affected many countries around the world. From China to India. From Hong Kong to Indonesia and many part of Asia.
    Why is it that the rest of the world has moved forward from the the post colonial era and its mindset and progress on?

    In what way is the muslim world so unique that they cant?

  206. In reply to #226 by WeyselGuzel:

    Muslims are not progressing in science well. This is because of your nation UK’s and other western worlds colonization policies over the past 250-300 hundred years.

    …of which 150-200 hundred (sic) years were under Ottoman rule.

  207. In reply to #227 by DA1958:

    Richard, it’s rather odd to compare a global religion with a tightly focused educational faculty. Why did you use such an unbalanced pair?

    Didn’t he explain that he used this unbalanced pair to avoid the offense that may be caused by using a more balanced pair?

  208. It doesn’t say a great deal about the success of Western Education either that this tweet required this addendum… Just saying.

    The only difficulty I have with Dawkin’s dogged faith in science, is that we probably need a more nuanced discussion about a) how much “respectable” science deserves to be challenged more insistently as junk science because it is funded indirectly by lobby interests. We have never had so many reports and studies funded essentially by corporate interests looking to bolster arguments that conveniently support their bottom line and b) “Religion” is such a generalized word as to almost render it meaningless. I’m not supporting the views of Deepac Chopra but I felt he scored one point worth exploring further, in one heated debate (where Dawkins incidentally came off a deal better) in which he got frustrated that the straw man of a fundamentalist God sitting in judgement based on a literalist interpretation of the bible, is not a catch all for what many people of some kind of faith might identify with as their “religion” or spirituality. Plenty of people live quite comfortably in the zone of ambiguity where they suspect “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” without also being enthusiasts for the benefits science can and sometimes does bestow.

  209. Richard, sorry but your definition of race is seriously flawed as I depends on which dictionary you look at and also it is not how it is commonly used which is the main reason why so many people were upset by what you said. The following is a link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, from which the following is an extract ‘The ambiguities and confusion associated with determining the boundaries of racial categories have over time provoked a widespread scholarly consensus that discrete or essentialist races are socially constructed, not biologically real.’ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/race/

  210. So many of the comments are about geography, economics, history and politics, but I read RD’s statements as comments that a particular educational regime associated with a particular religion was possibly leading to a chronic lack of scientific achievement in the populations which use it. No doubt he could have written an essay about how fundamentalist education systems of other religions have a similar effect, but he didn’t, and I can’t think of another religion that has had an almost complete hold over the education of all children in a population, as well as a control of the social and legal framework, for such a long time. He could have written about all the factors that may affect scientific achievement in a population, but that’s a huge subject, and he wasn’t attempting to do that either. That doesn’t mean (and why does anyone presume that it does?) that he doesn’t see that Islamic education is not the only thing that can hamper a population’s scientific achievement. Did he mean to cause offence? I think he meant to cause thought and questioning among followers of Islam. He must be pretty well immune to accusations of trying to offend by now – it seems to be some people’s way of saying that he tried to challenge their beliefs, which is fine.

  211. What were missing here seems to be The Great American Mythology, which popped out of our heads without the aid of the Bible, The Book Of Mormon, or The Koran. This mythology can be found in The Book Of Godom & Somorrah, a satirical look at the gods and goddesses who dwelt on Thorn Prick Peak and who created the universe via Cockroac Anna and Reindeer Fool, and who provided we humans with thirteen Icons through which we can decipher meaning. The book can be found at theorbitology.com

  212. Muslims are a ‘race’? Try calling an Iranian an Arab, they’ll soon put you in your place by forcefully telling you they are Persians and NOT Arabs.

  213. Christian is not a race, but how do you define the differences between yellow Asians, black Africans and white Europeans if not by race. Telling people that they are fat and need to diet and exercise is doing them a service. An insult has to be intended as an insult. Avoiding the truth for diplomatic reasons and calling Islam a noble civilisation of peace and tolerance is harmful. Muslims have to be confronted with the fact that Islam engenders their violent hateful behaviour. You are not insulting Islam by stating facts about Islam. Islam is an insult to humanity. It is a fact that Islam opposes knowledge, art and science. Religion is ignorance and superstition with an inability to discern between reality and fantasy, the opposite of science, which concerns itself with; research, reality, reason, plausible theory and fact.

  214. I’m a muslim (well, by birth), well agnostic I ought to say. I don’t buy into militant atheism, and hence Dawkins. But I just thought i’d post to say Richard Dawkins is spot on, and while the comparator he used is tricky, the muslim world has a problem, it has long had a problem, and it’s high time they acknowledged it. The knee jerk reaction illustrates an uneasiness with facing the truth. I’m guilty of it as much as others.

  215. In reply to #236 by Sooradar:

    Muslims are a ‘race’? Try calling an Iranian an Arab, they’ll soon put you in your place by forcefully telling you they are Persians and NOT Arabs.

    Actually, there are a lot of Arab Iranians. Iran is a multi-ethnic state and, although ‘Persians’ are the majority, there are millions of non-Persians in Iran.

  216. In reply to #224 by Katy Cordeth:

    Buddists don’t need incitements to do their sweet thang in Myanmar though, do they?

    Incitement:- “a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered by three Rohingya men.”

    ***You are not supposed to derail the topic. ***

    @OP, Great response Prof. Dawkins. Thank you for doing this.

  217. I really can’t understand what the first two quotes used in your article ‘ there are 1.6 billion Muslims and we are growing fast’ ( unknown) and ‘the belly of our women will give us victory’ attributed to Houari Boumeddiene have to do with Muslims and Science. They are out of context. Surely the late Algerian President was referring to his country’s struggle against French Colonialism.

  218. Dear Richard,
    Your phrase “There is even, sometimes, a hint of menace added…” is diplomatic and potentially key to the problem in regards “fear of our muslim neighbours”. I am a peaceful atheist, friendly with all types of people of many beliefs. I have spent 20 years away from the UK and home town London and returned briefly last month with my wife to visit old haunts, see a few old friends. My impression of central London was, practically, a mosque in every street. Shrouded women practically everywhere. Men in robes, walking the streets in sandals, reciting so all can hear, “god id good, god is great”, on their way to the next mosque. My point? Well, if they disagree so much with our infidel ways; what do they want there? The answers are not that complex. We know what they want there and elsewhere. The want to expand their comfort zone until they are at home everywhere. And now I sound like a racist too. Yet I am not. In a nutshell: thank you for standing up for neutrality. Keep up the good work. [Last section removed by moderator]

  219. In reply to #214 by Red Dog:

    He has an excellent general overview of language and some common misperceptions about it. I think it was in The Blank Slate but it could be The Language Instinct but I know its in one of them. So for example he takes on myths such as that Eskimos have 100 words for snow and more importantly that it would mean something deep about their thought process if they did.

    I know he briefly looked at it in The Language Instinct, but he detailed the origin of words most thoroughly in The Stuff of Thought, chapter six. I don’t think he gave it any attention in The Blank Slate, given the theses behind that book didn’t tackle language.

    In reply to #220 by Katy Cordeth:

    Don’t be bullied. Me and Red Dog have got your back. Zeugy too I think.

    I feel sad that I’m the only one you doubt in that list. I don’t think much of religions, but that doesn’t mean I think little of religious people. Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. are fellow people when all’s said and done.

  220. My last name may be Dawkins but I was raised by my step-father a Hatfield. Bring it!

  221. In reply to #246 by ukantic:

    religious hard-line Israeli settlers on the one hand and Palestinian fundamentalists on the other have consistently, over a period of decades, ignored the wishes of more secular moderates and refused all compromise

    You mischaracterize the Palestinian situation.

    Building Jewish towns, with accompanying infrastructure, on Palestinian Territory is official Israeli government policy. This policy is contrary to international law and the overarching conflict is between the world community and the State of Israel. Since the USA is an ally of Israel and prepared to use its Security Council veto to block any measures against Israel, it can act with impunity and no meaningful negotiations can take place. Peace talks are merely theatre so that the Israelis and powerless Palestinian leaders can look statesmanlike while Israel continues the absorption of Palestinian territory.

  222. With you all the way Richard. We live in worrying times.

    WHY are Muslims no longer contributing? one of the answers can be found in the book The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russel. In the chapter about Islam he explains that there was a period of time when a powerful ruler pushed back the restrictions created by the religious men of the time which said there could be no learning outside of the Koran. This lead to a period of educational and scientific openness. So you could say that this “golden age” occurred despite Islam and not because of it as is implied by many.

  223. You forgot the Ottoman Empire, which was a mighty and for a long time a high-tech empire. Lagâri Hasan Çelebi is maybe a fairy tale, but it shows us like the tales about the inventions of Archimedes, that there were inventors and research in the Ottoman Empire.

    Alchemy was the precurser of chemistry. That should a natural scientist know, it is general knowledge.

    There are enough Jews, which belive, that they were a race. Zionists defamed mixed couples with the same arguments, that Hitler used. They spoke about pollution of the blood of the chosen ones. Nazis and zionists had only different opinions about the defination of the subhuman and the Übermensch. Atheists with jewish ancestors are not called atheists, they are called atheistic Jews or jewish atheists. A Jew, which don’t believe in his god and religion, often call himself still jew or atheistic jew oder jewish atheist.

    You used an argument, which is common in the realm of right and far right wannabe islam critics and christian and jewish islam haters.
    So it is no wonder, that some people reacted in the way, they did. A wise critic don’t use such stuff. You have to search for new ways to criticize. And it is easy to find new ways, which are not used by abrahamidic zealots and right wingers. Humanities are the mightiest weapon against religious fanatics. Or ask Terry Pratchett for help to write a parody oder grotesque. Humour is a mighty weapon too.

  224. In reply to #249 by james vern:

    WHY are Muslims no longer contributing?

    That’s a big leap from ‘There haven’t been many Muslim Nobel laureates”. The worldview of supernatural religion, if taken seriously, is incompatible with science, . Possibly, like many people, Muslim scientists remain attached to certain cultural and community aspects of their faith without being hampered by religious beliefs.

    Then,there is the example of Francis Collins who is both a top scientist and a committed Christian. Presumably he compartmentalizes and doesn’t think religiously when doing science. Scientists with an affiliation to Islam keep the mosque and the science lab separate, I suppose. That depends on living in a country where you are free to do that or working in a field, like weapons production, where the religious authorities put results before dogma.

  225. If criticising the Muslim ideology is considered racist as ‘most Muslims have brown skins’, then surely Muslim countries criticising the West must then also be taken to be racist, as most Westerners ‘have white skins’.

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq consisted of troops from the USA, the UK, Poland and Australia, all majority white countries, and heavily influenced by Christian beliefs (Bush was on a mission from God). Would criticising this if you are non-white and non-Western be racist?

  226. In reply to #252 by Medusa54:

    If criticising the Muslim ideology is considered racist as ‘most Muslims have brown skins’, then surely Muslim countries criticising the West must then also be taken to be racist, as most Westerners ‘have white skins’.

    I think many Muslims have a hard time dealing with the fact that Jews are considered a race and Muslims are not. At least when debating on the web.

  227. I’ve also seen commentators argue that Muslims can be considered a race because many Muslim countries see apostasy as illegal and in some cases punishable by death, and even in Western countries there is an implicit threat of violence or at least rejection from family and community. All the countries that make apostasy a criminal offence are majority-Muslim countries. The argument is that once you are born a Muslim, you are forced to remain one therefore making being a Muslim much a part of you as having blue eyes or Huntington’s disease.

    I can see the validity of that argument and have a lot of sympathy with Muslims trying to leave the faith as documented by posters on CEMB. However, not being allowed the freedom to renounce religion contravenes human rights’ laws, and to argue ‘do not criticise my ideology as if I try to leave proponents of my ideology might murder me’ seems ironic in the extreme and actually gives more of a reason to criticise said religion.

  228. In reply to #254 by Medusa54:

    The argument is that once you are born a Muslim, you are forced to remain one therefore making being a Muslim much a part of you as having blue eyes or Huntington’s disease.

    Except that religion isn’t a biological trait and the argument therefore falls to pieces. I too sympathize with those that want to leave their religion but can’t due to societal norms, but that doesn’t mean that they all of a sudden becomes a seperate race.

    Race is a controversial issue because we have a tendency to view it as human culture versus nature.

  229. Hate to make an argument from school-level statistics, but correlation does not imply causation. From merely the numbers of Nobel Laureates, we cannot come to any conclusions. There’s a lot of intellectual laziness in pinning Islam as the “sole” cause of fewer Nobel Laureates- there are economic and social factors as well. Secondly, it’s not only the Peace Prizes that are problematic (cough, cough Rosalind Franklin, cough, cough). Finally, there are lots of ways in which you’re surprisingly like Muslims. In “Elevatorgate”, what you did was exclude women from discourse by trivializing their very real problems- so you achieved through ridicule what a religious leader would achieve through threats. So, you know, get it right, maybe?

  230. In reply to #237 by Philip Smeeton.:

    Christian is not a race, but how do you define the differences between yellow Asians, black Africans and white Europeans if not by race.

    Why would you want to? image

    P.S. Yellow?

  231. In reply to #204 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #199 by Katy Cordeth:

    I agree with the rest of your post, but I’m guessing if those attacks were based on “looking Muslim”, it would technically be racism against Arabic peoples or people of Arabic descent.

    Would it? If someone burns down a house because they think the inhabitants are Muslim but they’ve gotten the address wrong and kill a Jewish family, that doesn’t make it an antisemitic attack. If someone is beaten up because his assailants believe him to be gay but he’s actually straight, that still counts as a homophobic crime.

    The motive behind the act makes it what it is, no?

  232. The good professor looks great in a T-shirt. Please please please. Dump the suit more often and join the Evolution.!!

  233. In reply to #261 by Katy Cordeth:

    I see what you’re saying, but I think the difference is the difference between mere accident and simple association. Burning down a Jew’s house because you thought they were a Muslim is an accident. Burning down an Arabic person’s house because you think all Muslims are Arabs is association, albeit a stereotypical one.

    I think it would be more accurate to call it Muslimphobia, in that case, since it involves lumping people into one homogenous group and treating them all as potential terrorist suspects or supporters (how else to explain the violence done upon them?). Islam is an abstract creed, whereas Muslims are just people who pay some kind of service to it or to specific aspects of it to varying degrees. This renaming would at least point out the difference between attacking a creed and attacking people. I might also add that I think the word “Islamophobia” is used too readily to shoot down any criticism of the former, but I do think it’s unfair on the more tolerant Muslims to lump them in with their less innocent fellows and treat them indiscriminately – which is, ironically, what the “Islam” in “Islamophobia” implies.

  234. In reply to #259 by mariposa_morena:

    Hate to make an argument from school-level statistics, but correlation does not imply causation. ……..

    ‘Elevatorgate’? Seriously.

    You actually have the audacity in trivialising the pain and agony of women in muslim countries.
    After being raped and being lashed for adultery to make a comparison with ‘Elevatorgate’?

    Wow! …

  235. In reply to #248 by aldous:

    religious hard-line Israeli settlers on the one hand and Palestinian fundamentalists on the other have consistently, over a period of decades, ignored the wishes of more secular moderates and refused all compromise

    You mischaracterize the Palestinian situation.

    Building Jewish towns, with accompanying infrastructure, on Palestinian Territory is official Israeli government policy. This policy is contrary to international law and the overarching conflict is between the world community and the State of Israel. Since the USA is an ally of Israel and prepared to use its Security Council veto to block any measures against Israel, it can act with impunity and no meaningful negotiations can take place. Peace talks are merely theatre so that the Israelis and powerless Palestinian leaders can look statesmanlike while Israel continues the absorption of Palestinian territory…

    I am confused as to why you think I have mischaracterised the Palestinian situation.

    Firstly, I cannot see how anything you have wrote contradicts my claim that religious fundamentalists are exacerbating the conflict and making its resolution that much difficult. In fact I would say that all it has done is helped confirm my position.

    Secondly, my claims are backed up by Malise Ruthven, a respected academic who has spent a great deal of time studying this issue. Why not read his book, Fundamentalism and see what he has to say on the subject.

    Regarding the Americans, a lot of the support for Israel is coming from Christian fundamentalists, who just like their Middle-Eastern counterparts are demented, evil and frothing at the mouth crazy.

  236. Moderators’ message

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  237. Both Muslims and Hindus have equal access to Trinity College Cambridge but whereas there have been 3 Nobel laureates of Hindu background from there since 1980, there have been no Muslim Nobel prize winners.
    Is it a coincidence that Hindus, speaking generally, have experienced a decline in both Religious belief and Ideological fervor since about the 1920’s (with the failure of Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement) whereas Political Islam, after a shaky start, has grown from strength to strength?
    Though many Hindus subscribe to orthopraxy they no longer give theological reasons for so doing- Vegetarianism might be justified as Ethical or even ‘Scientific’, Astrology might be justified by some specious argument developed by Nobel laureate Kary Mullis, visiting Temples may be linked to ‘bio-rhythms’ or crystal vibrations from the surrounding rocks- and this has been a secular trend discernible for over a hundred years now.
    Indeed, the crack-pot Theosophical Society of Madam Blavatsky and Col. Olcott found eager Hindu converts from its inception. Annie Beasant, who took over, was elected President of the Indian Home Rule League before being roughly shouldered aside by the lithe and limber, loin cloth clad, Mahatma.
    By contrast, Islamist parties based on the cadre system used by the Communists, were able to function as a vanguard infiltrating Educational institutions so as to mold young minds. Islam benefited greatly from Stalin’s decision to back the creation of Israel because Communism languished ever afterwards for contributing to the humiliating ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) that still haunts the Muslim mind.
    Whether we speak of ‘Ikhwan’ or ‘Jamaati’ or ‘Salafi’ or ‘Wahhabbi’ or now ‘Takfiri’- the influence of such cadre based organizations do impact on negatively on young people, especially those attending elite Institutions or studying abroad, because they are steered away from ‘fundamental’ research in favor of technical skills+ activism- with a view to making them more useful to the Party. In one sense, it may appear to be a good thing if smart young people return to their home country (or emigrate to a Muslim country) to work with the young people there, but, sadly, the Sciences don’t work like that. Skills degrade quickly, Intellectual curiosity is dampened, and the political horizon overwhelms everything else- you have a recipe for increasing anger and frustration venting itself in quixotic adventurism- including of a terrorist kind.
    By contrast, Business studies is a safer course and many Muslim countries now have first rate financial services industry manned with ‘rocket scientists’- but, this isn’t actually a good thing. Intellectual talent is being diverted into an overblown and fundamentally unstable financial system while Technical education gets neglected and politicized.
    Admirers of Prof. Dawkins book ‘the extended phenotype’- a masterpiece of English prose in which the familiar Sufi trope of the moth and the flame is given a new and more beautiful meaning- should take heed. The activities of cadre based Islamist parties- even though they have had a technocratic image and recruited doctors and engineers- now militate against Human Capital formation in Science and Technology not least because of the ignorant and populist denunciation of Evolution.
    As a case in point, take the Indian Salafi preacher, Dr. Zakir Naik- a medical doctor who denounces Evolution as an unproven hypothesis. When he first emerged, many Indian Muslims welcomed him as an articulate and moderate voice who could inspire the youth. However, if the result of his preaching is that young people lose faith in Medical research and Epidemiology then the very basis of progress and advancement for millions of young Indian Muslims is destroyed.

  238. Much of the misguided hostility to the Dawkins tweets comes from an inability, real or pretended, to recognize them as questions or talking points. They’re somewhat in the form of the essay topics which end with the instruction ” Discuss!”. True, we know from his general outlook the direction he is pointing to but we also know that he puts a priority on conclusions backed by research and reasoned argument. Therefore, he can’t be accused of making patently silly statements that he hasn’t made and wouldn’t make anyway.

    Such accusations, unfortunately, are the stock-in-trade of journalists, religious apologists and atheists with gapingly open minds.

  239. In reply to #137 by shonab:
    I’m not sure ‘rote-learning’ is the key to poor performance in the Sciences, though Religious affiliation might be. My reason for saying so is that if we compare Hindu and Christian children studying in Christian Missionary Schools from 1880 to 1910 in Madras Presidency- where there was nothing but rote-learning and corporal punishment- we find that some Hindus go on to achieve in the Sciences whereas the Christians were under pressure to sacrifice their own scholastic ambitions to serve the Church.
    Those Christians, like Kumarappa, who had scholarly ambitions tended to become critical of the Church and were marginalized. Hindus like Radhakrishnan- Spaulding Professor of Philosophy- reacted against Lutheran theology in a creative way precisely because of a sort of ‘chip on the shoulder’ of a nativist type. C.V. Raman, the first black Science Nobel prize winner, came from a family which harbored a certain amount of resentment against the crude propaganda of the Christian missionaries. However, their entire class certainly profited from ‘rote learning’, without which they would have remained languishing in their own hereditary dogmatism or an even more stupid and reactionary type. What made Christian education valuable was that it fostered a spirit of rebellion and resentment against Christian triumphalism. Moreover, the Govt. of India (under the British) were keen to be even-handed towards the non-Christians.
    One valuable result of Christian Missionary activity in India- quite apart from the excellent character of many of the Missionaries- is that it enabled many Hindus- now, I believe, the vast majority amongst the ‘educationally forward’ castes- to shake off inherited dogmas and embrace secular learning.
    Dawkins himself is a hero to us because his ‘extended phenotype’ removed the taint of ‘Eugenics’ and ‘Social Darwinism’ from the proper study of Evolution. However, since then, no further progress has been made. This is surprising because the Mahabharata (an ancient Indian epic which includes the Bhagvad Gita) is the only ‘Scripture’ which says that knowledge of Statistics and Game theory is essential for a Just King. Clearly, without Game theory you can’t have a concept of an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy. Thus we would expect Hindu origin Game theorists to have explored this aspect of ancient Indian thought.
    Perhaps Prof. Dawkins himself will remedy the lacuna.

  240. In reply to #76 by Scott Mataga:
    Ghazalli is still considered orthodox but I don’t know how many people read him- in South Asia it is his brother who has more influence especially on the ghazal tradition. Perhaps, the fusion of philosophy with poetry for post-Hulagu Islam had an ‘opportunity cost’ in terms of a decline in Natural Philosophy.
    Ghazalli’s own Liebnizian belief that this was the best of all possible worlds made him a figure of fun. By contrast, the separate tradition of Ibn Arabi, which was synthesized with Ishraqi neo-Platonism by great poets like Fakhrudin Hamdani (Iraqi) is still very much alive at the vernacular level. However, the Islamist cadre based parties are now distancing themselves from this tradition because in Western philosophy text-books, Arabi was misleadingly described as a pantheist.
    The truth is crude Euro-centric views have been internalized by cadre based Islamist parties. Meanwhile, though Western and Japanese scholars embrace the teachings of Ibn Arabi- in particular his novel view of the ‘limit’- it is hard to get a University appointment in that area of studies in Muslim countries. The only young Muslim scholar working in this area that I know off is Salman H Bashier and he is in Israel! Meanwhile, Indian Universities- like Osmania whose first Theology Prof. was a peerless scholar of Ibn Arabi- are like an arid desert where the jargon of ‘Political Correctness’ and ‘Subaltern’ ressentiment rules supreme.

  241. In reply to #269 by windwheel:

    I’m not sure ‘rote-learning’ is the key to poor performance in the Sciences, though Religious affiliation might be. My reason for saying so is that if we compare Hindu and Christian children studying in Christian Missionary Schools from 1880 to 1910 in Madras Presidency-

    The problem for many children is much more fundamental than educational methods. It’s no education at all, especially for girls.

  242. In reply to #271 by aldous:
    Yes. This is a calamity. If we ask why are there 160 Jewish Nobel Prize winners- and there would have been many more but for the Holocaust- one factor stands out, Sexual competition. Initially, Ashkenazi women favored learned Rabbis as grooms- the autobiography of Solomon Maimon shows this. His wife ran a successful Tavern to support the young prodigy. Unfortunately he developed a taste for secular learning and booze- but he still wouldn’t give her a ‘get’ probably because a wife who runs a Tavern is the dream of every true booze-hound.
    The other factor was that the Sacred obligation to finance Rabbinical studies became Secularized as providing Jewish Free Schools which rapidly developed as centers of Excellence.
    If one asks why Education is collapsing in many Muslim countries, we find that
    1) Credentialized Education rations rent-seeking opportunities amongst the elite who thus have no incentive to broaden in-take or who do so in a hypocritical manner by creating a two tier system with those trapped in the lower tier condemned to menial work
    2) Cadre based Islamist parties quickly lose any technocratic or meritocratic ethos they might have started out with and thus the educational institutions which they infiltrate or control soon turn into ghettos of paranoid political fantasy in which Physics Professors give lectures about djinns working for Mossad who sabotage their experiments.
    3) Women’s education is first instrumentalized- ‘by educating girls to be true Muslims they will get rid of traditional superstitious practices and become good mothers’- but then demonized because the genie has escaped the bottle! Countries like Iran and Tunisia might have seemed the exception- but this particular battle is by no means over. The fact is traditional societies have a preference for female hypergamy- a man feels insecure if his wife is better educated than him- so the ‘educational inflation’ amongst, for example, Iranian (middle class) women, leads to a ‘basiji’ backlash not just against Women’s education but also the Liberal Intelligentsia and their Political demands.

    The truth is, Educational success goes hand in hand with the Rule of Law. At one time, we thought the Religious parties could check the idiocy of the Leftists but the cure was worse than the disease.

  243. In reply to #273 by omarali50:

    btw, that “golden age” bit is true, but needs to be understood as “golden for its time”. That propaganda can be (and is) sometimes carried too far http://fistfulofeuros.net/afoe/secular-science-confronts-islam/comment-page-1/#comment-17960

    The article you refer to (indirectly) contains a very pertinent passage by a Muslim scientist about the role of the religious mindset in the failings of university education in science (and everything else) in a Pakistani university.

    The scientific method is alien to traditional, unreformed religious thought. Only the exceptional individual is able to exercise such a mindset in a society in which absolute authority comes from above, questions are asked only with difficulty, the penalties for disbelief are severe, the intellect is denigrated, and a certainty exists that all answers are already known and must only be discovered. (Pervez Hoodbhoy is chair and professor in the department of physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he has taught for 34 years.)

    Science and the Islamic world

  244. Richard, I’m an atheist who has read, enjoyed and defended you for years. I wish you would take a break from Twitter. It may not be fair, but it is just not a technology through which nuanced or complicated ideas can be communicated. If you have to write blog posts to explain your tweets, you are losing the argument. You are only one of many prominent people to have fallen into this trap of late, but you need to wake up to it. Tweeting things like “I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today.”, which is incredibly debatable even among secularists, is just daft. Richard, 140 characters is bad for you and the rationalist movement. Please stop and think.

  245. In reply to #275 by KJS:

    Richard, I’m an atheist who has read, enjoyed and defended you for years. I wish you would take a break from Twitter. It may not be fair, but it is just not a technology through which nuanced or complicated ideas can be communicated. If you have to write blog posts to explain your tweets, you are lo…

    Richard tweets thought-provoking discussion points. Think–and discuss.

  246. In reply to #275 by KJS:

    I wish you would take a break from Twitter.

    I personally think Twitter is great: it alerts lots of busy people to lots of different things. Those people can then follow up on their own if they wish for more detailed data. Prof. Dawkins is really blameless. Some people will always accuse you of either Islamophobia or islamophilia, whatever you say about Islam. Just recently this Douglas Murray fellow did just that, unfairly accusing Prof. Dawkins of islamophilia in his otherwise pretty good ebook of the same name! You can’t win…

  247. What I find interesting about this whole thing is that in 2008, Neil deGrasse Tyson made very similar statements at TAM, but he never caught any flak for it that I recall. It seems the simple fact that you are who you are is what made this a big deal, facts or not.

    http://youtu.be/4TmNRgLK5B8

  248. But why measure scientific achievements by religion anyway? There may be Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, working on a scientific discovery leading to a Nobel Prize, but only the “lead authors” of the work usually get the credit.

    How many of those Trinity College Nobels were won by individuals essentially supported by teams consisting of Muslims/Christians etc? Science is never a one man achievement and I am surprised RD would take that stance. And as a 1992 Trinity guy, I am quite offended to see my alma mater used in this way! We had ALL faiths going on in Angel Court, and at the Cavendish Lab…

  249. In reply to #277 by Fouad Boussetta:
    >

    I personally think Twitter is great: it alerts lots of busy people to lots of different things. Those people can then follow up on their own if they wish for more detailed data. Prof. Dawkins is really blameless. Some people will…

    I have no issue with Twitter generally, but there are some arguments that can be made only within their full context. As you imply, there are people looking for reasons to claim Islamophobia is at work. It’s bad enough when the supporting context available in a longer format is ignored. It seems silly to make their job easier by saying something inflammatory with no context at all.

    This is mainly an issue for high profile tweeters who find themselves in a heated argument and end up saying something they wouldn’t in another forum, or if they gave themselves a chance to calm down. I work with politicians who fall into this category and I’m often advising them they have to stay in control when dealing with someone who has pissed them off, even if it means walking away from the iPhone for a while. Otherwise, they’re more likely to look bad even if they are right. Richard has made this mistake a few times now and it’s making his job harder.

  250. In reply to #280 by KJS:

    In reply to #277 by Fouad Boussetta:

    I personally think Twitter is great:…. Prof. Dawkins is really blameless…

    I have no issue with Twitter…

    Nor I, but you are exactly right. Misunderstandings will multiply up. Fast paced pith will always lose out to expansive calm when working with detailed, technical but emotive material.

  251. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading RD tweet. There are 1.5 billion Muslims on this planet. How many of them are utter geniuses but who are caged by the educational straight jacket they are forced to wear? Imagine the utter frustration of a brilliant mind cornered and shackled by the strict confines of a blinkered religious code? How many Malala Yousafzais are there out there? Imagine how a Muslim Albert Einstein must feel? A Muslim Marie Curie? To be dictated to by people whose lives revolve around a single book? RD tweet goes way deeper than may first appear. I cannot thank him enough for raising the issue of those unfortunates who are deprived expression of their genius because of the religion of their birth parents. To those who say RD is a racist or a bigot – you are incapable of understanding the suffering of the people to whom RD refers. But HE DOES understand their suffering and that’s why he tweeted this. Prof – Thank you.

  252. In reply to #280 by KJS:

    .I work with politicians

    That’s why your advice to Richard is inappropriate. Politicians are known for hypocrisy, evasion and duplicity. It’s an occupational requirement. Otherwise, they’d never get elected or, at least, not get to the top. Honest men who will raise awkward questions are a necessary part of a functioning democracy. Self-censorship robs free speech of its meaning. Richard is an educator and public intellectual not a politician.

  253. A man known as a scientist and philosopher making a statement this shallow is a shame…
    Mr Dawkins.. if you want to talk about Islamic countries you should know that since 1400 they endured a hell of colonization by the Turks in the first place and the ottoman empire then by english, French and Russians…
    these imperial countries made sure to destroy the education and conciense of Muslims so they stay obedient and they can steal their resources peacefully… and even when they won their independence in the 50’s of the 20th century they made sure to put harsh dictators in power to make sure the indirect colonization continues….
    You made sure to stop people from progressing while you progress so please make sure to analyze the cause before the consequences…
    And please tell me how the christian countries in Africa and Latin America are doing especially when the southern half of Africa is christian? They must be winning a ton of Nobel prizes…
    it’s not about islam or any other religion… It’s about a chain of events that occurred in that country’s history
    Ps: jews were given everything on a plate since the world felt guilt after the holocaust… So this article is pure biased bull shit…
    i like you as a scientist and i’ve read some of your books but i wish you stop attacking only one religion and attack all of them simultaneously or at least take all the facts in consideration before releasing such a hatefull text….
    i hope you read my comment and i know i’m not that great in english and grammar so no need to laugh..

  254. In reply to #284 by hichem97:

    A man known as a scientist and philosopher making a statement this shallow is a shame…
    Mr Dawkins.. if you want to talk about Islamic countries you should know that since 1400 they endured a hell of colonization by the Turks in the first place and the ottoman empire then by english, French and R…

    I agree.

  255. Rather than quote particular tweets individually, I’ll condense families of attacks into generalised form:

    Richard,

    I wonder how many replies were written all in caps.

  256. In reply to #283 by aldous:

    In reply to #280 by KJS:

    That’s why your advice to Richard is inappropriate..

    Nonsense. All public pundits work in the political arena, just not necessarily the democratic part of it. The requirements of staying calm and clear apply to all seeking influence.

  257. In reply to #287 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #283 by aldous:
    Nonsense. All public pundits work in the political arena, just not necessarily the democratic part of it. The requirements of staying calm and clear apply to all seeking influence.

    It would be fatal to a politician’s chances with the electorate if he were to be ‘clear’ about what he thinks on some issues. Richard certainly doesn’t need lessons in clarity from politicians or their spin doctors. I haven’t noticed him getting unduly agitated either. Nor would I say that being annoyed, incredulous or sarcastic, on occasion, need be out of place.

    Of course, it’s easy enough to mistweet. That’s why an extended review of the issue, taking into account the main objections, as in the ‘calm reflections’ above, is such a good idea. It gives the opportunity to disagree with what is actually being said and not some mistaken assumption about where the argument sits.

  258. In reply to #288 by aldous:

    It would be fatal to a politician’s chances with the electorate if he were to be ‘clear’ about what he thinks on some issues…

    My post was tweet length, i.e. too short, and should have called this nonsense too.

    Government officers may need to be circumspect about certain matters for legal reasons or the risk of real harms being done, but I have no love or respect or inclination to vote for politicians constrained by, say, loyalty to party lines. Dogmatists are the death of decent politics. Politics should always and ever be about pragma. It dies a little every day because too often it is not. (Sorry, needed to say that…)

    Again I say there should be no differences. All should be clear and careful…..and, of course, honest. Tweets often net the strong emotional engagement of a television debate. Hitch, far more a bruiser, than Richard was the master of his emotions under these circumstances. Richard, though admirable, and well above the average pundit in professionalism, is not so self controlled, and on occasions is manipulated into emotional states (reasonably annoyed!) that are not as comprehensively destructive of the religious position as they should be.

    Reviews like this are what sets Richard apart from t’other side, however the other side and the majority of the twitterati will not see it.

    Brevity’s biggest crime in this debate is how broad the target of criticism is drawn. “Islam” very often is not the proper target, when it should be the “leaders of Islam” or “clerics and political leaders making appeals to the Muslim faith”. Like some sort of uncertainty principle, tiny tags make for broad targets that piss a lot of people off, who might otherwise agree.

  259. I agree with phil’s remarks. It is not realistic to dismiss the parallels that exist between politicians and other high profile people just because you don’t like politicians. They are both trying to win an argument in an environment where others are actively seeking to counter, even distort what they’re saying. That “saying something inflammatory with no context at all” is bad practice, is more akin to a law of social media physics than something that applies only to those you believe are dishonourable. It is naive to think it doesn’t matter so long as the inflammatory statement is said honestly. I’m not advocating self-censorship, which would be a vain pursuit with regard to Richard if there ever was one. It is a matter of tactic, and this one isn’t working.

    As for politicians, I advise keeping an eye on them all for the reasons given, but it is definitely not true that they are all dishonourably the same. The Green MPs I work with are some of the most honest and honourable people I’ve had the privilege of knowing and I’m very happy to help them get their messages across effectively.

  260. In reply to #289 by phil rimmer:

    “Islam” very often is not the proper target, when it should be the “leaders of Islam” or “clerics and political leaders making appeals to the Muslim faith”.

    The Dawkins Foundation is not a one-man-band. If you want a more politic approach, particularly when addressing an American public, you want to look to Sean Faircloth, Director of Strategy and Policy. He’s absolutely charming and politically savvy, while being very informed and a skilled public speaker. There’s your man.

    Where I differ with you is on the subject of religion in general and, in this particular instance, Islam. It’s always a target because it’s intellectual nonsense. That is at the core of what people of faith have to say, when they are wearing their religious hats. Whether they are moderates or extremists the same insults to common sense and common knowledge are being peddled. Obviously, priorities apply. It would be absurd to focus on the underlying ideology when confronted with barbaric acts which provoke moral outrage and demand a political response.

  261. In reply to #284 by hichem97:

    they endured a hell of colonization by the Turks in the first place and the ottoman empire then by english,

    Well Ireland suffered 500 years colonisation, famine and much strife under British rule. It still managed 6 Nobels (just one in Science). Population 4-5 million. India endured colonisation and have 7 Nobels (5 in science)

  262. In reply to #290 by KJS:

    I agree with phil’s remarks. It is not realistic to dismiss the parallels that exist between politicians and other high profile people just because you don’t like politicians.

    It’s not that I ‘don’t like politicians’ as a class. I recognize the constraints that are placed on them by having to gain the favour of an electorate which is, quite reasonably, in favour of what they perceive as their interests and, since these perceptions are conflicting, political calculations come before forthright expression of opinion. There are always the eccentrics, like Boris, whose reputation rests on being outrageous.

  263. In reply to #284 by hichem97:

    jews were given everything on a plate since the world felt guilt after the holocaust

    And they still managed to get 17 Nobel prizes in chemistry, physics, medicine and physiology only, before 1939.
    I guess they were given everything on a plate since the world felt guilt… before the holocaust.

  264. In reply to #294 by GOD:

    And they still managed to get 17 Nobel prizes in chemistry, physics, medicine and physiology only, before 1939.
    I guess they were given everything on a plate since the world felt guil…

    you do know where most of jews used to live before isreal were created… right??
    Most of them were French, English, Germain.. citizens so they were living in countries already developed enjoying the best education, the best laboratories… while muslims were crying to convince France and England to let them build some primary schools… so your argument is irrelevant…
    It’s crazy to try even to compare the 2 situations…

  265. In reply to #292 by MacTheKnife:

    Well Ireland suffered 500 years colonization, famine and much strife under British rule. It still managed 6 Nobels (just one in Science). Population 4-5 million…

    Man you’re fucking British… you may be too proud to admit it but you’re British…
    people in Catalunia do not consider themselves spanish but they are spanish wether they like it or not…
    And please don’t compare Britsh’s colonization for countries like Egypt or Sudan or France’s to Algeria were 1 million people killed and lived in pauverty with your cultural struggle for identity….. You are living in a developed country, studying in great school, gtting good scholarships… in a stable political system…
    on the other hand we’ve been slowed to the point where we’re in 21st century and we started fighting the power of the “church” and the religion right now so please sir be thankful for your country and don’t dare to compare…

  266. In reply to #295 by hichem97:

    [Jews] were living in countries already developed enjoying the best education, the best laboratories…

    I see your point. Jews had it easy before, after and during the holocaust. So why bring up the holocaust at all?

  267. In reply to #298 by GOD:

    I see your point. Jews had it easy before, after and during the holocaust. So why bring up the holocaust at all?

    Please, i have nothing against Jews, Christians, or any other religion in the world and i consider my self a universal citizen who tries to make this world a better place with what i’ve got…
    so please don’t use the “holocaust” on me… i wanted to say that jews had great europeen education and after thr ww2 europe and usa pushed them forward even more…
    on the other hands muslims and arabs especially were slowed down and that’s one of the main reasons why we suck at science nowadays…

  268. The problem is while the statement was correct, it ignores the political realities of how Western countries – such as the US, Britain, and France – have done so through colonial exploitation of poorer countries, many of whom are predominantly Muslim:
    Richard Dawkins in the wars again

  269. In reply to #302 by iBrian:

    The problem is while the statement was correct, it ignores the political realities of how Western countries – such as the US, Britain, and France – have done so through colonial exploitation of poorer countries, many of whom are predominantly Muslim:

    Prof. Dawkins tweeted some talking points and you’re talking about them. So success for the Prof and success for the twittersphere.

  270. I have always wondered why religious people get so upset when their beliefs are challenged and yet we atheists take it in our stride when our strongly held views are challenged.
    We are bombarded every day with religious iconography and proselytising from many sources which we have to accept yet the religious are intimidated by one atheist voice in the form of Richard Dawkins.
    Where apart from RD’s articles ,
    books and tweets is any counterpoint to religious belief ever discussed.
    Are the beliefs of the religious so fragile that they are afraid that a reasoned logical argument will change their minds.?
    Are theologians scared to teach their followers about all of the discrepancies in their holy books.
    I think they are and anything that gives people an alternative viewpoint is to be welcomed.
    I think the religious leaders know their arguments are flawed so they have to continually suppress the truth and intimidate anyone who questions the orthodoxy.
    The biggest threat to religion is people thinking for themselves and the religions’ leaders will never allow that if they can avoid it.
    We are asked to respect the beliefs of the religious but the religious do not respect the beliefs of atheists.
    Who decided that the beliefs of the religious are more important than those of atheists.
    Respect works both ways!

  271. In reply to #304 by AdOculos:

    I have always wondered why religious people get so upset when their beliefs are challenged and yet we atheists take it in our stride when our strongly held views are challenged.
    We are bombarded every day with religious iconography and proselytising from many sources which we have to accept yet the…

    Dear AdOculos, i’m challanging this article not because i give a fuck about allah, mohamed or any other religious bullshit..
    I’m asking weither or not religion had to do with scientific progress…
    You see, there are countries like turkey and malisya who are making a good progress despite being mulims and other like latin america, east europe and south africa (not the country) who are stuck in pauverety and ignorance despite being christians + the colonial exploitation of muslim countries that made sure to destroy the educational system and plant dictaors in power …
    These are the 2 mains arguments based on them i say religion is used to control people and make them submit but it has nothing to do with scientific progress… It’s all about Whether your country was a colonizer or colonized during the last 400~500 years
    so i think prof Dawkins has just aimed to provoke muslims with some controversial statements and make a buz for himself…. nothing more, and he made it using their defensive approach and sensitivity toward anything related to islam….

  272. hichem97 you ask a very good question- whether or not religion contributes to scientific progress. In the case of Tamil Brahmin Hinduism, I would say our own Religion stultified the spirit of Scientific inquiry, but exposure to Muslim, and later, European Christian thought, greatly stimulated it.Why?
    Well, the Muslims, and later the Christians had both superior Technology as well as military dominance. Naturally, the Brahmin Hindu felt a sense of inferiority. His own ritualistic learning seemed useless tinsel. But, when the poor Tamil Brahmin boy studied in the Missionary School, he found that the Religious beliefs of the Christians were just as bizarre and illogical as his own. However, their Mathematical and Scientific knowledge was clearly superior.
    In particular, from the 1860’s on-wards, Darwin’s theory of Evolution showed that the Christian attacks on Hinduism were based on stupidity. Thus, the Tamil Brahmin boy felt that if he could excel in Maths or Science, firstly he could show that Hindus were not stupid and secondly he could play a part in reforming the evil and stupid social customs and superstitions of his fellow Hindus.
    Thus the first black man, or non-European, to win a science Nobel came from the ‘Iyer’, Tamil Brahmin community. Indeed, they have produced 3 Nobel laureates in Scientists- two from Trinity College Cambridge. The ‘Pope’ of the Iyer Tamil Brahmins saw this and changed his message. He and other Hindu Sages started praising Science and Mathematics. Even girls were encouraged to study these subjects. Of course, only a very few people are clever enough to become great Scientists or Mathematicians. Still, anyone who did well at school had the ambition of becoming at least and Engineer rather than a Lawyer or a Businessman. Nobody wanted to be a priest.
    Later on, this helped South Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad etc. to emerge as I.T hubs.
    If you look at Turkey- Attaturk abolished the Caliphate and romanized the script- this meant illiteracy could be rooted out and modern, Scientific values took root. Malaysia also adopted roman script. It’s technocrats were able to create wealth for farmers by the foresight. In any case, the country was rich in resources and had a very clever and enterprising Chinese community. Malaysians and Turks are pious Muslims but they understand the importance of Science and Technology.
    Now Bangladesh is coming forward- it has many very clever people, but it does not have a lot of resources and is subject to natural calamities. Bangladeshis are very pious Muslims but they have good education outreach (compared to many parts of India) and they are certain to rise up.
    Many Arab countries- like Iraq in the Sixties and Seventies- embraced a Secular and Scientific path. Iraq had a very good Scientifically trained middle class. Iran has never lagged behind in terms of the people’s intellectual capacity and love of abstract thought. However both Iraq and Iran suffered terribly because of War and Revolution.
    Egypt could be a Scientific super-power. So could Pakistan. Both have Nobel prize winning Scientists. However, politics has poisoned everything. Both had admirable educational systems in the Sixties. But the Economies of both got tied up in knots for stupid reasons.
    BTW, Shah of Iran was the worst at Economics. But for his stupidity, Iran would now be in a very good position.
    I don’t deny that America has shown utter imbecility in its meddling in the politics of some Muslim countries. Still, we have to blame ourselves for our own problems. It is easier to just make speeches than to have a Scientific attitude.
    Still, I must tell you- though I’m Hindu by birth and a firm believer in Evolution- I have nothing but respect for Prophet Muhammad- who emphasized keeping strict accounts (Scientists also keep strict records of their experiments) and telling the truth, not indulging in hypocrisy (munafiqat). Also Hazrat Ali was a very deep thinker. Imam Jafer as Sadiq is considered a great Scientist of his time. His student ‘Al Geber’ was an inspiration to Western proto-Scientists of the medieval period.
    Look at the Luo tribe from Kenya (Obama’s father was Luo)- just in the last forty years they have produced so many outstanding Scientists though they are not rich and till recently had very low literacy. The Past is no guide to the future. In fact this is the essence of Darwinan thinking as opposed to the Lamarkian notion that if your ancestors were Scientists then you will be more likely to be a Scientist.
    There are epigenetic and ‘Baldwin’ effects, quite true, but, in this context, not important at all.
    Whether you have faith in God or not, still Science- of which Darwinian Evolution is a VITAL part- is the only way to lift up our people.

  273. In reply to #241 by Fouad Boussetta:

    It’s not race, it’s how you’re brought up. Here’s an incredibly interesting psychology paper.

    Muslims and Westerners:The Psychological Differences

    This would be the same Nicolai Sennels who wrote about the Connection Between Muslim Inbreeding And Terrorism, would it?

    If there are two things that characterize Islamic culture, they are terrorism and inbreeding.

    The latest research shows that these two things might be closely connected.

    This is why I always get off the bus when an Amish person or member of the English aristocracy embarks.

    Sennels also authored Islam and Inbreeding

    Massive inbreeding within the Muslim culture during the last 1.400 years may have done catastrophic damage to their gene pool. The consequences of intermarriage between first cousins often have serious impact on the intelligence, sanity, and health of their offspring, and on their surroundings.

    If we’re talking about a 1400-year-old genome, does this mean Muslims can identify themselves as a race?

    Another historical example is the royal houses of Europe in which royal families often married among themselves because tradition did not allow them to marry people of a non-royal class. The high number of mentally retarded and handicapped members of royalty throughout European history shows the unhealthy consequences of this practice. Fortunately, royal families now allow themselves to marry for love and not just for status.

    Oh you despicable weasel, Sennels. What a cop-out this final sentence is! Catastrophic damage has been done to the Muslim gene pool but royal families in the West are okay because in the past few decades they’ve relaxed their rules on marriage a bit? They still carry the legacy of all this inbreeding within them though, don’t they? That’s sort of the point of royalty. If little Prince George can’t trace his ancestry all the way back to William the Conqueror when the time comes, he won’t be able to lay claim to the throne of England. That family tree includes every hair-covered torso or drooling cyclops hidden from the eyes of the public in a Scottish castle and unchained only when it came time to breed an heir.

    The negative consequences of inbreeding are also vast for the Muslim world. Inbreeding may thus explain why only nine Muslims ever managed to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize (5 of them won the “Peace Prize” — for peace that turned out not to last for very long).

    The limited ability to understand, appreciate and produce knowledge following a limited IQ is probably also partly the reason why Muslim countries produce 1/10 of the World average when it comes to scientific research…

    I’m sure Richard will be delighted to know he has yet another far-right ideologue on his side. Great minds and all that.


    I am a little surprised you didn’t link to the article Islamonausea, not Islamophobia by Mr Sennels, Fouad. It would seem more germane to the subject of the OP.

    Or this one: An Open Letter to David Cameron

    Sennels is a bigot who has forged a name for himself by pandering to the paranoia of idiots. Little wonder he’s such a hero to the good folks over at Jihad Watch.

    Here is a list of articles he has written about Islam on a website calling itself Gates of Vienna… a site by the way whose subtitle is “At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war.” How many humans have ended up as strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree or were sent to the ovens because of stupid rhetoric like this?


    I have dedicated my life to making people aware of the danger that is already gnawing off big chunks of our cities, economy and freedom.

    The most embarrassing thing I can imagine is that the only place in this universe with intelligent life will end as a planet-sized khalifat floating around in space. Just like the bad guys in The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and other archetypal stories of good and evil, Islam does not strive for freedom, happiness and love.

    Ah Christ, he thinks he’s Luke flippin’ Skywalker.

  274. Well, inbreeding doesn’t typically help raise your IQ (or improve your general health for the matter). And it’s an actual problem, not a conspiracy theory. A serious problem.

    Informative BBC article: The risks of cousin marriage

    “British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders than the general population – they account for just over 3% of all births but have just under a third of all British children with such illnesses.”

  275. In reply to #309 by Fouad Boussetta:

    Well, inbreeding doesn’t typically help raise your IQ (or improve your general health for the matter). And it’s an actual problem, not a conspiracy theory. A serious problem.

    Informative BBC article: The risks of cousin marriage

    “British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with ge…

    Thank goodness there are no heroes of atheism for whom getting hitched to a first cousin was a socially acceptable thing to do.

    None at all.

    How long is it since the Industrial Revolution? A couple hundred years maybe. Before the railways came along most people never left the village they were born in.

    Who does your Mr Sennels think they were marrying?

  276. In reply to #306 by windwheel:

    hichem97 you ask a very good question- whether or not religion contributes to scientific progress.

    Most of your words are true and a pure truth… I’m against the use of science to insult a particular religion…
    Most Muslims and Arab countries are left behind and that’s due to many reasons but religion isn’t one of them… Iraq had some the best scientists in the field of nuclear energy that’s why CIA faked a report and gave it to Bush who started a war that destroyed the research field and education in Iraq and Mossad killed at least 500 scientist in an assasination program… (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article3006.htm) they even made a documantary about them…
    i’m not fully blaming the west but they participated to destroy the mulsims education…
    Also the kings of countries like Saudia arabia who is backed by NATO is one of them main reasons for our actual state… you see, he’s a man with all the power in his country and uses more money on his fucking horses than educational system… and if they try to make an uprise he’ll kill them like sheeps…
    arab and muslim countries are not a unit…

    some of them are very rich but their kings miss uses the money and using it to make his own people a pure consumers and the west is backing him up because more consumers means more money for the industrial countries…
    and the rest of them have great brains but they don’t have enough money to spend on education and researchs.. like Iraq, Egypt… and my country Tunisia…

    Politics have been destroying science in these countries since 1300 (turks invasion)
    Last year i had a great idea for a new idea to fight tumor cells… my (encadreur) mentor prof or whatever it’s his name in english cried about it and said too risky, too costy blabla and i ended up doing a research about a fucking essential oil beacuse it fits the fucking budget of my laboratory and because it’s not risky….

    so please if you have access to good scolarships, good budget… be thankfull and use that potential because some people like me dream to be in your place but they’re busy extracting essential oil instead of finding cure for cancer and fighting sterotypes on the internet.. 🙁
    (and sorry for my crappy english… Tunisians are francophonic)

  277. In reply to #237 by Philip Smeeton.:

    Christian is not a race, but how do you define the differences between yellow Asians, black Africans and white Europeans if not by race.

    Why would you want to divide humanity along such arbitrary, historically and socially contingent and fundamentally unscientific lines? Your argument is logically circular in defining the categories in such a manner that it begs the question, which is itself then answered using said categories. That’s considered fallacious.

  278. Since the preponderance of Jewish Nobel Prizes would mean religious faith is no detriment to advancement, defensiveness from within Islam might only be because of the West’s requirement for it to be a stooge, a scapegoat deserving much-needed wars and invasions.

    Any critical study of 9/11 shows Islam had nothing whatever to do with it. (8 of the “hijackers” turned up alive and well the next day, and at least two of the lead patsies were hard drinking, whoring, violent CIA assets). Resistance using whatever was to hand was a predictable result of being invaded; we, on the other hand, used monstrous weapons including DU and WP on civilians. A decade on, and birth defects in Fallujah are still running at 20%, and a country which held the world’s second heart transplant is now an utter disaster.

    Strange then if we, following the flag waved by the media, still paint Islam as the great backwards enemy, after raining Hell on a country which can trace its Islamic roots back almost to Mohammed’s day, and whose only real crime was having a bungling socipath named Hussein – originally installed by the CIA, and armed by us – at a time when America needed a much more pliable thug at the helm.

    Whatever anyone thinks about 9/11, we needed Islam to be a suspect, and so the West has been unapologetic about its wars, black prisons, kidnap, torture, imprisonment without trial, deaths in custody, and stealing a country’s assets. As one Iraqi taxi driver said to me, “everything Iraq, now belong to America.”

    If religion is not a bar to progress, as the Jewish Nobel recipients show, then perhaps, after having wrecked their countries, we could be a little more sensitive about adding insult to injury?

  279. Moderators’ message

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  280. In reply to #313 by iain399:

    Since the preponderance of Jewish Nobel Prizes would mean religious faith is no detriment to advancement, defensiveness from within Islam might only be because of the West’s requirement for it to be a stooge, a scapegoat deserving much-needed wars and invasions.

    Any critical study of 9/11 shows Isl…

    You’re assuming the Jewish Nobel recipients are/ were believers. It’s my understanding that most people who identify as Jewish are not actually believers. On the other hand, I think it’s fair to assume that those willing to fly into a building to their certain death are convinced of an afterlife of some kind.

  281. In reply to #313 by iain399:

    Since the preponderance of Jewish Nobel Prizes would mean religious faith is no detriment to advancement, …

    Jewishness is not a religious faith. It’s an ethnic identity. Judaism is a religion. Many Jews are atheists. Elite scientists, whatever their ethnicity are likely to be secular. Religious thinking is incompatible with doing science.

  282. Isn’t it possible for a Muslim to attend Trinity College, and then win a Nobel Prize ?

  283. Guilty

    In reply to #4 by Timothy McNamara:

    “Like” if you read the whole thing in Professor Dawkins’ voice, and spent most of that time grinning.

    Just brilliant.

  284. But the perception of Islam is based, largely, on 9/11, which our politicians return to whenever they need justification for more aggression, like a dog to its vomit. You cannot separate Islam and 9/11 if only because our perception of one began with the other, so that like Pavlov’s dogs, people react with “plane.. building.. evil”.

    To exclude 9/11 is to avoid the wider context, the very thing which undermines the credibility of the discussion: on this page Richard Dawkins tries to portray the tweeted message about Nobel prizes as a gentle urging. But it was interpreted as hostile, in the wider world, only because of his previous comments in which no attempt was made to disguise his contempt.

    @ToddKincannon Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter &verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today. [28 Feb 13]

    Poor nice, moderate Muslims, how to cope with all this ridicule? Well, you could leave your religion. Oh I forgot the penalty for apostasy [date unknown]

    Of course you can have an opinion about Islam without having read Qur’an. You don’t have to read Mein Kampf to have an opinion about nazism. [25 Mar 13]

    @JanMarkovic Either that or they feel humililated because their culture is such a conspicuous failure – in science, engineering, medicine etc [date unknown]

    We live quite comfortably in our society, and many of us enjoy discussing struggles elsewhere over a croissant and our favourite latté, perhaps tapping away on our ipad. Everyone here can think of glaring failures in Islamic societies and will be quick to point them out. The remarkable fact that perhaps two billion people are bound, to a greater or lesser degree, by a single book escapes comment.

    But in the field of conspicuous failures, we seem to live in a rather large glass house. Nuclear weapons, endless spending on wars, the predatory nature of the NSA, GCHQ, CIA, FBI etc., our merciless corporate use of slaves in the third world, the largest jail population per capita (in America), colossal – global – pollution, and governments that are nothing more than corporations in drag, make this obvious to those outside. Our problems taint the rest of the world, through pollution, nuclear catastrophes, wars, black prison sites, drone bombings (specifically targeting weddings and funerals), and so on.

    When children at our local schools are asked to donate Christmas gifts to children in the third world, toy military weapons are strictly excluded, because of the trauma they are likely to re-ignite. But guess who makes and sells the real things?

    As our great Foreign Office minister Alan Clark used to say: “It does not concern me what one group of foreigners does to another group of foreigners with British weapons.” Maybe we should take aim at the callous, savage mentality of our own society, before ridiculing others?

    In reply to #314 by Moderator:

    Moderators’ message

    Please remember that our Terms of Use require posts to remain on the topic of the OP; please do not derail the thread into a discussion of 9/11 and related issues.

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  285. In reply to #311 by hichem97:

    In reply to #306 by windwheel:

    hichem97 you ask a very good question- whether or not religion contributes to scientific progress.

    Most of your words are true and a pure truth… I’m against the use of science to insult a particular religion…
    Most Muslims and Arab countries are left behind and t…

    Hichem97

    You conveniently forget about the Iraq Iran war in which for 8 years Sunni and Shiite (Both Muslim factions) fought.
    The two countries have been at odds since the times of Mesopotamia and Persia.
    This has to have had an effect on the development of both of the countries.
    I think Richard Dawkins’ point is that wherever fundamentalist religion of any type gets involved in a country it generally has a detrimentral effect on that country.
    Religion can be accommodated but only in a secular society if the society wants to thrive.
    Religion is often used as an excuse to justify persecution of other peoples whether it be Christian,Muslim or any other religion.
    Do not forget that Bush and Blair were both deeply religious people.
    Fundamentalist Christians are getting a stronger political voice in the USA.
    If for example no-one questions the right wing religious views of the likes of the Tea Party then those views could become mainstream.
    We have to be able to criticise views that we do not agree with without being accused of prejudice or of being insulting.

  286. In reply to #320 by AdOculos:

    You conveniently forget about the Iraq Iran war in which for 8 years Sunni and Shiite (Both Muslim factions) fought.

    Iraq is a majority Shi’a country. The Shi’a majority was loyal to Iraq and fought against their co-religionists in Iran. The main opposition to Saddam during the war came from Sunni Kurds.

    Tribal divisions were usually considered an important source of division in Iraq. In Iran, Persians are the majority but there are other ethnicities, including an Arab minority, quite small in percentage terms but concentrated in the crucial area of the oilfields. They remained loyal despite Saddam’s appeal to pan-Arab sentiments.

  287. In reply to #320 by AdOculos:

    In reply to #311 by hichem97:

    In reply to #306 by windwheel:

    hichem97 you ask a very good question- whether or not religion contributes to scientific progress.

    Most of your words are true and a pure truth… I’m against the use of science to insult a particular religion…
    Most Muslims and Arab…

    Sir, i don’t want to blame it all on the west but Usa enhanced that war and backed up Saddam hussein and pushed him to destroy Iran for them… they gave him weapons, and helped him with their spies and reports…
    Usa’s first aim is to secure cheap ressources for their people so they make sure to help the wrong people to hold on to the power in these countries because that type of people can be bought easily , they destroy edcucation so people will not ask to use their own ressources to make advanced products and sell it.
    Let’s take Saudia arabia as an example… they have a lot of oil and gaz and if they use it to make advanced products , Kerosene and stuff they’ll make more money but due to the lack of education they don’t reclaim that right… also usa helps the king to maintain his reign because he sells them oil for a very low price and made his people pur consumers….
    Now they’re doing the same in tunisia and egypt with the muslim brotherhood who are religion extremists but Usa don’t mind to help them as long it serves her benefits ..
    People in these countries are trying to make their fortune against all the odds… Dictators backed by the west, religion extremists, pauvrety …. so they need respect not hate…

  288. In reply to #296 by hichem97:

    Man you’re fucking British… you may be too proud to admit it but you’re British…

    You are being foolish here. You clearly know nothing about Ireland, its people and its culture. Learn a little before you post such nonsense. The Irish language and the English language are about as close as French is to German. The English tried to kill off the language during the long period of occupation – with much success.

    Britsh’s colonization for countries like Egypt or Sudan or France’s to Algeria were 1 million people killed and lived in pauverty

    1 million Irish people died of famine in 1840-1845. Another million emigrated to the US. Don’t post about stuff you know little or nothing about.

  289. But Muslims do not hesitate to use scientific achievements of the enlightened West to their own fanatically religious ends.

  290. In reply to #323 by MacTheKnife:

    1 million Irish people died of famine in 1840-1845. Another million emigrated to the US. Don’t post about stuff you know little or nothing about.

    The famine happened because of the humidity and Phytophthora infestans who destroyed their potato production..English capitalized on that to win the lands fleed by the irish…

    And nobody was talking about Irish people until you decided to insert them into the debate..
    I don’t know much about them but if you’re willing to enlighten me at least use the correct numbers… (500 thousand died and 2 millions went to USA)
    And i was talking about direct colonization and direct murder not about people who left their country because of the potato disease…
    and the whole reason for me to comment is to say that you can’t analyse something without going back to its reason… not to open a debate of which colonization was the worst and the toughest ….
    and about the language thing i know how it feels because i’m from north africa and arabs destroyed our native language “tamazigh” and pisses me off to see people 80% genetically north africain calling themselves arab and thinking they are arab …
    so be thankful english couldnt destroy your culture as arabs destroyed mine…
    and i suggest that you use a softer tone with me because i’m no hater but an admirer to celtic culture and 3 days ago i was in a Celtic Legends show in Tunisia and i’ve been reading about celtic myths since i was a child…
    peace

  291. In reply to #327 by Smill:

    In reply to hichem97, post 325. It was argued that the Crown caused the potato famine, not the blight, because they stood back when they could have acted to ameliorate it. There was also a continued export of food during the years of famine.

    I don’t know much about that disaster but thanks for the enlightenment.

  292. Dear Mr. Dawkins,

    good luck arguing with people unable to understand, that if a region of the world was powerful and advanced 500 years ago and isnt today, that then something must have happened in between, but with one small point you are likely incorrect:
    “I’d be very surprised if a single prize-winner were to say “I believe Jesus was born of a virgin and rose from the dead””

    http://thedialog.org/?tag=nobel-prize-winner
    “Murray, who won a Nobel Prize”

    “Although Murray was a practicing Catholic,”

    Practicing catholic normally means taking part in mass regularly and mass includes one of:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostles%27_Creed
    “The Apostles’ Creed, which in its present form is later, is also broadly accepted in the West, but is not used in the East. One or other of these two creeds is recited in the Roman Rite Mass directly after the homily on all Sundays and solemnities (Tridentine feasts of the first class).”

    and those 2 creeds both include:
    ” 3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
    4. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
    5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.”
    “who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
    he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;”

    So there is at least one nobel prize winner, who probably regularly said in other wording that he believes jesus was born of a virgin and rose from the dead. Whether he meant it, is of course not determinable.

  293. In reply to #329 by carn:

    good luck arguing with people unable to understand, that if a region of the world was powerful and advanced 500 years ago and isnt today

    Nobody argued that Muslims now are so bad and so left behind in science nowadays… The debate is whether or not religion is the cause….
    and as you said in your comment that a very religious christian won the nobel prize , i don’t think that religion has to do anything with scientific progress …
    Religion is the cause of many wars, hate, crimes…. but not the cause of being bad at science..

  294. Since you quoted me incompletely, it is misunderstanding, what i think they do not understand:
    “that if a region of the world was powerful and advanced 500 years ago and isnt today, that then something must have happened in between,”

    People Dawkins has to answer seem to be unable to understand, that there must be a reason for the decline of relative power/importance of islamic nations and their science.

    “i don’t think that religion has to do anything with scientific progress … ”
    Why shouldnt it interfere?
    If Franklin had believed that Zeus throws lightning to punish people questioning his power, he might have thought twice about going outside during thunderstorms to show that Zeus lightning throwing is so predictable that a device called lightning rod offers effective protection from the gods wrath.

    And it could well be that different religions interfere in different ways.

  295. Carn, I’m talking about religion in these days not about an ancient Greek gods.. Religion interference stoped since Galileo Galilei proved that the earth turns around the sun not the opposite…
    If you have an example of a religious idea that is slowing science down nowadays I would be happy to hear it…
    As an ex-Muslim, I don’t remember hearing an imam or an Islamic rule stoping me from studying or researching …

  296. If you have an example of a religious idea that is slowing science down nowadays I would be happy to hear

    You cannot expect me to show, that some religious idea is slowing down science, because that requires me to show what new so far unknown science discoveries would have been possible in absence of the religious idea.

    Hence, i can only namy religious ideas, that might slow down science:

    -human soul exists from conception onwards -> can slow down stem cell research

    And i doubt the claim that religious interference stopped with Galileo. At most it stopped in christian/catholic countries and then not initially, because Galileo was found guilty, so any stopping probably took a few decades till nobody was anymore afraid to also be accused like him.

  297. There seems to be some general discussion going on here about whether external factors (e.g. western imperialism) can be strong enough to sufficiently explain a lack of development. In this respect there is a very strong example, that external factors are alone not enough to explain lack of development:
    Japan

    In 1854 it was a backward “3rd world” (the term did not exist then) country, lacking any industry, lacking scientific activity and having legislation aimed at isolating Japan from the rest of the world. Then 4 US cannon boats simply sailed into their most important harbor and “politely asked” the Japanese to open their borders for US products. The Japanese lacking even basic cannons already known to the world since hundreds of years, had no choice but to accept the demand. And they didn’t like it. Unlike today nations bullied by US they did not cry for help, but decided that they have to change.

    50 years later the Japanese fleet devastatingly defeated the Russian pacific fleet.

    And since many people from the US are here, most will know what they did just 40 years later and from what i guess, only lucky combination of flight path choices at midway saved the US marines from having to retake Hawaii.

    So from third world country bullied by “imperialistic powers” to major ass kicking of the “imperialistic powers” in a mere 90 years in a time in which the word “foreign aid” did not exist. I think this is strong indication that for all the countries lacking development, external factors are always the less important part, because with just adjusting internal factors, Japan made it.

    (Yes, if they hade made it without murdering so many people along the way, it would also be morally a nice example, but this is only about how important internal factors are for technological and scientific development.)

  298. In reply to #334 by carn:

    There seems to be some general discussion…

    Maybe in 1854 Japan was not so strong militarily but Japan itself is an imperial nation who was bullying Asian countries for ages, who destroyed china many time and enslaved Chinese people… Japan also has no resources , no logistical position, no important canal interfering in world’s trade like Suez Canal… etc Nobody would like to collonize japan…

    I’ll take my country Tunisia as an example… Tunisia was collonized by spain 1500 then by Turks “under the pretext of freeing it from spanish” … Turks who like hitler think that they are the superior “race” eradicated science and education. Used Tunisia as a big farm and a mine who provides food and iron for Istambul… How would a country like tunisia reclaim their freedom Vs an empire that big.. they couldnt..
    1880, turkey decided to get out from Tunisia because the army there is needed in other places.. then france under the pretext of collecting their debts intruded tunisia and a new reign of colonization started and they destroyed what the turks left..
    1958 France retreated to focus on maintaining algeria (because it’s richer with ressources) and made sure to put a president(dictator) who is loyal to them and appllying their propaganda.. untill 2011 we had only 2 presidents and they were so powerfull and so obedient to Usa and france and strong… now that he’s gone, usa is giving money and helping the “muslim brotherhood” to maintain the power and to push us back to 17th century where religion and politics are mixed…
    Carn, please objectively where do you see a space and conditions appropriate for Nobel prizes when a people spend the last 500 years fighting for his freedom and fighting poverty …
    We can advance so quickly if they just leave us alone and stop pushing the wrong people to power… now i guess we’ll spend the next 100 year fighting for our freedom from the tyranny of muslim brotherhood backed by “USA”.

  299. In reply to #99 by Katy Cordeth:

    Perhaps it has something to do with the -phobia suffix and its connotations of irrationality. Stupid people have phobias, not us logical types. I’m a college-educated, tenured, published, respected superstar of science. How dare you place me in the same category as some house frau who screams and jumps onto the kitchen table every time she sees a spider.

    The problem is that context is everything Katy.

    It is arachnophobia when a haus frau in Germany jumps on the table at the sight of a spider certainly…although dangerous spiders exist in Europe, probability of a bite is remote. It is less of a phobia where spiders cause deaths more frequently, but still based on probability, still a phobia…even if subjective.

    Islamaphobia is a whole different animal. The people with the greatest need to be Islamaphobes are Muslims themselves. Muslims should, and indeed do, fear and hate other Muslims more than anyone else fears Muslims…and with good reason.

    “Some 11,000,000 Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, or 0.3 percent, died during the sixty years of fighting Israel, or just 1 out of every 315 Muslim fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent of the 11 million who perished were killed by fellow Muslims.”

    I have a hatred for those Muslims that carry out atrocities in the name of Islam, ya know the ones? The real Muslims that take their holy book literally and to the extreme extent of following the instructions. I just can’t help the emotional tie that hatred brings with it, I’m only human after all, something these animals are not. Murdering and butchering anyone in the name of religion denies them the right to humanity. But that is not Islamaphobia.

    I have a fear of the potential for the Islam that will unfold given that statistics indicate that Muslims coming to Europe is running at 350,000 a year…that’s about a thousand a day. Given their inability to assimilate, their penchant for crimes against humanity, and what the Qu’ran instructs the Immans to instruct the Jihadists to do to the infidel once the Caliphate is realized, I’m not convinced my fear for the future is irrational. So that is not Islamaphobia either.

    While words are being made up all the time, Islamaphobia is just another one of those words, it is the application of the word that is in question. Muslims are the biggest Islamaphobes of the lot…they despise, fear and hate each other more than anyone else.

  300. In reply to #70 by finchbrownjacket:

    You said in a previous comment…

    But again, you are lumping anyone who defines as a “Muslim” in the same boat. It seems that Richard Dawkins and followers conflate repressive regimes (Saudi, Iran etc….) with a theological belief (Islam, which also belongs to two boys in my class a few years back, one of whom is studying Medicine at Cambridge and the other who has just finished a law degree at Durham – both devout and both really wonderful people who love humanity)….

    Then you answered A4D with this..

    “Maybe they are like the Islamic student who took time out of his final university medical exam to face Mecca and pray!”

    No, I don’t think either would do that. But you, in your wisdom, are probably far better to judge these Muslims that I am, after having known…

    Those friends of yours are perhaps not as devout as you assert. Not performing “Salah” is a big no-no, it is one of the five pillars.

    “Under the Hanbali School of thought, a person who doesn’t pray 5 times a day is a disbeliever. The other 3 schools of thought say that the person who doesn’t pray 5 times a day is just a sinner. Prayer is regarded as a dividing line between a believer and a non-believer (according to Sahih Muslim).”

    Now the problem I’m trying to demonstrate here is….What is the basic requirements to be a Muslim? Very difficult to pin down I know, but if accusations a to be flung about willy-nilly, I believe it is a very important point to be cleared up. A bit like the same question on being a Christian, but with greater gravity. Is to be a true Muslim to adhere to the Five Pillars?

  301. In reply to #99 by Katy Cordeth:

    This has been discussed so often here that it’s hard to believe Richard isn’t familiar with the counterargument. Islam punishes apostasy with death. That’s the official line the Qur’an takes.

    You know full well he is aware of the counterargument, he raises it every time he debates with Muslims, what is your point?

    “According to “The Future of the Global Muslim Population,” published in January 2011 by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the growth and anticipated future growth of Islam is primarily due to “their relatively high birth rate, the large number of Muslims of childbearing age, and an increase in life expectancy in Muslim-majority countries” and conversions play little part in the increase due to available data suggesting “Islam loses as many adherents via conversion as it gains.”

    So regardless of the threat to the individuals well being, apostasy exists anyway. Incidentally, the penalty for apostasy in Judaism according their holy book is also death.

    “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.”

    Granted, Jewish crazies are far less likely to carry out the punishment than the Muslim crazies, but it is what it is, which should tell you something.

    And people are born into the religion. There’s a mantra in New Atheism which states ‘there’s no such thing as a religious child’. Technically true of course, but unhelpful. Most Muslims are members of that faith from the moment they’re born until the day they die. The entire argument about racism as it relates to Muslims hinges on this one simple truth.

    For many of the worlds Muslims, it is their political, judicial, ideological, geographical and religious all…but it is not their race. Their is no Muslim race like there is no Protestant race or Catholic race in Ireland, even though for some, it is their political, judicial, ideological, geographical and religious all…and to apostate from either in the past has caused individuals to be ostracized in most cases and their lives in extreme cases.

    Saying, from the comfort of a secular country like England with its neutered, toothless form of Christianity, that a Muslim in Saudi Arabia has a choice in her religion and can leave it at will is disingenuous at best.

    Is that what he said? Let me check…

    “If you think Islam is a race, you are a racist yourself. The concept of race is controversial in biology, for complicated reasons. I could go into that, but I don’t need to here. It’s enough to say that if you can convert to something (or convert or apostatize out of it) it is not a race. If you are going to accuse me of racism, you’ll have to do a lot better than that. Islam is a religion and you can choose to leave it or join it.”

    Nope, nothing there about Saudi apostates. That’s not to say there are none, perhaps Saudi apostates try to keep a low key based on your factual observation about what the religion has in store fore them and the number of Muslim fuckwits in Saudi ready to lope off their heads in the name of Allah…People Who Left Islam…So RD’s point still stands.

  302. In reply to #67 by The Grapes of Roth:

    “A sarcastic person has a superiority complex that can be cured only by the honesty of humility.”

    Sarcasm is lowest form of irony…and only funny when it is accurately presented.

    How dare you ask Prof. Dawkins to provide more than anecdotal evidence and be precise about what he means!!!!

    This was reported as far away as Australia…

    UK: Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution

    “MUSLIM biology students are boycotting lectures about evolution because they conflict with their creationist beliefs, one of Britain’s leading scientists has revealed.”

    “Steve Jones, emeritus professor of human genetics at University College London, said increasing numbers of his undergraduates were refusing to attend his lectures on evolution and complaining that the subject should not be taught on their course.”

    Since when did being precise ever do anyone any good? Richard’s anecdote about his mate telling him about Muslim students boycotting lectures on evolution is good enough.

    Ah, the argumentum ad auctoritatem. Given that Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, and is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, there’s a better than fair chance he knows Steve Jones…possibly the friend he refers too.

    As a critical thinker, I think the best thing to do is uncritically accept everything Richard Dawkins
    says.

    Or you could do some critical thinking for yourself and do the research before making a dick of oneself. The subject was debated at RDFRS not 10 months ago….here… Muslim medical students boycotting lectures on evolution… because it ‘clashes with the Koran’

    @Humbug

    Isn’t one of your mantras not to blindly believe things we’re told but to challenge the evidence? Otherwise, all such statements do is reinforce the bigotry of unthinking people.

    Another mantra is go search for the evidence oneself…Google is your friend.

    ““It is a minority of students … but [the problem] is definitely there and it is definitely growing,” said Jones, who teaches introductory genetics to about 300 first-year students, about a fifth of whom are Muslim.”

    Seek and ye shall find.

  303. In reply to #101 by amiableCDN:

    Given those points I then move to the contrary. If there is active obstruction to education, intelligence and scientific inquiry within the Islamic/Muslim community then I too would object. Since I have many friends and have worked with several with multiple University degrees in Science I do believe that you should probably paint with a much more pointed brush.

    Did you read the piece at all?

    “Just to throw in a separate piece of information, colleagues lecturing to aspiring doctors in British universities inform me that Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution. And I have myself interviewed, for television, pupils and teachers at one of Britain’s leading Islamic secondary schools – one with impeccable Ofsted ratings – where I was informed by a teacher that literally all the pupils reject evolution.”

    The interview for television can be seen in this section from “Faith School Menace?”

    I guess you better start objecting.

  304. In reply to #128 by Humbug:

    In reply to #67 by The Grapes of Roth:

    “As a critical thinker, I think the best thing to do is uncritically accept everything Richard Dawkins says.”

    Your post made me smile, but then it occurred to me that some of the people who “liked” what you said may have thought you were being serious.

    Of course you’d smile, you are two peas in a pod.

    How ironic that Professor Dawkins, in having his unsubstantiated theories blindly accepted without question, is at risk of turning into the very thing he claims to detest.

    You know this how? Just because you haven’t got the gumption to check it out for yourself, don’t fall into the trap that everyone else is an asinine sheeple.

    You can rest assured, however, that I’ll be more scientific than Professor Dawkins in the conclusions I draw from this piece of evidence and not extrapolate it across all his followers.

    Spoiiiing!!!! Yeah, that’ll be right…forget the research, let’s lead of with some ad homs and strawmanning….you drew some excellent conclusions…NOT!

  305. In reply to #340 by Ignorant Amos:

    Most of your arguments are true, Muslims fear Muslims more than anybody…
    Some extremists can’t live in a mixed society..
    But the biggest mistake is to put all Muslims in the same basket.. You can’t put Afghanistan and Pakistan in the same basket with Turkey, Lebanon or Tunisia…
    Saying that muslims can’t live together with other religions is totally wrong as you have 11 million christians in egypt, 200k jews living among 10 millions of Muslims in Tunisia.. Lebanon and Palastine are half christians…etc
    The radical islam exists and it’s a serious threat but unfortunatly Usa and the NATO are helping him to conquar the balanced islam…
    Usa helped Saddam hussein back in the 80’s… the same with Gaddeffi… they created al Qaeda and used it to fight Russia on their behalf… Now they’re doing the same helping al Qaeda in Syria to spread chaos in their country to win the war…
    If the west left his nose out for once, the radical islam and islamists would have been destroyed once for all but Usa cant afford let us do that because no more wars means no more weapons sale, smaller budget for the army.. their weapons companies would become broke…
    It’s all a big political game… the only winners are USA and the extremists … even aafghanistan was a good country before usa created Taliban and AL Qaeda.. (just google afghanistan in the 70’s and see how much freedom and progress they used to have)
    People in muslim countries hate islamic extremists more than everybody… Would they like a country with their whole rights, great scolarships and scholar system.. great economy… Or a fucking Khalifa who cunts the heads of apostates… the answer is clear but your countries are helping the wrong people…

  306. In reply to #187 by aldous:

    I have a right to choose to interpret “race” (and hence “racism”) according to the dictionary definition: “A limited group of people descended from a common ancestor”. (RD)

    Maybe so, but this is not the only sense of the word in common usage. The online dictionary also defines ‘race’ as “a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics”. On this definition , Muslims can be the targets of racist abuse and the term ‘Islamophobia’ is a valid label for this type of abuse. Needless to say, the term, like its counterpart ‘anti-Semitism’, can be used as a yah-boo word, having no factual or logical justification.

    On that definition, fans of Manchester United can be targets of racist abuse and the term reddevilaphobia is a label for that type of abuse….seriously Aldous, that definition makes light of the term racist.

  307. In reply to #339 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #67 by The Grapes of Roth:

    “A sarcastic person has a superiority complex that can be cured only by the honesty of humility.”

    Sarcasm is lowest form of irony…and only funny when it is accurately presented.

    How dare you ask Prof. Dawkins to provide more than anecdotal evidence and be…

    [Removed by moderator]

    So we now know that Richard’s source is one man, Steve Jones, from one university, UCL. We have no precise numbers and we only have the report of one man at one university. So really what Dawkins meant to say was “Around two years ago, Steve Jones said that a small minority of Muslim medical students at UCL were boycotting lectures on evolution” That’s something of a step down from the grander, original claim of “colleagues lecturing to aspiring doctors in British universities inform me that Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution”.

  308. In reply to #344 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #187 by aldous:
    that definition makes light of the term racist.

    Terribly sorry about that but it’s the dictionary definition. Dictionaries define words within the parameters of their usage. They cannot be retro-fitted to match any absurdity that takes your fancy.

  309. In reply to #188 by danbri:

    So what does http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/women.html tell us about women? There are billions of them, after all… Is that the best they can do?

    Like so many here, who should know better, the point is being made as a retort to the Muslim claim…

    “Islamic science deserves enormous respect.” There are two versions of this second claim, ranging from the pathetic desperation of “the Qu’ran anticipated modern science” (the embryo develops from a blob, mountains have roots that hold the earth in place, salt and fresh water don’t mix) to what is arguably quite a good historical point: “Muslim scholars kept the flame of Greek learning alight while Christendom wallowed in the Dark Ages.”

    So like so many here, you are making the same mistake.

    I can’t get over the number of folk commenting on what they think they’ve, or understood, or perceived about what the purpose of the tweet and this follow-up article, and what is actually written and for what purpose. Like so many ignorant book reviews by critics that had bothered reading RD’s books, un-fucking-believeable.