Anti-theism: Reason or Bigotry?

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‘Islamophobia’ is a word that divides opinion like few others. Proponents of multi-culturalism see it as a description of xenophobic tendencies, whilst many nationalists unwaveringly fulfil this definition with bigoted opinions of non-native cultures. Those in favour of multi-culturalism often label Dawkins-esque anti-religion arguments as being those of ‘Islamophobes’.


This leads to all kinds of interesting questions: is it right to say that anti-theism is ‘Islamophobic’? Is anti-theism, more generally, opposed to multi-culturalism? And ethically speaking, how can we separate more bigoted fascist opinions from anti-theism? It’s these kinds of areas that I would to briefly look at.

What is ‘Islamophobia’?

 

Islamophobia is a fairly unique word in the modern world. As a rationalist, I spend some time arguing against the doctrine of faith present in all religions, yet I have never been accused of being ‘Christianophobic’ or ‘Judaiophobic’ like I have ‘Islamophobic’. This in itself says something about the focus: people are much more comfortable with criticisms of ‘native’ religions than perceived ‘foreign’ religions, or perhaps much more wary about prejudice toward Muslims in the aftermath of the last decade of ever increasing Islamic terrorism. I can certainly sympathise with this; after all, I do not agree with the spiritual views of Islam, but I certainly don’t think that believing in nonsense should subject you to prejudice, in general.

 

Ignoring the roots of its almost unique cultural existence, ‘Islamophobia’ could be described more thoroughly as ‘a fear, prejudice or hatred of Islam or Muslims’.

Is anti-theism ‘Islamophobic’?

 

I will simplify things by defining ‘anti-theism’ as referencing a movement opposed to the rational and ethical problems with religion. From this base there are two feasible answers.

 

Firstly, yes, anti-theism is ‘Islamophobic’ in the sense that it fears the effect that unquestioning Islamic belief would have in society. Anti-theism comes from a base of reason and critical thinking – believing both are necessary to progress society as a moral and technical matter. To dissolve these positive mental characteristic in favour of unquestioning faith in beliefs, which science at worst is unsure about and at best disproves, is not a good move.

 

A more thorough answer, though, would be a resounding ‘no’. Anti-theism is not Islamophobic any more than democracy is ‘fascist-phobic’. Anti-theism promotes reason as an antidote to religion: it is the opposite of religion, so could not sensibly be in fear of it. Those who promote anti-theism might fear the effect of widespread Islamic belief, but they do not fear or hate Muslims out of anti-theism, and neither do they single out Islam above other religions. If faith is the real problem – which anti-theism states to be true – then Islamophobia does not seem like an accurate word to describe it. To single out anti-theism as Islamophobic would be to purposefully ignore that it is, to the same extent, phobic of other religious beliefs. Given the culturally sensitive definition of Islamophobia, it seems ill suited to charging anti-theism.

Is anti-theism opposed to multi-culturalism?

 

It is very easy to get sucked into the belief that if one disagrees with religion, then one must also disagree with the culture that sustains it: thus it is attractive to link anti-theism with opposition to multi-culturalism. I happen to think this connection is logically flawed, and here’s why.

 

Multi-culturalism makes no reference to religion, it simply refers to a community that contains more than one culture. This leads to diversity, which is an extremely valuable commodity in any society. What multi-culturalists often confuse is that a mixture of cultures, and even a mixture of different beliefs, is a different thing to a mixture of fatally opposing beliefs. If churches or mosques were themselves simply meeting places, locations for communal events, there would be no moral issue with them. Similarly, if children were baptised into diverse communities, or held rugs with which to sit on in communal events rather than pray on, then it is easy to see how the cultures of many religions would not be at all harmful.

 

It is that specific part of religion – the actual spiritual beliefs, and valuing of faith as a reasonable way to make decisions in the real world – that causes the problems. The culture might be used as a way to keep people indoctrinated, but in a far off time much of these cultural events might also be used as diverse, communal events instead. Anti-theism is not opposed to multi-culturalism as a general matter, and an informed anti-theist should be very aware of the social, political and economic benefits that diversity brings to any society.

 

The confusion comes with those cultural events that are purely useful for religious purposes. Prayer, The Eucharist, religious sermons, etc. Anti-theism opposes the harm these do in allowing people to believe ridiculous things, in the same way that proponents of democracy might dismiss the cultural hero worship of dictators. It is not a marker of opposing multi-culturalism. Anti-theism believes in reason, but reason does not dictate that everyone must value the same cultural environment.

Seperating anti-theism from fascism

 

When we speak about the bigotry of fascism, we often see it residing in nationalist covers. The UK is a great example, with the most anti-Islam party being the British National Party – a group which is no stranger to debates on racism and xenophobia more generally. 

 

There really are no similarities between anti-theism and parties like the BNP. The BNP have no good reason to oppose Islam – indeed they are very much in favour of Christianity, they simply dislike the idea of any immigration, or of anyone living in the country who wasn’t born here. These are incredibly irrational opinions, based on discontinuous line drawing around what constitutes a ‘British’ person, or as to what ‘belong’ means. This just seems like a really weak philosophy borne out of a fear of difference – the same fear of difference that underpins much prejudice.

 

Anti-theism instead grows from reason. Reason would oppose almost every policy the BNP puts forward, including those anti-Islam policies, as they are based on unsound reasoning. In fact reason underpins science, which in turn is built on the valuing of method: it doesn’t matter what your conclusions are, if you can’t prove it with a sound method then you’ve not provided good science. Anti-theism disagrees with Islam due to what Islam actually comprises of – not due to the country where it came from – and as a result it holds none of the same beliefs that nationalist groups do.

 

The task on everyone is to understand and argue this massive difference. It is very easy to get caught up in the emotion of a culturally sensitive word like ‘Islamophobia’, but let’s not confuse reason with bigotry. Nationalists and anti-theism might seem to share a distaste for Islam, but even that is of a very different flavour. Rationalists must not be seduced by the occasionally appealing conclusions of nationalism, just as proponents of multi-culturalism mustn’t fail to recognise when the similarities they think they spot are actually on either side of the grandest intellectual canyon.

 

Robert Johnson is a practical ethicist and philosopher of science. He specialises in the intersection of rationality and ethics, and is the author of 'Rational Morality: A Science of Right and Wrong'. http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/. Be sure to follow Robert on Facebook here.

Written By: Robert Johnson

180 COMMENTS

  1. Its good that we have this article. It is sad that we have to. Yet again an explanation of the difference between anti-theism and racism for the hard of thinking.

  2. Political correctness prevents public figures from talking about the threat that Islam now poses to the world. We are at war with Islam and the teachings that are prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. It does not bode well for the future of Britain when the only people prepared to speak honestly about the dangers posed by Islam are fascists.

  3. In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:

    We are at war with Islam

    That the impression you get from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the Christian West.

  4. In reply to #3 by aldous:

    In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:

    We are at war with Islam

    That the impression you get from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the Christian West.

    And Bosnia, and Kosovo…

  5. Well said and timely. Continued rational thinking is required here. I personally don’t hate Muslims but I am worried about and will push back against the ridiculous beliefs of this and other religions. I say we continue to push for education of girls in third world countries as an antidote to this foul virus infecting the brains of the children of this beautiful planet.

  6. A study of the Koran and the hadith informs us that living with people who follow the commands of the Prophet is very much like having to live alongside Christians during the Dark Ages – Christians who were eager to kill apostates, heretics, and witches. We are in the presence of the past.

  7. We should all be careful when we use the word “phobia”. That infers a psychological condition.

  8. Conflating anti-theism with Islamophobia is ridiculous. The first is a rational stance whereas the second is a pathological expression of Xian culture.

  9. In reply to #6 by Bob Springsteen:

    A study of the Koran and the hadith informs us ….

    Just as much as the study of the Gospels might make you think that Christianity is the religion of peace, if you had no knowledge of history, especially the two great wars in Europe.

  10. A confused and confusing article. I must admit that the word anti-theism/theist is a new one on me. At first I thought it was just another term for atheist, but I guess it refers to a more aggressive branch of atheism, one which symbolically takes up arms against religion.

    Multi-culturalism makes no reference to religion, it simply refers to a community that contains more than one culture. This leads to diversity, which is an extremely valuable commodity in any society. What multi-culturalists often confuse is that a mixture of cultures, and even a mixture of different beliefs, is a different thing to a mixture of fatally opposing beliefs. If churches or mosques were themselves simply meeting places, locations for communal events, there would be no moral issue with them. Similarly, if children were baptised into diverse communities, or held rugs with which to sit on in communal events rather than pray on, then it is easy to see how the cultures of many religions would not be at all harmful.

    So, diversity is an extremely valuable commodity, but only if those we’re talking about are irreligious. Multiculture is fine, come one come all – just as long as your culture doesn’t encompass any religious elements. The multiculturalism we’re prepared to entertain is predicated on atheism, didn’t we make that clear? The amount of melanin in your skin isn’t an issue, but freedom of conscience is strictly regulated.

    That’s the funny thing about culture: it tends to be linked with religion. You can’t stick culture in a centrifuge and isolate and then remove elements you find distasteful. Like it or not, people are going to be religious. If you don’t accept the truth of this, any claims that diverseness is awesome and super for society and our species’ advancement are going to sound rather hollow.

    When we speak about the bigotry of fascism, we often see it residing in nationalist covers. The UK is a great example, with the most anti-Islam party being the British National Party – a group which is no stranger to debates on racism and xenophobia more generally.

    There really are no similarities between anti-theism and parties like the BNP. The BNP have no good reason to oppose Islam – indeed they are very much in favour of Christianity, they simply dislike the idea of any immigration, or of anyone living in the country who wasn’t born here. These are incredibly irrational opinions, based on discontinuous line drawing around what constitutes a ‘British’ person, or as to what ‘belong’ means. This just seems like a really weak philosophy borne out of a fear of difference – the same fear of difference that underpins much prejudice.

    This seems like intellectual snobbishness on Robert Johnson’s part. The BNP are indeed in favor of Christianity, but does this mean they have no good reason to oppose Islam? I would venture, and I think history may be on my side here, that followers of the Way have excellent cause to do just that. Nationalist movements like the BNP are informed by their racism and the fear of the outsider and the harm he will do to their society, but if we take the view that Islam represents a threat to the West, their opposition to Islam would seem justified, despite their cognitive shortcomings. A stopped clock tells the correct time twice a day.

    Anti-theism instead grows from reason. Reason would oppose almost every policy the BNP puts forward, including those anti-Islam policies, as they are based on unsound reasoning…

    And this is just hubris. Anti-theism is the standard-bearer for reason; the BNP’s opposition to Islam is not founded on reason, therefore anti-theism would gainsay any of the party’s policies – even if they happened to make perfect sense or would effect good. Serendipity is a no-no to anti-theism also then. I can’t help but be reminded of the ‘Go God Go’ episode of South Park, in which future humans have a dogmatic and religious devotion to logic.

    A better example of a prominent anti-Muslim group would be the English Defence League. This was set up with the specific intent of opposing the pernicious effect of the perceived ‘Islamification’ going on in Great Britain. It’s not particularly Christian in its outlook, and even has some token non-white members. Unlike the British National Party, it isn’t able to trace its roots back to fascist groups which opposed Commonwealth immigration in the latter half of the previous century and were always hostile to Jewry and homosexuals.
    The EDL has more grass-roots support than the BNP and would better fit the definition of ‘the most anti-Islam party’ in the UK as it ostensibly doesn’t have a problem with other races and puts all its eggs very much in the one, anti-Muslim basket. It claims to be concerned only with things like Sharia, female genital mutilation, extremist indoctrination and terrorism; issues which impact on us all.

    One wonders then if it would find favor with Robert Johnson; whether he would regard the EDL as occupying the same side of the intellectual canyon on which he himself believes he stands. This could be quite problematic as the British National Party and English Defence League are not that different from one another. They are in practical terms actually pretty indistinguishable. The enormous chasm separating Mr Johnson from the BNP, and from where he tuts disapprovingly at them may not be as vast as has been claimed. At the very least we now have a bridge.

    That’s the trouble with asserting that anti-theism is about a but not about b: who can be an anti-theist is up for grabs, and you don’t get to sniffily exclude individuals or groups from identifying as such if they meet the criteria for membership which you have outlined yourself, no matter how unsavory they might be.

    The task on everyone is to understand and argue this massive difference. It is very easy to get caught up in the emotion of a culturally sensitive word like ‘Islamophobia’, but let’s not confuse reason with bigotry. Nationalists and anti-theism might seem to share a distaste for Islam, but even that is of a very different flavour. Rationalists must not be seduced by the occasionally appealing conclusions of nationalism, just as proponents of multi-culturalism mustn’t fail to recognise when the similarities they think they spot are actually on either side of the grandest intellectual canyon.

    I’m hopping back and forth here non-linearly like Pulp Fiction or something. Anyway, to paraphrase the Bard, “Politics acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” You can argue ’til your nose bleeds that anti-theism, which paradoxically according to this piece is both Islamophobic and resoundingly non-Islamophobic – damn you Schrödinger! – isn’t even on the same continuum as the good people of the English Defence League and British National Party; you can sing it from the rooftops. Although doing so recalls another famous Shakespeare line, from The Taming of the Shrew…?

    You can suggest that those of us who have detected something unsavory at the heart of New Atheism, something which leaves a bad taste in the mouth, be it Sam Harris’s defense of racial profiling, RD’s tweeting gaffes, if gaffes they be, or his site’s championing of people like Pat Condell, that this is just us getting caught up in emotion, and why the devil can’t we just think rationally? It is a dirty dialectic technique in my opinion, but whaddo I know?

    “But let’s not confuse reason with bigotry.” Is anyone doing that? Also, can’t bigotry be reasonable? The British Empire grew, and grew prosperous, because of the bigoted attitude it had toward Indians, Africans etc. As did the American empire. And we’re reaping the benefits to this day. In Darwinian, or even just societal terms bigotry can be manifestly reasonable then. Reasonableness in and of itself is not proof of probity. And simply following orders isn’t a defense, even if one is obeying the great and powerful god of logic.

  11. Some religions or flavours thereof have explicitly political aspects. Theocracy is in the very DNA of some, and worse still is the rapacious zeal for conversion.

    Religion has the capacity to be free of these things, but until they are they must be treated as the fascistic political ideologies they are. Operating in these areas, politico-religious leaders have their hands on the most intimate and uncivilised aspects of peoples minds.

    Multiculturalism in the UK is a failed political policy. I have always lived in the cultural stews of big cities and loved it, the mix, the creative interplay, the daily discovery of different yet same is real multiculturalism. It is exemplified by crossover music, crossover food, enriched high streets and markets, holidays, cities where more days feel like an adventure.

    The UK political policy of Multiculturalism though is a deeply conservative vision enacted by first conferring a quasi legal status on the self elected leaders of communities. This is done at the neglect of the individuals of such communities who are actively shielded, by these non-democratically accountable forces, from the state and its full, fair and (properly) indifferent array of services.

    Islamophobia is a word that is not even wrong. Islamo-fearful is something some people night put their hands up to as no-one sensibly could claim an irrational fear, without admitting they have no opinion of any merit. More could raise a hand to “Islamist-fearful”, though, as Len Walsh suggests, these might most often be Chritianists. Some of these would rather be seen as Religionist-fearful. (Puts hand up here.) And then there are people who are simply thoughtlessly change-phobic, (the comfy, conservative, smiley audience at an Andre Rieu concert), the Geert Wilders, blissfully unaware of their own latent cultural fascism.

  12. Anti-theism instead grows from reason. Reason would oppose almost every policy the BNP puts forward, including those anti-Islam policies, as they are based on unsound reasoning…

    And this is just hubris. Anti-theism is the standard-bearer for reason; the BNP’s opposition to Islam is not founded on reason, therefore anti-theism would gainsay any of the party’s policies – even if they happened to make perfect sense or would effect good. Serendipity is a no-no to anti-theism also then.

    Anti-theism grows from reason. It is not this inflated thing, a standard bearer for reason. The reason not to follow along behind the BNP, though it may have some common political goals (and maybe even derived through reason!) is that it is full of change phobic fascists and possibly Christianists.

    Johnson’s reasoning is hubris because it denies the BNP its own evidence and reason. As cultural fascists, they have all the evidence and reasons they need.

    Please don’t support the view that reasonable people think serendipity and reason are not compatible. This hurts.

  13. In reply to #12 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    Anti-theism is the standard-bearer for reason; the BNP’s opposition to Islam is not founded on reason, therefore anti-theism would gainsay any of the party’s policies – even if they happened to make perfect sense or would effect good. Serendipity is a no-no to anti-…

    This is possibly going to spoil my day. Nonsense.

    Sorry. I tells it like I sees it.

    Anti-theism must be taken for what it says.

    Must it? I thought it behoved us on this site to question assertions. I do sometimes like to play the role of devil’s advocate, but in this instance I’m sincere.

    Don’t impute motives to smear a simple term.

    I’m not trying to smear this neologism. I’ve only just heard it.

    Many anti-theists would have no truck with the BNP because they are often fascist and may well contain nuts, who may be, as Len reminds us, Christianists.

    Opposing serendipity and reason leaves me speechless…

    And me. I’m very much pro-serendipity. I even like saying it out loud. “Serendipity.”

    We may have our wires crossed again, Phil. My fault, I’m sure.

  14. In reply to #13 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #12 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    Anti-theism is the standard-bearer for reason; the BNP’s opposition to Islam is not founded on reason, therefore anti-theism would gainsay any of the party’s policies – even if they happened to make perfect sense or would effect good…

    That was a duff post of mine (sorry!). I didn’t see all you were doing…

    Hitchens long described himself as an anti-theist. Leaving meanings as simple as possible, keeps us out of muddling error. We just lock up discussion otherwise…

  15. A “phobia” is by definition an irrational fear, like “Homophobia” or “Agoraphobia”. There is nothing irrational about fearing the spread and growing influence of Islam in the West, just look at any country where Muslims already call the shots and you can see abundant proof of this.

    “Islamophobia” is a bullshit word invented by Islam and it’s PC, Leftist enablers, to try and shame people expressing totally justified mistrust of Islam, into silence.

    To paraphrase Bill Maher: “People tell me I’m prejudiced against Islam. Prejudice means to “pre-judge”. I don’t pre-judge Islam, I judge it!”

  16. even the comments i see here confirm the real problem that people have to talk about “east” and “west”

    the problem with this is what broadly gets referred to as west is a culture that grew on the back of the industrial revolution and colonialism. much of the east has had its development stunted by this fact and the results can be seen by reading the history of the world over the last 100 years.

    all apes are the same in my eyes. they all think they’re better than the others until they discover the others think the same way and the one time victors become ashamed of their own behaviour.

    islomophobia is the hijacking of western guilt by islamists. it assumes westerners, being basically different, are too stupid to spot the difference between ethnicity and belief. many are having their reason blunted by their guilt so that those demanding some sort of cultural compensation feel confident they can go join the queue over and over. for most this isn’t the case, it’s only the lowest forms of character and once again, they’re the same the world over. Ali G’s catchphrase “is it cuz i is black?” (to those who don’t know, the Sasha Baron-Cohen character is white, uses street slang and is very effective at drawing out the bigotries of his targets while making them squirm with fear of being seen as bigotted) is a great example of the culture of fear white people impose on themselves. humans have been conditioned to react to words and antisocial humans use that conditioning to their own gain.

    right now oppressive governemnts get away with treating their people badly by employing western guilt, blaming the infidel is easy and the infidel can’t argue back because we do have a historical case to answer but how long can you feed off your historical oppressoin before you’re the oppressor?

    one day it might be culturally inacceptable to accuse someone of islamophobia and when that happens you can bet there’ll be unscrupulous non-muslims accusing muslims of accusing them of islamophobia.

    apes is apes, they’re all capable of using existing or historical cultural clashes for their own pity and it will always be the same types who perpetuate it; those who put their own desires over the welfare of society, protected by faux-liberal self-defined intellectual types spouting a PC mantra they read without taking time to understand. Intelectual laziness will ensure people are polorized because it’s easier to join the winning team than ask if you’d feel better going down with the losing one

  17. In reply to #16 by SaganTheCat:

    the problem with this is what broadly gets referred to as west is a culture that grew on the back of the industrial revolution and colonialism. much of the east has had its development stunted by…

    That’s very true but, whereas Pakistan may be socially and economically underdeveloped, it has become a nuclear-armed country. I would have thought India and China were also part of the ‘east’ . Perhaps we shouldn’t crow too loudly about our technological superiority. It may be just a blip in history and the ‘east’ may be soon able to equal us in the capacity to destroy human life with the most sophisticated weapons.

  18. In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    “A confused and confusing article. I must admit that the word anti-theism/theist is a new one on me. At first I thought it was just another term for atheist, but I guess it refers to a more aggressive branch of atheism, one which symbolically takes up arms against religion…”

    One small point: Anti-theism does not of itself imply aggression. Just as one can be anti-smoking, avoiding tobacco and even urging others to do so, whether they act aggressively on that stance is a separate matter.

  19. In reply to #15 by Negasta:

    A “phobia” is by definition an irrational fear, like “Homophobia” or “Agoraphobia”. There is nothing irrational about fearing the spread and growing influence of Islam in the West,

    Accusations of Islamophobia are just like accusations of anti-Semitism. Sometimes they are justified, sometimes not.

  20. Anti semitism and Islamophobia are expressions of hate for a particular religion whereas Anti theists have a personal hate and vendetta against religion

    Atheists on the other hand have turned their backs on religion and dismiss all corrupt association with religions equally you would assume this fair and reasoned ‘logic’ that atheists possess would naturally overspill into ‘not being racist’, but realistically some atheists like BNP fascist types are white supremacist racist …and they don’t just represent Britain but the West in general….If those kind of groups are also atheist its a Trojan horse connection to the mainstream multicultural ‘secular activist’ type atheists….
    Even Communist leaders tend toward neo nazi fascism but come from an atheist country who’s recently made it a crime to insult religion – Go figure ?
    I’d say fundamentalist Christianity, Judaism and Islam love to feel persecuted and they want to know who hates them as it feeds into their ideas of being oppressed by the multicultural west and therefore justifiably fighting back against the perceived ‘anti’ sentiments from those nasty atheists…whom all religions equally despise but fear…..
    I’d say Multiculturalism is about people from everywhere living together not yet in harmony but at least tolerating difference….but when one stands out above the rest as a bit of a bully….well you know the tall poppy syndrome – don’t indulge special preferences or chosen people….No its not about that….. forget that if you want to live in a multicultural place…or go back to your desert hole if you want to be isolationist….

  21. In reply to #3 by aldous:

    In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:

    We are at war with Islam

    That the impression you get from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the Christian West.

    Do you mean;

    1) That IS the impression you get from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the Christian West.

    or

    2) IS That the impression you get from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the Christian West?

    And whatever your reply is, FFS can you write something intelligible or not at all? If it could mean one thing and everyone around you assumes you mean something completely different what is the point in writing? This is literally not an intelligible sentence. But it’s worse than that, if there was only 2 diametrically opposed interpretations of your ambiguous writing we might be able to guess but when there’s multiple you are just wasting our time.

    Short and pithy is one thing, JAQing-off is inappropriate.

    This is obviously a touchy subject, best be sure you are understood, it seems unlikely but I may agree.

  22. I grew up a child of the 70’s in Australia. I remember food here then bloody awful. Multicultural influences greatly improved things here. The World Expo in Brisbane in 1988? Changed the face of Brisbane. Australia has become much more multi-cultral although in busts, currently we have politicians pandering to the racists in our community.

    However these endeavors only work within the context of a secular society. When a culture or religion tries to impose it’s views and culture on the rest of us then I have the right to criticize, be concerned or if a significant minority of a culture threatens me with physical violence if I do any of the above, fear what it might do to the broader culture.

    I would be personally happy to accept anyone from any religion provided they are willing to grant me the same respect I give them. That is, I do not expect them not to agree with me, I accept that they may think I am going to be tortured for eternity which I find personally offensive but am prepared to tolerate this in a live and let live situation.

    What I will not accept is the label Islamaphobic attributed to me because I consider their religion ridiculous or don’t want Sharia Law in this country or exemption for them to fail to teach the syllabus in their schools. I think this is dangerous and will not be labeled as a racist because I think this. Any more than should be considered racist against the Italians because I am anti-Catholic. Hell I am not even anti-catholic in the sense that most Catholics I know don’t follow 90% of Catholic doctrine. The offend me to the degree that their doctrine threatens society, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia. Don’t follow those beliefs and call yourself Catholic I have no problem with you, want to believe in fairy-tails fine.

    The term Islamaphobia is simply an attempt to label anyone with any opinion about Islam that some Muslims don’t want to hear as racist. This is a vast over generalization which is ironic considering that apologists for Islam usually accuse those of us with any criticism of overgeneralizing the vast diversity of belief across Islam. I am at the stage of simply adopting the term as the impressionists did, the big bang and so forth. Want to argue about the specifics of my criticisms go for it, but labeling me a bigot and you’ll need to do better than labeling me. Like throwing Hitler into an argument, don’t expect to be taken seriously.

  23. In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    A confused and confusing article. I must admit that the word anti-theism/theist is a new one on me. At first I thought it was just another term for atheist, but I guess it refers to a more aggressive branch of atheism, one which symbolically takes up arms against religion.

    Multi-culturalism makes n…

    The devil is in the details.

    The point is that you can disagree with an ideology without having anything personal against any of its subscribers. I think radical feminism is a bad influence on society and I will happily argue with its adherents until the cows come home, but I don’t say that radical feminists should all be killed or kicked out of the country. You have a right to a view and you have a right to be here, but you don’t have a right to shelter from the kind of critical thinking that everyone else has to deal with. I don’t even request that privilege for my own views, let alone anyone else’s. That’s the difference.

    Your argument is basically “what you say sounds similar to what some bad people say, therefore it’s automatically wrong”.

  24. In reply to #23 by Timmy:

    I think radical feminism is a bad influence on society and I will happily argue with its adherents until the cows come home,

    Could you be a bit more explicit about the things that irk you in this regard?

  25. In reply to #23 by Timmy:

    In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    A confused and confusing article. I must admit that the word anti-theism/theist is a new one on me. At first I thought it was just another term for atheist, but I guess it refers to a more aggressive branch of atheism, one which symbolically takes up arms against re…

    Timmy, let me reassure you that your right to be here is fully supported by we less phobic atheists because it allows us to keep abreast of the latest tactics being deployed by the Religous Right. I prefer hearing the excuses of radical right ideologues so you can depend on my support of your membership. Oh, and we feminists seldom think of ourselves as being radical for simply opposing bigotry. Strewth, many of us are actually men.

  26. This parsing of words and labels smacks of ‘political correctness’… instead of common-sense.
    Fundamentalism is all it’s forms… based on ANY religion/cult is dangerous. The degree of danger depends on the “prime directives” of the organization… their ultimate goals and means to carry them out.
    Obviously, Christianity in the U.S. continues to threaten the integrity of science in the classroom… impede equality to the LGBT community… restrict reproductive rights… influences elections… … etc. However, there is ONLY ONE global religion that actively and openly advocates VIOLENCE if those pulling the puppet strings are offended in any way.
    Only the lunatic muslims are following fatwas issued by irrational cleric/mullahs calling for the death of those considered ‘heretical’… like the Dark Ages never ended.
    Just one (from Wiki) to “refresh” our memories:
    One of the first well-known fatwas was proclaimed in 1989 by the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, against Salman Rushdie over his novel The Satanic Verses. The reason was an allegedly blasphemous statement taken from an early biography of the Prophet Muhammad, regarding the incorporation of pagan goddesses into Islam’s strongly monotheistic structure. Khomeini died shortly after issuing the fatwa. In 1998 Iran stated it is no longer pursuing Rushdie’s death; however, that decree was again reversed in early 2005 by the present theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    In 1991, Rushdie’s Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was stabbed to death in Tokyo, and his Italian translator was beaten and stabbed in Milan. In 1993, Rushdie’s Norwegian publisher William Nygaard was shot and severely injured in an attack outside his house in Oslo. Thirty-seven guests died when their hotel in Sivas, Turkey was torched by locals protesting against Aziz Nesin, Rushdie’s Turkish translator.
    The Rushdie debacle is a proverbial drop in the ocean of Islamic terror… muslims just can’t seem to live without violent jihads, justifying any and all means, against dissenters of the authority of the church and non-believers.
    Among the worlds religions, and they are all justifiably vulnerable to criticism, Islam due to it’s scope and practice, is hands-down the most pathologic and overtly dangerous.
    Islam-o-phobic? Absolutely… .

  27. In reply to #23 by Timmy:

    I think radical feminism is a bad influence on society and I will happily argue with its adherents until the cows come home,

    I hope you help with the milking though and don’t leave it to the milk maids …

    Michael

  28. In reply to #23 by Timmy:

    In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    …you don’t have a right to shelter from the kind of critical thinking that everyone else has to deal with. I don’t even request that privilege for my own views, let alone anyone else’s. That’s the difference.

    So your argument is basically “feminists EDIT (or suspected feminists) should be seen and not heard”.

    You’ve joined up and joined in specifically to point that important detail out to Katy Cordeth, as it could obscure your superior argument justifying Islamophobia as being merely anti-theism.

    Timmy, embracing critical thinking isn’t a privilege; it’s an obligation that Katy Cordeth and numerous other posters accept.

  29. As I see it, my criticisms of superstition, irrationality and abuse of women are only Islamophobic if a Muslim jumps in front of them and claims to be attacked. Same applies to Christians and Jews, of course.

  30. In reply to #23 by Timmy:

    In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    A confused and confusing article. I must admit that the word anti-theism/theist is a new one on me. At first I thought it was just another term for atheist, but I guess it refers to a more aggressive branch of atheism, one which symbolically takes up arms against re…

    Hi Timmy,
    your comment

    I think radical feminism is a bad influence on society

    Probably needs to be expanded on. I think you’ve kinda thrown a hand grenade in here if you want to stir up a hornets nest fine, but perhaps you could expand on this and clarify your position so at least people who might disagree with you might know exactly what you are referring to. Cheers

  31. I think a little calm and clarification is called for. I see a lot of presumptions being made as y’all reach for the pitchforks.

    “Radfems. Just as freakishly twisted, I’m afraid.” PZ Myers

    I am somewhat shocked by the “toxic werdz” response to Timmy’s post.

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  33. In reply to #23 by Timmy:

    In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    A confused and confusing article. I must admit that the word anti-theism/theist is a new one on me. At first I thought it was just another term for atheist, but I guess it refers to a more aggressive branch of atheism, one which symbolically takes up arms against religion.

    Multi-culturalism makes n…

    The devil is in the details.

    The point is that you can disagree with an ideology without having anything personal against any of its subscribers…

    That’s absolutely the point. This is a very fine line though, and there are those who can’t distinguish between the ideology and the individual. Anti-theism (if that’s what we’re obliged to call New Atheism now. I didn’t know about this rebranding and can only assume it must have been announced in the RDFRS newsletter, to which I don’t subscribe. Pays to be in the loop is the lesson here) seems to have allied itself with some deeply unpleasant characters who very definitely have something against the Islamic ideology’s adherents and not just the religion itself.

    Witness Richard’s retweeting of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon’s anti-Medhi Hasan twitter comment and his site’s selling BNP and EDL favorite Pat Condell’s diatribes in DVD form (no free 3-D glasses with this purchase, although I’m told it does come with a sick bag, which I suppose is thoughtful).

    We’re in six-degrees-of-separation territory here. New Atheism, a movement whose founders were perhaps political naïfs, has shown spectacularly poor judgement when it comes to making friends, and there’s now a direct line connecting it with far-right hate groups. No wonder it’s decided to change its name; I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it applied to join a witness relocation program. What should have been a liberal, inclusive crusade instead has a reputation for being a harbor for bigots.

    You’re new to this site, Tim tim, but my goodness some of the comments I’ve seen here about Muslims would make your eyes water at the level of hatred and sheer, barefaced racism were you to read them (links are available on request).

    Sam Harris’s advocating of racial profiling at airports; Dawkins’ poorly judged tweets insinuating… well, God alone knows what Richard was insinuating when he tweeted this; the unwillingness of NA luminaries to repudiate hate groups; and now the final insult, this article by Mr Johnson, posted by RDFRS, which attempts to distance rational criticism of the religion of peace from nationalist opposition to brown devils’ invasion of white, Christian soil.
    Grand Canyon my lily-white callipygian tushie.

    I think radical feminism is a bad influence on society and I will happily argue with its adherents until the cows come home, but I don’t say that radical feminists should all be killed or kicked out of the country. You have a right to a view and you have a right to be here…

    Thanks. It’s always nice to be reminded of that concession.

    …but you don’t have a right to shelter from the kind of critical thinking that everyone else has to deal with.

    Forgive me. I promise to hide beneath my womanly parasol of ignorance no more. Perhaps this may even result in my being invited to stay behind when dinner has finished and enjoy a cigar and talk politics with the menfolk… I’m sorry Timmy, I was getting ahead of myself. No good can ever come from that sort of thing

    I don’t even request that privilege for my own views, let alone anyone else’s. That’s the difference.

    Forgive my fan-fluttering impertinence, but ‘that’s the difference’ between what exactly? The difference between you and me; the difference between butter and I Refuse to Entertain the Notion That This Could Possibly be Butter; the difference between glutei maximi and synovial hinge joints?

    Your argument is basically “what you say sounds similar to what some bad people say, therefore it’s automatically wrong”.

    If that’s what you think my argument amounts to, I really need to work on improving my communication skills.

  34. In reply to #34 by Katy Cordeth:

    I know it’s a difficult job you do and I have a lot of respect, but come on.

    I need to know whats in peoples’ heads. (I’m often pleasantly surprised.) I am now suspicious of people I most probably shouldn’t be.

    Excessive hygiene isn’t healthy. Katy, I hope I haven’t just got your comment canned too.

    Edit: stet.

  35. In reply to #26 by Spin-oza:

    However, there is ONLY ONE global religion that actively and openly advocates VIOLENCE if those pulling the puppet strings are offended in any way

    Christianity promises peace and delivers war. Islam threatens war but fails to deliver. It is different from Communism, the previous Great Enemy, in being unable to match us in destructive capability..

    I notice your comment meets two criteria of Islamophobia as defined by the Runnymede Trust when they identified the problem in 1997.

    • Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc

    • Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a ‘clash of civilisations’.

    Using ideological terms, like Islam, can have the effect of making people unable to see what is right in front of them. Far from being a ‘monolithic bloc’, what is happening currently in Syria and elsewhere is that different Muslim denominations are in conflict with one another. The fact that Islam has no monopoly of violence in the region should be obvious. But there seems to be no rhetoric so absurd that it doesn’t have an appeal for anti-Muslims. We are asked to believe that Iran, with zero nuclear weapons, threatens to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, a country with 200 nuclear weapons.

    The battle of ideas has got mixed up with geopolitics. For rationalists, what is wrong with Islam is what’s wrong with all religions –that its morality is based on obedience to a Supreme Being and not on humanitarian principles.

  36. I can certainly sympathise with this; after all, I do not agree with the spiritual views of Islam, but I certainly don’t think that believing in nonsense should subject you to prejudice, in general.

    Certainly not. I mean, if my parents were members of an atheistic belief system (let’s call them the Rationnihilates) and that system accepted, among other accepted ideas, the notion that all religious people should be put to death, I should expect to be accepted as just a person with silly beliefs. We wouldn’t have any Rationnihilataphobia. Hell, I may even not accept that religious people should be put to death but choose to call myself a Rationnihilate anyway, because I was born a Rationnihilate and it’s part of my culture.

    I am Islamophobic because I have read what Islam believes should happen to me and how I should be treated by Muslims. I don’t give a damn if your parents were Muslims and I don’t give a damn if it’s your culture. Only you call yourself a Muslim and you’ve chosen to label yourself with a religion that calls for my death and mistreatment, I strongly dislike that about you and your religion. I take offense to that, serious, life threatening offense. I have no respect for Islam or anyone who would chose to label themselves as such. In Canada, you have freedom of religion. That means you can not be forced to be of any religion unless you chose to be. But, before we get to hard on the Muslims, It’s not just Islam.

    Were every reference to the criminal hate crime parts of each religious text edited from history and made criminal to utter, I may change my mind.

    As for multi-culti, it’s bullshit. No government should be in the business of deciding culture. Culture decides itself and is for people to develop as they see fit within the law. If a new culture develops from many cultures then so be it, if shards of culture develop, great, I don’t care. But to preserve a culture or help promote a culture because it is weak or boring or lame or not popular, is not culture, its propaganda (I’m talking to you Quebec). I don’t give a damn that your great grandfather would shit out the window every third Wednesday in May of each year. If it catches on, it catches on, if not, good bye. To force it upon us and protect it is just more shit out the window. A culture that can’t survive on it’s own is an unneeded culture, because the people don’t want it.

    (I do accept the historical recording of culture for study purposes and to maintain knowledge pf past peoples and practices)

    Rant off…

  37. Imagine you are a movie producer and Terry Gilliam comes to you with ideas for his latest project after The Zero Theorem.

    He has decided to make a follow-up to the successful Life of Brian and is testing the water with two ideas:

    1 Life of Brian – The Rapture

    OR

    2 Life of Mo

    You decide to go for number 1, mainly because you think number 2 might get you killed – would that be Islamophobic? If you decided to back number 2, would that still be Islamophobic?

  38. In reply to #26 by Spin-oza:

    This parsing of words and labels smacks of ‘political correctness’… instead of common-sense.
    Fundamentalism is all it’s forms… based on ANY religion/cult is dangerous. The degree of danger depends on the “prime directives” of the organization… their ultimate goals and means to carry them out….

    Brilliant post. Saved me some typing too.

    And you’re right, the violence associated with the Rushdie fatwa has been just a drop in the ocean here. Political correctness is akin to being a bystander to a bludgeoning in many cases. Those saying “rationalists” must simply think “what’s wrong with Islam is only what’s wrong with all religions”, are speaking childish nonsense.

    “What’s wrong with Ebola is only what’s wrong with all viruses”. Yeah, right.

  39. In reply to #36 by aldous:

    My remarks are based on a rational interpretation of modern history and current events, which is unfortunately dominated by Islamic terrorists. I have no tolerance for heavy-handed Christian social initiatives in the U.S., but there is NO threat of war or terrorism as a result. The only covertly promoted violent acts by a very small faction were the spate of ‘abortion clinic” bombings, etc.. Tragic, but not even worth mentioning when placed against the scope of brutality sanctioned by much larger factions of the Islamic faith.

    From Wiki (EMPHASIS IS MINE):
    “Whether the Quran sanctions defensive warfare only or COMMANDS AN ALL OUT WAR AGAINST NON MUSLIMS depends on the interpretation of the relevant passages. This is because it does not explicitly state the aims of the war Muslims are obliged to wage; the passages concerning jihad rather aim at promoting fighters for the Islamic cause and do not discuss military ethics.”

    Only a fool ignores such a fundamental barbaric underpinning to this massively dysfunction belief system, which is overtly misogynist as well as brutally authoritarian. PC labels and apologetics won’t change facts… and can’t cover up the massive damage done by those who claim to be the servants of Allah.

  40. ‘Islamophobia’ could be described more thoroughly as ‘a fear, prejudice or hatred of Islam or Muslims’

    Well the problem with that is that, rather then being thorough, it offers two very, very different distinctions. “Blah blah … towards Islam” describes animosity towards a religious institution (embracing the belief itself, the god, the scriptures, the strictures, the schools, the impacts on free speech, society, learning and so on. “… towards Muslims” is animosity to a people, the point at which race, culture and xenophobia flood in.

    One of these descriptions worls for me, the other not. And for my honour I hope you can guess which.

  41. In reply to #40 by Spin-oza:

    the massive damage done by those who claim to be the servants of Allah.

    What is the point, other than prejudice, of fixating on the Muslim ‘servants of God’ while ignoring two great European wars where Christian “servants of God” were in the forefront of events, including the Holocaust? If your knowledge of history doesn’t go back further than 2001, you still have to take into account the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the campaign by Israel, supported by America, to wipe Palestine off the map.

    The principles of human rights, founded on secular humanist principles, have made less inroads into Islamic societies than in North America and Europe but we are far ahead in the crime of aggression. In terms of social progress, what we should be considering is how the economies of poor countries can be improved and education spread, especially for girls. This is what is relevant, not rhetoric about the wickedness of the enemy and our own virtue.

    Campaigning for secularism is part of that effort. Secularism means equal rights for those of all religions and none. That involves equality for Muslims, obviously.

  42. What is the point, other than prejudice, of fixating on the Muslim ‘servants of God’ while ignoring two great European wars where Christian “servants of God” were in the forefront of events, including the Holocaust?

    They were not just European wars, they were World wars, although more so for the second than first. Don’t forget World war 2 in Asia – I don’t think they were all Christian servants of God. And there was some cooperation between Arab nations and the Nazis – the enemy of your enemy thing.

    But obviously the reason we are not fixated on the World wars is because the last one finished nearly 70 years ago.

    The principles of human rights, founded on secular humanist principles, have made less inroads into Islamic societies than in North America and Europe but we are far ahead in the crime of aggression.

    Here is a conflict map of the world. Not much happening in Europe and North America. But perhaps you think we stirred up all the others?

    In terms of social progress, what we should be considering is how the economies of poor countries can be improved and education spread, especially for girls.

    Education for girls would be improved if religions (particularly Islam) had less influence.

    In reply to #42 by aldous:

    In reply to #40 by Spin-oza:

    the massive damage done by those who claim to be the servants of Allah.

    What is the point, other than prejudice, of fixating on the Muslim ‘servants of God’ while ignoring two great European wars where Christian “servants of God” were in the forefront of events, inclu…

  43. Anti-theism, you could say, is more accurate than atheism. After all, Christians are atheists towards all gods but their own. In fact, though,the particular god an atheist doesn’t believe in, is the one they’re brought up with. It’s not just a joke to ask somebody whether they’re a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist.

    Christians, increasingly, have given up on the god of the Bible and are defending a vague ‘theos’ , a sort of divine blank. So, it’s a good tactical move to adopt theism, talk about it all being ‘symbolic’ and get rid of the more laughable characteristics of ‘God’.

  44. In reply to #37 by aquilacane:

    “I am Islamophobic because I have read what Islam believes should happen to me and how I should be treated by Muslims. I don’t give a damn if your parents were Muslims and I don’t give a damn if it’s your culture. Only you call yourself a Muslim and you’ve chosen to label yourself with a religion that calls for my death and mistreatment, I strongly dislike that about you and your religion. I take offense to that, serious, life threatening offense. I have no respect for Islam or anyone who would chose to label themselves as such.”

    While even if Islam actually was a religion of peace it should be opposed in principle because it would still be a foolish belief in a non-existing entity, aquilacane has, in the above excerpt, summarized perfectly the reason why I’ve often been called an islamophobe. There is no reason whatsoever why one should have respect for someone who follows an ideology who wants them dead. In my case and, I suspect, many others, it’s not about East vs. West, not about terrorism, and certainly not about fearing multi-culturalism, it’s about not liking someone who would have me dead, which most cultures thankfully don’t wish for.

  45. In reply to #45 by Dreamweaver:

    In reply to #37 by aquilacane:

    “I am Islamophobic because I have read what Islam believes should happen to me and how I should be treated by Muslims. I don’t give a damn if your parents were Muslims and I don’t give a damn if it’s your culture. Only you call yourself a Muslim and you’ve chosen to l…

    …While even if Islam actually was a religion of peace it should be opposed in principle because it would still be a foolish belief in a non-existing entity, aquilacane has, in the above excerpt…

    Thanks Dreamweaver, I was expecting to get ripped for that comment. It’s the sort of comment Katy would usually tear to bits. I think she’s given up on me.

  46. In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    A confused and confusing article. I must admit that the word anti-theism/theist is a new one on me. At first I thought it was just another term for atheist, but I guess it refers to a more aggressive branch of atheism, one which symbolically takes up arms against religion.

    Anti-theism is simply opposition either to belief in a god or gods, or to the effects of belief in a god or gods. It’s probably a more accurate word to describe the so-called “New Atheist” movement than the word atheism, if only because it focuses on the criticisms and responses of theism and doesn’t lump in atheists who feel no worse than ambivalent about the issue.

    That’s the funny thing about culture: it tends to be linked with religion. You can’t stick culture in a centrifuge and isolate and then remove elements you find distasteful.

    Actually, this is very incorrect. That’s pretty much how cultures form in the first place: by a societal form of pick-and-mix of what they consider the working parts of other cultures and/or new ideas that emerge. Religion is not even necessary to a culture. Most native peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Australia have supernatural beliefs without an organized religion of any kind, and many people in modern European, American, East Asian, and Oceanian societies make do without it.

    Like it or not, people are going to be religious. If you don’t accept the truth of this, any claims that diverseness is awesome and super for society and our species’ advancement are going to sound rather hollow.

    Apply the same argument to psychopathy, and the fallacy of equivocation becomes evident here. Diversity in the sense of neutral cultural differences like how one spends one’s Sundays is not the same as diversity of ethical outlook. We can agree that a boiling pot of ideas is a good thing while also accepting that some ideas are just flat out bad. The diversity of life on this planet does not weaken the point that some possible body designs are dead on arrival.

    Also, can’t bigotry be reasonable?

    By definition, no. Bigotry is an irrational outlook that encourages a superiority complex on insubstantial grounds. The fact that its practice might have been a factor in economic prosperity does nothing to change this fact. Shit that points you to gold is still shit.

  47. On re-reading the article, it seems quite providential that the website has abandoned the boast of being a ‘clear-thinking oasis’.

    I will simplify things by defining ‘anti-theism’ as referencing a movement opposed to the rational and ethical problems with religion.

    The ethical problem arising from religion is the belief that what ‘God’ says is right is what is right. It is this fundamental belief, which Judaism/Christianity/Islam have in common, which undermines religious morality. As rational human beings, the believers of these religions have adopted a certain number of humanist principles – don’t murder, steal etc. Without these principles, the believers would be extinct.

    ‘Anti-theism’ adds nothing to ‘atheism’ except that it emphasizes that it includes all gods. ‘Atheism’, as ordinarily used, already does this. It only makes redundantly clear that Christians can be atheists about all other gods but their own, without being labelled anti-theists.

    The main beneficiaries of the theism/anti-theism notion are believers who claim to have a rational belief in an abstract god, without the more ridiculous attributes of Yahweh/God/Allah.

  48. The Oxford English Dictionary defines antitheist as “One opposed to belief in the existence of a God”. The earliest citation given for this meaning dates from 1833.[1] An antitheist may oppose belief in the existence of any god or gods, and not merely one in particular.

    Antitheism has been adopted as a label by those who regard theism as dangerous or destructive. Christopher Hitchens offers an example of this approach in Letters to a Young Contrarian (2001), in which he writes: “I’m not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.”[2]

    Antitheism, the perfect term for those who believe “Religion Poisons Everything.”

    This @#48-

    ‘Anti-theism’ adds nothing to ‘atheism’ except that it emphasizes that it includes all gods. ‘Atheism’, as ordinarily used, already does this. It only makes redundantly clear that Christians can be atheists about all other gods but their own, without being labelled anti-theists.

    cannot be right. Anti-theism is literally against theism and theism is a belief in or advocacy of a god or gods, hence , against religion. A-theism is lacking theism. It is advocacy for those who lack theism or for the state of lacking theism. Some atheists may have a pro-theism stance believing it to confer order or purpose or some other such condescending twaddle.

  49. In reply to #47 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    That’s the funny thing about culture: it tends to be linked with religion. You can’t stick culture in a centrifuge and isolate and then remove elements you find distasteful.

    Actually, this is very incorrect. That’s pretty much how cultures form in the first place: by a societal form of pick-and-mix of what they consider the working parts of other cultures and/or new ideas that emerge. Religion is not even necessary to a culture. Most native peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Australia have supernatural beliefs without an organized religion of any kind, and many people in modern European, American, East Asian, and Oceanian societies make do without it.

    I should have said modern culture. I wasn’t referring to some hypothetical notion of what’s necessary for a culture to be created. Culture today tends today to be linked with religion, and you can’t turn the clock back, you have to deal with the world the way it is.

    Hunter-gatherer societies such as Native Americans, Australasian Aborigines and so on, who lived in small, familial tribes, may have had supernatural beliefs without the need for organized religion, but, as I suggested in this comment, as a social group grows larger and people find themselves living alongside those to whom they aren’t related and who have no reason not to steal from or even kill them, the need for a codified system of rules (or commandments if you prefer) which everyone must obey becomes necessary.

    No large civilized society can remain stable without such a system of laws, and organized religion seems to be an effective way to make everyone a member of the same tribe. Your neighbor isn’t just some stranger; he goes to the same church as you, and even if he doesn’t you’ve seen his ‘God is my copilot’ bumper sticker so you know you’re batting for the same team.

    I don’t know about East Asian and Oceanian societies; these I’m sure have their ways of controlling the populace. They might not be religious in nature but they will serve the same purpose.

    Like it or not, people are going to be religious. If you don’t accept the truth of this, any claims that diverseness is awesome and super for society and our species’ advancement are going to sound rather hollow.

    Apply the same argument to psychopathy, and the fallacy of equivocation becomes evident here. Diversity in the sense of neutral cultural differences like how one spends one’s Sundays is not the same as diversity of ethical outlook. We can agree that a boiling pot of ideas is a good thing while also accepting that some ideas are just flat out bad. The diversity of life on this planet does not weaken the point that some possible body designs are dead on arrival.

    I think it’s unfair to equate religious belief with psychopathy, if that’s what you’re doing. All the hysteria one sees about how the Qur’an endorses pedophilia, homophobia, wife-beating and murder and this means Muslims have license to commit these crimes in western nations ignores the fact that laws – well-thought-out laws that have to do with social justice and aren’t just arbitrary – are already in place to ensure that, ethical outlooks and bad ideas aside, everyone has to obey the big, main rules. Believe what you want about whoever you want, Mohammed, just keep it to yourself, don’t act on it, or you may have your collar felt.

    Also, can’t bigotry be reasonable?

    By definition, no. Bigotry is an irrational outlook that encourages a superiority complex on insubstantial grounds. The fact that its practice might have been a factor in economic prosperity does nothing to change this fact. Shit that points you to gold is still shit.

    I’ve heard that the most effective soldiers in a combat situation are the ones best able to dehumanize the enemy. It’s very difficult apparently to kill someone on the battlefield if you see him as no different to yourself. A superiority complex based on bigotry makes bayoneting the other guy in the belly a lot easier. Is it reasonable therefore when coming up against a monstrous ideology like, say, National Socialism for armed forces to specifically target bigots for recruitment, or try and instill intolerance against Germans in those already enlisted? Bear in mind that we aren’t talking about a pot of gold here but the future of civilization.

    Perhaps you share Robert Johnson’s view that things… practices, policies, can only be supported by rationalists if these are predicated on rationalism, and if they aren’t they should be opposed. This seems silly to me. Circumcision of boys in Africa is based on, well, religion these days even though the practice seems to predate Abrahamism’s arrival in that continent. Let’s say it’s been co-opted by religion. It’s a cruel practice, painful when performed without anesthetic, which it must have been for most of its history. There’s now compelling evidence though that circumcision can help to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, a major problem in Africa as you know. This would seem a rare example of a religious ritual having an unintended yet propitious consequence, yet because it isn’t based on logic Mr Johnson would have us reject it, or at least he would if he were consistent. I’ll remind you what he wrote:

    …Anti-theism instead grows from reason. Reason would oppose almost every policy the BNP puts forward, including those anti-Islam policies, as they are based on unsound reasoning.

    I think this is called throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Even if the BNP’s policies made sense to neo-atheists, new-atheists, anti-theists, whatever the hell you people are calling yourself these days, you would oppose them if they weren’t based on sound reasoning?

  50. In reply to #50 by Katy Cordeth:

    I agree with quite a lot of this, especially the cohering role for religion in the transition from hunter gatherer to agrarian, with its huge increase in population densities and division of labour tasks, but even so after 600BC all its essential virtues had been spun off into separates areas of expertise and intellectual development, government, justice, entertainment, arts, science, politics, ethics. The axial age changed everything.

    The only reason it hangs around in the way that it does is the simplicity of its world view, its openness to becoming coopted by bad people and its parasitic hijacking of brains. 2600 years past its best before date is a bit out of date.

    If we had peaked and plateaued at Quakers I’d be doing something else and certainly not calling myself an anti-theist.

    Whats also past its sell by date? Party politics. I’m anti theist because I’m anti dogmatic. We are too dangerous to try and get by with so little real thinking…

  51. In reply to #50 by Katy Cordeth:

    I should have said modern culture. I wasn’t referring to some hypothetical notion of what’s necessary for a culture to be created. Culture today tends today to be linked with religion, and you can’t turn the clock back, you have to deal with the world the way it is.

    This might have been correct as recently as the mid-20th century, and is most likely still true in many parts of the world. I don’t disagree with your prior point that there are people who will be religious, if only because there are lots of people with different views. What I objected to – and I think now I was wrong to interpret your words this way – was the notion that religion and culture are somehow inseparably entwined, which I think is totally incorrect.

    Hunter-gatherer societies such as Native Americans, Australasian Aborigines and so on, who lived in small, familial tribes, may have had supernatural beliefs without the need for organized religion, but, as I suggested in this comment, as a social group grows larger and people find themselves living alongside those to whom they aren’t related and who have no reason not to steal from or even kill them, the need for a codified system of rules (or commandments if you prefer) which everyone must obey becomes necessary.

    I’m familiar with the argument that religion was a cohesive force for early states and civilizations, given that it unites people under an ideology that prescribes a moral code. Under the circumstances, this could be argued as a rational strategy… if you stop regarding people as reasoning beings and treat them as manipulable puppets, perhaps. But I look on it in the same way I look on the use of the notion of a “good” kill when an assassin says, “I ought to poison this guy’s drink; that’ll make it harder to pin blame on me.” Or in the sense that an evolved adaptation like predation could be considered a “good” or logical outcome of Darwinian evolution. This notion of “good” or “efficient” is both non-ethical and parochial. You might argue that suggesting that unethical actions are a form of irrationality is unfounded or circular, but on the other hand I think it obscures too much to suppose manipulating people into an unfounded ideology is “rational” and akin to trying to work out through reasoned discourse a way of cooperating with each other.

    I think it’s unfair to equate religious belief with psychopathy, if that’s what you’re doing.

    It’s not. I used psychopathy as an example of why it isn’t hypocritical to encourage diversity while also condemning certain ideas and practices. If you’d prefer a more neutral comparison: it’s perfectly possible to argue that scientists need to broaden their scope for ideas to test without being accused of hypocrisy because they dismiss phlogiston theory.

    Is it reasonable therefore when coming up against a monstrous ideology like, say, National Socialism for armed forces to specifically target bigots for recruitment, or try and instill intolerance against Germans in those already enlisted? Bear in mind that we aren’t talking about a pot of gold here but the future of civilization.

    If what you say is true, then it’s an effective tactic, I’ll grant you that. Again, though, I don’t think this way of using the word “rational” is the same as the one being used to argue against bigotry itself. We don’t object to torture merely because it’s an inefficient tactic.

    Let me try and explain a bit better. If the practice of acupuncture worked to heal people with certain ailments, that’s a good argument to use it. It’s not a good argument for believing in “chi” or anything like that. My colourful analogy earlier was that, regardless of results, bad ideas are still bad ideas. Certainly, we expect ideas to have some useful practical bearing on reality, but that’s not the only test for an idea’s truthfulness, nor is it even a foolproof one. Of course rationalism isn’t the only generator of good practices, but it’s impossible to justify practices without it, even if the justification is merely “it works: here’s the results”. Even in ethics, you’re expected to produce sound reasoning for your positions.

  52. In reply to #51 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #50 by Katy Cordeth:

    The only reason it hangs around in the way that it does is the simplicity of its world view, its openness to becoming coopted by bad people and its parasitic hijacking of brains. 2600 years past its best before date is a bit out of date.

    Still useful though, no? We’re at about 7 billion now, I think, and growing exponentially. The colonizing of space hasn’t happened so we’re stuck here on an ever-shrinking planet. Sectarian hatred, and religious violence in general, do their bit to clear at least some of the lemmings from the clifftop.

    I’ve tasted soylent green, and it’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but you wouldn’t want to live on it.

    What’s also past its sell by date? Party politics. I’m anti theist because I’m anti dogmatic. We are too dangerous to try and get by with so little real thinking…

    I don’t think it’s past its sell by date so much as it no longer exists. Can you tell the difference between Cameron, Clegg and Milliband, cos I can’t? Obama’s being black is a novelty, but US politics hasn’t changed. Corporations run the planet now; party politics is just an irrelevancy, serving to distract us from this. Have you been watching Stewart Lee’s new series? This isn’t off-topic as he focuses on this stuff; or has.

  53. In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #51 by phil rimmer:

    Still useful though, no?

    No. Still over privileged.

    We’re at about 7 billion now, I think, and growing exponentially.

    But the educated don’t grow exponentially, and sadly for religion it fairs badly under education, which is why the RCC demands access to our children. Fearful of backlash over the sex abuse scandal some RCC Bishop was at pains to remind us of their right to access quoting “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

    Party politics is disappearing because it is starting to dawn on people, even politicians, that our problems are too complex and entangled one with another to usefully be subject to pre-decided solutions. What is missing is that they come clean and actively figure out what the useful processes of decision making are and how those processes can have a democratic front end. What is missing is the honesty of all parties and party supporters to note that the populace are irredeemably spread in their moral intuitions. There is not an easy way to live together except by honestly addressing each others fears and using evidence and reason to demonstrate when they are groundless. Both have occasionally appropriate ambitions (to progress or to conserve) but their fears are whipped up by leaders for reasons of winning the battle for influence. Political dogma has to go.

    I’ll go check out Stuart Lee!

  54. In reply to #52 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #50 by Katy Cordeth:

    I should have said modern culture. I wasn’t referring to some hypothetical notion of what’s necessary for a culture to be created. Culture today tends today to be linked with religion, and you can’t turn the clock back, you have to deal with the world the way it is.

    This might have been correct as recently as the mid-20th century, and is most likely still true in many parts of the world.

    Including Great Britain, whose head of state is also head of the country’s official church. Only a figurehead according to some, although we of course know better. And the United States, where Barack Obama’s perceived Muslimness was enough for many to declare his presidency illegitimate. Wrongly, of course, in constitutional if not practical terms. Even Richard Dawkins calls himself culturally Christian.

    I don’t disagree with your prior point that there are people who will be religious, if only because there are lots of people with different views. What I objected to – and I think now I was wrong to interpret your words this way – was the notion that religion and culture are somehow inseparably entwined, which I think is totally incorrect.

    I still think they are. Even if it were possible to create a universal society based on rationalism and do away with religion entirely, such a world would still be based on the faiths it dispensed with because these are part of our history. We will have moved on, but the past won’t have been erased. Nor should it, unless the maxim about those who would forget the past being condemned to repeat it is untrue. We’ll still have lovely Christian, Muslim and Jewish architecture; our galleries and museums will remain full of religious art, or art at least created by those who were religious, which must be preserved.

    My grandparents were Jewish, Catholic and Protestant, my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents Jewish and Protestant. I exist because of them; their religion informed their existence and therefore it informs mine, godfearing though I am not. I really shouldn’t have to be explaining this on a website whose founder has spent a lifetime arguing the truth of evolution and how we should marvel at the struggles each and every one of our ancestors human and otherwise faced staying alive long enough to propagate the next generation, and honor them for managing it.

    Hunter-gatherer societies such as Native Americans, Australasian Aborigines and so on, who lived in small, familial tribes, may have had supernatural beliefs without the need for organized religion, but, as I suggested in this comment, as a social group grows larger and people find themselves living alongside those to whom they aren’t related and who have no reason not to steal from or even kill them, the need for a codified system of rules (or commandments if you prefer) which everyone must obey becomes necessary.

    I’m familiar with the argument that religion was a cohesive force for early states and civilizations, given that it unites people under an ideology that prescribes a moral code.

    Darn, and I thought I was being original for once. What you mean perhaps is you’re familiar with it now that you’ve read the comment of mine to which I linked. Fair enough, and you’re welcome.

    Under the circumstances, this could be argued as a rational strategy… if you stop regarding people as reasoning beings and treat them as manipulable puppets, perhaps.

    People are not for the most part reasoning beings. People like X Factor and The Voice. They watch Keith Lemon, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Top Gear, Jeremy Kyle, Glenn Beck and Oprah Winfrey. They vote Tea Party and UKIPs. They read Dan Brown and books about the five people you’ll meet in Heaven. They think Jonathan Ross is witty, Ant and Dec charming, and Bill Maher clever. None of these is a hallmark of a reasoning being. Our species is not comprised primarily of Nietzschean supermenschen but of Duff-drinking, donut-eating, churchgoing Homer Simpsons.

    I suppose an argument could be made that religion has contributed to society’s dumbing down. Although, at least in Britain, the sort of people who enjoy the examples of popular culture I’ve listed tend not also to attend church regularly.

  55. In reply to #55 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #52 by Zeuglodon:

    Our species is not comprised primarily of Nietzschean supermenschen, but of Duff-drinking, donut-eating, churchgoing Homer Simpsons.

    You know, I don’t think this is realistic in any useful sense. It seems patrician and condescending. There isn’t a person I have spoken to who doesn’t have some sort of thought through moral position. From the earliest days of Coronation Street, intelligent conversations happen in the Rovers Return. I hear them in my local.

    I will, though, require teenagers to be disenfranchised (until 21 for women, 34 for men).

  56. In reply to #54 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #51 by phil rimmer:

    Still useful though, no?

    No. Still over privileged.

    We’re at about 7 billion now, I think, and growing exponentially.

    But the educated don’t grow exponentially, and sadly for religion it fairs badly under education, which is why the RCC demands access to our children. Fearful of backlash over the sex abuse scandal some RCC Bishop was at pains to remind us of their right to access quoting “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

    Very true. If birth control became universal we might be able to put the brakes on population growth.

    Party politics is disappearing because it is starting to dawn on people, even politicians, that our problems are too complex and entangled one with another to usefully be subject to pre-decided solutions. What is missing is that they come clean and actively figure out what the useful processes of decision making are and how those processes can have a democratic front end. What is missing is the honesty of all parties and party supporters to note that the populace are irredeemably spread in their moral intuitions. There is not an easy way to live together except by honestly addressing each others fears and using evidence and reason to demonstrate when they are groundless. Both have occasionally appropriate ambitions (to progress or to conserve) but their fears are whipped up by leaders for reasons of winning the battle for influence. Political dogma has to go.

    Ever this guy, Phil. I don’t think party politics is disappearing because the problems are too complex, because they’re really not. Close the tax loopholes for big corporations, make Ooglegay (I use Ooglegay Omechray osay estbay otay ebay arefulcay), Starbucks, Amazon and the rest pay the taxes they owe instead of the risible amount they get away with paying, and the demonisation of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society can stop, the Health Service can be restored to its former glory, meaning a visit to the emergency room with a nasty splinter won’t necessarily mean you face a fifty-fifty chance of leaving in a wooden box, and teachers won’t be so dispirited and feel so hard-done-by that they lose all interest in their job with the result that a generation of schoolkids to come will not get to receive an education from enthusiastic educators, such as our own Crookedshoes, who actually care about their pupils and engender in them a love of learning.

    No, I think it’s disappearing because people are starting to see it as an irrelevancy. As I say, corporations run the world; politics now exists purely to maintain the illusion that democracy still exists and our opinions count, when in fact neither of these is true. What is it they say about politics? Oh yes, showbusiness for ugly people. This was never more true.

    I’ll go check out Stuart Lee.

    I hope you do. Both previous series of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle are available on the iTunes, along with his concert performances and radio material. Don’t try and illegally download any of his stuff though (not that I’m saying you would) or he’ll get on your case about it.

  57. In reply to #55 by Katy Cordeth:

    Including Great Britain, whose head of state is also head of the country’s official church. Only a figurehead according to some, although we of course know better. And the United States, where Barack Obama’s perceived Muslimness was enough for many to declare his presidency illegitimate. Wrongly, of course, in constitutional if not practical terms. Even Richard Dawkins calls himself culturally Christian.

    If you’re roping in RD as an example, I think you should also know the rebuttal to your own point. As much as he likes the Bible and probably used to go to church, RD is not in any strict sense a religious man since he doesn’t buy into the ideologies that fall under the umbrella of Christianity. He’s a secular humanist, as are many in Europe, America, and Australia. And just because the Queen is the head of the Church of England, doesn’t mean everyone in old Blighty is an Anglican, which means there are no more grounds for calling us a Christian nation (because that necessarily excludes people of other faiths and no faith).

    I still think they are. Even if it were possible to create a universal society based on rationalism and do away with religion entirely, such a world would still be based on the faiths it dispensed with because these are part of our history.

    This is a pretty desperate argument, don’t you think? That’s like saying a person who once smoked and then gave it up is still a smoker, as is anyone near him. The ability of individuals to dispense with religion, extrapolated to the possibility of a whole society being irreligious, counters the notion that it is based on faith in the first place. Turning that into an argument that it is based on religion because its ancestors were is to dilute your own point of any substance.

    I exist because of them; their religion informed their existence and therefore it informs mine, godfearing though I am not. I really shouldn’t have to be explaining this on a website whose founder has spent a lifetime arguing the truth of evolution and how we should marvel at the struggles each and every one of our ancestors human and otherwise faced staying alive long enough to propagate the next generation, and honor them for managing it.

    And, by implication, dishonour the victims of such an uncaring process, including the ones who were too nice, too rational, or too intelligent to spread like a plague. Heaven forbid they should think trying to improve the lot of the living is in any way a more worthwhile enterprise than pumping out more sperm and eggs!

    Anyone acquainted with evolution by natural selection would see that it has no moral compass built in. Our distant ancestors were genetic puppets at the mercy of an environment that only gave mercy as a rare byproduct of its amoral workings. An animal could just as easily have become a killer, a terrorizer, a bully, a rapist, a torturer, and a mass murderer to survive, without the benefit of any sort of rational discourse, negotiation, or wider perspective to take advantage of. Even recently, we discover the shortcomings of our own supposedly rational species, and the harms such shortcomings cause.

    Yet, we may well be the only ones who have such an advantage that we can discuss things reasonably and rationally evaluate different positions and people’s views instead of merely being manipulated by them. If our ancestors had to do unpleasant or stupid things to get us here, more’s the pity, but gratitude towards such unpleasantness and stupidity is out of the question, and we’d gain more by dropping some misguided notion of loyalty or indebtedness to such vices. If our ancestors had to be religious to get here, then that’s just an indictment of the kind of world we live in, and a good argument for improving the situation for today and for the future. And that requires us to be intelligent and reasoning.

    Darn, and I thought I was being original for once. What you mean perhaps is you’re familiar with it now that you’ve read the comment of mine to which I linked. Fair enough, and you’re welcome.

    Sorry, but it’s actually quite a common view of religion’s origins. Lord knows the group selection crowd used it often enough.

    People are not for the most part reasoning beings.

    I have no objection to people being, say, a little foolish or liking things I don’t when it’s neutral or of negligible harm. If some bloke prays five times a week because they think God is listening, then I might think their idea is crazy, but by the same token, I can reason that it doesn’t cause much, if any, harm, and so agree to disagree. The guy is probably perfectly unremarkable the rest of the time, and you could have an intelligent chat with him on other issues. You might call this meta-reasonableness, or some such thing, but if not, I suppose I’m conceding the point.

    On the other hand, there is such a thing as intellectual rigour. Not just scientists, but philosophers, enterprising people, academics, craftsmen etc. have tried to do their best to make sure that their techniques, ideas, and means of acquiring either pan out under rational scrutiny. More to the point, there’s a difference between persuading someone through reasoned argumentation, or as best as you can manage, and just using rhetorical techniques to give an idea a “helping hand” at best, to manipulate people at worst. When that leans towards parasitism, predation, taking advantage of others for selfish motives, and so forth, that’s when a reason to suspend reason rings hollow. And even in the prior case of relatively or absolutely harmless irrationality, it’s still irrational, and still open to discussion. The notion that we are less than reasonable should not get in the way of attempts to be reasonable.

  58. In reply to #58 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #55 by Katy Cordeth:

    Including Great Britain, whose head of state is also head of the country’s official church. Only a figurehead according to some, although we of course know better. And the United States, where Barack Obama’s perceived Muslimness was enough for many to declare his pr…

    If you’re roping in RD as an example, I think you should also know the rebuttal to your own point. As much as he likes the Bible and probably used to go to church, RD is not in any strict sense a religious man since he doesn’t buy into the ideologies that fall under the umbrella of Christianity. He’s a secular humanist, as are many in Europe, America, and Australia. And just because the Queen is the head of the Church of England, doesn’t mean everyone in old Blighty is an Anglican, which means there are no more grounds for calling us a Christian nation (because that necessarily excludes people of other faiths and no faith).

    I think since my argument is that religion and culture are inextricably intertwined, it’s legitimate to cite the world’s foremost atheist and his own description of himself. For heaven’s sake, do you really think I need to be informed that Richard is “not in any strict sense a religious man”? I’m aware of that fact. People in Outer Mongolia who don’t speak English are aware of that fact. The Klangers are aware of that fact.

    Nor am I saying that everyone in DOB is an Anglican; only that the country’s highest institutions, as we discussed on this thread, are intervolved with the religion of the land.

    I still think they are. Even if it were possible to create a universal society based on rationalism and do away with religion entirely, such a world would still be based on the faiths it dispensed with because these are part of our history.

    This is a pretty desperate argument, don’t you think? That’s like saying a person who once smoked and then gave it up is still a smoker, as is anyone near him. The ability of individuals to dispense with religion, extrapolated to the possibility of a whole society being irreligious, counters the notion that it is based on faith in the first place. Turning that into an argument that it is based on religion because its ancestors were is to dilute your own point of any substance.

    No, it’s about recognizing and acknowledging provenance. Some of your antecedents were religious, Zeuglodon, I can say that with absolute confidence. If I had to hazard a guess I would venture they were probably Christian. You would not exist if they hadn’t been and I would be sitting here typing a response to a comment that had never been posted and people would think me a madwoman. For good or bad any future societies that come about will always be dragging this chain behind them.

    If aliens were to come to Earth, grab a bunch of humans, wipe their memory, and stick them on an uninhabited planet somewhere in the cosmos to see what happened, any society that subsequently arose, even one completely irreligious, would owe a debt to religion, because some of the ancestors of our abductees will have been religious. This isn’t the same as saying religion is good, or even bad; it’s just about understanding that there is a continuum extending back through history on which religion sits.

    I exist because of them; their religion informed their existence and therefore it informs mine, godfearing though I am not. I really shouldn’t have to be explaining this on a website whose founder has spent a lifetime arguing the truth of evolution and how we should marvel at the struggles each and every one of our ancestors human and otherwise faced staying alive long enough to propagate the next generation, and honor them for managing it.

    And, by implication, dishonour the victims of such an uncaring process, including the ones who were too nice, too rational, or too intelligent to spread like a plague.

    I’m talking about my ancestors, every single one of which/whom going back 4.5 billion years made it to adulthood and was able to do its/their bit to ensure that the wonder that is me would eventually grace the earth. I salute and thank them all, and their struggle. Am I supposed to care about those ones which didn’t survive long enough to disseminate their genes unto the next generation? Because I can’t. I’m a product of Darwinian evolution and have selfishness built into me. If the dinosaurs had to become extinct in order that I might enter existence, good riddance to ’em. The hell with Barney.

    Heaven forbid they should think trying to improve the lot of the living is in any way a more worthwhile enterprise than pumping out more sperm and eggs!

    You’re losing me now. Oh, I think I see… No, I thought I had it but I don’t.

    No one acquainted with evolution by natural selection would fail to see that it has no moral compass built in. Our distant ancestors were genetic puppets at the mercy of an environment that only gave mercy as a byproduct of its amoral workings. An animal could just as easily have become a killer, a terrorizer, a bully, a rapist, a torturer, and a mass murderer to survive, without the benefit of any sort of rational discourse, negotiation, or wider perspective to take advantage of. Even recently, we discover the shortcomings of our own supposedly rational species, and the harms such shortcomings cause.

    Yet, we may well be the only ones who have such an advantage that we can discuss things reasonably and rationally evaluate different positions and people’s views instead of merely being manipulated by them. If our ancestors had to do unpleasant or stupid things to get us here, more’s the pity, but gratitude towards such unpleasantness and stupidity is out of the question, and we’d gain more by dropping some misguided notion of loyalty or indebtedness to such vices. If our ancestors had to be religious to get here, then that’s just an indictment of the kind of world we live in, and a good argument for improving the situation for today and for the future. And that requires us to be intelligent and reasoning.

    No one is suggesting evolution has an inbuilt moral compass. We are as you say possibly the only animal in which morality has arisen, and as such I don’t think any of those distant ancestors of ours, the genetic puppets at the mercy of their environment, could really be described as mass-murderers. Murder requires a sense of morality. A killer. Well, this is descriptive of most carnivorous and omnivorous animals. Herbivores too, in some instances. Rape and torture. Rape is the method of procreation favored by many in the animal kingdom, and anyone who’s ever owned a cat will know how much puss likes to torment smaller animals she captures before delivering the coup de grâce. None of these traits can be condemned as immoral, or even immoral’s less accountable cousin, amoral, and none of them gives reason to cast judgement on our own ancestors who behaved this way before we even evolved morality.

    We are therefore free to honor our pre-morality antecedents! Even if they’re long dead and not in a position to care and wouldn’t care even if they were aware. Even if they were rapists or ‘murderers’ or torturers or bullies. But what about our more recent ancestors, our human ones, who did have a sense of morality and behaved despicably in spite of it.

    You say gratitude toward those forebears who behaved contrary to the established moral code is out of the question, but surely morality is just as much an evolutionary creation as birds’ wings or dogs’ sense of smell. There’s nothing intrinsically good about morality; we just think there is because that’s what it tells us. I’m reminded again of the Emo Philips joke that goes “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” Morality bestowed an evolutionary advantage on our proto-human ascendants, allowing them to cooperate more effectively because they weren’t moved to smash each other’s heads in the moment they felt like it.

    None of this of course means we should honor our primogenitors; it’s just by way of saying why we shouldn’t not honor them.

    Darn, and I thought I was being original for once. What you mean perhaps is you’re familiar with it now that you’ve read the comment of mine to which I linked. Fair enough, and you’re welcome.

    Sorry, but it’s actually quite a common view of religion’s origins. Lord knows the group selection crowd used it often enough.

    Yeah, all right, I get it. I got it before as well.

  59. In reply to #46 by aquilacane:

    In reply to #45 by Dreamweaver:

    …Thanks Dreamweaver, I was expecting to get ripped for that comment. It’s the sort of comment Katy would usually tear to bits. I think she’s given up on me.

    Meh, what’s the point? Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to engage in his pointless, endlessly repetitive task. What the hell is my excuse? I’m letting go of the boulder and sitting down on the mountainside to watch it roll back down to the bottom as I enjoy the sunshine. As it’s just fantasy, I might even have a smoke. Ah! A pack has just appeared on the grass next to me along with my old solid-gold lighter which I dropped into a Venetian canal many moons ago and was unable to retrieve. Let me just… Oh man that’s good. exhales. It’s been such a long time.

    Nossir, my task is at an end. I don’t care anymore. I’ve given it my best shot, I don’t think anyone can deny that. I’ve been called an Islamist sympathiser, a terrorist enabler, a religious troll.

    In the words of that Pompous Pirate character from Bible times, I wash my hands. Let someone else take on this mental mantel, cos I’ve had my fill. It’s rewarding, don’t get me wrong; there’s something quite gratifying on a thread about, say, the banning of Muslim headscarves, when everyone is in favor of it and you step up à la Henry Fonda’s character in Twelve Angry Men and say “Well, jus, jus hang on… hang on just a second.” Actually, that might be Jimmy Stewart I’m thinking of. The point is it’s fun to be the person who goes against the flow, even if it makes you unpopular; perhaps because it makes you unpopular.

    Whatever. As I say, I no longer care. No more will I respond when someone says they believe every one of the world’s Muslims secretly cheers whenever a terrorist atrocity is committed. I shall hold my tongue when somebody else says all Muhammadans should be deported from the West even if they were born here, and receives a significant number of likes. I intend to keep my counsel the next time a comment is posted in support of the BNP, EDL or UKIPs.

    My task is done — my song hath ceased — my theme
    Has died into an echo; it is fit
    The spell should break of this protracted dream.
    The torch shall be extinguished which hath lit
    My midnight lamp — and what is writ, is writ —
    Would it were worthier! but I am not now
    That which I have been — and my visions flit
    Less palpably before me — and the glow
    Which in my spirit dwelt is fluttering, faint, and low.

  60. In reply to #59 by Katy Cordeth:

    This isn’t the same as saying religion is good, or even bad; it’s just about understanding that there is a continuum extending back through history on which religion sits.

    Religion is the selective inability to distinguish fact from fiction. It makes a difference whether you think morality is what your god says it is or whether you think gods are unreal. Secular humanist and religious moral codes coincide on fundamental issues of survival –like the prohibition of murder. The purely religious precepts – like worshipping only this or that god–are, obviously, not considered moral at all. The contentious point is basing laws or moral precepts on the absurdity of religious justification — the wishes of an imaginary being. Those who take their religion seriously will fish through the sacred texts for verses which justify their prejudices rather than rely on rational arguments based on the relevant facts.

    It’s, in no sense, a point in favour of religious morality that it is a legacy of the past. The past is where Yahweh and his colleagues belong, along with other cultural artefacts — like stone axes-that museums are full of.

  61. In reply to #59 by Katy Cordeth:

    I think since my argument is that religion and culture are inextricably intertwined, it’s legitimate to cite the world’s foremost atheist and his own description of himself. For heaven’s sake, do you really think I need to be informed that Richard is “not in any strict sense a religious man”?

    Nor am I saying that everyone in DOB is an Anglican; only that the country’s highest institutions, as we discussed on this thread, are intervolved with the religion of the land.

    Your only real point so far is that our ancestors were religious, and may have been so for, say, survival reasons. But you seem to think this is more substantial than just an interesting history lesson. It isn’t. If you can have a culture without a religion, it makes nonsense of the idea that culture and religion are inextricably intertwined. Alchemy might have been the precursor to chemistry, even a necessary precursor, but what of it? Alchemy is no longer “inextricably intertwined” with our science, and is now a footnote in history. Given the current trends, it’s possible religion will go the same way.

    No, it’s about recognizing and acknowledging provenance. Some of your antecedents were religious, Zeuglodon, I can say that with absolute confidence.

    No (to your first sentence), it’s about knowing the facts about our predecessors, both to learn how the world works and to get an idea of what to do and what not to do. It’s no surprise to me if my ancestors were religious any more than it would be if they were from across Europe. So what of it? Am I supposed to feel warm and fuzzy, and be a slave to my ancestors’ wishes? Of course not. Now that I exist, I can show my appreciation for the good people do to me and to others, but what sense does it make to show my appreciation for whatever factors or people created the “me” to exist in the first place? They don’t get special privileges; they’ll stand with everybody else for scrutiny.

    For instance, I appreciate and respect my parents because they took good care of me and we get along with each other, not because I exist as a result of their actions. What would you say to the poor child who got abused and bullied by their parents from birth unto adulthood? Your view would compel you to the unsympathetic position of thinking better of his tormentors for making him, yet the facts would suggest he has every reason to feel completely screwed over by them.

    This isn’t the same as saying religion is good, or even bad

    Then there’s no need to feel grateful or indebted towards it, even if my ancestors used it to survive or reproduce. This renders your whole argument either void or self-contradictory.

    Am I supposed to care about those ones which didn’t survive long enough to disseminate their genes unto the next generation? Because I can’t. I’m a product of Darwinian evolution and have selfishness built into me.

    So am I, but I have the sense not to commit the naturalistic fallacy and assume that what evolution “wants” is good for me or for others. As Steven Pinker once said, “if my genes don’t like it, they can jump in the lake”. And yes, you are supposed to care about those ones who don’t survive long enough, because such individuals exist today, will exist in the future, and have welfares of their own as well.

    You’re losing me now. Oh, I think I see… No, I thought I had it but I don’t.

    Is this even worth posting, let alone replying to?

    No one is suggesting evolution has an inbuilt moral compass.

    What you are suggesting isn’t much better. You expect us to feel grateful towards our ancestors because they survived and reproduced, and you belittle those less lucky than they. For practical purposes, you’re suggesting we “should” be grateful to the workings of evolution, as if it were a person with a moral compass. You’re coming across as muddled, to put it politely.

    We are as you say possibly the only animal in which morality has arisen, and as such I don’t think any of those distant ancestors of ours, the genetic puppets at the mercy of their environment, could really be described as mass-murderers. Murder requires a sense of morality.

    Mass killer, if you insist. Something ends up dead either way.

    A killer. Well, this is descriptive of most carnivorous and omnivorous animals. Herbivores too, in some instances.

    Yes.

    Forgive me, but you are trying to rebut my points, right?

    Rape and torture. Rape is the method of procreation favored by many in the animal kingdom, and anyone who’s ever owned a cat will know how much puss likes to torment smaller animals she captures before delivering the coup de grâce. None of these traits can be condemned as immoral, or even immoral’s less accountable cousin, amoral, and none of them gives reason to cast judgement on our own ancestors who behaved this way before we even evolved morality.

    Why can’t they? Bad things are bad things. Even if we weren’t there to watch it happen, or able to actually experience what it was like, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or can be denied.

    Anything that causes harm, suffering, death, or the like, is as close to an indisputable example of bad as we are going to get. The more of each exists, the worse it is, so it’s perfectly possible to face a situation in which you have only two possible outcomes, both of them are bad, and one of them is as bad as or worse than the other. Since such things not only exist in the world, but exist in considerable abundance, the conclusion is that things are a lot worse than one thought. Most animals are in the unenviable position of being both victim and perpetrator of such unpleasantness, but up until now, there hasn’t been a lot any of them could do to recognize, much less reverse, this trend. To dismiss this train of thought as the inapplicability of our own judgements is to deny this reality or to be ignorant, in part or in total, of its implications.

    I’m not particularly interested in accountability or in whether our ancestors were smart enough to realize what was going on. If the suffering were caused by natural disasters that no animal was capable of circumventing, my point about them being “trapped in suffering” would not diminish.

    We are therefore free to honor our pre-morality antecedents!

    You are free to do a headstand on a tea-cosy, if that’s your inclination. But even if I conceded your argument for a moment about the inapplicability of morality to our ancestors, how then would this honour arise? I am fascinated by the evolution of dinosaurs and mammals in prehistoric times, and I don’t begrudge fans of the same, but “honouring” them? Whatever floats your boat, but I’m neither interested nor obliged.

    You say gratitude toward those forebears who behaved contrary to the established moral code is out of the question, but surely morality is just as much an evolutionary creation as birds’ wings, or dogs’ sense of smell. There’s nothing intrinsically good about morality; we just think there is because that’s what it tells us.

    The fact that it evolved does not demonstrate that it’s insubstantial. Our reasoning tools and 3D vision are also evolved mechanisms. That doesn’t mean the world is flat as a pancake, or that science is utterly useless. If ethical intuitions evolved, then it’s because they rely on the facts and logic of the thinking, breathing, living minds and agents that inform our studies of them. In fact, it’s such that we can easily separate the metaphorical motives and needs of the genes from the real motives and needs of the individuals, examine the payoffs with interactions, compare them with hypothetical alternatives that might leave both parties better or worse off, and even provide the bases for more effective and robust social policies. We know enough to know that the evolutionary logic behind punishment and reward is, at the individual level, to encourage good behaviours and discourage bad ones, though by applying suffering occasionally and without the benefit of being able to improve another’s behaviour directly or indirectly (say, by rehabilitation).

    We also know enough to tell that the interests of the individual aren’t necessarily the metaphorical interests of the genes, that an individual could be shaped in such a way as to be a detriment to itself and to others, and that limitations occur to prevent improvements in some cases. That’s also why the fact that religions may have played a key part in our history doesn’t oblige us to give it any special attention, including any “gratitude”.

    None of this of course means we should honor our primogenitors; it’s just by way of saying why we shouldn’t not honor them.

    That’s a self-contradicting sentence.

    Do you want to rethink your position? Lines like this make me wonder if you’ve worked out what you really want to say.

  62. In reply to #62 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #59 by Katy Cordeth:

    I think since my argument is that religion and culture are inextricably intertwined, it’s legitimate to cite the world’s foremost atheist and his own description of himself. For heaven’s sake, do you really think I need to be informed that Richard is “not in any str…

    I need to shoot out for a while. I’ll be back later and will respond to your post in its entirety then. I do have the time to respond to this particular bit:

    You’re losing me now. Oh, I think I see… No, I thought I had it but I don’t.

    Is this even worth posting, let alone replying to?

    I was saying that I didn’t understand what you were saying. I still don’t. Would it help in future if I just said “I do not comprehend, please clarify”?

    You do seem to be getting cross with me again.

  63. In reply to #63 by Katy Cordeth:

    I was saying that I didn’t understand what you were saying. Would it help in future if I just said “I do not understand, please clarify”?

    Pardon my misinterpretation, please: I thought you were (rather rudely) suggesting I was boring you and that you were dismissing that part of the post. Heaven forbid I start dictating what people can and can’t say, but a more straightforward choice of sentence would probably have cleared it up, yes.

    You do seem to be getting cross with me again.

    Don’t read too much into it. I’m trying to be as neutral as I can. I won’t deny I’ve been irritated with one or two of your sentences, but for me this is just another discussion, and standards of argument apply.

    I’ll wait. Don’t stop taking the role of Devil’s Advocate just yet. Today’s slow, and I feel invigorated from the mental workout.

  64. Is there a consensus that Richard Dawkins should be informed that he’s not an atheist/agnostic, as he thought, but an anti-theist? Or is that just a euphemism for ‘militant atheist’?

  65. In reply to #65 by aldous:

    Is there a consensus that Richard Dawkins should be informed that he’s not an atheist/agnostic, as he thought, but an anti-theist?

    None of these classifications are mutually exclusive. I am an atheist, an agnostic, AND an anti-theist.

  66. I’m following the Katy, Zeuglodon exchange.

    Katy, I am utterly lost as to your point. How many chains in our (say) 40,000 years of cumulative cultural history must we drag behind us? I am in awe of the artists of Chauvet, the city builders of Byblos, the farmers, the thinkers, makers and doers. I am entertained by the quaint narratives of tree spirits and tooth worms and tumbling off the edge of the world.

    Charmed as I am by the artless narratives of Gilgamesh and the cultural almanac of the Talmud, I am chilled by the overt manipulations starting to be contrived at the councils of Niceae, then the more nakedly framed contrivances of Mo, John Smith and L.Ron Hubbard, their self serving nature effortlessly hidden in the plain view of familiarity.

    Why must we be yoked to them? Nostalgia, respect, tradition, gratitude? Like Hitch the chain most attached to me stretches back to ancient Greece. It snakes back through the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, the Golden Age of Islam, back to The Garden. I am eating bread and olives as I type. This is my spiritual home. I fit right in.

  67. In reply to #60 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #46 by aquilacane:

    In reply to #45 by Dreamweaver:

    …Thanks Dreamweaver, I was expecting to get ripped for that comment. It’s the sort of comment Katy would usually tear to bits. I think she’s given up on me.

    Meh, what’s the point? Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to engage in his…

    …Whatever. As I say, I no longer care. No more will I respond when someone says they believe every one of the world’s Muslims secretly cheers whenever a terrorist atrocity is committed.

    I am sure glad you said someone and not Aquilacane. I never said I believed every Muslim secretly cheers whenever a terrorist commits atrocities, just as not all drunk drivers secretly cheer when they make it home alive without killing themselves or someone else. They are still drunk and still wrong, despite their best intentions. A Muslim who is not totally devoted to Allah is not a Muslim.

    P.S. Don’t stop posting. Your input is important; otherwise, I wouldn’t consider my words.

  68. In reply to #57 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #54 by phil rimmer:

    No, I think it’s disappearing because people are starting to see it as an irrelevancy. As I say, corporations run the world; politics now exists purely to maintain the illusion that democracy still exists and our opinions count, when in fact neither of these is true. What is it they say about politics? Oh yes, showbusiness for ugly people. This was never more true.

    I have counted a (New Labour) MP amongst my friends and met two others socially (New Labour, Lib Dem). I was hugely impressed by their integrity, their intellect and their passion.

    Why give up on politics?

    I think you are wrong in your analysis. The axes are tilting from dogma to pragma. My mate at the Equality Trust (a source of the evidence we need to drive better policy making) reports huge interest from political parties, professional bodies and pressure groups of all stripes.

    I haven’t been in a Starbucks for over a year. I’ve dropped Amazon (hideous employers too). Costa gets my biz and Foyles. Some things, with a little more coordinated effort, we could fix ourselves.

  69. In reply to #68 by aquilacane:

    A Muslim who is not totally devoted to Allah is not a Muslim.

    Sez who?

    Stop doing the clerics job!

  70. In reply to #66 by BanJoIvie:

    None of these classifications are mutually exclusive. I am an atheist, an agnostic, AND an anti-theist.

    Perhaps a rationalist, freethinker, humanist, secularist, non-religious as well. What I was getting at was the allegedly important distinction between anti-theist and atheist. Both terms indicate opposition to the god concept. Somebody accepting either label might be more or less campaigning in their opposition to religion.

  71. In reply to #71 by aldous:

    In reply to #66 by BanJoIvie:

    the allegedly important distinction between anti-theist and atheist. Both terms indicate opposition to the god concept.

    This is simply wrong and ignores what the component parts of the words are telling us.

    Katy, for example, is undeniably an atheist. Her whole point is that she isn’t, and is not obliged to be, opposed to the “god concept”, though she may be opposed to some aspects of religions.

  72. In reply to #72 by phil rimmer:

    This is simply wrong and ignores what the component parts of the words are telling us.

    Being intellectually convinced of a position is one thing. What you do about it is another. Here’s a helpful list of atheists with negative attitudes.

    1. I’m an atheist, but religion is here to stay.
    2. I’m an atheist, but people need religion.
    3. I’m an atheist, but religion is one of the glories of human culture.
    4. I’m an atheist, but you are only preaching to the choir. What’s the point?
    5. I’m an atheist, but I wish to dissociate myself from your intemperately strong language.

    You could substitute ‘anti-theist’ for “atheist’ for some, or all, on that list and it would make no material difference.

  73. In reply to #73 by aldous:

    In reply to #72 by phil rimmer:

    “People need religion, but I am an anti-theist”

    is an incoherent position. True enough, people can be incoherent in their (unresolved) beliefs. So what?

    Edit. Ah-ha! You mean ok for them but not for me.

    They can honestly say I am pro-theist (for them) and I am anti-theist (for me). In this instance, these are the views of a sociopath. As opposed to someone who is pro-theist (for them) and a-theist (lacking belief themselves) are the views of someone who may be kindly but condescending. Either way, parsing the meaning still splits out the clear difference between anti- (and pro-) and a-.

  74. In reply to #60 by Katy Cordeth:

    I didn’t say I thought any of that was true, only that disliking someone who is associated with a doctrine who wishes you ill is perfectly rational. Why are we allowed to dislike fascists or communists, but not muslims, if we find their ideologies equally (well, not equally, but you get the point) abhorring and equally threathening? I’m not saying that we should treat any of those groups as “second class citizens”, but that doesn’t mean they should be able to get away with anything they want (in a well known example: blasphemy laws).

    Now, my two cents on other subjects. As for the “anti-theist” debate, well, I must agree that it’s a better label for some people associated with “New Atheism” than just atheist. Didn’t Hitchens label himself as such? In any case, it’s just a label, one doesn’t have to adopt it or accept when others label him with it, if one doesn’t identify with its given meaning. I, for one, do, and have been identifying myself as such for years. About the culture/religion discussion, I must say that while I think that religion is indeed embedded in society/culture, it didn’t have to. Religion’s part was to provide core rules, which were “sacred” and, therefore, unquestioned, for a given population. Assuming this is a correct assessment of religion’s function, then religion is unnecessary if a substitute form of generating “consensus” can be found.

  75. In reply to #70 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #68 by aquilacane:

    A Muslim who is not totally devoted to Allah is not a Muslim.

    Sez who?

    Stop doing the clerics job!

    I base that on the definition of Muslim. Change the definition if you want it to mean something else.

    A follower of the religion of Islam.
    One who is totally devoted to Allah.

    A cultural Muslim is not defined by their following of Islam but rather following an Islamic tradition. I am as Christian as many cultural Christians but I am not Christian, though they would call themselves Christian. A Muslim who does not execute all of Allah’s commands is not totally devoted.

  76. The “people need religion” shit is about as stinky as the occurrence of omitting Islam from the topic. My brain informed me earlier, that “politically correct” assessment of Islam has some big bloody holes in it. As I’ve written in years gone by, there is a major difference between those finding funny shit to say about their local Christian church, and those willing to dissect, criticise and flag Islamic faith as the most out-dated, dangerous and barbaric of all faiths.

    Here is my main problem with the majority’s standpoint: The way in which many people analyse Islam and speak of it, Is from a perspective of both superiority and fear. “I can easily and humorously shit all over the obviously brain-dead benevolent tribes of Christians in the next postcode, but I don’t know about tacklin’ “them A-rabs.”

    The logical, cutting, witty, truthful, brilliant things all members of this site say when facing easy opponents of low-Anglican, or church of England, or Baptist or Catholic people, DISAPPEARS when muslim faithful are the target. We must at least consider that, this may be due to placing the people suffering from that plague as less worthy of enjoying the discussions we have here.

    It’s my opinion that this is due to short sightedness, an inability to see the shackles of political correctness, and a form of bigotry or racism or cowardice. Bigotry, racism and cowardice, because if it were a local christian person quoting Jesus, you’d have a field day. The bigotry, racism and cowardice surface here, in that there’s an instant detachment, no seeking of improvement for the Muslim crowd. “They’re just fucked”. My perception of B.R.C is in regard to the way 99% of words spoken against religion avoid Islam. FEAR is the last aspect, and one less relevant on an internet message board. The local Christian moron won’t kill you for your words, perhaps?

    If 99 percent of your “atheist” writings are against the Christian faith, and 99% of the religious murders, stonings, rapes, genital mutilations and other assaults today,(I’m strangely obsessed with the PRESENT) or this century are courtesy of the Islamic faith…. Grow some balls and point the angsty, teenage anti-establishment, new-atheist mediocre ranting where it fucking belongs. And where it can be a seed of real illumination and benefit to the worst-affected victims of faith. Point-scoring on first-world fucktards is easy. Turn up the difficulty.

    Love you guys.

  77. In reply to #74 by phil rimmer:

    Either way, parsing the meaning still splits out the clear difference between anti- (and pro-) and a-.

    The etymology of a word does not limit its usage and usage is what determines the dictionary definitions of words.
    Take the suffix -phobia. It derives from the Greek, phobos = fear The primary use is for medical conditions which require treatment by psychotherapy and medication. A secondary use is for forms of prejudice, such as homophobia, xenophobia etc. etc. Homophobia does not denote a reaction to homosexuals which causes a panic attack and medical treatment. It refers to having a prejudicial stereotype which prevents a reasoned response to the issue.

    In the case of Islamophobia, it leads to rants about ‘the paedophile prophet’ , ‘ideology which wishes me dead’, ‘dhimmitude’ and other tropes, picked up from anti-Muslim websites, instead of a measured analysis of events. Obviously, Islamophobia, like anti-Semitism, is an accusation which is frequently unjustified.

  78. In reply to #77 by Timothy McNamara:

    The logical, cutting, witty, truthful, brilliant things all members of this site say when facing easy opponents of low-Anglican, or church of England, or Baptist or Catholic people, DISAPPEARS when muslim faithful are the target.

    This is due to the fact that some of us, most I hope, prefer to know something about a subject before giving our opinion. Like Richard Dawkins, I imagine, many contributors to this site have a lot of experience and knowledge of Christianity and comparatively little of other faiths, including Islam. Richard Dawkins was at an Anglican schools and was confirmed into the Anglican faith. A usual charge made against him is that he doesn’t understand ‘sophisticated theology’ . How many of the 2.5 billion notional Christians ‘understand sophisticated theology’? The level of knowledge of Christianity which is enough to accept the faith should be quite enough to reject it.

    In the case of Islam, the media shows where the practice of it leads – to misogyny, superstition and sectarianism. Non-Muslims, who are not scholars of the religion, should avoid proclaiming knowledge of doctrine on the basis of what they have been fed, directly or indirectly, by any of the many politically motivated anti-Islam sites.

  79. In reply to #79 by aldous:

    Non-Muslims, who are not scholars of the religion, should avoid proclaiming knowledge of doctrine on the basis of what they have been fed, directly or indirectly, by any of the many politically motivated anti-Islam sites.

    I’m not sure what the political motivations are of anti-Islam websites. But I can guess what the political motivations of Saudi-funded University Islamic Studies Departments are.

    You do need to be highly trained to be an accepted Islamic scholar. It’s actually very tricky to represent the immoral cult of militant pillage as if it were a pacifist tolerant spiritual ideology. You need the fiction-writing skills of a John Esposito or Karen Armstrong; even then it still falls apart.

    But anyone can fairly accurately represent Islamic doctrine at a website by reference to the news of the day, the Sira, hadith and Koran. All easily available and checkable online.

  80. In reply to #71 by aldous:

    What I was getting at was the allegedly important distinction between anti-theist and atheist. Both terms indicate opposition to the god concept. Somebody accepting either label might be more or less campaigning in their opposition to religion.

    I don’t agree that “atheist” indicates opposition to god. That may be a common usage of the term, but not one I think atheists should either accept or encourage. In my view, that definition has it’s roots in the theistic assumption that god belief is the default position. Many Christians, for example, offer Biblical authority to claim that everyone actually knows in their heart that Jesus is God. An atheist, by this logic, doesn’t really disbelieve in God, she hates him.

    Because of the dominant position that theism (Christianity in particular) has long enjoyed in English speaking cultures, the language broadly reflects a theistic bias in the usage of words with religious implications.

    However, atheist thinkers have long employed the term “atheism” (correctly in my view) to discuss the absence of belief, irrespective of animosity. Many atheists, in fact, take pretty friendly positions toward the phenomenon of belief. Others find religious faith too ridiculous to spend time thinking about, let alone opposing.

    “Anti-theist” has been employed recently, (particularly since the rise of the “new atheism” and notably by the late Christopher Hitchens) specifically to indicate opposition to theism in addition to its absence.

  81. Theism is a CANCER. It doesn’t leave non believers alone. It doesn’t leave culture alone. It doesn’t leave people of other faiths or ideologies alone. It doesn’t leave Science alone. It cries persecution when it is self inviting. What are they trying to prove? That their god owns everything and all the truths must bend to theirs? This is indeed CANCER. The truth is your god sucks so much that he can even allow evil to flourish in heaven. Evil comes from the house the lord resides in. Get a grip! You have a FUCKUP god who is a total failure to put all blame on his creation and says nothing of a fault that stems from his own hands and warped mind. He is weak by needing to have his imperfect creations speak up for him.

  82. In reply to #76 by aquilacane:

    In reply to #70 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #68 by aquilacane:

    A Muslim who is not totally devoted to Allah is not a Muslim.

    Sez who?

    Stop doing the clerics job!

    I base that on the definition of Muslim. Change the definition if you want it to mean something else.

    Its not anything about what I want. It is what many cultural Muslims want. It is the very escape route of reasonable people from a dogmatic religion policed by bullies and fear. It is the way doubters can live with their families without standing out too much and have decent lives following their careers as doctors or actors (or whatever their hearts desire was).

    We need to have cultural Muslims be able to pass for Muslims and be able to multiply in families and communities without sacrificing everything for a principle they wanted no part of in the first place. Jeer and point and they’ll keep their heads down so much their younger brothers and sisters won’t notice that there are choices to be made.

    “What Islam needs is a Reformation.” We ain’t going to get it if the rug is pulled from under it with an Ayatollah at one corner and an Atheist at the other.

  83. If ever there is a best bigot award….Christianity qualifies without doubt. It does not even leave its own kind alone. It does not leave Catholics alone. I am sure the muslims and catholics fare better at this. In my life…..I have never been disturbed and converted by Catholics or Muslims. Its the Christians who has to stick out like a dick. You win hands up at bigotry. You are practically as annoying as a salesman and god has become your commodity to grow your wealth so much that god is your tool. Jesus is your tool and I believe he is your servant too.

  84. Robert,

    It is not necessary to sling the obligatory curses toward the nationalistic organizations while taking shots at religions. This is hypocritical politically correct genuflection. It shows a desire to be more PC than the next atheist.

    Leave the BNP out of it unless you want to actually prove (not assert) that their anti-Islam is qualitatively different to yours. Which you have failed to do here.

    So reminiscent too. Didn’t Russell Blackford write almost the same article?

    Having checked that last point; well perhaps not quite. You be the judge.

  85. In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:

    Political correctness prevents public figures from talking about the threat that Islam now poses to the world. We are at war with Islam and the teachings that are prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. It does not bode well for the future of Britain when the only people prepared to speak honestly a…

    The problem with the neofascist liberal progressives ,is that their PC dogma labels anyone who derides the backward fascist view of Islamists are racist Islamophobes.
    If one visits http://www.thereligionofpeace.com it’s only the Daily Mail and occasionally the Daily Telegraph who report the abhorrent behaviour of Muslim head cases !
    As I’ve said before TV satire of all religions should be a weekly event!

  86. In reply to #83 by phil rimmer:

    You have a point there. I too wish for the peaceful continued existence of those who are too scared to publically leave Islam.

    I would be among the last to pull their comfort blanket from under them.

    The snag is that I believe that this kind of well-intentioned kindness may have an unfortunate consequence. It gives more power to the Islamic movement; so that we see numbers of Muslims in the west growing more quickly than might be the case otherwise.

    The Muslims who are able or brave enough to convert out of the faith are fewer than might otherwise be the case.

    And the whitewashing and the propaganda grows, as does the ultimate threat to the west. As does the clout of the Anjem Choudharys and the Tariq Ramadans.

    I fear that the softly approach only leads to ever-deepening doo-doo. The honest criticism and exposure of Islam is actually the only way out of this.
    And cultural Muslims should be able to live honestly as cultural Muslims; not just falsely as Muslims.

    This is in no way suggesting an ‘out’ campaign. To clarify; I mean that cultural Muslims who choose to do so should not be stopped from living as true Muslims, but that if we are honest enough to allow the true Islam to be seen for what it is, in all it’s inhumanity, then the natural consequences of that should include a voluntary but significant drift away from membership of Islam.

  87. As a rationalist, I spend some time arguing against the doctrine of faith present in all religions, yet I have never been accused of being ‘Christianophobic’ or ‘Judaiophobic’ like I have ‘Islamophobic’. Robert Johnson

    Johnson would be about as likely to have ‘Judaiophobic’ thrown at him as to be insulted in Klingon. If you ever came across the word you might assume that it’s an illiterate verion of Judaeophobic/Judeophobic. The usual term, quite frequently thrown around, is anti-Semitic. Presumably, Robert Johnson is only pretending not to know that. This is the term which is parallel to ‘Islamophobic’ both in its use and misuse.

    ‘ Christianophobic’ doesn’t trip off the tongue, does it? Christians, of course, don’t have to be struck dumb for lack of adequate vocabulary when expressing irritation or outrage at what they perceive as attacks on their faith. Box-ticking Christians who take the faith seriously enough, or literally enough, to be put out by Johnson’s arguments may just not be very numerous in his part of the world.

    Johnson’s defence would be that he’s attacking doctrines and not people. As we all know, that’s not a distinction necessarily appreciated by those with entrenched positions — religious, political or other.

  88. In reply to #87 by inquisador:

    In reply to #83 by phil rimmer:

    I too wish for the peaceful continued existence of those who are too scared to publicly leave Islam.

    I know. 🙂

    I would be among the last to pull their comfort blanket from under them.

    This isn’t the comfort of religion here. It is the sweaty palmed world of the quiet deceiver.

    The snag is that I believe that this kind of well-intentioned kin…

    It gives more power to the Islamic movement; so that we see numbers of Muslims in the west growing more quickly than might be the case otherwise.

    I’m not quite clear about this. Other than what? What sort of Muslims? The ones you and I don’t like? The fascist proselytisers? Or the trapped? The exploiters? Or their victims?

    The honest criticism and exposure of Islam is actually the only way out of this.

    But which Islam? The democratic. feminist Islam of Ahmad Shah Massoud? The open scholarly Islam of Averroes? The quiet unremarkable Islam of my Turkish neighbours?

    You mean the bully boy Islam acting tough because its scared?

    this kind of well-intentioned kindness

    You are cruel, sometimes, inq. I trash the UK’s Policy on muliculturalism, preach the need for more state interference in communities to make sure ALL individuals are made cognisant of their rights and to point out the non legal status and non-democratic license of self appointed community “leaders”.

    Nor my overarching strategy drawn from Sun Tzu’s wise “The Art of War.”

    Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across

    Kind? I’m trying for politically astute.

  89. Fear of Islam is perfectly rational. Fear of people who proudly embrace Islam is also rational. Insert the word “misogyny” for the word Islam and these two sentences become perfectly acceptable. But say those sentences with the word Islam and suddenly you’re a racist.

    Islam is misogyny. Beating your wife, having multiple wives, discriminating against daughters in inheritance, and devaluing their testimony in court are all permitted by the Koran. I have a perfectly rational fear of Islam and those who embrace it.

  90. In reply to #87 by inquisador:

    There was some missing English in#89, sorry….

    “You are cruel, sometimes, inq. You don’t notice that I trash the UK’s Policy on muliculturalism, preach the need for more state interference in communities to make sure ALL individuals are made cognisant of their rights and to point out the non legal status and non-democratic license of self appointed community “leaders”.

    Nor my overarching strategy drawn from Sun Tzu’s wise “The Art of War.””

    Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across

    (And our opponent is offensive religious dogma.)

  91. In reply to #90 by Stuart M.:

    Beating your wife, having multiple wives, discriminating against daughters in inheritance, and devaluing their testimony in court are all permitted by the Koran. I have a perfectly rational fear of Islam and those who embrace it.

    Are you a Muslim woman?

  92. The Christian West did not invade Iraq and Afganistan. Most Christian organisations in the West were opposed to the wars. They were invaded by the Secular Governments of America, Britian and it’s allies in response to terrorist attacks against their people thjat were funded and organised from Afganistan and Iraq. I remember the hoards of people in many Islamic countries celebrating and jumping for joy while the WTC collapsed. Now you’re crying about the evil west for daring to retaliate. What did you expect? In reply to #3 by aldous:

    In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:We are at war with IslamThat the impression you get from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by the Christian West.

  93. But what of those, such as I, who DO single out Islam?

    I’ve reached the considered opinion that it is reasonable to qualitatively assess the world’s religions, to in effect rank them by order of perniciousness, and I’ve concluded that Islam is the worst of them all.

    I certainly bear no ill will to Muslims as a class of people, or as individuals, and I am not absolving the world’s other religions from their many flaws and ill effects upon society.

    I reject the notion that I’m a bigot, and I also reject the notion that my opinion amounts to a phobia–an irrational fear. I feel there is good evidence in support of my opinion, both in the text of the Qur’an and in the practices and beliefs of many Muslims.

    Is there a word that describes my position that does not amount to a slur?

  94. In reply to #94 by functional atheist:

    I’ve reached the considered opinion that it is reasonable to qualitatively assess the world’s religions, to in effect rank them by order of perniciousness, and I’ve concluded that Islam is the worst of them all.

    That should lead you to sympathy and support for Muslims who, in the great majority, are victims of Islamic misogyny, interdenominational violence and Western military attacks.

  95. In reply to #83 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #76 by aquilacane:

    In reply to #70 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #68 by aquilacane:

    A Muslim who is not totally devoted to Allah is not a Muslim.

    Sez who?

    Stop doing the clerics job!

    I base that on the definition of Muslim. Change the definition if you want it to mean something else….

    Its not anything about what I want. It is what many cultural Muslims want. It is the very escape route of reasonable people from a dogmatic religion policed by bullies and fear. It is the way doubters can live with their families without standing out too much and have decent lives following their careers as doctors or actors (or whatever their hearts desire was).

    We need to have cultural Muslims be able to pass for Muslims and be able to multiply in families and communities without sacrificing everything for a principle they wanted no part of in the first place. Jeer and point and they’ll keep their heads down so much their younger brothers and sisters won’t notice that there are choices to be made.

    “What Islam needs is a Reformation.” We ain’t going to get it if the rug is pulled from under it with an Ayatollah at one corner and an Atheist at the other.

    I can’t mentally accept an explanation that is different from what it has been defined to be. I think it is a short coming of mine. I do it myself all the time, I’m sure. It’s like watching someone park in a no stopping zone, I lose my mind. I cannot accept they would do that. I guess I’ll have to let it pass and bite my lip for the greater good. Just don’t start telling me I have to accept bloody cultural Nazis, who really, honestly love Jews, gypsies and the handicapped but just can’t let go of their culture; that would be silly.

  96. Even if you could develop a description of anti-theism that showed it necessarily excludes
    Islamophobia on account of its being x, y, z, the obvious reply from your accusers is just to say
    “So what? We’re pointing out that a lot of anti-theists act like Islamophobes”. And nobody
    would claim that’s impossible because they hold some position like anti-theism that
    doesn’t allow for Islamophobia.

    Maybe a better response to being accused of Islamophobia would just be to ask for clarification. “I don’t know what you mean by Islamophobic, can you elaborate on that for me”. “I don’t think I’m prejudiced, why do you think I am”.

  97. In reply to #92 by aldous:

    In reply to #90 by Stuart M.:

    Beating your wife, having multiple wives, discriminating against daughters in inheritance, and devaluing their testimony in court are all permitted by the Koran. I have a perfectly rational fear of Islam and those who embrace it.

    Are you a Muslim woman?

    What kind of inane comment is that? I’m not Syrian, so I shouldn’t care about the war in Syria??? I’m not a member of the proletariat, so I shouldn’t care if they’re exploited? Besides the fact that I have a wife and a daughter, I think just being a human being should be a sufficient credential to belly-ache about misogyny.

  98. In reply to #96 by aquilacane:

    In reply to #83 by phil rimmer:

    A Muslim who is not totally devoted to Allah is not a Muslim.

    Just don’t start telling me I have to accept bloody cultural Nazis, who really, honestly love Jews, gypsies and the handicapped but just can’t let go of their culture

    No to all cultural nazism.

    If he hadn’t been assassinated by Osama bin Laden the day before 9/11 would you support the efforts of Ahmad Shah Massoud?

    “Massoud is adamant that in Afghanistan women have suffered oppression for generations. He says that ‘the cultural environment of the country suffocates women. But the Taliban exacerbate this with oppression.’ His most ambitious project is to shatter this cultural prejudice and so give more space, freedom and equality to women—they would have the same rights as men.”[8]
    —Pepe Escobar, in ‘Massoud: From Warrior to Statesman’

  99. In reply to #98 by Stuart M.:

    I have a perfectly rational fear of Islam and those who embrace it.

    There is no reason to feel fear when you are not threatened. There is no reason to fear being beaten up or being devalued by a Muslim husband or father if you don’t have a Muslim husband or father. Empathy with women who are badly treated can very reasonably lead to anger against men who cause the suffering.

    On the grounds of misogyny you stated, your fear of Muslim men is irrational and doubly irrational in the case of Muslim women.

  100. In reply to #62 by Zeuglodon:

    First of all, sorry for the late response.

    In reply to #59 by Katy Cordeth:

    I think since my argument is that religion and culture are inextricably intertwined, it’s legitimate to cite the world’s foremost atheist and his own description of himself. For heaven’s sake, do you really think I need to be informed that Richard is “not in any strict sense a religious man”?

    Nor am I saying that everyone in DOB is an Anglican; only that the country’s highest institutions, as we discussed on this thread, are intervolved with the religion of the land.

    Your only real point so far is that our ancestors were religious, and may have been so for, say, survival reasons. But you seem to think this is more substantial than just an interesting history lesson. It isn’t. If you can have a culture without a religion, it makes nonsense of the idea that culture and religion are inextricably intertwined. Alchemy might have been the precursor to chemistry, even a necessary precursor, but what of it? Alchemy is no longer “inextricably intertwined” with our science, and is now a footnote in history. Given the current trends, it’s possible religion will go the same way.

    I’m at the point now where it seems like I’m banging my head against the wall. Look, if you don’t get it you don’t get it, and that’s fine. I’m sure it’s my fault. You can, theoretically at least, have a non-religious culture. Again, I’m not talking about speculative notions of what’s required for a society to evolve, but about society as it exists. My argument such as it is refers to the real world.

    Your alchemy example is an excellent one. Dismiss it if you want but the modern scientific method evolved from the proto-science of alchemy. If you want to know the name of a famous alchemist by the way, allow me to present Sir Isaac Newton. That’s right, one of history’s most important scientific figures thought base metals could be turned into gold. According to you, though, Newton’s interest in alchemy is of no interest; hell, we all make mistakes. Guillermo del Toro had his Mimic, Bill Gates his Zune.

    My contention would be that this interest in the ultimate get-rich-quick scheme (he was by all accounts a horrible, venal character) informed Newton’s thinking, and thus alchemy is an important step on our species’ yellow brick road to scientific truth. As, by the way, is astrology. It doesn’t matter that this is a nonsense discipline; it led to the actual science of astronomy.

    Please note I’m not saying alchemy and astrology were sine qua nons in the evolution of modern science; only that they played an important role and shouldn’t be dismissed as mere footnotes.

    Science, all science, is based on trial and error. Someone has an idea, puts it to the test; if it doesn’t stand up it’s dismissed, if it has legs it may go on to become accepted dogma and even acquire the coveted status of ‘theory’. The failures are part of this process. I think the following unknowingly acknowledges the truth of this [emphasis yours]:

    No (to your first sentence [“No, it’s about recognizing and acknowledging provenance.”]), it’s about knowing the facts about our predecessors, both to learn how the world works and to get an idea of what to do and what not to do.

    I get it now. You think I’m saying you should honor your progenitors’ beliefs. That isn’t it at all. However, I am prepared to accept the whole gratitude for one’s antecedents tangent is a dead end, so I’ll drop it. You’re quite correct, it is muddled and doesn’t serve my argument.

    Re the remainder of your comment, it’s all getting a little metaphysical for my liking, a bit like that thread about the mammoth. In future I shall refrain from saying something is good or bad lest you descend on me.

    Just two last things:

    None of this of course means we should honor our primogenitors; it’s just by way of saying why we shouldn’t not honor them.

    That’s a self-contradicting sentence.

    No, it’s not. The use of negatives may give this impression, but it does make sense.

    Do you want to rethink your position? Lines like this make me wonder if you’ve worked out what you really want to say.

    I frequently don’t always know what I think until I begin to write it out. Scribendo cogito as they say.

    In reply to #64:

    In reply to #63 by Katy Cordeth:

    I was saying that I didn’t understand what you were saying. Would it help in future if I just said “I do not understand, please clarify”?

    Pardon my misinterpretation, please: I thought you were (rather rudely) suggesting I was boring you and that you were dismissing that part of the post. Heaven forbid I start dictating what people can and can’t say, but a more straightforward choice of sentence would probably have cleared it up, yes.

    Then allow me to proffer a mea culpa. I did think you might have taken the opportunity to explain what “Heaven forbid they should think trying to improve the lot of the living is in any way a more worthwhile enterprise than pumping out more sperm and eggs!” meant, as it still seems to be a bit of a non-sequitur. Were I in a mischievous mood I might suggest it was because you were aware of this.

    I’ll wait. Don’t stop taking the role of Devil’s Advocate just yet. Today’s slow, and I feel invigorated from the mental workout.

    If the devil’s advocate thing is by way of giving me a let out, that’s thoughtful but not necessary. Even though I’ve dropped the idea of gratitude, I meant it when I wrote it, and I stand by my assertion that religion and culture (actual, not hypothetical) are inextricably interconnected.

  101. In reply to #68 by aquilacane:

    In reply to #60 by Katy Cordeth:

    …Whatever. As I say, I no longer care. No more will I respond when someone says they believe every one of the world’s Muslims secretly cheers whenever a terrorist atrocity is committed.

    I am sure glad you said someone and not Aquilacane. I never said I believed every Muslim secretly cheers whenever a terrorist commits atrocities…

    No, I was referring to this:

    …For instance, in the matter of muslims, I believe that behind closed doors every single one of them secretly cheers every time an American is bombed or killed, regardless of their public outrage, of which there is very little-outrage that is.

    This comment received 53 likes; 42 from those who elected not sign in to show their approval, preferring to remain cloaked in anonymity, the rest from sycorax, Dreamweaver, memetical, PhilT, inquisador, xp0z3d, godsbuster, Fouad Boussetta, PedroCarvalho, Stevenwood21 and Ignorant Amos.

    I was pleased to see your own name didn’t appear there, although you could be one of the anonymous 42.

    P.S. Don’t stop posting. Your input is important; otherwise, I wouldn’t consider my words.

    Thank you.

  102. In reply to #86 by Blasphemyman:

    In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:

    Political correctness prevents public figures from talking about the threat that Islam now poses to the world. We are at war with Islam and the teachings that are prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. It does not bode well for the future of Britain when the only people prepared to speak honestly a…

    The problem with the neofascist liberal progressives ,is that their PC dogma labels anyone who derides the backward fascist view of Islamists are racist Islamophobes.

    Can one be a progressive liberal neo-fascist? Isn’t that a bit like being a vegetarian carnivore?

    Here, in the interests of clarity, is a link to the Wikipedia page on neo-fascism.

    You’re more than welcome.

    If one visits http://www.thereligionofpeace.com it’s only the Daily Mail and occasionally the Daily Telegraph who report the abhorrent behaviour of Muslim head cases !

    Why anyone would choose to get their information about anything from such a repugnant, hate-filled purveyor of intolerance as the one listed above is… well, it’s just baffling.

    I mean, the Daily Mail!

  103. Can one be a progressive liberal neo-fascist? Isn’t that a bit like being a vegetarian carnivore?

    You can be anything when you use cognitive dissonance or doublethink.

  104. In reply to #101 by Katy Cordeth:

    I stand by my assertion that religion and culture (actual, not hypothetical) are inextricably interconnected.

    There are many religions and many cultures. It’s not religion that is the issue, but adherence to a religion. It’s not mere familiarity with ideas, language and habits that counts.

    If you’re saying that religion is a cultural phenomenon that should be self-evident. Jesus mania is a cultural phenomenon as is Bieber mania. How does that ‘inextricably connect’ either of them to all and sundry?

  105. In reply to #101 by Katy Cordeth:

    First of all, sorry for the late response.

    No worries. I’ve seen – heck, committed – worse delays than this one, and there’s no real time limit, anyway.

    Again, I’m not talking about speculative notions of what’s required for a society to evolve, but about society as it exists. My argument such as it is refers to the real world.

    In the end, I can’t deny your point here, so I most likely failed to see that we were and are agreeing on more than I realized. I’ve also read about how the Big Bang was originally conceived by a Catholic, and probably inspired by the Christian conception of a universe created from nothing, and in any case I’m starting to wonder if my views on religion are unconsciously inclining me to exaggerate the inability of its practitioners in both ethical and intellectual fields.

    Please note I’m not saying alchemy and astrology were sine qua nons in the evolution of modern science; only that they played an important role and shouldn’t be dismissed as mere footnotes.

    “Footnotes” was me putting it too strongly. “Confined to history”, I suppose, which is less dismissive, since history does exert its influence on the present and should be studied.

    Re the remainder of your comment, it’s all getting a little metaphysical for my liking, a bit like that thread about the mammoth. In future I shall refrain from saying something is good or bad lest you descend on me.

    Please don’t stop on my account. I read ethics and philosophy in my spare time, and I have a bad habit of going into more pedantics on a subject than is probably warranted as a result. It doesn’t help I wasn’t exactly on top form when I wrote that wall of text, so it likely makes less sense on the site than it did in my head.

    Also: so that’s where I remember having this conversation before. I thought I had a sense of deja vu, but couldn’t place it until you mentioned the mammoth.

    No, it’s not. The use of negatives may give this impression, but it does make sense.

    But I don’t understand how it does. A double negative cancels itself out, leaving exactly the same sentence. What else did you mean?

    Then allow me to proffer a mea culpa. I did think you might have taken the opportunity to explain what “Heaven forbid they should think trying to improve the lot of the living is in any way a more worthwhile enterprise than pumping out more sperm and eggs!” meant, as it still seems to be a bit of a non-sequitur. Were I in a mischievous mood I might suggest it was because you were aware of this.

    Very well. To put it briefly, I was expressing my disapproval at the notion that some kind of evolutionary ethics – basically regarding the living beings that survive and reproduce more efficiently as if that made them somehow morally worthy – could trump concern for beings who perhaps die childless.

    In hindsight, I don’t remotely think you hold this view, and I was getting on my high horse as a result, but at the time your comment made me wonder about the implications of somehow elevating or honouring the Darwinian survivors, namely that it involved denigrating the less fortunate. Since the most obvious examples of the less fortunate are children who died before their time, and since in any case I have a long-standing dislike of prejudice against adults who are childless, I basically saw red.

    I apologize for jumping to conclusions and taking the least charitable reading of your point, and for my getting rhetorical as a result. I should have explained myself more calmly at the time.

    If the devil’s advocate thing is by way of giving me a let out, that’s thoughtful but not necessary. Even though I’ve dropped the idea of gratitude, I meant it when I wrote it, and I stand by my assertion that religion and culture (actual, not hypothetical) are inextricably interconnected.

    Trust me, I didn’t mean it sarcastically or patronisingly. I’d rather at least one person per discussion gave voice to a different viewpoint to make sure we’re not turning into a case study on groupthink. And given your recent post, I now appreciate that your last sentence here simply means “inextricably interconnected because of the real-world history”, not “inextricably interconnected by principle”, in which case I concede the point and agree.

  106. In reply to #106 by Zeuglodon:

    I’ve also read about how the Big Bang was originally conceived by a Catholic, and probably inspired by the Christian conception of a universe created from nothing

    That’s sounds like the story of an apple dropping on Newton’s head causing him to give birth to the theory of gravity. I suspect Lemaitre’s development of the Big Bang theory arose from his scientific studies at Cambridge and MIT and was based on the work of other scientists, such as Hubble.

  107. Oh, I see, I can’t fear Islam or those who embrace it, but I can be angry with it and them. What a distinction!

    In reply to #100 by aldous:

    In reply to #98 by Stuart M.:

    There is no reason to feel fear when you are not threatened… Empathy with women who are badly treated can very reasonably lead to anger against men who cause the suffering.

  108. In reply to #108 by Stuart M.:

    Oh, I see, I can’t fear Islam or those who embrace it, but I can be angry with it and them. What a distinction!

    If you had a rational and humane attitude, your argument would lead you to support Muslim women in their struggle for human rights.

  109. In reply to #102 by Katy Cordeth:

    So, apparently, I didn’t say that, but I approved when someone else said it. Not my brightest moment, to be sure. I must be even more incoherent than I thought I was, that was a supid generalization. If it’s worth anything, I apologise to all muslims who just want to live their lives in peace for insinuating that they all cheer when some “heathen” dies. We all know some of them must do it, but saying all of them are like that isn’t intelligent. I still say it’s rational to dislike/distrust muslims until they prove they are tolerant/good people. After all, they declare themselves followers of a threathening doctrine, as I’ve mentioned before. But, again, just like not all christians do everything that’s in the bible, it’s wrong to assume all muslims follow the quran to the letter.

  110. It is strange that of the plethora of non-Christian religions that exist in the West due to recent immigration only Islam seems to be singled out as the poster child for bigotry and intolerance leveled against it. We should not be asking why there is Islamophobia, but why there is no Buddhaphobia, Hinduphobia, Zoroastrophobia, etc. In this context the term ‘Islamophobia’ loses its relevance as a stand-in term for racism and bigotry. Islamophobia is an example of the logical fallacy argumentum ad Hitlerum, designed to smear anyone who dares criticise the religion even if the criticism is well deserved. Atheist/Humanist/Free Thinker opposition to aspects of Islam is not about nationalism, but about calling out an all too often insufferably repressive and violent religious ideology that is not ashamed of its goal – to make Islam the dominant religion for all humanity. It is most unfortunate that this community needs to issue any apology for its critique of Islam over any other irrational belief system.

  111. In reply to #110 by Dreamweaver:

    In reply to #102 by Katy Cordeth:

    So, apparently, I didn’t say that, but I approved when someone else said it. Not my brightest moment, to be sure. I must be even more incoherent than I thought I was, that was a supid generalization. If it’s worth anything, I apologise to all muslims who just want to live their lives in peace for insinuating that they all cheer when some “heathen” dies. We all know some of them must do it, but saying all of them are like that isn’t intelligent.

    Don’t sweat it, we all have off days. I didn’t actually have you in mind when I listed the names of those who liked steveo00’s comment; you were just second in the list.

    I still say it’s rational to dislike/distrust muslims until they prove they are tolerant/good people. After all, they declare themselves followers of a threatening doctrine, as I’ve mentioned before…

    I tend more toward the view that people should be given the benefit of the doubt until they prove they are not tolerant/good, but I take your point. Our species is disposed to wanton cruelty, and religions, particularly those in the Abrahamic trinity of horridness, foster and give celestial approval to this trait.

    It does perhaps behove us to cut those who were born into this threatening doctrine a bit more slack than we do the ones who converted to such an oppressive philosophy. The former didn’t have much of a choice.

  112. In reply to #111 by DEWDDS:

    In reply to #111 by DEWDDS:
    Islamophobia is an example of the logical fallacy argumentum ad Hitlerum, designed to smear anyone who dares criticise the religion even if the criticism is well deserved.

    That’s not a definition. It’s polemic. Look at the Wikipedia article for a rational examination of the issue.
    Islamophobia is “socially reproduced prejudices and aversion to Islam and Muslims, as well as actions and practices that attack, exclude or discriminate against persons on the basis that they are or perceived to be Muslim and be associated with Islam” .

    The term is parallel to ‘anti-Semitism’. It can be used correctly or it can be misused to deflect condemnation of the Jewish State and support for it ” even if the criticism is well deserved”.

  113. In reply to #111 by DEWDDS:

    …Islamophobia is an example of the logical fallacy argumentum ad Hitlerum, designed to smear anyone who dares criticise the religion even if the criticism is well deserved.

    Nah, It’s just what it says it is.

    Islamophobia – Wikipedia

    The only fallacy being committed is by those who say criticism of Islamophobia is by definition politically correct pandering.

    It’s Daily Mail, Telegraph, Richard you couldn’t make it up Littlejohn, Glenn Beck thinking.

  114. In reply to #94 by functional atheist:

    But what of those, such as I, who DO single out Islam?

    I’ve reached the considered opinion that it is reasonable to qualitatively assess the world’s religions, to in effect rank them by order of perniciousness, and I’ve concluded that Islam is the worst of them all.

    I certainly bear no ill will to…

    The fact that your contempt for Islam is based on empiricism is hardly a slur!
    Is feeling contempt for idiotic Christian fundamentalists a slur?

  115. Dang! Trumped by Wikipedia. I’m not discussing the technical meaning of the term, but its misuse. People make perjorative accusations all the time and Islamophobia is probably one of the most common one today. By this view any critique of Islam is deemed Islamophobic and by extension also racist. When used in writing or speaking it serves a single purpose – to shut down the discussion and sling baseless, but damning accusations, against who have called attention to the various problems within Islam. I’ve seen this ridiculous word it used against scholarly works that only discuss Islamic origins and historicity of Muhammad without polemics. Tell me now, is this a fair use of Islamophobia?

    The West has taken in all sorts of people from many religious backgrounds, but mysteriously there are no cognate terms to Islamophobia to shield them from bigotry. This is a serious question and one that our movement seems afraid to ask.

    In reply to #114 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #111 by DEWDDS:

    …Islamophobia is an example of the logical fallacy argumentum ad Hitlerum, designed to smear anyone who dares criticise the religion even if the criticism is well deserved.

    Nah, It’s just what it says it is.

    Islamophobia – Wikipedia

    The only fallacy being committed…

  116. In reply to #116 by DEWDDS:

    The West has taken in all sorts of people from many religious backgrounds, but mysteriously there are no cognate terms to Islamophobia to shield them from bigotry.

    You’ve used the word yourself. It’s ‘bigotry’. It’s of no importance whether they have the suffix -phobia or not. A parallel, and frequently used, riposte to bigotry against an ethno-religious group is ‘anti-Semitism’ . Obviously, it can be, and is, misused but it would be just as bigoted to deny the existence of any such prejudice as it is to claim that crass and, indeed, violent attacks on Muslims do not take place.

  117. In reply to #109 by aldous:

    In reply to #108 by Stuart M.:

    Oh, I see, I can’t fear Islam or those who embrace it, but I can be angry with it and them. What a distinction!

    If you had a rational and humane attitude, your argument would lead you to support Muslim women in their struggle for human rights.

    My rational and humane attitude leads me to support Arabian, African, Indonesian, Persian, Turkish, etc., women who want to throw off the misogynist yoke of Islam. A “Muslim” woman must be someone who likes the Islamic religion.

  118. Personally i am not at war with anybody, i am an atheist and atheists don’t have militia to force our views, we have civilised minds open to debate. We also recognise that we are all the same species but different in colour and culture and we are obviously patient with those blinded by faith. This is our advantage.

    In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:

    Political correctness prevents public figures from talking about the threat that Islam now poses to the world. We are at war with Islam and the teachings that are prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. It does not bode well for the future of Britain when the only people prepared to speak honestly a…

  119. In reply to NUMBER 119 by zula : You really do owe it to yourself to read the Koran. There is no substitute for confronting the ‘holy book’ itself. On almost every page, the Koran prepares the ground for religious conflict: Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them (Koran 9:73). Can you please find me one moderate Muslim in the world who thinks the Prophet was lying??

  120. In reply to #89 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #87 by inquisador:

    I would be among the last to pull their comfort blanket from under them.

    This isn’t the comfort of religion here. It is the sweaty palmed world of the quiet deceiver.

    I know.

    The snag is that I believe that this kind of well-intentioned kin…

    It gives more power to the Islamic movement; so that we see numbers of Muslims in the west growing more quickly than might be the case otherwise.

    I’m not quite clear about this. Other than what? What sort of Muslims? The ones you and I don’t like? The fascist proselytisers? Or the trapped? The exploiters? Or their victims?

    I’m not differentiating here. Just all Muslims.

    The honest criticism and exposure of Islam is actually the only way out of this.

    But which Islam? The democratic. feminist Islam of Ahmad Shah Massoud? The open scholarly Islam of Averroes? The quiet unremarkable Islam of my Turkish neighbours?

    The Islam of Mohammed. The Islam of resurgent militant conquest, in the present as in centuries gone by. The Islam of Mohammed.

    You mean the bully boy Islam acting tough because its scared?

    I mean the Islam of the Koran, Hadith and Sira. What other ‘Muslims’ can compete against that?

    this kind of well-intentioned kindness

    You are cruel, sometimes, inq. I trash the UK’s Policy on muliculturalism, preach the need for more state interference in communities to make sure ALL individuals are made cognisant of their rights and to point out the non legal status and non-democratic license of self appointed community “leaders”.

    Hey, I apologise! Not the best choice of words. I do agree with you most of the time. For what it’s worth.

    Nor my overarching strategy drawn from Sun Tzu’s wise “The Art of War.”

    Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across

    I’m a great fan of Sun Tzu. Especially their third album 🙂

    Kind? I’m trying for politically astute.

    I think we all still have most of our work ahead of us. As dear old Hitch might have said.

  121. In reply to #91 by phil rimmer:

    There was some missing English in#89, sorry….

    “You are cruel, sometimes, inq. You don’t notice that I trash the UK’s Policy on muliculturalism, preach the need for more state interference in communities to make sure ALL individuals are made cognisant of their rights and to point out the non legal status and non-democratic license of self appointed community “leaders”.

    Nor my overarching strategy drawn from Sun Tzu’s wise “The Art of War.””

    Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across

    (And our opponent is offensive religious dogma.)

    Just to clarify a few things:

    I do actually notice everything in your posts directed towards me. I read them quite carefully, as I do many of your other posts. I do applaud your stance on multiculturalism and rights versus the islamic negation of human rights. I hope you also remember to preach against the misogyny and barbarity of sharia law and the foolish tendency of politicians to respect and accept it.

    I do actually get the point of the golden bridge and how that may sometimes usefully apply to help Muslims to safely withdraw from islam.

    One point i think you may not be fully appreciating is the grave credibility deficit that faces any Islamic reformer having to overcome the disapproval of the scholars who follow the most authoritative and accepted hadiths and interpretations of those and other foundational texts. The entrenchment of the conventional orthodox over more enlightened understanding seems to have always prevailed in the end. Hence the sad demise of reformers like Massoud as you point out and Mahmoud Taha. Even the much admired legacy of Ataturk now seems to be being supplanted with a regressive islamic revival in keeping with the global trend.

    Anyhow, my felicitations, and regards.

    Inq.

  122. In reply to #99 by phil rimmer:

    If he hadn’t been assassinated by Osama bin Laden the day before 9/11 would you support the efforts of Ahmad Shah Massoud?

    I would support his goal but I would still want to rid the world of his religion. It would be a paradox for Muslim women to be treated equally without heavy edits to the holy text. But, then you lose the authority of the author, when you edit, and then it all falls apart. All or none. After all, his religion enables the very thing he fights against; his and all other religions.

  123. In reply to #102 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #68 by aquilacane:

    In reply to #60 by Katy Cordeth:

    No, I was referring to this:

    …For instance, in the matter of muslims, I believe that behind closed doors every single one of them secretly cheers every time an American is bombed or killed, regardless of their public outrage, of which there is very little-outrage that is.

    This comment received 53 likes; 42 from those who elected not sign in to show their approval, preferring to remain cloaked in anonymity, the rest from sycorax, Dreamweaver, memetical, PhilT, inquisador, xp0z3d, godsbuster, Fouad Boussetta, PedroCarvalho, Stevenwood21 and Ignorant Amos.

    I was pleased to see your own name didn’t appear there, although you could be one of the anonymous 42.

    You should know by now that I don’t like anything I didn’t think of.

  124. In reply to #123 by aquilacane:

    It would be a paradox for Muslim women to be treated equally without heavy edits to the holy text.

    The Koran shows the attitude to women of the time and the barbaric society in which it was produced. It is a work of its time and place in history. There is nothing unique about Islam. The customs and sense of right and wrong portrayed in the Koran are common to earlier societies and it is only in recent times that our moral sense has come to reject slavery, savage retributive justice, oppression of women, persecution of minorities, racism and the other ills of Old Testament morality. This is happening because science and technology have transformed the world and made the merits of co-operation and equality among members of society so undeniably superior to the tribal values of earlier times.

    It is not the content of the Koran that is the problem. It’s the authority which religious belief and religious organizations bestow on ancient traditions. It’s not the text that requires ‘editing’ but reverence for sacred books that needs to be diminished or extinguished.As countries climb the UN Human Development Index, attitudes towards the sacred text change under the influence of secular humanism. Argument against the sanctity of ancient texts is important but, more important still, is economic development.

  125. In reply to #10 by Katy Cordeth:

    That’s the funny thing about culture: it tends to be linked with religion. You can’t stick culture in a centrifuge and isolate and then remove elements you find distasteful.

    Ah, but you can. The centrifuge is society and the isolation comes at the hands of the masses. Of course, it works both ways but an educated society should be able to remove elements the society finds distasteful… it’s called peer pressure and law. This all falls apart when the government takes it upon itself to support specific cultures and give them a leg up for fear they will be lost or changed. I want culture to be lost and changed. I want my culture not my dead relative’s culture.

    The movements against genital mutilation in non consenting children is a great example of religion and culture both getting a shit kicking by peer pressure. They say “but it’s my culture, my religion” and I say “you’re a criminal, fuck your religion and your culture”. After a while and much introspection, they may realize it is brutal and criminal. Then, after much more pondering, the government may actually enforce the law (not culture or religion) because mutilating your child’s genitals (male or female) is wrong.

    if it were my culture to cut off my children’s nose and ears the genital mutilators who would surely heap scorn on me would finally know how I feel about them.

  126. In reply to #125 by aldous:

    In reply to #123 by aquilacane:

    It would be a paradox for Muslim women to be treated equally without heavy edits to the holy text.

    The Koran shows the attitude to women of the time and the barbaric society in which it was produced. It is a work of its time and place in history. There is nothing un…

    Then leave it in it’s place of history or edit the shit out of it an bring it into the modern era. Of course, editing it makes everything they believe irrelevant. And I know, it’s not just Islam, that’s why I included all other religions in my post. The problem with accepting the reality of the holy texts origin is that it enables people to travel back in time and behave like fuckwits.

    Remove the time machine, force them to accept the present. I’m quite sure that many Muslims who read our back and forth on this and other sites do actually come around to seeing just how behind the times they are. How embarrassing for them. People don’t like to be embarrassed, even if they have to dump their religion to avoid it.

  127. The question of textual relevance to modern Islam is easily underestimated.

    To look at the torah, where the Judaeo-Christian texts reside, we find almost as much evil as in the Koran/Hadith/Sira. There is the genocide of whole populations of people, barbaric senseless punishments for sometimes minor offences such as stoning for adultery, which was also later adopted by Islam.

    Yet while Jews and Christians have reformed their laws a long time ago almost out of recognition; Islamic sharia law has hardly changed. Of course there are differences in the ways or degrees to which sharia has been adopted in modern times. Usually
    it has been moderated and modernised to some degree, but the sharia remains the same.

    The difference is in the texts. The Islamic texts are much more explicitly prescriptive, and for all time. There are hadiths that anticipate the later attempts at reform of the laws, and at the same time denounce such changes as not to be tolerated. Those that try risk severe harm from the fundamentalist wing, and it’s not easy to see how this problem can be solved.

  128. In reply to #128 by inquisador:

    and it’s not easy to see how this problem can be solved.

    Solution is from natural selection.. Societies adopt secular governments, change immediately begins. In time, secular brains get more and more common. Their children get secular education, and so do their childrens’ children. Gradually most of the population become oriented toward free thought. Western world should promote secular governance for all states.

  129. In reply to #129 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #128 by inquisador:

    and it’s not easy to see how this problem can be solved.

    Solution is from natural selection.. Societies adopt secular governments, change immediately begins. In time, secular brains get more and more common. Their children get secular education, and so do their childrens’ children. Gradually most of the population become oriented toward free thought. Western world should promote secular governance for all states.

    What does any of that have to do with natural selection?

  130. In reply to #130 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #129 by YesUCan:
    What does any of that have to do with natural selection?

    Ok. Let’s call it social selection.

  131. In reply to #131 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #130 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #129 by YesUCan:
    What does any of that have to do with natural selection?

    Ok. Let’s call it social selection.

    Better 🙂

  132. In reply to #129 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #128 by inquisador:

    and it’s not easy to see how this problem can be solved.

    Solution is from natural selection.. Societies adopt secular governments, change immediately begins. In time, secular brains get more and more common. Their children get secular education, and so do their chil…

    Yes but how to make it happen?

    The Islamic fanatics have a grip on Muslim societies that they won’t easily relinquish. no doubt they enjoy the exercise of power and the status conferred upon them.

    Western societies have lost their grip by their absurd multi-cultural policies and equally absurd and idiotic praise, respect and tolerance of the least tolerant imams, big-mouthed radical ‘scholars’ and the self-selected ‘community leaders’.

    The more our elite types empower these Islamic movers and shakers with official endorsement of sharia law courts and such appeasement as for example the circumvention of regulations against animal cruelty in order to facilitate widespread adoption of (usually unlabeled) halal meat slaughtered by slow method of torture; then the more established and entrenched becomes the whole culture, in opposition to the non- Muslim relatively secular culture.

    Islamic schools and madrassas are not moving us in a secular direction. I don’t know how true this is, but it does seem symptomatic of what’s happening now. Please take a look, with an open mind. yes it’s the D mail, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s false, although it may be.?!?

  133. In reply to #133 by inquisador:

    In reply to #129 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #128 by inquisador:

    Western societies have lost their grip by their absurd multi-cultural policies and equally absurd and idiotic praise, respect and tolerance of the least tolerant imams, big-mouthed radical ‘scholars’ and the self-selected ‘community leaders’.

    It’s typical reactive ethnic response of minorities to the larger culture they live in. What will keep them together? Their answer is religion. Responsibility to integrate them to the society lies on the host country. I personally like multi-cultural societies. Perhaps still not very successful but the West is doing a good job. Western countries may have a look for example at Egypt or perhaps Russia where different ethnicities live together.

    Islamic schools and madrassas are not moving us in a secular direction. I don’t know how true this is, but it does seem symptomatic of what’s happening now. Please take a look, with an open mind. yes it’s the D mail, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s false, although it may be.?!?

    What difference does it make if that letter is true or false? That is who they are. They try to establish their own ghetto.. Especially during primary and secondary education children should be kept away from religious or any ideological prejudice. Only state curriculum can ensure its application and the problem here arises from the indulgence of British Education Ministry. Not a particular religion but all similar demands should get the same treatment. I remember once RD complained about private christian schools in Britain. Enough is enough! he said. “Tolerance” here looks like to be the result of general British approach to the matter. I find the French better on this issue.

    The Islamic fanatics have a grip on Muslim societies that they won’t easily relinquish. no doubt they enjoy the exercise of power and the status conferred upon them.

    Have you ever seen a western country voicing and supporting secular governance in those countries. You cannot. Why?

  134. In reply to #134 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #133 by inquisador:

    In reply to #129 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #128 by inquisador:

    Western societies have lost their grip by their absurd multi-cultural policies and equally absurd and idiotic praise, respect and tolerance of the least tolerant imams, big-mouthed radical ‘scholars’ and…

    Have you ever seen a western country voicing and supporting secular governance in those countries. You cannot. Why?

    Why?

    Because western countries are wedded to this indulgent view of Islamic doctrine; as though it were not much different to other religions. This has led to a suicidal policy of favouring and appeasing the Islamic devotees as if they were no more harmful than Buddhists or Baha’is. This even despite the clear historical and contemporary evidence of Islamic desire to conquer and subjugate non-Muslims wherever possible and to appropriate their land and possessions for the sake of Allah. All the land and wealth of the world belongs by right to Allah and to the slaves of Allah (Muslims).

    This is not a peaceful religion like others; it is more akin to a cult of murder and slavery. Non-Muslims must be killed or converted or subjugated.

    Hence our problem is our ignorance of these facts. Even while the global jihad gathers momentum, we still rush to censor free speech in case Muslims are offended by a cartoon or a novel; we grant welfare payments for extra wives, sharia courts instead of one law for all. And mostly, we do not allow free speech which would tell these truths.

    Except on places like this amazing website, which we should all treasure most highly.

    Rant over.

  135. In reply to #128 by inquisador:

    This even despite the clear historical and contemporary evidence of Islamic desire to conquer and subjugate non-Muslims wherever possible and to appropriate their land and possessions for the sake of Allah.

    If rewrote your sentence replacing 3 words how would it look like?: “This even despite the clear historical and contemporary evidence of Christian desire to conquer and subjugate non-Christians wherever possible and to appropriate their land and possessions for the sake of Jesus-Christ.” In the last a few hundred years which countries were conquered by so-called Muslims? There is no such thing as conquest by Muslims.

    This is not a peaceful religion like others; it is more akin to a cult of murder and slavery.

    Which religion is peaceful? And don’t make me remind you of medieval times.

    Even while the global jihad gathers momentum

    What is this supposed to mean? There is nothing like it. But It may be a global plot. Can you tell me in which so-called non-muslim countries this global war is being carried out?

  136. If rewrote your sentence replacing 3 words how would it look like?: “This even despite the clear historical and contemporary evidence of Christian desire to conquer and subjugate non-Christians wherever possible and to appropriate their land and possessions for the sake of Jesus-Christ.”

    In the last a few hundred years which countries were conquered by so-called Muslims? There is no such thing as conquest by Muslims.

    From the Wiki page Muslim Conquests:

    According to traditional accounts, the Muslim conquests, also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.

    They grew well beyond the Arabian Peninsula in the form of a Muslim empire with an area of influence that stretched from the borders of China and India, across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the Pyrenees.

    An impressively rapid expansion considering “there is no such thing as conquest by Muslims”.

    Not as impressive as the expansion of Christianity through conquest of course. Here is a useful link showing the spread of religions throughout the world. Neil Tyson did a talk on how the Islamic world was held back in it’s technological progress due to it’s attitude to science. Perhaps this had something to do with them falling behind Christianity in the Conquest stakes.

    In reply to #136 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #128 by inquisador:

    This even despite the clear historical and contemporary evidence of Islamic desire to conquer and subjugate non-Muslims wherever possible and to appropriate their land and possessions for the sake of Allah.

    If rewrote your sentence replacing 3 words how would it loo…

  137. In reply to #135 by inquisador:

    In reply to #134 by YesUCan:

    Hello YesUCan,

    Your attempt to equate Christianity with Islam simply does not work. Islam is a far more aggressive militant set of doctrines than anything found in other religions. It’s also much more political than other religions.

    This tendency to expansion and imperialism is built in to the theology itself. The Islamic concepts of Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb relate to the ‘House of Islam’, meaning all those lands where Muslims rule, and the ‘House of War’ where non-Muslims rule, set up a permanent set of battlelines.

    Meaning that Muslims are expected to fight in order to extend the House of Islam across the entire world, whenever and wherever possible. This is for all time, and no matter how long it takes. That is by whatever means available; war if necessary. That is Jihad.

    You may have noticed that there are hundreds of Jihadist groups popping up all over the place; many of them affiliated to Al Qaeda. There is Al Shabaab for example, in Somalia and Kenya. There was the recent invasion of Mali that briefly saw sharia law imposed in that country. In Nigeria there is a Jihadist group called Boko Haram that has specialised in massacring male students and schoolchildren.
    The number of attacks has grown to the point where education in Borno State has been suspended.

    The Arab Spring countries are seeing struggles between terror-supporting Muslim Brotherhood groups and their opponents. Russia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and others have all suffered terrorist attacks lately.

    But don’t take my word. Do your own research.

    Good luck.

  138. In reply to #138 by inquisador:

    In reply to #135 by inquisador:

    Hi inquisador,

    I decided not to write a detailed answer. I dont want to get into political debates here. I can only say I disagree with you that 50+ poor nations are in the process of conquering the West. Religious conquest story ended a long time ago. I believe if the West effectively supported secular governments in these countries there would be no terror problem. They reap what they sow..

  139. In reply to #138 by inquisador:

    Your attempt to equate Christianity with Islam simply does not work. Islam is a far more aggressive militant set of doctrines than anything found in other religions. It’s also much more political than other religions.

    You haven’t noticed that the basic principle of Christianity is hypocrisy. It is the Religion of Peace on the basis of the preaching of Jesus. In reality, it rejects the teaching of the Founder and practises extreme violence. This is clear in the history of European colonialism. In the great European wars, both sides proclaim that God is on their side.

  140. In reply to #139 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #138 by inquisador:

    In reply to #135 by inquisador:

    Hi inquisador,

    I decided not to write a detailed answer. I dont want to get into political debates here. I can only say I disagree with you that 50+ poor nations are in the process of conquering the West. Religious conquest story end…

    Hi YesUCan,

    I have to say that you remind me of the evolution-deniers who say they can’t see it happening so it can’t be happening. The point here and there is that it is happening quite slowly.

    Even so, we know that population levels of native Brits is slowly declining while Muslim numbers are rising fairly quickly.

    Political correctness tends to conceal the extent of what is actually happening.

    An amazing example of this is the story of Muslim rape gangs and their grooming, pimping and raping of non-Muslim, mostly white British girls. Sam Harris just tweeted a link to this new report which reveals the amazing scale of the problem and the impunity with which the gangs operate(d), while social services looked the other way and police buried evidence against them for fear of accusations of racism.

    You can see the report by following the link at the Gatestone Institute.

    Maybe we might almost say that the west is complicit in its’ own conquest. Now I’m not saying that conquest IS going to happen, but what I am saying is that IF things continue as they are then sooner or later it will happen.

  141. In reply to #140 by aldous:

    In reply to #138 by inquisador:

    Your attempt to equate Christianity with Islam simply does not work. Islam is a far more aggressive militant set of doctrines than anything found in other religions. It’s also much more political than other religions.

    You haven’t noticed that the basic principle of Christianity is hypocrisy. It is the Religion of Peace on the basis of the preaching of Jesus. In reality, it rejects the teaching of the Founder and practises extreme violence. This is clear in the history of European colonialism. In the great European wars, both sides proclaim that God is on their side.

    You know Aldous, me old pal?

    I reject this cultural relativism.

    Did Jesus say in the sermon on the mount: ‘Blessed are the hypocrites’? No.

    Did Christians burn witches and heretics and fight wars? Yes.

    On the other hand, Mohamed urged compulsory conversion/subjugation/death according to choice, against non-Muslims. He was also considered the acme of perfect conduct, the ultimate paragon of role models for all Muslims of all times to emulate, as is still taught in the mosques. Some examples of that perfect behaviour, as recorded in the highest-regarded early biography, the Sirat Rasul Allah of Ibn Ishaq, include the murder of an elderly lady who was the leader of a nearby tribe. Her name was Umm Qirfa and her fate was to be literally torn apart by being roped to camels that were driven in opposite directions.

    I’ll refrain from the long and tedious recounting of all the atrocities attributed to Mohamed in that book, save to say that the murders alone amount to many hundreds or thousands. Critically and typically, often for mean, petty and selfish reasons.

    So it can be no mystery that the Islamic heritage is, at least for a significant number of Muslims, one of aggressive supremacist warfare to the glory of Allah/Mohammed. As is evident from the springing up around the globe like mushrooms of jihadist groups all hellbent on murder and martyrdom.

    The two religions are very different from one another, and to offer the flaws of one as exculpation for the flaws of the other seems to be a common and fallacious tactic. Also an example of tu quoque. By the way Aldous, I am not accusing you of doing that; only that there often seems to be more than a hint of it about some of your otherwise excellent comments.

    So I submit that Islam is the greater evil. And that all people who love freedom, democracy and human rights need to wake up to this threat.

  142. In reply to #141 by DanDare:

    Nicely argued. Enjoyable read. I know know that I m an anti-theist. Huzzah!

    Hello Dan,

    I’d also like to cast my vote in the title question: ‘Anti-Theism- Reason or Bigotry?’

    Definitely: – Reason!!

  143. In reply to #142 by inquisador:

    In reply to #139 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #138 by inquisador:

    In reply to #135 by inquisador:

    Hi inquisador,

    I have to say that you remind me of the evolution-deniers who say they can’t see it happening so it can’t be happening. The point here and there is that it is happening quite slowly.

    Even so, we know that population levels of native Brits is slowly declining while Muslim numbers are rising fairly quickly.

    You may make some calculation as to how many years it will take this conquest. I would be happy to read your results (together with numbers used, methodology, population growth/decrease rate assumptions etc.).

    Political correctness tends to conceal the extent of what is actually happening.

    It is not political correctness but anti-secular character of existing systems which guides politicians. They have to tolerate christian doctrination and by allowing other religions some space they in fact conceal favor to a specific religion and look democratic. Economic/political relations with other countries may have an effect, as well.

    An amazing example of this is the story of Muslim rape gangs and their grooming, pimping and raping of non-Muslim, mostly white British girls. Sam Harris just tweeted a link to this new report which reveals the amazing scale of the problem and the impunity with which the gangs operate(d), while social services looked the other way and police buried evidence against them for fear of accusations of racism.

    First I want to tell stg about Mr. Harris. He talks about a preemtive strike against an underdeveloped country based on terror threat. He proposes that the basis of morality is human well-being. The link tweeted by him is especially a cherry-picked one. Bringing together the situation, I see a Mr. Harris ready to nuke other countries to protect Western well being, which is the basis of his morality.

    Second, I would give each 95 years not combined..

    Third, please give me numbers of rape crimes against British white girls committed by British white men and immigrants, so that we can make a comparison. News like the one you linked are obviously prepared for certain purposes.

    The problem is about integration of the incomer. It is hard to adapt to another country/culture for anyone. States must help them. How? Secular stance before religions. It’s a must! Non discrimination and democratic treatment. Democracy (rights) for the individual, not for the pressure group the person finds him/herself in. (I think that democracy, first of all, needs to protect the “individual” and not an ethnicity or a religious group.)

  144. In reply to #2 by Bob Springsteen:

    Political correctness prevents public figures from talking about the threat that Islam now poses to the world. We are at war with Islam and the teachings that are prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. It does not bode well for the future of Britain when the only people prepared to speak honestly a…

    I don’t see anti-islam war with the Oil Rich Islam.. Maybe you can explain why.

  145. Related to the subject I presume, people often call a group of countries “Islamic Countries.” I don’t see terminology like “Buddhist countries” or “Christian Countries.” Why is that?

  146. In reply to #142 by inquisador:

    In reply to #139 by YesUCan:

    An amazing example of this is the story of Muslim rape gangs and their grooming, pimping and raping of non-Muslim, mostly white British girls. Sam Harris just tweeted a link to this new report which reveals the amazing scale of the problem and the impunity with which the gangs operate(d), while social services looked the other way and police buried evidence against them for fear of accusations of racism.

    You can see the report by following the link at the Gatestone Institute.

    Ah, our old friends the Gatestone Institute. What would Muslimphobes do without it?

    The Gates of Vienna website (subtitle: “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.”) also carries the piece.

    What about this Law and Freedom Foundation site, though? Their homepage says:

    The Law and Freedom Foundation is not associated with the English Defence League.

    Wonder why they felt the need to tell us that… I’m sure they aren’t affiliated with the official Muppet fan club, Muppet Central, either. It’s a puzzle.

    I expect this sort of thing from the rabidly anti-Muslim contingent of RDFRS, but Mr. Harris is a leading light of the New Atheist movement and a proper intellectual, supposedly. I wonder if he could in fact be a fifth columnist… Ooh, this paranoia is infectious; they don’t tell you that.

    How is that “grandest of intellectual canyons” between anti-theism and the far right looking now, Mr Johnson?

    “…When? – The best chance you have of stopping the establishment of a mosque in your area is to contact us at the start of the planning process.” Law and Freedom.

  147. Political correctness? Don’t get me started on political correctness…

    I ‘ad this nig-nog in the back of my cab the other day. Black as the ace of spades ‘e was. Get this though: he had his boyfriend with ‘im. That’s right, ‘is boyfriend. A couple of shirt-lifting mixed-race bum bandits. Thanks to disgusting ‘political correctness’ though, I would of been the one arrested if I’d done the decent thing and given ’em a good ‘iding.

    There ain’t not no freedom of speech no more. You’ll find yourself arrested just for screaming “Paki!!” at a five-year-old school kid — that’s true that, it ‘appened to a mate of mine. Send a package containing cat feces to a notorious lezzer such as Sue Perkins or Sandi Toksvig and you will find yourself doing 500 hours of community service! Has the world gone mad?!

    Bloody political correctness. It’s us majority whites who are the real victims, make no mistake about it.

    Hitler ‘ad the right idea if you arsk me. I suppose I’ll get in trouble with the PC Nazis for saying that.

    It was so much better when you could say what you wanted about ‘oever you wanted.

    “Ohhhh, there ain’t no black in the Union Jack, no there ain’t no black in the Unio…”

  148. First I want to tell stg about Mr. Harris. He talks about a preemtive strike against an underdeveloped country based on terror threat. He proposes that the basis of morality is human well-being. The link tweeted by him is especially a cherry-picked one.

    In The Moral Landscape Harris contends that the only moral framework worth talking about is one where “morally good” things pertain to increases in the “well-being of conscious creatures”. Not just human well-being as you claim.

    Bringing together the situation, I see a Mr. Harris ready to nuke other countries to protect Western well being, which is the basis of his morality.

    In “The End of Faith” Harris describes a scenario in which a nuclear war could be triggered by religious extremism or the fear of such extremism. He includes this:

    All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns.

    Harris has a “Response to Controversy” page. He begins with:

    A few of the subjects I explore in my work have inspired an unusual amount of controversy. Some of this results from real differences of opinion or honest confusion, but much of it is due to the fact that certain of my detractors deliberately misrepresent my views. The purpose of this article is to address the most consequential of these distortions.

    Perhaps you have not read “The End of Faith” and were just passing on something you heard?

    Here is his response regarding pre-emptive nuclear war where he refers to the actual passage from his book.

    In reply to #145 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #142 by inquisador:

    In reply to #139 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #138 by inquisador:

    In reply to #135 by inquisador:

    Hi inquisador,

    I have to say that you remind me of the evolution-deniers who say they can’t see it happening so it can’t be happening. The point here and there is that it…

  149. In reply to #145 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #142 by inquisador:

    To take your questions in order:-

    On population growth of Muslims in the UK, i took the figures in Wiki which show that in the last 5 or 6 decades the numbers have almost doubled every decade. A projection of this would give a potential result of a Muslim majority by some time around 2050. I think this is unlikely to happen, but it’s possible.

    Political correctness and multi-culturalism are treated thoroughly in the report by Peter McLoughlin “Easy Meat” as linked to by Sam Harris. This shows how authorities have concealed from the public the true nature and scale of the activities of Muslim sex-slavery gangs to preserve the myth of multicultural community ‘cohesion’.
    I recommend it.

    Next: comparison of rapes committed by white men, against rapes committed by immigrants. This is not about typical rape cases.It is about a much more serious kind of offence. Typically it involves the seduction of teenage or pre-teen white, Sikh or Hindu girls by young handsome Muslim boys. The boys will use sweet-talk, flattery, gifts, declaration of love. The girl responds. Sex takes place, the boy introduces her to other men, plies her with alcohol and/or drugs and induces her to have sex with other men. Prostitution may be just the start for many of these girls end up being used as sex-slaves; making many thousands of pounds for the gang while receiving little or no money in return, and faced with addiction and threats of serious harm to themselves and their families if they talk to the police or try to escape.
    The percentage of accused who have so far been convicted of this crime who are Muslim is 89%. The percentage of non-Muslim men who have been convicted or even suspected of committing this crime against Muslim girls is zero%.

    The message to authorities has to be: let’s have no secrets for the sake of PC or trying to avoid offending anyone, put everything in the open, do your damn jobs, apply the law equally without favour or discrimination and allow the showing of educational films for young girls to warn them of what may happen to them. (previously suppressed).

  150. In reply to #151 by inquisador:

    In reply to #145 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #142 by inquisador:

    To take your questions in order:-

    On population growth of Muslims in the UK…

    Again we cannot argue about Islam’s conquest even based on wiki numbers. Because, most immigrants are of former British colonial origin. You don’t see significant or directed immigration by Saudis, Egyptians, Indonesians etc. There is a special relationship between Britain and these countries…

    Political correctness and multi-culturalism are treated thoroughly in the report by Peter McLoughlin “Easy Meat” as linked to by Sam Harris…

    This is another example which shows that Mr. Harris has his own agenda.. (#139 by YesUCan)

    Next: comparison of rapes…

    You failed to give numbers on this issue.. The rest is (Im sorry but) demagogy..

  151. In reply to #152 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #151 by inquisador:

    In reply to #145 by YesUCan:

    In reply to #142 by inquisador:

    To take your questions in order:-

    On population growth of Muslims in the UK…

    Again we cannot argue about Islam’s conquest even based on wiki numbers. Because, most immigrants are of former British co…

    That special relationship is known as the British Commonwealth, a kind of post-colonial family association of nations, many of which are mainly Muslim. This does not mean that Pakistani migrants are any less Muslim than those from anywhere else. We are simply talking about numbers of Muslims in the UK, the national origin of these migrants is not relevant to the discussion.

    This is another example which shows that Mr. Harris has his own agenda.. (#139 by YesUCan)

    Would you care to state what you think that agenda is?

    Mine in this case is to look out for the human rights of people who need protection; even though it’s too late for these thousands of young girls whose lives have already been ruined. How about you?

    Next: comparison of rapes…

    You failed to give numbers on this issue.. The rest is (Im sorry but) demagogy..

    The numbers can only be estimated, since the facts have for decades been concealed. The evidence available so far indicates the numbers are far higher than previously expected, but it’s not yet possible to give reliable figures. Even so, this is a huge scandal and would still be so even if the numbers of lives wrecked were less than expected.

  152. In reply to #143 by inquisador:

    So it can be no mystery that the Islamic heritage is, at least for a significant number of Muslims, one of aggressive supremacist warfare to the glory of Allah/Mohammed. As is evident from the springing up around the globe like mushrooms of jihadist groups all hellbent on murder and martyrdom.

    If it is ‘aggressive supremacist warfare’ that you are worried about you should be discussing the implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the role of the UN and the European Union and other regional organizations in advancing peace and security. Yet, for some reason — perhaps you enjoy the rhetoric– you give enormous importance to terrorism, provided it’s carried out under the banner of Islam. Didn’t you realise that the War on Terror was a propaganda tool to support American ‘aggressive supremacist warfare’. It’s a propaganda weapon which America has not been alone in making use of, it’s true. Since the effect of the ‘War on Terror’ has been to greatly increase terrorism, in Iraq for one prime example, let’s hope that there will be some adjustment of policies on this front.

  153. In reply to #154 by aldous:

    In reply to #143 by inquisador:

    Didn’t you realise that the War on Terror was a propaganda tool to support American ‘aggressive supremacist warfare’. It’s a propaganda weapon which America has not been alone in making use of, it’s true. Since the effect of the ‘War on Terror’ has been to greatly increase terrorism, in Iraq for one prime example, let’s hope that there will be some adjustment of policies on this front…

    This is a tedious argument which is too simplistic. American aggression was directed at Saddam, Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, for the sake of the regular people of Iraq and Afghanistan, not at conquering and dominating the land for the glory of Uncle Sam. If American power were to be deployed as cynically as you suggest then how do you explain the years in Afghanistan and Iraq spent on building new infrastructure, brokering new democratic forms of government and trying to stabilize the area with peacekeeping efforts, even while sectarian terrorist gangs continue their bloody work around them, rather than just bombing the shit out of everything?

    The increase in terrorism in Iraq has been less to do with the ‘war on terror’ and more about an age-old war between the Shia and the Sunni. Now deposed from their accustomed power and control of the country under Saddam, the Sunnis cannot accept the current Shi-ite government. And the PM, Maliki, has failed to give them the participation share they were promised. Hence the continuing bombings.

    Those misconceived wars have cost America trillions that could have been spent on say, converting the economy to more renewable energy sources. Now that would have paid real dividends.

  154. In reply to #155 by inquisador:

    American aggression was directed at Saddam, Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, for the sake of the regular people of Iraq and Afghanistan, not at conquering and dominating the land for the glory of Uncle Sam.

    Old-style ‘conquering and dominating the land’ meant occupation and settlement. That’s the case for Israel, a throwback to the past, the last European colony. For America, it means, among other things, drone technology.

    Drone pilots operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors…Faceless enemies nearby or half a world away are attacked. Virtual war kills like sport.
    At day’s end, home-based operators head there for dinner, relaxation, family time, then a good night sleep before another day guiding weapons with joysticks and monitors like computer games.Dozens of drone command centers operate worldwide….Two operate at CIA’s Langley, VA headquarters. Nevada’s Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases near Las Vegas have others.

    The other aspect is economic. Some of Uncle Sam’s privileged citizens do very well out of war. The military uniform and missile manufacturers have reaped their rewards — even if Chinese boots have sneaked in.The American taxpayer has paid the price twice over. Firstly, there is the transfer of money from the poor to the wealthy. Secondly, there is the price the less fortunate have had to pay in terms of loss of their homes, their livelihoods and the loss of social security and medical care.

    A similar price is exacted, on a greater scale, in the countries that Uncle Sam has smashed. The compliant rulers of the client states reap the rewards and the ordinary citizens pay with their lives and livelihoods and millions lose their homes and become refugees in their own countries or abroad.

  155. In reply to #156 by aldous:

    In reply to #155 by inquisador:

    Old-style ‘conquering and dominating the land’ meant occupation and settlement. That’s the case for Israel, a throwback to the past, the last European colony.

    I would have hoped we could all agree on the right of Jews to their own homeland in their ancestral domain. Surrounded and hounded as they are by Muslim populations living on land conquered by their precursors. Are only Muslims allowed nation states in the region?

    For America, it means, among other things, drone technology.

    A tool of war. Just like ieds, car-bombs, rpgs… I don’t get your point. You’ve shifted from objectives of war to practical means. My point was to notice the distinction between the fanatics fighting for Allah and martyrdom; and those fighting, naively, for the rest of humanity in those blasted countries.

    The other aspect is economic. Some of Uncle Sam’s privileged citizens do very well out of war. The military uniform and missile manufacturers have reaped their rewards — even if Chinese boots have sneaked in.The American taxpayer has paid the price twice over. Firstly, there is the transfer of money from the poor to the wealthy. Secondly, there is the price the less fortunate have had to pay in terms of loss of their homes, their livelihoods and the loss of social security and medical care.

    Fair point. that’s capitalism. At least the burden is shared by all who pay taxes, and those who make most will pay more; though probably not as much as they should (thanks to GWB’s tax cuts).

    A similar price is exacted, on a greater scale, in the countries that Uncle Sam has smashed. The compliant rulers of the client states reap the rewards and the ordinary citizens pay with their lives and livelihoods and millions lose their homes and become refugees in their own countries or abroad.

    You blame Uncle Sam. I blame Islam.

    Most of the casualties were Muslims killed by other Muslims.

    I also blame Uncle Sam for kicking the hornet’s nest and ignorantly, unwittingly enabling the revival of the old sectarian hatred that is an inevitable and inbuilt component of Islamic doctrines.

    Peace, and regards.

    Sorry, mods if we strayed a bit, but I blame Aldous. 🙂

  156. In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    You needn’t worry about your replies being off-topic. You are the topic. You give text-book evidence of the intellectual and moral malady we are discussing — I’m getting pretty tired of the word.

    You regard Muslims as having no existence as normal human beings like you and me, but being no more than a set of doctrines, selected by extremist anti-Muslims to represent the most retrograde aspects of Old Testament religion. The facts make no impression at all as compared to the fixation. The fact that, in Afghanistan, the national army is as Muslim as the enemy it is paid to fight by the Americans, makes no impression. The fact that 50% of Muslims are not male misogynists but their victims , makes no impression. The fact that religion is not the answer to every geopolitical question, is not something you are able to take account of. The role of Islam in the tribal areas of Pakistan is clear enough. However, it does no particular credit to the drone operators in the United States if they kill whole families without a humane or religious thought in mind.

    This is not said in a polemical spirit. Your contribution to the debate is appreciated.

  157. In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    You needn’t worry about your replies being off-topic. You are the topic. You give text-book evidence of the intellectual and moral malady we are discussing — I’m getting pretty tired of the word.

    Excellent work Aldous. Bravo!

    To paraphrase the author of Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver: “Most of them don’t know what Islam is, could not pick it out of a line-up. They only know what anti-Islam is. The two are practically unrelated.

  158. In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    You needn’t worry about your replies being off-topic. You are the topic. You give text-book evidence of the intellectual and moral malady we are discussing — I’m getting pretty tired of the word.

    You mean ‘Islamophobia’? A text-book would define a phobia as an irrational fear. My feelings are not that. And the word is but a shield to deflect valid criticism of Islam and to cast irrational doubt on one’s sanity.
    >

    You regard Muslims as having no existence as normal human beings like you and me,

    Where and when have I said that? Are you sure? I have hardly discussed normal Muslim human beings like you and me, as they are not generally under discussion. I have often acknowledged ‘moderate’ and ‘cultural’ Muslims, as recently as comment 87 in this thread. I recently wrote that Islam, for all its flaws, has ‘many millions of good people under its banner’
    >

    but being no more than a set of doctrines, selected by extremist anti-Muslims to represent the most retrograde aspects of Old Testament religion.

    That would be wrong of me wouldn’t it? Though not, perhaps, entirely.
    >

    The facts make no impression at all as compared to the fixation.

    A complete lie. You are smearing me as a fixated bigot so as to dismiss what I say.
    I try to take a broad view of all the relevant available facts. Not only those facts that concern me a great deal and that I tend to write about, but also those less remarkable and less worrying facts that I tend to not write about, that you mention as rebuttals. It’s the same old weary apologist refrain:- ‘do not notice the antisocial behaviour of those Muslims, look at these ones instead who are just like you and me.’

    A good argument for some Muslims. Not a great argument for Islam.
    >

    The fact that, in Afghanistan, the national army is as Muslim as the enemy it is paid to fight by the Americans, makes no impression.

    Yes it does. That is a good thing. However the fact that other Muslims are infiltrating that national army in order to kill as many soldiers as they can is a bad thing.
    >

    The fact that 50% of Muslims are not male misogynists but their victims , makes no impression.

    How very Islamophobic of you to assume that all male Muslims are misogynists!! I am very shocked at that. Shocked, I tell you!
    >

    The fact that religion is not the answer to every geopolitical question, is not something you are able to take account of.

    I don’t claim to have the answer to every geopolitical question. Nor have I claimed that religion is it.
    >

    The role of Islam in the tribal areas of Pakistan is clear enough. However, it does no particular credit to the drone operators in the United States if they kill whole families without a humane or religious thought in mind.

    Obviously. I would expect them to avoid such outcomes. There are sure to be civilian casualties, but I would be surprised if the CIA operators were not making some effort to minimise them; and the Taliban commanders to exaggerate them.

    Who knows what the true figures are?

  159. In reply to #159 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    You needn’t worry about your replies being off-topic. You are the topic. You give text-book evidence of the intellectual and moral malady we are discussing — I’m getting pretty tired of the word.

    Excellent work Aldous. Bravo!

    To paraphrase the author of Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver: “Most of them don’t know what Islam is, could not pick it out of a line-up. They only know what anti-Islam is. The two are practically unrelated.”

    That’s right, Len.

    These anti-Islam quotes are slipped into the Koran by the Jews I think. Best ignore…
    >

    “Slay them wherever you find them…Idolatry is worse than carnage…Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme.” (Surah 2:190-)

    “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.” (Surah 2:216)

    “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” (Surah 5:51)

    “Seek out your enemies relentlessly.” (Surah 4:103-)

    “Forbidden to you are…married women, except those you own as slaves.” (Surah 4:20-, 24-)

    “Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme.” (Surah 8:36-)

    “If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men.” (Surah 9:37-)

    “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them.” (Surah 9:121-)

    “Muhammad is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” (Surah 48:29)

    “Shall the reward of goodness be anything but good?…Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents…They shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets…Blessed be the name of your Lord…” (Surah 55:52-66-)

    See, there’s nothing there to worry about. Unless of course you’re an Islamophobe.

    Of course, the Bible is just as bad, if not worse. So we must condemn terrorists whether they be Muslims or …..

  160. In reply to #160 by inquisador:

    A text-book would define a phobia as an irrational fear. My feelings are not that. And the word is but a shield to deflect valid criticism of Islam and to cast irrational doubt on one’s sanity.

    You provide a lot of material for the textbook on bigotry. That’s not a word I’d use myself, in the context. However, to keep on topic, let’s use the word provided by Robert Johnson.

    The medical definition of a phobia is not that it is a form of insanity. It’s a type of anxiety disorder.

    Perfectly obviously, the suffix -phobia in Islamophobia is not being used in a medical sense in any case. It’s being used, as in homophobia and xenophobia, to indicate a type of prejudice and discrimination. It is transparently false to claim that labelling somebody an Islamophobe is a diagnosis of a medical condition. Another implausible defence is that ‘there is no such thing as Islamophobia’.

  161. In reply to #162 by aldous:

    In reply to #160 by inquisador:

    You provide a lot of material for the textbook on bigotry.

    Then please point out this material so that I can purge my prose of this wretched scourge.
    >

    The medical definition of a phobia is not that it is a form of insanity. It’s a type of anxiety disorder.

    Granted, it sounds like a psychological problem rather than insanity. Still, not a hallmark of the most perfectly sane individual.
    >

    It’s being used, as in homophobia and xenophobia, to indicate a type of prejudice and discrimination..

    So then my comments are prejudiced and discriminatory. But you see that the word can also be misused to mischaracterise perfectly valid comments as slanderous or false; the suggestion of a ‘disordered’ mind. But that would be to pervert the truth. It’s also an ‘intellectual and moral malady’.

    I can see how these descriptions may apply. Katy Cordeth provided a vivid illustration of the kind of thing in comment 149.
    Hello Katy, if you are reading this. Sorry I couldn’t think of a decent response to your comments.

    But, since I am this text-book definition of this Islam-phobia, could you indicate those passages that you find objectionable; as examples of my disorder. So I’ll know where I’ve gone wrong? I expect there’ll be many.

    I’m always happy to rectify my errors. Especially as I don’t see them on account of my ‘Islamophobia.’

    Many thanks.

  162. In reply to #163 by inquisador:

    So then my comments are prejudiced and discriminatory. But you see that the word can also be misused to mischaracterise perfectly valid comments as slanderous or false; the suggestion of a ‘disordered’ mind. But that would be to pervert the truth. It’s also an ‘intellectual and moral malady’.

    There is nothing ‘disordered’ about suspicion of foreigners and their strange ways. It’s the psychological inheritance of our tribal past. The question is what we do about these natural reactions to those from another culture. Where do we draw the line between a supremacist agenda of our own tribe and a genuine concern for our fellow human beings?

  163. In reply to #161 by inquisador:

    In reply to #159 by Len Walsh:

    See, there’s nothing there to worry about. Unless of course you’re an Islamophobe.

    Exactly. Although arguing that point with bigots is utterly futile.

  164. In reply to #165 by aldous:

    In reply to #163 by inquisador:

    So then my comments are prejudiced and discriminatory. But you see that the word can also be misused to mischaracterise perfectly valid comments as slanderous or false; the suggestion of a ‘disordered’ mind. But that would be to pervert the truth. It’s also an ‘intellectual and moral malady’.
    >

    There is nothing ‘disordered’ about suspicion of foreigners and their strange ways. It’s the psychological inheritance of our tribal past. The question is what we do about these natural reactions to those from another culture. Where do we draw the line between a supremacist agenda of our own tribe and a genuine concern for our fellow human beings?

    We all have our varying views on how to meet the challenges of a regressive ideology currently praticed by increasing numbers of devout followers, and how the resulting clash with our own democratic, human rights culture is threatening the present and future security and happiness of ourselves and our descendants.

    Some seem happy to ignore the problem, convinced there is no problem, some like to blame ourselves, our history, our foreign policy, anything but the real problem. Islam. Not Muslims, Insofar as Muslims are culpable, we can see how the more primary culprit is the inherently violent teachings of Islam.

    Let’s not try to conduct disagreements by way of smear-words like ‘Islamophobe’. It don’t win no points in this debate. Please?

  165. In reply to #165 by aldous:

    In reply to #163 by inquisador:

    There is nothing ‘disordered’ about suspicion of foreigners and their strange ways. It’s the psychological inheritance of our tribal past. The question is what we do about these natural reactions to those from another culture. Where do we draw the line between a supremacist agenda of our own tribe and a genuine concern for our fellow human beings?

    Supremacist agenda of our own tribe? How about equal rights and one law for all?

    The line has to be drawn as a rigid observance of the secular law, without religious compromises. If we insist on that, rather than the present accommodation of halal finance, halal slaughter, circumcision and sharia law courts, that would be some improvement.

    We need to learn from the experience of other countries how vulnerable societies can become to islamization, by the ratchet effect of Islam by small incremental stages.

    The Sultan of Brunei has just moved to fully sharia-ise his fiefdom with the familiar implementation of stonings and amputations, having previously introduced sharia-lite.

    See how Afghanistan has changed since the 50s and 60s by comparing these old photos with the images coming out of there today.

  166. In reply to #161 by inquisador:

    In reply to #159 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    Of course, the Bible is just as bad, if not worse. So we must condemn terrorists whether they be Muslims or …..

    These guys?

  167. In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    …You regard Muslims as having no existence as normal human beings like you and me, but being no more than a set of doctrines, selected by extremist anti-Muslims to represent the most retrograde aspects of Old Testament religion. The facts make no impression at all as compared to the fixation.

    Very well put. An accurate description, not just of our mutual friend, but a great many others. I think it might be related to Mean world syndrome; Mean Muslim syndrome, I suppose. And goodness knows there’s no shortage of websites promoting the view that we are at war, that the Qur’an mandates deception, that white DNA is set for extinction unless we take immediate action.

    I blame the internet. In days gone by, those who thought the U.S. government had a flying saucer in a hangar in New Mexico, or believed President Kennedy was killed by Mr. Spock, or that mosque building was part of an invasion plan were kept away from decent society; they met up only in each other’s basements or alternative book stores to discuss the latest ‘facts’ in support of their theories. Now though, thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Mr Alfonse Gore, these people have a worldwide network on which to disseminate their peculiar notions.

  168. In reply to #170 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    …You regard Muslims as having no existence as normal human beings like you and me, but being no more than a set of doctrines, selected by extremist anti-Muslims to represent the most retrograde aspects of Old Testament religion. The fac…

    See comment 160 where I already answered this.
    >

    peculiar notions.

    Like regarding Muslims as having no existence as normal human beings like you and me, but being no more than a set of doctrines, selected by extremist anti-Muslims to represent the most retrograde aspects of Old Testament religion. ?
    I mean, where does this stuff come from?

    Is it even possible to mistake human beings for sets of doctrines? This makes no sense.

    You think that because I am concerned about the obvious correlations between the Islamic teachings, and the criminal activities of some Muslims, that I must be some kind of nut; fixated on one thing; blind to other relevant events.? Ok, believe that if you like.

    Perhaps you or Aldous might like to respond to some of the questions put to him in 168, 163 and others rather than repeating questions to me that I already answered?

    Meanwhile in the real world, Muslims continue slaughtering Christians in Egypt, Nigeria, Fort Hood, Texas (again), Kenya, Somalia, and the holy quran says that those disbelievers are just fuel for the fire.

  169. In reply to #169 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #161 by inquisador:

    In reply to #159 by Len Walsh:

    In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    Of course, the Bible is just as bad, if not worse. So we must condemn terrorists whether they be Muslims or …..

    These guys?

    Right.

    Interestingly, that site, ‘Alternet’, in trying to show that Christian terrorism is worse than Islamic terror, manages to do the exact opposite.

    According to them the USA, (with a population of over 300 million mostly Christians,) has suffered about 190 people killed by Christian terrorists in the past few decades.

    These are mostly attacks on abortion clinics and of course, Timothy McVeigh’s atrocious truck bomb massacre of 168 people.

    On the other hand, despite the US population of Muslims being only around 3%, I found records of 3,101 people murdered by Muslims in 70 separate attacks. Many more attacks have been foiled.

    Finally: A correction.

    I mentioned a second Fort Hood attack in Texas yesterday while news of it was still coming in. Well it turns out not to be a terrorist attack, contrary to my implication.
    I am now wearing sackcloth and ashes (by Paul Smith)

  170. In reply to #172 by inquisador:

    I mentioned a second Fort Hood attack in Texas yesterday while news of it was still coming in. Well it turns out not to be a terrorist attack

    Which attacks, which you claim to be terrorism, are actually terrorist attacks by any objective definition? The Fort Hood attack in 2009 was one of the mass murders, which occur in gun-culture United States. Nothing at all to do with terrorism. In any case, why are you obsessed with crimes by terrorist groups compared to actions which are authorized by sovereign states — The Holocaust, for one example.?

  171. In reply to #173 by aldous:

    In reply to #172 by inquisador:

    Which attacks, which you claim to be terrorism, are actually terrorist attacks by any objective definition? The Fort Hood at…

    Major Hasan was by most standards and definitions, a terrorist in the Islamic tradition.

    Radicalised by Anwar Al-Awlaki, the extremist Islamic imam and terror operations planner for Al Qaeda, he also nursed grievances against American policies, was an Islamic supremacist and also had mental health problems.

    According to witnesses:-

    ‘Once, while presenting what was supposed to be a medical lecture to other psychiatrists, Hasan talked about Islam, and said that, according to the Koran, non-believers would be sent to hell, decapitated, set on fire, and have burning oil poured down their throats. A Muslim psychiatrist in the audience raised his hand, and challenged Hasan’s claims.[112] According to the Associated Press, Hasan’s lecture also “justified suicide bombings.”‘

    Such was the reluctance of the army to acknowledge his issues with Islam, that he went on for years without being discharged; leading some of his victims to accuse the army of negligence.

    Surely he was a terrorist alright but his superiors would not admit it.
    >

    In any case, why are you obsessed with crimes by terrorist groups compared to actions which are authorized by sovereign states — The Holocaust, for one example.?

    I’m very interested in many other things, including the holocaust. Sadly, I can do nothing to change the events of the past. Terrorism is a real and current threat to human lives. One which can and should be combated. I’m frustrated by the apathy and denial of apologists and cultural relativists.

    Why are you obsessed with my concern for the preservation of human rights and freedom of speech and apparently unconcerned about those who are doing their utmost to take them away and to murder for the sake of their idol?

  172. In reply to #174 by inquisador:

    I’m frustrated by the apathy and denial of apologists and cultural relativists.

    Major Hasan was tried and convicted for murder. Don’t you think you’re taking a weird position in accusing the US Department of Defense of being ‘apologists’ and ‘cultural relativists’? Do you really think it was their intention to’ frustrate’ those with anti-Muslim views? We are all, naturally, opposed to the crime of terrorism. Therefore, it seems quite foolish to confuse the issue by labelling mass murder as terrorism, in this instance, when it doesn’t meet the definition of the US Department of Defense.

    The reason for the reference to The Holocaust was a reminder that an ideological obsession with terrorism leads to a wildly distorted view of reality. In reality, terrorism deserves a proportionate and rationally focussed response. Such a response cannot be based on prejudice against Islam which fails to acknowledge that sovereign states are overwhelmingly responsible for political violence.

  173. In reply to #175 by aldous:
    >

    Major Hasan was tried and convicted for murder. Don’t you think you’re taking a weird position in accusing the US Department of Defense of being ‘apologists’ and ‘cultural relativists’?…

    I didn’t accuse them. Others have noted that the tolerance shown for years to the highly disturbed enemy of the state, Major Hasan, was
    a sign of the fear of being considered ‘Islamophobic’. In the same way as the British authorities enforced political correctness and allowed Muslim gangs to cruelly exploit young British girls rather than risk their careers by being considered ‘Islamophobic’.
    >

    Do you really think it was their intention to’ frustrate’ those with anti-Muslim views?

    How would I know? They do apparently demonstrate their pro-Islam position by marginalising those with Islam-critical views.
    >

    We are all, naturally, opposed to the crime of terrorism. Therefore, it seems quite foolish to confuse the issue by labelling mass murder as terrorism, in this instance, when it doesn’t meet the definition of the US Department of Defense.

    I suggest that definition needs amendment. The attack was the very essence of terrorism. To instill the fear of such attacks in the future from any one of their own men so that they can never feel quite secure in their own ranks. The same tactic has long been deployed by Taliban infiltrators into the Afghan military and police. The only difference being that this one occurred on US home ground.
    >

    The reason for the reference to The Holocaust was a reminder that an ideological obsession with terrorism leads to a wildly distorted view of reality.

    I don’t know what you mean by this. Perhaps you could expand on and clarify it.
    >

    In reality, terrorism deserves a proportionate and rationally focussed response.

    Exactly.
    >

    Such a response cannot be based on prejudice against Islam which fails to acknowledge that sovereign states are overwhelmingly responsible for political violence.

    Nor can it be based on prejudice FOR Islam that fails to acknowledge the vast amount of damage caused by internet-based mosque-based, madrassah-based radicalization of millions of young Muslims globally.

  174. In reply to #176 by inquisador:

    Major Hasan, was a sign of the fear of being considered ‘Islamophobic’

    My goodness. The US Department of Defense is institutionally Islamophobia-phobic.

    Not that Britain is free of the condition. “police, social workers, teachers, neighbors, politicians and the media deliberately downplayed the severity of the crimes perpetrated by the grooming gangs in order to avoid being accused of “Islamophobia” or racism” (Gatestone Institute)

    Sounds like a case for vaccinating everybody with Islamophobia to eliminate this phobia-phobia that’s threatening to bring down Western civilization.

  175. In reply to #177 by aldous:

    In reply to #176 by inquisador:

    Major Hasan, was a sign of the fear of being considered ‘Islamophobic’

    My goodness. The US Department of Defense is institutionally Islamophobia-phobic.

    Not that Britain is free of the condition. “police, social workers, teachers, neighbors, politicians and the med…

    So; what was that you were saying about the holocaust? Something about it being caused by islamophobia perhaps?
    >

    The reason for the reference to The Holocaust was a reminder that an ideological obsession with terrorism leads to a wildly distorted view of reality.

    And the rise of Adolf Hitler?

  176. In reply to #158 by aldous:
    >

    The facts make no impression at all as compared to the fixation. The fact that, in Afghanistan, the national army is as Muslim as the enemy it is paid to fight by the Americans, makes no impression. The fact that 50% of Muslims are not male misogynists but their victims , makes no impression. The fact that religion is not the answer to every geopolitical question, is not something you are able to take account of.

    The national army in Afghan is Muslim and the Taliban and Al Qaeda are Muslim. The fact is that the national army is less Muslim than the enemy that they fight. Think about it. What does that tell you about Islam? Duh, that makes my brain hurt.

    The fact that 50% of Muslims are the victims of male misogynists makes…err wait a sec., naa, no impression.

    The fact that I answer, statistically, about 20 of your questions to me for every one of mine that you answer, makes no impression.

    The fact that Joseph Smith had the same shoe size as the Dalai Lama makes no impression. How do you account for that?

  177. In reply to #158 by aldous:

    In reply to #157 by inquisador:

    You needn’t worry about your replies being off-topic. You are the topic. You give text-book evidence of the intellectual and moral malady we are discussing — I’m getting pretty tired of the word.

    The fact that 50% of Muslims are not male misogynists but their victims , makes no impression.

    I never saw your reply to my question about that misogyny quote of yours, Aldous?

    Sorry to start this up again. If you prefer not to explain your strange claim that 50% of Muslims are victims of male misogyny; and, by implication, that ALL Muslim women are thus affected, then I am not surprised.

    I never saw your reply to my link about the many thousands of native British young girls raped and prostituted by Muslim gangs, apparently with the tacit approval of police and social services either?

    Why is it that this news item is relegated to a position below it’s actual importance or ignored in the media??

    Cultural sensitivity?

    We are far too culturally sensitive if that’s the case. In my Islamophobic way I am suggesting that the Muslim gangs ought to be at the very top of the news agenda. Can you think of any reason, other than fear of Islamophobia accusations, that the story is nowhere to be seen?

    For an excellent and more articulate summation of these issues; of how and why we are going wrong, and why it is so fucking important; see this short piece by Ali A. Rizvi in The Huffington Post..

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