PuffHo: Richard Dawkins may not be a racist, but he’s xenophobic

When you see an article called, “Is Richard Dawkins a racist?“, you’ll know by now to expect an affirmative answer. But not in this case!  The article in question is in Huffington Post, and is by Usaama al-Azami, a PhD candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. al-Azami uses the Oxford English Dictionary definition of “racist”, given below, to show that Dawkins isn’t really a racist because he’s not a white supremicist:

[Defintion]: The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Hence: prejudice and antagonism towards people of other races, esp. those felt to be a threat to one’s cultural or racial integrity or economic well-being; the expression of such prejudice in words or actions.

How charitable of Mr. al-Azami! Of course, anyone with two neurons to rub together knows that Muslims aren’t a race, and that Dawkins decries not genetic heritage or skin color, but religious belief.  But that aside, al-Azami levels an accusation I haven’t heard before—Dawkins is a xenophobe!

However, some of [Dawkins's] recent tweets, brought to my attention by a recent article in the London-based Independent, suggest that it’s not racism we should be worried about, but xenophobia. The OED defines xenophobia rather laconically as “a deep antipathy to foreigners,” which doesn’t quite fit the bill either; but the entry in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary does, it seems. It defines xenophobia as the “fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.”

How does Dawkins fit into all of this, you may ask. Well, on March 1st, he tweeted the following: “Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today.” In a wildly popular tweet from a few weeks later, he added: “Of course you can have an opinion about Islam without having read Qur’an. You don’t have to read Mein Kampf to have an opinion about Nazism.”

Yep, al-Azami has gone trolling through dictionaries until he finds a definition that, he thinks, fits Dawkins.  Of course it doesn’t, because anyone who’s paid the least attention to Richard knows that he has no antipathy, fear, or hatred of strangers or foreigners. I’m an American, and I can attest that Richard likes Americans.  Of course you could always assert that he likes white people but not brown or yellow ones, but that would be racism, which al-Azami claims isn’t true of Dawkins.

al-Azami is making a mistake that anyone with any brains shouldn’t be making, much less a Ph.D. candidate at a high-class university. He’s mistaking dislike and hatred of harmful religious beliefs with dislike and hatred of the individuals who hold them. I recall Richard saying many times that we must excise the cancer of religion, but I don’t recall him saying we must get rid of religious people.

To support his argument that you must read the Qur’an to have an opinion about Islam—and presumably that one must read Mein Kampf to have an opinion about the Nazis—al-Azami makes a dumb comparison:

It is akin to suggesting that one may fairly make generalizations about the West on the basis of the horrific atrocities committed by the likes of Hitler and Stalin, who have collectively killed far greater numbers than al-Qaeda and its lackeys. Very few people would describe Nazis as Western terrorists, although that’s where they originated. Why then do we so readily use the label Islamic/Muslim terrorist simply because they originate from Muslim-majority lands? Shouldn’t we take the time to develop a similarly nuanced understanding of terrorism that originates in Muslim countries as we appropriately do with Hitler’s terrorism that originated in a Western one with an ideology that is also of distinctly Western origin?

Does one really need to answer this?  We use the label “Islamic/Muslim terrorists” when the terrorists justify their actions on the basis of Islamic belief—when they kill in the name of religion.  The label doesn’t reflect just the religion of a terrorist, but his motivations.

As for the “similarly nuanced” understanding of Muslim terrorism, it’s not rocket science, any more than the need for a “nuanced” understanding of Nazism.  The Nazis were economically dispossessed, they needed to blame it on somebody, and centuries of Christian persecution made the Jews a convenient scapegoat.  If you read the Qur’an, that’s the kind of “nuance” you’ll need. And that’s not rocket science either: I’ve read the Qur’an, and it’s a horrific, bloodthirsty document, even nastier than the Old Testament.  It doesn’t take much nuance to see how people could draw on that document—and the hadith that derive from it—to read the endless calls for the death of infidels, apostates, and unbelievers as an excuse to actually do those things.

When you hear talk about “nuance” in conjunction with Islamic terrorism, you know you’re dealing with an intellectually dishonest apologist. One needs no “nuance” to understand that people believe what the Qur’an says, and think they’ll find heavenly reward if they follow its dictates.

al-Azami goes on to tar Sam Harris with similar accusations using familiar tropes: Sam wants to suppress religion forcibly through state power (he doesn’t); Sam calls for a nuclear first strike against Muslims (al-Azami isn’t nuanced enough to see that this was merely a thought experiment, not a call for action).  And al-Azami decries Harris’s “unevidenced animus toward religion in general”! Well, first of all, that’s ungrammatical, for Harris’s animus is of course evidenced: he’s documented it in two books.  I presume al-Azami means that Harris has no evidence supporting that animus, but he’s wrong on that count, too.

At the end, al-Azami walks his statements back a bit and implies that Dawkins and Harris may racists after all:

Let me close by returning to the issue of racism. Focusing on it too exclusively may, ironically, cause us to miss the point of why we rejected racism in the first place. At the end of the day, the West eventually renounced racism not only because it is scientifically untenable, but, more importantly, because it lead to the marginalization, persecution, and oppression of minority groups we did not particularly like because they were different from us in some way. The reality is that the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are non-white, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Dawkins and his fellows may remonstrate that what they object to is a belief system, freely adopted by its holders, but they are still participating in the unhealthy marginalization of a minority group, which, if left unchecked and lacking in nuance, may eventually cause history to repeat itself with Muslim victims.

This is madness. Dawkins and Harris are not calling for the marginalization of Muslims in society, their political disenfranchisement, or the like: they are calling for the marginalization of ideas. If those ideas are held largely by Asians and inhabitants of the Middle East (who are genetically Caucasian), then too bad.  We won’t mistake skin color for an idea, if for no other reason that many people who are “white” have equally stupid and dangerous religious views (read Catholics, Mormons, or Scientologists).

What al-Azami is showing here is his own lack of nuance: his inability to distinguish criticism of ideas from oppression of people.  In fact, one could consider that a form of racism, too—the view that it’s wrong to criticize bad ideas when they’re held by brown people, but okay to do so when they’re held by white people.  The recent promotion of multiculturalism has its good side—many world cultures have wonderful things to which we should be exposed. But it also has its dark side, a side amply displayed by al-Azami. And that is that we should refrain from criticizing bad ideas when they’re espoused by people who don’t look like us.

Nuance, indeed!

h/t: Gattina

134 Comments

  1. Asif Ahmed
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Islamists have found their best allies in the Anglo American Far Left.Now,they’re doing all they can to make criticism of islam a taboo.They’re flinging all types of hatefilled labels at Dawkins,Harris so as to discredit them to the extent that no atheist ever dares criticize islam ever again.
    The islamists & their allies in the Western media are making an example out of Dawkins.They’re vilifying him so much that people start believing the accusations.
    It’s time atheists and free thinkers stood up and countered this assault on atheism by the Muslim Right and the Anglo American Left.It’s time to tell them that ALL religions including islam will be subject to critique.There must not be any special privilege,any special protection given to islam.
    The hate campaign against Dawkins must end.

    • Douglas Struthers
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      The hate campaign will end when Dawkins resumes the spread of the Bright meme. Atheism, humanism and freethinking have failed. Time to move to a new wholly naturalistic paradigm.

      • Alexander Hellemans
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        You mean, based on science?

      • steve oberski
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        This message is far too important to just share with this forum.

        You must immediately contact Richard Dawkins and pass on this amazing revelation.

        He will be no doubt eternally grateful that you have discovered the reason for the attacks on him by main stream media and I’m sure that he will re-introduce the Bright meme immediately.

        And he will also be quite surprised to hear that “Atheism, humanism and freethinking have failed” and will, I’m sure, move to a “new wholly naturalistic paradigm” just as soon as he returns from the opening of his film (along with Lawrence Krauss) The Unbelievers at Hotdocs International Film Festival in Toronto.

        Because nothing says failure like a documentary about your cause at a major film festival.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

          Hmmmmmm I think that was sarcasm. ;)

      • js
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        As Lisa Simpson would say “aren’t words like ‘paradigm’ and ‘pro-active’ just words that stupid people use to sound smart”.

        • josh
          Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          “…I’m fired, aren’t I?” Not a Lisa quote but a random writer/animator in the Poochie episode. :)

      • Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Are you joking?

        The “Bright meme” engendered its very own hate campaign.

  2. Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I sometimes wonder what these people think when they’re responded to exhaustively and devastatingly in this manner showing their ‘argument’ to be a no starter? I can only imagine few are qualified enough to understand how they trundle ahead with the same nonsense

  3. Grania Spingies
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Here’s a definition that fits al-Azami: Tosser.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I supported Richard’s tweet about reading the Qur’an and knowing Nazism was bad without reading Mein Kampf that death camps give us a pretty good idea that Nazism is bad and reading Mein Kampf only shows us what a bad writer Hitler was. You can extrapolate for Islam.

    I’m going to the premiere of The Unbelievers tonight. Maybe I should trick Richard into showing his xenophobic side because he is in Canada with us weird foreigners. Maybe I will say eh too many times or make sure I say out in that way I never think we say it. Ha ha.

    • Sastra
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Frankly, after the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, I didn’t even have to know whether or not the Aum Shinrikyo religion even had a holy book to know that it had some sort of serious ethical problem.

      • Kevin
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        …or the Heaven’s Gate cult.

    • steve oberski
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      I would sell my soul to be at the premiere of The Unbelievers.

      I’ll have to settle for another showing when things have quieted down a bit.

      You may be aware of this: The Centre for Inquiry (Toronto) is sponsoring a brunch with Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss on Wednesday morning. Tickets are going fast.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Yeah I heard that re CFI but I really should be at work and I am too introverted for that :)

  5. Sound Logic
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Firstly al-Azami is wrong…Dawkins is neither a xenophobe and of course neither is he a racist.

    Secondly for someone like Dawkins who has a large influence on the vast majority of public whether thier views bend towards Dawkins’ s or not to have not read the Quran is biased to say the least. A critic of Shakespeare cannot criticise the transcript of one of his plays if he has not the read the play in it’s entirety. Pretty obvious really even for an Oxford scholar.

    Furthermore, any one who has read the Quran and Hadith and studied the history behind a Quranic injunction with regard to killing the disbelievers will know that the injuction to kill was against those who were responsible for the killings of innocent people. Moreover the Quranic injunctions which trump the hadith continue in the same verses commanding the judge and the victims to forgive the perpetrators if they are sincerely sorry for the crimes they had committed. So how can any sane person say the Quran encourages indiscriminate violence against the disbelievers unless one has read the Quranic verses out of context. Unfortunately critics of Islam and indeed muslims who indiscriminately kill appear to have misunderstood the verses, read the verses out of context or not read the Quran at all.

    Be impartial and thorough in your investigations lest you harm others out of ignorance. Little knowledge is dangerous people.

    • steve oberski
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your comments on Dawkins not being a xenophobe or racist.

      However I am not convinced that your interpretation of the Quran is the correct one, strictly based on the fact that there are so many divergent and contradictory interpretations of this book and they all claim to be based on impeccable scholarship and all claim to the one true version of Islam.

      This is exactly analogous to christianity, which has literally 10 of thousands of sects, and about the only thing they can agree on is that every other sect is wrong and that every other sect is damned to hell.

      I’m also not convinced that Dawkins has a duty to read the Quran and all the accompanying hadiths and interpretations, this seems to me to be a variant of “The Courtier’s Reply”.

      Dawkins is criticizing Islam based on the actions of some of it’s adherents, many of whom I suspect have not read the Quran either or who appear to have a radically different interpretation of it than you have.

      • Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        “…based on the actions of some of its adherents…”

        This is the whole point. If [insert religion here]‘s adherents weren’t motivated by their religion to foul up life on Earth in so many different ways, there’d be no problem.

        Faitheists et al continue to try to argue that there’s some super-wonderful Platonic version of religion x floating around in some dimension. But as long as what we see here in the real world looks like…well, what we see, then there will be a problem.

        • Kevin Alexander
          Posted April 30, 2013 at 2:27 am | Permalink

          This is the whole point. If [insert religion here]‘s adherents weren’t motivated by their religion to foul up life on Earth in so many different ways, there’d be no problem.

          I wish that that was true but ultimately hatred is the motivation. If you could magically eliminate all religion but change nothing else there would still be terrorists.

          • Posted April 30, 2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink

            Right.

            By “there’d be no problem” I meant there’d be no problem allowing individuals to believe their crazy nonsense.

            As long as it doesn’t somehow foul up life on Earth.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Nicely condescending. Your criticism is not new, but it is wrong.

      It does not matter what your interpretation of the Koran is. What matters is what the current living, breathing adherents of the religion of Islam think of it. Enough of them think that their religion encourages, or even requires them to treat infidels badly.

      What makes you think that your interpretation of the Quran is the correct one, despite the clear evidence that a significant portion of the adherents of Islam don’t agree with you? What makes you think that your interpretation matters?

      Besides, are you not aware that all infidels are complicit in the killing of innocent people? After all, it just depends on your point of view.

      • Sound Logic
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        “It does not matter what your interpretation of the Koran is. What matters is what the current living, breathing adherents of the religion of Islam think of it. Enough of them think that their religion encourages, or even requires them to treat infidels badly.”

        If the above was true then provide me the empirical evidence to suggest the current living, breathing adherents of the religion of Islam think that they should treat infidels badly. If this is true then logic would demand that there would be wide scale killings of every muslim’s non-Muslim neighbour, office worker, shop owner, school teacher, doctor, nurse etc etc but clearly we don’t. Have you read every muslim’s mind? If so then first prove to me that you are psychic?

        • darrelle
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          I don’t really believe that your reading comprehension is that bad. Try addressing what I said instead of making stuff up to satisfy what you want to say.

          • Sound Logic
            Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

            Clearly you failed to answer my request and questions. You need to read your own comments in context then read mine again..Im not making anything up. I merely asked you to provide evidence re your claim about living muslims. If my inference of your quote was incorrect then what was it exactly that you were actually implying?

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted April 30, 2013 at 4:58 am | Permalink

              I’m an outsider, but I note darrelle asked first and you made no effort whatsoever to respond to that initial question with an answer.

              I think trying to ask new questions which are mostly unconstrained by previous question counts as some form of Gish gallop – certainly it is useful if you want to make the original question explode exponentially into endless commentary.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted May 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

                Darelle’s questions were a result of a baseless assumption hence why I aproached him on his stereotypical viewpoint about muslims first.

        • Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          “… provide me the empirical evidence to suggest the current living, breathing adherents of the religion of Islam think that they should treat infidels badly”

          By “infidel” you mean people who are not Jews nor anyone who “insults” Islam, nor anyone who is homosexual right? And you don’t mean adulterers, or Israelis, or people who have renounced Islam, yes?

          Because if not, yeah, I can show you plenty of evidence that that real, living breathing adherents of Islam – thousands of them who participated in polls and representing outright majorities or substantial minorities of their communities and countries – would treat plenty of infidels badly.

          • Sound Logic
            Posted May 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            There is no compulsion in religion as per the Quran. Punishment of death is to murderers who are mischief makers. Who gives a crap about polls. Polls are usually not very representative and if your gonna give me polls from countries like Pakistan etc then don’t bother because a) over 50% are uneducated, and b) it’s full of politically lead sectarian violence and corruption.

    • Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      That’s right. If we would all simply agree that Islam is benign and peaceful…then it WILL be!

      Now, can we all agree that I am a billionaire?

      • Sound Logic
        Posted May 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Yeah and we all simply believe atheism is the answer to peace and there WILL be!

        Now we can all believe that we’ve found the missing link!

  6. Leon Cejas
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Political correctness is a death sentence for vigorous debate.

  7. Sastra
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I think the confusion between the idea and the person who holds the idea is deliberately fostered by the nature of religious faith, which encourages people to think of their religious beliefs as marks of identity. You’re supposed to believe in sacred, divine realities because of who you are. Whether you’re standing by your tribe (“I am an X and my people worship this way”) or making some kind of personal statement (“I am an X because I want to worship this way”), the evidence and argument which leads to a conclusion is far less important than the fact that you got there. You are now what you are: arguing against your religion is an argument against your entire way of life, your values, and your identity. Rational persuasion, the force that draws us humans together, becomes a form of attack.

    Add ethnicity into the mix and now you’ve got an additional immunity strategy. Religion isn’t like politics — it’s like race or national origin. But this doesn’t just lead to an unconcern with truth: it fixes divisions between us.

    Richard Dawkins once made an amusing map which showed what the world would look like if science really were like religion: all the punctuated equilibrium people were clustered in one area, and all the meteor-killed-the-dinosaurs advocates in another geographic location, and so forth. In other words, tribes. Tribes with their tribal loyalties and special way of doing things and divides which cannot be broached.

    If we want to bring the world together we’re not going to do it by treating religion like a tribe. We have to keep pushing for treating it like a hypothesis.

    • Douglas Struthers
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      We need a tribe that accepts a fully naturalistic worldview: Brights?

      • Sastra
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        No, we don’t want to play the tribal game more than we have to. Naturalism isn’t a mark of identity — it’s a working theory.

        As for the term “Brights,” I know it was conceived with good intentions but from the start I thought it was too easy to misinterpret as atheists thinking they are ‘brighter’ (smarter) than other people. Even Dennett’s attempt to term the other side the “supers” (for supernatural) fell flat. As someone once said, trying to remove the stigma from naturalistic atheism by by relabeling atheists as “Brights” is like trying to rehabilitate the negative image of the Irish by calling them “Lushes” instead (after the lush, green fields of Ireland, y’know.) Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

        Face it. Whatever we naturalistic atheistic humanistic nontheistic naturalistic materialist skeptics call ourselves, it will become the new cuss word. “Brights” just leans into the punch.

        • Sound Logic
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          As a muslim I agree with Sastra.

          • Sound Logic
            Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

            Does it shock anyone that I as a muslim concur with an atheist in this regard?

            • steve oberski
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              It pleases me that you can transcend the limitations of religious dogma and come to a decision based on rationality and evidence.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                Appreciate the compliment. Ive learnt through life’s experiences of observation of the minority extremist muslims and reading religious literature to know that the former do not speak for the latter in their actions.
                I’m all for hearing the alternative viewpoint. People are too quick to judge these days from both sides of the fence which leaves the spectator bewildered by the dogma from thw extreme right of the religious and the extreme right of the atheistic.

            • Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

              On an internet page??
              “shocked”??

              Ha ha, there are millionaires claiming to be “eating catfood this week” just for shock value on Yahoo! Finance, when their stock takes a dive.

              Contradictions abound on the internet.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

                Clearly your sarcasm suggests that you think I am lying about ever having agreed on anything an atheist has said. If only the rest of mankind could read into the hearts of men like you do.

            • Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

              No. I’d bet a large sum that any theist would also think “Brights” is a condescending, unhelpful attempt at rebranding.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 30, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

          Of course, but as the discussion was then it was an attempt to make an own brand name akin to what the gays did with “homosexual/homo”. And that would still be useful IMHO, especially when people want to expand into silliness like “New Atheists/strident atheists”.

          It just didn’t get people’s rocks off in the same way the HBQT community managed their stigma/cuss words. Which is too bad because I don’t think anyone is prepared to repeat the experiment within a generation. Maybe in another 10 years we will see another attempt at “brights”, or something better.

      • Kevin Alexander
        Posted April 30, 2013 at 2:30 am | Permalink

        I think we need to get rid of the idea of tribe.
        Saying that we need a replacement for religion is like saying we need a replacement for smallpox.

    • Sound Logic
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      I agree there is a tendency in people to follow a system of belief because mummy and daddy said so hence become susceptible to being victims of their own gullibility. Whether any popular view be it theistic or atheistic should be scrutinised fully with thorough research of both sides of any arguement.

      • swences2003
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        You are all for “hearing the alternatives” you say, and believe in “scrutinizing fully” the arguments, but may I ask you, Sound Logic,… Is there any way, is there any fact, that could change your mind on your own Muslim belief/religion?

        Probably you’ve read this elsewhere, regarding the acceptance of evolution by scientists, and Jerry Coyne has posted on this several times in the past, that there is a list of things that scientists and rational people in general, can produce if asked what would make them change their mind on evolution or on any matter.

        So can you produce some sort of list, or not even a list, just one example of a fact that if discovered in the future, would change your mind regarding your own religion?

        I’m really interested in reading your response to this.

        • gr8hands
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          Don’t hold your breath.

        • Sound Logic
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Yes if prophecies, in fact any prophecy applicable to it’s time,in the Quran or in the Hadith had not come true.
          Also, if any statement in the Quran on nature had not thus far complemented recent related discoveries of scientists then yes i would not have accepted Islam.
          However, there has been a consistent lack of inconsistencies from the Quran and Hadith hence my belief the religion is true and that it complements and completes every major religion before it at their very core.

          • steve oberski
            Posted April 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            So you think that the Quran foretold embryology, extra solar planets, plate tectonics, deep ocean waves, celestial mechanics and cosmology ?

            For example, Keith L. Moore, Ph.D., F.I.A.C., in the The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, pp.15-16, says:

            The interpretation of the verses in the Qur’an referring to human development would not have been possible in the 7th century A.D., or even a hundred years ago. We can interpret them now because the science of modern Embryology affords us new understanding. Undoubtedly there are other verses in the Qur’an related to human development that will be understood in the future as our knowledge increases.

            Isn’t that amazing !

            The entire science of embryology hidden in the ravings of a fictional 7th century genocidal paedophile.

            I think however that Dr. Moore rather gives the show away when he admits that all the “predictions” in the Quran are actually “postdictions”.

            • Sound Logic
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

              “The entire science of embryology hidden in the ravings of a fictional 7th century genocidal paedophile.”

              You see in no way was it suggested that the entire science of embryology and indeed all the sciences was foretold in the Quran. Use your loaf..if that was the case the Quran would have been revealed in never ending volumes of texts for what science knows of the universe is merely a drop in the ocean so the first part of your argument is flawed.

              Finally your repugnant remark about Muhammad clearly reveals immaturity at an embarrassing level and the lack of knowledge and understanding you have of the religion. If you are referring to Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha then if you had done your homework you would have realised that Aisha was nineteen when she married Muhammad. Anyone else who believes otherwise also needs to do their homework before they pass a judgement based on conjecture

              • steve oberski
                Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

                I’ve done my “homework” and Aisha was six when married to your paedophile prophet and nine when the “marriage” was “consummated”, i.e. she was raped by a 50 year old man.

                If Muhammad finds this repugnant then presumably your all powerful god will exact vengeance on his behalf, if you find it repugnant then do your homework and find out how disgusting Islam actually is as a moral and ethical system and stop taking offence on behalf of a fictitious character.

          • Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

            The Quran repeatedly references future life, “the day of judgment (15:35-6; 82: 17-18), “the day of resurrection” (22:5; 30:56), “the day” (24:24-5; 31:32), “the hour” (15:85; 18:20) and “the inevitable” (69:1-2).

            We know now that there is no life after death, that the cells, enzymes, calcium ions, sodium ions, so necessary for memory (and without memory, we are but atoms and molecules, the same as sand and stone) perish when we die. Just as you never see someone’s nose fly out of sight after death, never see their hair take flight, never see their toes vanish, our astonishingly complex system of memory, ourselves, simply perishes and goes nowhere. The Quran, written before microscopy and knowledge of the brain, is false in all the above passages. It is a fiction born from the ignorance of the physiology of the human brain.

            By the way, during the reign of the Umayyad and the early Abbasid dynasty, “Arab maidens going to war and commanding troops, composing poetry and competing with men in literary pursuits of enlivening society with their wit, musical talent and vocal accomplishments (Phillip K Hitti, page 333, “The Arabs” 1968)

            The veil was an adaption from non-Moslem Persians, as Baghdad ascended under al-Mansur, beginning in 762.

            • Sound Logic
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

              Revenge? If God sougbt revenge on every bitter enemy on Islam then we wouldnt have this..see link………http://www.amsterdamherald.com/index.php/rss/722-20130301-from-wilders-to-muhammad-former-freedom-party-vice-chairman-converts-islam-religion-immigration-cultural-integration-the-hague-council-pvv-netherlands-dutch-politics

              There is no Hadith that states that he consummated the marriage at 9. Its nineteen. If you heard or read otherwise then its a fabrication. If you can provide the readers with references from the Quran and Hadith that clearly state that he consummated his marriage at the age of Aisha being 9. If you do provide a reference or two then of course I’ll check them for validity.

              Interesting how the most bitter of enemies of Islam convert to Islam when they actually read the Quran and Hadith and reflect rather than basing their opinions on the conjectures of others.

            • Sound Logic
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

              Who said its the physical body that comes back from the dead? We are told the body is just a shell in this world so we wont be taking it with us into the afterlife. So yes the physical body will perish after death so no physical life after death I agree.

              However, the spirit of man will continue to live something you cannot disprove. This is a key article of faith estsblished by the believer when he sees the beauty of God in the intricacies of the universe and witnesses the acceptance of his prayers to God.

              If you don’t believe in the spiritual realm and believe we are merely worms of the earth so to speak then you believe what you believe and I’ll believe what I believe.

              The veil by the way goes back further than the Abbassid and indeed before the time of Muhammad back over two thouand years ago before Christ as the bible also mentions how Rebekah if my memory serves me rightly covered her head in the presence of the opposite sex.

              However the Quran commands women to cover themselves if there is a fear of fornication or adultery and also commands the men to lower their gaze and the women to lower their gaze at the same time. The veil is a sign of modesty and women are told to cover their heads in the Quran and their necks to their ankles covering their arms also but can l3ave what is apparent i.e face hands and feet. No face covering is mentioned but is permitted according to Hadith if a woman so desires. No man or woman can force a woman to wear the veil. It is the woman’s personal choice.

              • Jon
                Posted April 30, 2013 at 1:39 am | Permalink

                If the physical body is just a shell then why do some people lose their memory after head trauma? Why should a brain tumour cause a personality change? If our memories and personality are dictated by the workings of our brain, for which there is ample evidence, then what exactly does the spirit of man do?

          • Vaal
            Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            Sound Logic,

            “However, there has been a consistent lack of inconsistencies from the Quran and Hadith hence my belief the religion is true and that it complements and completes every major religion before it at their very core.”

            You mean like the core Christian belief that Jesus was God incarnate, and was crucified, resurrected in atonement for all mankind’s sins?

            The Quran’s view is consistent with this core Christian belief, is it? (And I presume, therefore you believe Jesus was God incarnate and atoned for all our sins?).

            Vaal

            • Sound Logic
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

              Nope. The core belief of Christianity and all major religions is that God is one, has no partner, he begets not and neither is he begotten, he is the Absolute and has no physical form. Christ as the bible states claimed to be the son of man and not God. The bible even claims that Jesus survived the cross and healed and then fled the persecution. Man later added to the bible to appease the Romans at the time by merging the Christianity with Roman pagan beliefs claiming Jesus just like the Roman pagan sun God Ra is the son of God. If you want more info on this read ‘Christianity A Journey From Facts To Fiction’.

              So, the original teachings of Christ are consistent with the Quran. That in addition to God being one etc every man carries his own cross, is born free of sin, is better to forgive etc.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

                Christianity A Journey from Facts to Fiction – by Mirza Tahir Ahmad
                Or, Jesus in India- by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

              • Vaal
                Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

                Oh. So…

                The Qur’an is consistent with the core of every major religion…except the actual core tenets of the world’s largest religion (Christianity). You know very well that the Christian religion revolves around the divinity of Christ, His resurrection and atonement for mankind. To reject such tenets and go on to claim consistency between the Qur’an and the core of the Christian religion is utterly disingenuous.

                But of course if there’s an inconsistency between the Qur’an and Christianity, it must be because virtually all of Christianity got
                their religion wrong.

                How hilariously convenient. And this is the type of “constancy” you no doubt accept as you harmonize the Qur’an with any other inconvenient facts that come along, scientific or otherwise. With such an elastic approach you can “harmonize” and confirm anything you like.

                Look, why not just admit your religion contradicts some fundamental, core beliefs of Christianity as actually understood and practiced by most of Christianity? Say they got it wrong. We do. But please, no one here is fooled by the type of harmonizing you are alluding to here.

                Vaal

              • Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

                Core xtian belief = god is one?

                You need to tell the xtians that. They’re fooling around with this idea of the trinity. They’ll be ever so glad to have been straightened out.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

            So, god/allah created man from clots of blood? Maybe not so much.

            I’m slightly amused by your post; replace “Quran” with “Bible” and you have an apologetic argument christians make all the time–look at all the fulfilled prophecies, and no scientific errors either! I think we can both agree that they are being ridiculous (the first scientific error in the bible is in the very first verse, where it states that the heavens and the earth were created at the same time, when we now know the two events were separated by approximately 9.2 billion years); I seriously doubt that your apologetic contortions are going to convince anyone here that it is any different with the Quran and islam.

            What is your view on biological evolution?

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

              I hate replying to myself…

              The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible web site has detailed presentations of the errors in the bible, quran, and book of mormon. For the quran, check it out at http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/index.htm

              • steve oberski
                Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

                It’s when you start arguing with yourself that it’s time to get worried.

    • Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      I know you’ve said it many times, but bingo.

      It’s why it’s so hard to argue about religion. It’s why there’s the old saying about polite conversation not getting into politics or religion.

      Although I gave up any hint of theism several years ago, I would often still take it personally when others spoke negatively about the faith in which I was raised.

  8. Ayn Bland
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    This is madness. Dawkins and Harris are not calling for the marginalization of Muslims in society, their political disenfranchisement, or the like: they are calling for the marginalization of ideas.”

    Harris is calling for people who look like Muslims to be pulled out of security lines and given extra attention because he thinks (beyond all evidence) that they are a particular security risk. That’s a little more than the “marginalization of ideas.”

    • gr8hands
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      It is obvious that you have not read the evidence that Harris has provided on this topic. It clearly contradicts your claim of “beyond all evidence.”

      • H.H.
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Harris had a professional security expert explain to him why racial profiling is not only morally offensive, but doesn’t work in practice. Despite this, Harris continues to be an advocate for racial profiling. So, yes, I think we can say Harris is advocating unsound views that extend beyond all evidence.

        Dawkins I would defend against the charge of racism. Harris I would not.

        • Robert
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          He defends profiling, not racial profiling. I think he’d be better off not trying to nitpick the difference, but I acknowledge he is not interested in profiling people based on how they look.

          • Phil
            Posted May 1, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            That is not true:

            “It is not enough for moderate Muslims to say “not in our name.” They must now police their own communities. They must offer unreserved assistance to western governments in locating the extremists in their midst. They must tolerate, advocate, and even practice ethnic profiling.”

            Sam Harris, Bombing Our Illusions

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/bombing-our-illusions_b_8615.html

            • Sound Logic
              Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

              Marginalization of ideas? Sounds like thought police to me. Yep George Orwell is still turning in his grave

        • Gary W
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          Harris had a professional security expert explain to him why racial profiling is not only morally offensive, …

          You mean this “professional security expert” (I assume you’re referring to Bruce Schneier) stated that HE FINDS racial profiling to be “morally offensive.” Moral judgements are preferences, not statements of fact.

          And Sam Harris doesn’t advocate racial profiling, anyway. Not that racial profiling is necessarily wrong.

  9. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    When you see an article called, “Is Richard Dawkins a racist?“, you’ll know by now to expect an affirmative answer…

    I’m going to invoke Betteridge’s law of headlines:
    “”Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no…”

    • Kevin
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      +1…but now I’ll have to do a survey of headlines gather the empirical evidence.

  10. Kevin
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Of course, any “ist” accusation is simply a silencing tactic.

    The idea is twofold:
    1. Accuse someone of being/doing something that is so out-of-bounds, that no decent person would be associated with that person. Thereby making their arguments less persuasive. The $cientologists have been doing this for years. They will almost immediately in any confrontation accuse the person in front of them of being a pedophile.
    2. It’s a red herring. It throws attention away from the real issue to some nonsense. The target (in this case, Dawkins and/or his defenders) have to spend time whack-a-moling these unfounded accusations.

    So, let’s not let them do that … m’kay? To wit:

    Islam is a religion of hate. It was founded by primitive war lords in a backward part of the world, and never went through an “Enlightenment” or “Reformation”, so remains a primitive cult. Its fundamental truth claims are false — there is no god (not even Allah), the man named Mohammed was not a prophet, and no one is going to heaven to mate with pure women (NB: Not merely virgins). Islam fosters an anti-human-rights culture, especially with regard to treatment of approximately half the humans on the planet. The world would be far better off if the religion did not exist, so that the anti-human-rights culture could be demolished.

    How’s that? A simple statement of facts.

    • Sound Logic
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      It’s called character assasination and is tantamount to name calling. Pure foolishness.

      • Sound Logic
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Though Kevin disagree with you about the sweeping statements you make about Islam. Study the text thoroughly like you would the texts of it’s critics to make a base for fair judgement

        • Dave
          Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          I’ve read the Koran from beginning to end. That’s as much immersion in Islam as I need to draw the conclusion that Kevin is right.

          And before you move the goalposts, “Sound Logic”, the answer is no, I haven’t read it in 7th century Arabic, only in English translation. Again, that’s enough for me. If Allah can only make himself understood in one ancient language, he can’t be much of a god, can he? Even I can do better than that.

          • Sound Logic
            Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

            “I’ve read the Koran from beginning to end. That’s as much immersion in Islam as I need to draw the conclusion that Kevin is right”

            Wow you’ve read the Quran! I’m impressed if you are true in your words. That’s more I can say for Dawkins and a minority of extremist Muslims.

            “And before you move the goalposts, “Sound Logic”, the answer is no, I haven’t read it in 7th century Arabic, only in English translation. Again, that’s enough for me. If Allah can only make himself understood in one ancient language, he can’t be much of a god, can he? Even I can do better than that.”

            Doesn’t matter if you read it in Arabic or not. I’m a British born Muslim. English is my first tongue so I’ve read the Quran in English(The Pickthall translation). The Quran has been translated in nearly every language in the world so it is not obligatory to only read it in English. So Allah has not made himself understood in one ancient language but in every language of the world. Arabic is an ancestor of many of the widely spoken languages in the world. Moreover, given that you’ve claimed you’ve read the Quran you may have read that God had sent prophets to all of mankind throughout the ages which one can infer is a claim from God that He revealed His message in different tongues. Hence, why we see ancient scripts in different languages and when translated we see similar messages in all of them re God, angels, day of judgement, heaven and hell etc.

            So, as muslims believe(the educated ones at least), God is not ignorant of the very dialects He Himself created.

            • Sound Logic
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

              “The Quran has been translated in nearly every language in the world so it is not obligatory to only read it in English”

              Apols meant not obligatory to only read in Arabic.

            • Karst
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

              “The Quran has been translated in nearly every language in the world so it is not obligatory to only read it in English.”

              Cite your sources, please.

            • Vaal
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

              “So Allah has not made himself understood in one ancient language but in every language of the world.”

              Sorry, I must have missed this amazing news story.

              Have we seen Allah translating the Quran into languages such as English? As far as I know only people have been observed doing this. Much like how only people have ever been observed “doing God’s work” but never a God doing God’s work.

              Vaal.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

                Yes man did translate the Quran into English.
                God is a spiritual being so if you want to ‘see’ him study aspects of the natural world to see His power, His wisdom and how intricately he has created it. The deeper you delve the more intricate the design. And you’ll see that even the smallest of particles serves a purpose. A logical progression. In nature there are Signs for men to see the work of a Supreme Creator.
                Ask yourself why is their a logical progression of design in the universe. And why did nature take the right course when at every step the odds were stacked up against it? If it was truly blind on its own without a guide then would nature have made it to finally make us the most intelligent species on this planet? From the dawn of the universe billions of years ago I believe it was guided evolution that got us here. To be custodians of the earth to perfect our souls so we can be like him to create, to provide, to be strong, to be patient, to be wise, to provide to the poor and needy, to be self sufficient, to strive for perfection as its not just a matter of worshipping to obey him for our benefit alone but to to have a taste of the attributes He possesses. That my friend is the true essence of Islam to be at peace with his neighbour regardless of their race, beliefs, gender, wealth, knowledge and ultimately be one with God. God is in the heart of every man and woman. In fact study the heart and what little we know of it may itself enlighten you.

                Of course you are entitled to dismiss what Ive said all you want. That’s your choice if you do. That I believe is your God given right and that is between you and your Lord and no man has the right to take that right from you. As the Quran states that there is no compulsion in religion and that only God knows what’s in the hearts of men so no man can kill another man just because of his willingness or unwillingness to believe in Him.

                I think I’ve given the jist of my core beliefs in all my posts on this discussion for today but if any one wants more info on Islam please checkout http://www.alislam.org.

              • Vaal
                Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

                And I can attribute everything to my friends, the Council Of Twelve Fuzzy Magic Bunnies Who Make Things Happen. Now we are even with out magic claims. Merely attributing what you see to something magic is not evidence for the magic.

                I also appreciate you allowing me to dismiss everything you’ve said :-)

                Vaal.

            • Kevin
              Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

              God is not ignorant — god is nonexistent.

              A fiction. A lie.

              You cannot declare you know what god wants because there is no god. Therefore, cannot have wants.

              You cannot declare someone to be a prophet of a nonexistent entity. Therefore, no prophet.

              Myths. Fables. Lies.

              In the instance of the Koran, bloodthirsty ones.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

                Love it Anti God Squad. You accuse theists of not believing in facts yet your dogma against the belief in a God is nothing but theory itself. Carry on.

            • Mike Lee
              Posted April 30, 2013 at 1:13 am | Permalink

              “Sound logic”, perhaps you can help me out here – your statement :” …that God had sent prophets to all mankind throughout the ages…”- just when did these occurences take place seeing that we are descended from a family of apes several millions of years ago that evolved into bi-pedal homo erectus and finally homo sapiens? When did God come on the scene?
              Perhaps you can also tell us if you think we would be here today had that rather large rock had not contributed to the demise of the reign of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago?
              Looking forward to your explanation!

              • Sound Logic
                Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

                Lol prove to me there was a sudden leap from ape to man. If that is your primary reason for not believing in God then you’re not doing well I’m afraid. Always a missing link my friend yet without this link you still give me the dogma that its fact. You have FAITH in your theory I have faith in mine no need to get worked up about it with your aggressive tones people. I dont blurt There Is A God There Is A God You Must Believe You Must I Tell You Believe Believe yet people’s tone against me suggest they are trying to bash me on the head with the atheist bible! Love it love the hypocrisy. Well done. You ‘debate’ like a bigot yourself.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

                And for your information dont assume i believe the universe was created 6000 yrs ago because I don’t.

      • Kevin
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        And yet, it’s quite effective among those who haven’t figured it out.

        Once you give a name to it — its power disappears.

    • Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      “It was founded by primitive war lords in a backward part of the world”

      It is funny that you use that as an argument, because at the time there were hardly any more “enlightened” areas in the world. Certainly not North America!

      So to say, let’s stick to criticizing the wrongness of the content, otherwise it does in fact have xenophobic tendencies (which Dawkins has not, I feel).

      • steve oberski
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        It would be “funny” if that was his entire argument, but he goes on to say and never went through an “Enlightenment” or “Reformation”, so remains a primitive cult, which I think is a valid criticism and not “funny” at all.

          • Gary W
            Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

            No, it is not false. Whatever temporary benefits it may have produced, the Islamic Golden Age did not result in secularism, liberal democracy or modern science. Those advances arose in the west.

            • Posted April 30, 2013 at 12:46 am | Permalink

              “Whatever temporary benefits it may have produced, the Islamic Golden Age did not result in secularism, liberal democracy or modern science.”

              Perhaps you need to understand that major cultural and scientific revolutions, such as the European Renaissance (the next big event, chronologically, in the history of world culture) do not happen in a vacuum. The effects of the Islamic Golden Age were not “temporary” in any sense: they were direct precursors to the European Renaissance. In particular, foundations of several important scientific advances were laid in the Islamic Golden age: try looking at the history of algebra and chemistry for a starter. There is a reason why names like Ibn Sina and Al Khwarizmi are respected so much in the history of science.

              Also, for what it is worth, “secularism” has been the official policy of empires as far back as 300BCE.

              I would just like to say that the history of culture, and science in particular, should not be held hostage to political ideologies.

              • Gary W
                Posted April 30, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

                I don’t think I’m holding anything hostage to a political ideology. “East” and “west” are meaningful categories. Islam is associated with the “east,” not the “west.”

                Whatever role Islam may have played in the development of modern science and democracy, those innovations are primarily products of the west, not the east. Islam is characterized by brutality and oppression. Dawkins may not be precisely correct that Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today, but I think it’s certainly true that Islam is among the greatest forces for evil.

              • Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

                “I don’t think I’m holding anything hostage to a political ideology. “East” and “west” are meaningful categories. Islam is associated with the “east,” not the “west.””

                If you claim they are “meaningful categories”, especially in the context of the above discussion of the Islamic golden age and the early periods of the European Renaissance, then I invite you to provide, then I invite you to provide rigorous definitions of those categories. In particular, take care to make your definitions exhaustive enough so that, in particular, we can decide once and for all on the “Easternness” or the “Westernness” of Ibn Rushd, who I mentioned in my post below, and who was a Muslim Arab inhabitant of Spain, and one of the “founders” of secular rationalism.

                Gary W asserted (emphasis mine):

                Whatever role Islam may have played in the development of modern science and democracy, those innovations are primarily products of the west, not the east.

                That “primarily” is your opinion. It does not become fact if you repeat it often enough. The fact remains that the contributions of the the Islamic Golden Age to the European renaissance, most notably in the fields of mathematics and philosophy, were crucial.

                Islam is characterized by brutality and oppression. Dawkins may not be precisely correct that Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today, but I think it’s certainly true that Islam is among the greatest forces for evil.

                I agree with you that much more evil is done in the name of Islam today than in the name of most other ideologies.

                What I fail to see is what that has to do with with what the contributions of the Islamic Golden Age were. For all the values of the European Renaissance and the Enlightenment, British colonialism, and later the even more horrific exploits of the Nazis and Russian Bolsheviks, were the biggest forces of “brutality and oppression” throughout the first half of the last century. How one can argue from there that the contributions of the European Renaissance and the Enlightenment cannot be regarded as important and must have been “temporary”? At the risk of quoting a (supposedly, for you, “western”) religious text, this appears to be a rather aggravated case of visiting the sins of the children upon the fathers.

              • Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

                Also, I am rather interested in your “meaningful categories” of “East” and “West”. Is Russia “West” or “East”? What about Soviet Russia? South Africa? Apartheid South Africa? Zimbabwe? Egypt? Morocco? Turkey? Greece? Cyprus? Israel? Mexico? the nations of the West Indies? Azerbaijan?

              • Gary W
                Posted May 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

                I invite you to provide, then I invite you to provide rigorous definitions of those categories

                I don’t think I need to provide “rigorous definitions.” For the purposes of this discussion, “the west” basically means western and southern Europe and “the east” basically means the middle east and near east. The west broadly corresponds to traditionally Christian countries and the east to traditionally Muslim ones.

                That “primarily” is your opinion. It does not become fact if you repeat it often enough.

                My opinion seems to be supported by a rather large amount of evidence. If you seriously believe that liberal democracy and modern science owe more to the east than the west, I’d like to see your argument to that effect.

                The fact remains that the contributions of the the Islamic Golden Age to the European renaissance, most notably in the fields of mathematics and philosophy, were crucial.

                What contributions? Crucial to what?

                It may offend your tender religiously-correct sensibilities to hear this, but the Islamic world is basically a sh*thole of poverty, brutality and oppression.

              • Posted May 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

                Gary W:

                I will begin by noting that despite all your bluster about the meaningfulness of the “categories” of “East” and “West” in the context of the early periods of the European Renaissance, you still haven’t come up with a characterization that will tell us once and for all whether the Islamic Arab philosophers such as Ibn Rushd living in Spain and laying the foundations of secular rationalism in the early part of the last millennium were “Eastern” or “Western”.

                If you seriously believe that liberal democracy and modern science owe more to the east than the west, I’d like to see your argument to that effect.

                Where did that “more” come from? Perhaps it is too much for your narrowly defined view of history to handle, but I will repeat this again: historical events do not happen in isolation. “Modern” science did not spring up in a vacuum, and arguing about whether the (in this context, meaningless) categories of “east” and “west” contributed more to it is utterly fruitless. And to see why, let’s consider your next question:

                What contributions? Crucial to what?

                Start here. However, I think it is my duty to warn you again that information might be rather “injurious” to your narrow view of the history of west Asia and Europe :).

                It may offend your tender religiously-correct sensibilities to hear this, but the Islamic world is basically a sh*thole of poverty, brutality and oppression.

                All the properties that you accurately attribute to much of the modern Islamic world were also the hallmarks of Nazi Germany, of much of British colonialism, and of Russian Communism. As I asked you in my last comment, why do you think this has anything to do with what the contributions of the Islamic Golden Age or that of the European Renaissance?

            • Posted April 30, 2013 at 1:04 am | Permalink

              Perhaps I am reading too much between the lines, but you seem to be a rather firm believer of a very clear distinction between “East” and “West”. I am not sure such a clear distinction is warranted given the history of the Islamic Golden Age and the European Renaissance. For example, does Ibn Rushd, a Muslim Arab who lived in Spain, and who has been called a “leading instigator” of secular rationalism qualify as an “Easterner” or a “Westerner”?

              • Dominic
                Posted April 30, 2013 at 3:43 am | Permalink

                Agreed – West/East is a daft simplification. I consider myself a North European, but that is just geographical as far as I am concerned.

            • Sound Logic
              Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

              They owe it to the Islamic Empire of the time. Just so your research in fact to start of with I recommended Jim Al Khallilis research on Science and Islam. And oh in case you didn’t know, Jim is an atheist. An open minded renowned scholar. Shame some people religious and atheistic folk can’t follow his example of enbracing rather discriminately dismissing out of prejudice.

            • Sound Logic
              Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

              Yep and technology to kill millions of people and poison the environment and control the masses with an iron fist and invade nations on a global scale and television, sexual diseases, frrankenstein food, and zombie nations.

              • Sound Logic
                Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

                Television you can take out. Controlled mass media you can add in. Oh and forgot to add false democracy, puppet politicians, and aliens

      • Kevin
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        So? Who said that Christianity was any better?

        Islam is the point of discussion here. A primitive cult developed by primitive warlords. Based on lies. Simple falsehoods.

        No god. No heaven. No prophet — only a mass murderer.

        • Chris
          Posted April 30, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

          Christianity has been more or less house-trained….

  11. Sunny
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    “freely adopted by its holders”
    —-

    I am not sure where he gets the idea that adherents of a religion, Islam in particular, are freely adopting. In a lot of places one does not have a choice.

    By the way, you are such a “Badideaphobe”, Jerry.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted April 30, 2013 at 1:59 am | Permalink

      Agreed – for example apostasy is viewed as a serious crime in Islam that is punishable by execution. Hardly supports the idea of ‘freely adopting’.

      • Sound Logic
        Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Love it. Give me a verse in the quran that says apostates should be killed. Maybe the verse taken out of context states the disbelievers should be killed but amazing how peoplw read it out of context. It states those who carry out mischief and cause disorder(murder etc) should be killed if found guilty or if they repent sincerely then to forgive them. The so called Shariah law you see in Saudi Arabia and places is not entirely based on the Quran yet they say it is. E.g they blag that stoning to death a biblical law Muhammad used to follow is permitted by the Quran yet it is not it is 100 lashes. Muhammad abandoned the biblical law of stoning to death when the quranic law of 100 lashes to given. The Quran also then goes on to state in thw same verse that the adulterer should marry the adultress therefore if stoning to death was permitted which it clearly isnt then why would the Quran then say a and a should marry? How can they marry when they to be stoned to death according to the pseudo scholars. Ive opened my eyes to see how the Quran states one thing and the psuedo scholars do another. The actions of these pseudo scholars contradict the Quran.

  12. Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Prof. Coyne
    I’m sure this is something you see done over and over again. The same way people seem to confuse the concept of equality- in that equality of rights doesn’t necessarily translate into equality of value. Yet, I hear many people stand firmly by ‘It’s my opinion’, as if that were sufficient argumentation.
    How can the confusion be solved? Should logic be taught in high school?

    • Posted May 1, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      I’d say starting in elementary school, and at home. (There’s a bootstrapping problem.)

  13. kelskye
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Just as long as you can find some politically-loaded term that seems to fit, then you don’t have to engage the arguments…

  14. Roo
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    If you read the Qur’an, that’s the kind of “nuance” you’ll need. And that’s not rocket science either: I’ve read the Qur’an, and it’s a horrific, bloodthirsty document, even nastier than the Old Testament. It doesn’t take much nuance to see how people could draw on that document—and the hadith that derive from it—to read the endless calls for the death of infidels, apostates, and unbelievers as an excuse to actually do those things.

    When you hear talk about “nuance” in conjunction with Islamic terrorism, you know you’re dealing with an intellectually dishonest apologist. One needs no “nuance” to understand that people believe what the Qur’an says, and think they’ll find heavenly reward if they follow its dictates.

    Great post, although I am going to obnoxiously nitpick this point, because I hope it won’t become some sort of line in the sand for those who feel the history behind the rise of fundamentalism in the Middle East is nuanced. I don’t think there’s any dichotomy here – you can feel that people have been treated unfairly and the victim of unfortunate circumstances and still recognize that the resulting radical forms of religion, regardless of how they came about, are harmful. Buddha and the parable of the poison arrow, that kind of thing. If analyzing the causes helps to reveal a solution in terms of spreading secular values, it may be helpful, but otherwise, the outcome is the same, regardless of intuitions on the causes.

    An addition to the above article…I saw people are making up faux racist Tweets by Dawkins on Feedbuzz now, this makes me sad.

  15. Posted April 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    The Nazis were economically dispossessed

    This interpretation does not convince me. They had some support from the poor but most of them still voted social democrats or communists.

    The Nazis were rather strongly supported by large companies and their voting base was mostly middle class and farmers: people who feared losing their status and privileges in economic turmoil but also in a changing world in general, and who feared the rise of the politically aware working class of the time.

    • josh
      Posted April 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I think he’s referring to the general situation of stagnation and economic turmoil in Germany post WWI. The Nazis were buoyed by that, as no doubt were the communists and various other groups.

  16. Marella
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that the reason why some people can’t distinguish between criticism of ideas and oppression of people, is because historically it has been almost mandatory to oppress those who had ideas the ruling classes didn’t like. As late as the 1950s in the US communists were being oppressed, and in fact the urge to do so was so strong that when they ran out of actual communists to oppress they manufactured them. Most people know that ideas are important and that the quickest way to get rid of a dangerous one is to kill all the people who hold it, the Catholic church has been particularly good at this, so they assume that must be what atheists are intent upon doing. Mass deportation has also been popular historically, witness the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and in fact it was Hitler’s first option of how to rid Europe of Jews, he intended to deport them all, but couldn’t find anywhere to deport them to.

    This history makes it imperative to point out that this is not our goal, we just want to be able to point out reality to the deluded, but it also means we’re not likely to be listened to.

    • jay
      Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Some years ago I was at a humanist group discussion meeting, there were two elder women in attendance: one was a life long communist in the US who had been hounded along with her husband by the FBI, and the other was a Hungarian refugee who fled the communists. They almost came to blows.

  17. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Let us test al-Azami’s logic:

    I protest smoking. Hence I am a xenophobe!?

    Um, no.

  18. Sines
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Okay, buddy, so Dawkins is Xenophobic? He’s afraid of things that are ‘different’?

    Fine.

    So, show me his vociferous hatred for Asians. Asians are far more different from Europeans than Arabs are. It’s a simple matter of physical distance. Anyone who has seen how weird the Japanese or Koreans can get (by European standards, anyway) cannot claim that they aren’t at least as different from Europeans as Arabs are.

    And yet, I’ll bet you won’t find anything. Funny, it’s almost as if Dawkins doesn’t care if you’re different, but HOW you are different.

    Like to eat squid tentacles with suckers still on them? Whatever floats your boat.

    Killing your daughter because she was raped? Got a bit of a problem with that.

    I am getting sick of this bullshit. I think the worst of it is is that it’s being bought by otherwise reasonable people. It feels like a religion in that sense, convincing good people, well intentioned people to do bad things. And it strips the idea that you can criticize and judge other people fairly.

    If any criticism is automatically assumed to be based on bigotry, rather than reasonable concerns, then we’ve got a problem.

  19. jay
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    The ‘racism’ label (as well as ‘sexism’ or ‘anti semitism’) has wandered from being an accurate description of a pathological behavior to a conversation stopping invocation against whatever criticism of a group’s behavior that the listener does not want to hear.

    It’s gotten to the point that consultants hare making good money (hired by employers etc) playing the race card by extracting any residual criticisms or discomforts people may have with other groups and declaring this ‘hidden racism’ which must be exorcised.

  20. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I am just getting back from seeing Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins at the premier of The Unbelievers and someone asked Dawkins what he thought of Canadians vs Americans and what do you know he didn’t even act all Xenophobic in the least :) in fact he is quite a lovely man from what I saw and it is a shame he has such nasty detractors who say such false things.

    • Vaal
      Posted April 30, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Damn I am so pissed! I didn’t know they were coming and missed it.

      Vaal

  21. Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Here’s why this is self-righteous bullshit: Dawkins did not merely state his difference of opinion, he said that because Medhi Hasan has faith in one of his religion’s myths that he is unfit to practice journalism and that the New Statesman was irresponsible for hiring him. In so doing, he was effectively calling for individuals who are religious to be discriminated against on the basis of their religious belief. That isn’t xenophobia or racism, but it is a form of bigotry.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 30, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      You’re referencing Richard Dawkins’s tweet. He realized he was misunderstood in the way you have outlined and both withdrew his misconstrued words and explained further here: http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/3846

      Excerpt:

      “I cannot deny that this sounds horribly like a call for New Statesman to sack him, and it is not surprising that it was taken in that way and became controversial as a freedom of speech issue. Even worse, some respondents went overboard and thought I was saying that no Muslim should ever be employed as a journalist, or even that no religious person should ever be employed as a journalist.

      I certainly never intended any of those meanings. Twitters’s 140-character limit is notoriously inimical to nuance.”

      He then explains what he did intend and that his words in his tweet were poorly chosen and that he withdraws them.

    • Sound Logic
      Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Bigotry it is you’re right. Im surprised Dawkins’s publisher hired the latter in the first place. Maybe he shouldn’t be allowed to publish and make millions out of a book criticising a book he hasn’t even read. I suppose I don’t have to read the highway code in the Uk based on the fact that a minority are dangerous drivers to then write a book to inform the world that the highway code encourages people to drive dangerously! Oh how deluded are thee British drivers!
      Dawkins not very wise of you I’m afraid.

  22. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted April 30, 2013 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Dawkins was brought up in the traditions of the Anglican Church and – on the basis of his writings – is clearly well versed and familiar with Christian beliefs and rituals. In spite of this familiarity he is a well known and outspoken critic of Christian belief and doesn’t by any means restrict himself to criticizing Islam so the xenophobe jibe simply doesn’t fly.

  23. Kevin Alexander
    Posted April 30, 2013 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Dawkins a Xenophobe?

    What’s he got against warrior princesses?

  24. Dominic
    Posted April 30, 2013 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    I realize it is popular in the USA but I really do not like the use of Blumenbach’s term ‘Caucasian’ – it is 200 years out of date. It was cutting edge – in its time!

  25. Posted April 30, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Slightly off topic, but I reckon religious people get the idea that you’ve to be well versed in the specific details of a religion before you can have an opinion on its effect.

    How about, I think that believing in a book, written many, many years ago, credulously, as some sort of divine manifestation, is in and of itself absurd, regardless of what that book actually says?

    I love Nietzsche’s writings. I’m not a Nietzschian. Shakespeare was quite clearly one of the most perspicacious people to have ever existed. I’m not a Shakespearian. From what I have read of any religious texts, they lack the intellectual rigour that so many great thinkers have possessed. Why believe in all that they claim?

    Thanks for the article. Goes to show that having a PhD from a renowned uni doesn’t really mean all that much nowadays.

    • Sound Logic
      Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      At least you read Nietzche’s work. And Shakespears for that matter. Dawkins didnt read the Quran so I respect you more than I respect Dawkins. Religion esp the Islam has contributed more to science than any religion. Jim Al Khallilis work on this may be of interest

      • Sound Logic
        Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Sorry typo ony part…Shakespeare rather!

        • Sound Logic
          Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          Bloody mobile phone’s keypad sorry people

  26. Robert
    Posted April 30, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t know why every one keeps misspelling it in this case. It is “Xenuphobic”

  27. Posted May 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a nice long response to Usaama on my blog, and I also emailed it to him. You can find it here:

    http://nonrandomevolution.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/huffpo-ussama-al-azami-is-richard-dawkins-a-racist-my-response/

  28. Terry Robbins
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Great defense of Richard Dawkins by Nick Cohen:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9000431/forget-about-richard-dawkins-fight-the-real-fanatics/


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