Richard Dawkins rants on Twitter against Mehdi Hasan


4:39 pm - April 22nd 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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The writer and celebrity-atheist Richard Dawkins went on a bizarre rant yesterday.

He starts off by saying Mehdi Hasan is not a serious journalist and within minutes changes his tune. Dawkins has turned into a pathetically confused bigot.

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Oh right, now he talks sense on most issues…?

No, I think that was when you said people who are religious should not be taken seriously at all.

Look at that furious back-pedalling! Just amazing.

Oh dear.

If someone finds Dawkins’ credibility in one piece anywhere, please hand it in to Lost and Found.

Update: Some responses to Dawkins

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Richard Smith

I think that anyone who believes in sky fairies prancing about on winged horses has forfeited all rights to be considered a rational being.

2. SPESS MEHREN

There is only one true god, the EMPRA!

To be fair, after reading his first tweet, and then the second, then the first tweet again, I can’t help but despair at the bellends who first engaged him on the subject.

Someone who believes in winged horse against someone who believes such belief is absurd. Which one is the most credible? Sunny says the former and science would suggest the latter.

In what way is it bigoted to ridicule the absurdities of all religious belief? If a journalist believed that Leprechauns were real, that alone would not prevent them speaking sense on other subjects. However, it would be quite rational for people to be sceptical over anything else they had to say. Why is that some buy into the nonsense that religious beliefs should get some special privileges.

5. Richard Smith

This is a particularly pitiful attempt at a character assassination, Sunny…
Unless you think that a belief in flying horses and supernatural beings really is a rational mode of thought for an adult. Do you? Do you actively deny rationality in the desire to be – what? Inclusive? Welcoming to the deluded?

6. Shinsei1967

I couldn’t believe by eyes when I discovered Dawkins on Twitter a few months ago.

His books on atheism although strong of opinion are reasonably and measuredly argued. His many TV appearences show hm to be far from the “strident” figure of caricature. His interviews with “irrational” believers always strikes me as a typical Oxford don dealing with a not terribly bright or well-prepared student in a tutorial. He is mildly patronising but engages with their views and is far from rude or offensive.

But get him on Twitter and its Jekyll & Hyde. He is nasty, petty, makes silly and ignorant caricatures of his opponents beliefs & arguments and resorts to strawmen.

If it were just a one off I’d have assumed a parody account or a couple of ports too many in the New College common room.

For someone I’d have described as a hero of mine I am genuinely shocked and actually rather upset.

7. the a&e charge nurse

Dawkins and Hasan discuss Hasan’s belief in winged horses here (from 17:30 onwards)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0Xn60Zw03A

Dawkins says he regards such views as intellectual nonsense but it seems Hasan literally believes in miracles and chides Dawkins for having insufficient evidence to disprove them.

How can an intelligent and educated man believe in miracles and winged horses, surely this is a much more interesting question than twatter etiquette?

Would it be possible to take a quick straw poll dividing commentators into believers in winged horses, non-believers, and don’t knows?

I don’t mind getting the ball rolling – I think anybody who believes in winged horses has essentially forfeited the right to be taken seriously.

8. Richard Smith

@the charge nurse

I’m with you on that one.

Medi Hasan, I put it to you that one of those winged horses is a homosexual.

Since you lack evidence to prove me wrong, I can completely justify believing this.

10. Peter Gilkes

0-1 to Sunny Hundal, I’m afraid. Winged Horses are for Fairy Tales only.

11. Richard Smith

Ummm…
Isn’t Sunny defending the right to believe in Flying Horses, fairies and miracles?

12. Shatterface

Do you believe in winged horses yourself or do you think humouring Hasan’s beliefs makes you ‘tolerant’ or simply infantising?

Do you believe someone who refuses to respect someone’s belief in winged horses is a bigot?

Do you want winged horses on the science curriculum?

This is risible stuff even by your standards.

The New Statesman has been a laughing stock for years.

13. Richard Smith

What this is, in fact, is an example of the soft-boiled thinking that makes a special case for religion, which allows any old nonsense to be spouted without criticism because it is the faith of the deluded person espousing it. Why is it acceptable to believe in the patently false simply because a lot of people do it? Or because someone says ‘it’s my religion’? That is merely moral relativism. Unless you are prepared to extend the same fatuous tolerance to Bornean headhunters, Aztec human sacrificers, Druids and adherents of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

14. Shatterface

Dawkins says he regards such views as intellectual nonsense but it seems Hasan literally believes in miracles and chides Dawkins for having insufficient evidence to disprove them.

And this is the crux of why Hasan can’t be taken seriously as a journalist: if he’d just bracketed his beliefs off as personal and not empirically testable we could just ignore them but he then comes out with anti-scientific demands for Dawkins to disprove something Hasan has no evidence for – as if the onus is on science to disprove the existence of mythical beings.

Hasan can now make any old shit up, publish it in his rag and demand his readers disprove his claims.

That’s not journslism in any sense worth knowing.

Richard Dawkins duisplays his fairyophobia for all to see.

http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/3846#

Oh dear Sunny, this is all a bit Daily Mail isn’t it?

You’ll be launching your own sidebar of shame at this rate. :-(

I should say that much as I like Mehdi, when it comes to matter that engage his religious views then he really does talk a load of shite, as was demonstrably the case when he made an ill-judged foray in commenting abortion.

See:

http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2012/10/16/how-not-to-debate-abortion/

And

http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2012/10/17/so-what-has-mehdi-hasan-actually-learned/

Dawkins has become the target du jour for any self-described ‘progressive’ who wants to demonstrate how ‘liberal’ he/she is by defending any old mumbo-jumbo so long as it is coming from someone whom those self-labelled ‘liberals’ patronisingly consider to be ‘oppressed’.

It is difficult to take seriously any factual analysis of any matter which comes from someone who is sufficiently credulous to believe in winged horses, transubstantiation or that L. Ron Hubbard was anything other than a pulp novelist who let a joke get badly out of hand.

18. white trash

“Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist”

This looks like a pretty straightforward case of Dawkins’ not having the balls here to back his off-the-cuff chauvinism.

People believe in all kinds of (to my eye) nonsense. Probably lots of people think that how you or I or an atheist see the world is nonsense too.

That’s where tolerance come in.

Something it seems to me that Dawkins very much lacks. with Dawkins it appears he wants it always to be “my way or the highway”.

Sorry, on Dawkins’ side here.

20. Shatterface

I’m waiting on Sunny’s defense of David Icke and his lizard people. Or how about L Ron Hubbard’s thetans?

Too modern to be classed as ‘legitimate beliefs’? How about the Book of Mormon – real or fake?

How about Noah’s Ark? I mean, if you want to be taken seriously on climate change you must have a firm opinion of whether the Earth has been subject to global catastrophes in the past.

Jesus christ you commentators are fucking stupid. You really can’t see anything wrong with what he said? Yeah, he believes in that. So fucking what? Martin Luther King probably believed in a lot of scientifically impossible things because he was a Christian. I’m guessing under your system we couldn’t take anything he said seriously right? I’m guessing your also going to through out most of our library as well considering a large amount of philosophers, poets, authors, political commentators, artists and fuck knows who else had religious beliefs. Can we just thrown all their work out as rubbish? Really? Really? Every one has a nutty side to them. EVRYONE. And until I’ve heard what the fucker in question actually has to say, I’m not going to judge him simply on the fact that he is religious. It’s called bigotry, you stupid Islmaophobic fucks.

I really can’t stand you fucking idiots who think just because you’re an atheist that somehow means you’re going to be more rational than a theist. Yeah you’re an atheist, so I am. Congratulations. You’re possibly right about one thing. Now go give yourself a celebratory wank if your so happy about that. Guess what? I’m met racist atheists, and have heard homophobic atheists, and seen atheists who believe in conspiracy theorists. YOU ARE NOTHING FUCKING SPECIAL.

22. Shatterface

That’s where tolerance come in.

No, its where the soft racism of low expecttations comes in.

Though I’ll give Hasan this: he isn’t pretending he only believes in flying horses metaphorically – which is the usual claim religionists and their apologists make when cornered.

@Shinsei1967:

But get [Dawkins] on Twitter and its Jekyll & Hyde. He is nasty, petty, makes silly and ignorant caricatures of his opponents beliefs & arguments and resorts to strawmen.

That’s Twitter for you. And he’s not the only one (see Suzanne Moore/transgender women). Nuance and 140 characters aren’t a good mix.

24. Shatterface

Guess what? I’m met racist atheists, and have heard homophobic atheists, and seen atheists who believe in conspiracy theorists.

The thing is, racist atheists, homophobic atheists and conspiracy nut atheists are ultimately responsible for their own beliefs and prejudices: they don’t palm responsibility off onto the supernatural and put their prejudices beyond scrutiny.

@6: “But get him on Twitter and its Jekyll & Hyde.”

I blame the 140 character limit, which prevents nuanced argument.

@23: “The thing is, racist atheists, homophobic atheists and conspiracy nut atheists are ultimately responsible for their own beliefs and prejudices”

Exactly the same is true of religious bigots: saying “God told me to do it / believe it” does not excuse bigotry.

27. Shatterface

It is difficult to take seriously any factual analysis of any matter which comes from someone who is sufficiently credulous to believe in winged horses, transubstantiation or that L. Ron Hubbard was anything other than a pulp novelist who let a joke get badly out of hand.

In fairness to Hubbard his early sf was rather good.

A pity the Koran never had had an editor like John W Campbell Jr.

28. the a&e charge nurse

[20] ‘I really can’t stand you fucking idiots who think just because you’re an atheist that somehow means you’re going to be more rational than a theist’ – the simple fact is it is impossible to be more irrational than a theist who believes a winged horses flew to heaven while suggesting sceptics have an obligation to disprove it is true.

We owe a great debt Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris et al for articulating the many problems the kind of anti-rational thinking that lies at the heart of religion.

Of course Dawkins is completely wrong to imply Hasan, or anybody else for that matter can’t do a good job due to being religiously indoctrinated but that won’t him stop from feeling slightly disappointed that superstition, in this instance, wins out over reason.

29. Shatterface

Exactly the same is true of religious bigots: saying “God told me to do it / believe it” does not excuse bigotry.

It doesn’t excuse it but it’s an argument they’ll fall back on: ‘Homosexuality is a sin and I have a right as a Christian to refuse them service’ is a common line of ‘reasoning’ without a secular equivalent.

30. white trash

@21 “soft racism of low expecttations”

Bollocks. I say the same for Xians, Thelemites, Hindus, Glastonbury Goddess worshippers, agnostics or those like Dawkins who believe in The One Truth of Science.

When it comes down to it there’s nowt as queer as folk and most of us are perfectly capable of doing our jobs.

One of the most revolting things about this latest Dick the Dawk outburst, as well as how bad he makes us Godless types look, is that the implication of his comment is that someone who has beliefs that don’t fit the narrow Dawkins rubric for “credible” should recant or face losing our jobs and be relegated to third class citizens or shelf-stackers or something.

That simply looks totalitarian to me.

31. the a&e charge nurse

I seem to recall David Icke’s beliefs affected his credibility as a commentator but I cannot think of anything he said that was any more loopy than winged horses.

Is it just a matter of having more skill in separating bizarre beliefs from the job being carried out.

32. Richard Smith

White trash – do you believe in flying horses? Or can you tell me what rational definition could make them ‘credible’. More moral relativism…

Personally I think the Dawk would have got more trolling mileage by saying ‘Pegasus’ in place of winged horse.
Who would win out of Bellerophon or Muhamed?
There’s only one way to settle this –
FIGHT!

34. white trash

Richard, not particularly, but I don’t think that belief alone should be grounds for dismissal.

Moral relativism is another matter, which I think I remember discussing with Chaise and others here a few moons back. As far as I can see there are no moral absolutes. You, or I only have the particular moral outlook that we have because we have been conditioned into those particular beliefs. It doesn’t make them right in absolute terms, but it does make them right *to us*.

35. white trash

Something that biologist Dawkins also seems wilfully ignorant of is that religious-type beliefs may very well be adaptive in the human species, eg see here,

http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=6099

If this is correct then Dawkins’ bullying approach is even more obnoxious and wrong-headed than it looks.

36. Shatterface

I seem to recall David Icke’s beliefs affected his credibility as a commentator but I cannot think of anything he said that was any more loopy than winged horses.

Well the thing about the Queen Mother having a special golden utensil she used for eating children was pretty Out There but it didn’t actually defy the laws of physics.

The issue here is not whether it is reasonable for someone to believe in non-material/religious claims, but whether that belief invalidates every other thing that person writes. If that is the case Dawkins could just as easiy write:

Shakespeare believed that there was actually a ‘God’ figure who really existed, yet the RSC see fit to show his plays!

Malcolm Muggeridge believed in the Trinity, yet the BBC saw fit to give him airtime

Richard Thompson actually believes that Mohammed was a so-called prophet, and Marcus Mumford claims to follow Jesus, yet Radio 2 seem happy to play their songs!

J R R Tolkien believed that the bread and wine magically turned into flesh and blood, yet Harper Collins continue to publish him and New Line Cinema have allowed his writings to be turned into films at vast expense!

And so on

38. Sideswiper

What, pray (pun intended) is unreasonable about this?
Another thing, one can’t be a fundamentalist atheist. There is nothing to be fundamentalist about. All Dawkins is doing is asking some perfectly reasonable questions about why, in this day and age, seemingly intelligent people believe in such bollocks. If you don’t like his tone, that ain’t his problem. At least he’s stimulating debate. I would also argue that most of the twitter responses, are at least as hysterical as his initial “tweet”. Ttfn.

39. Shatterface

Something that biologist Dawkins also seems wilfully ignorant of is that religious-type beliefs may very well be adaptive in the human species, eg see here,

http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=6099

Now you are making yourself look like a fuckwit: maybe you should actually read Bering’s book, like this gem from p.201:

The God instinct may never be completely deprogrammed in our animal brains, but by understanding it for what it is rather than subscribing uncritically to the intuitions it generates, we can distance ourselves from an adaptive system that was designed, ultimately, to keep us hobbled in fear.

Religion, like violence and racism, might have a genetic origin but we aren’t slaves to it when we recognise it for what it is: Religion is a spandrel that piggy-backed on genuinely adaptive traits: the fact that your over-active ‘theory of mind’ attributes intentionality to phenomena where there is none might have increased the survival chances of your savannah-dwelling ancestors but its a maladaptation in the 21st Century.

And I emphasise your theory of mind because, for some reason, your god has blessed me with a condition where I’m cognitively incapable of reading God’s Holy Wrath At Gay Marriage into every earthquake or tidal wave.

40. the a&e charge nurse

[36] fair enough but it is slightly surprising that indignation is directed toward a rational sceptic rather than an apparently educated man who believes in flying horses.

[35] exactly – neither golden utensils nor cannibalism are beyond the bounds of physics.

Mind you the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea initially attributed ‘kuru’, a type of spongiform encephalopathy, to evil spirits rather than eating their fellow tribesman – until they were educated about the wrong headedness of this kind of magical thinking.

From what I have read the Fore cannibals were slightly more receptive to the realities of science than certain New Statesman journalists?

@28: It doesn’t excuse it but it’s an argument they’ll fall back on: ‘Homosexuality is a sin and I have a right as a Christian to refuse them service’ is a common line of ‘reasoning’ without a secular equivalent.

You’re right that’s the argument they use.

But do they also say “wearing mixed fibres is a sin (Deut 11:22) and I have the right not to serve them”? No, they do not, because they don’t personally disapprove of mixed fibres so they don’t feel a need to dress it up in superstition.

42. Shatterface

[36] fair enough but it is slightly surprising that indignation is directed toward a rational sceptic rather than an apparently educated man who believes in flying horses.

Exactly. Why is this article entitled Richard Dawkins Rants… rather than Medi Hasan Believes… ?

Imagine the headlines here if Dawkins had referred to Hasan as ‘cattle’

Wow. It’s like he can’t really hear himself. He obviously said that Mehdi Hassan has no credibility because he is a Muslim. He seems to think he was dispassionately pointing out some absurdity (which is there – it’s Dawkin’s belief that religious people are irrational against the fact that they are perfectly capable of performing to a high standard in a variety of disciplines).
Perhaps it’s because he couldn’t care less about Mehdi Hassan’s career or anybody else’s, or their healthcare, or anything else apart from whether or not they are ‘rational’ atheists. It’s totally obtuse for anyone to interpret his comments to mean he thinks Mehdi Hassan is not a credible journalist! Why on earth would he care? He believes in God, that’s the whole point! No wonder Dawkins is so frustrated! ;)

44. Witchsmeller Pursuivant

Further to Ian’s excellent point:

The issue here is not whether it is reasonable for someone to believe in non-material/religious claims, but whether that belief invalidates every other thing that person writes.

It would be right to attack Hasan and the NS if any of Hasan’s writings rested on the existence of winged horses, i.e. “Winged horses exist therefore …”. As far as I know he doesn’t do this.

To attempt to delegitimise somebody’s argument because that person also believes something else that’s ludicrous is a classic ad hominem. If Dawkins has a problem with Hasan’s writings (and he obviously doesn’t) then he should go after them, and/or mind his own business about Hasan’s beliefs. That’s just good manners.

For the record I do not, nor have I ever, believed in winged horses.

45. white trash

“The God instinct may never be completely deprogrammed in our animal brains”

My point exactly, Shatterface. And we haven’t even started to try to deprogram ourselves yet. As far as I’m aware, the majority of the 7 billion and growing people on earth believe in supernatural forces of some kind or another.

You’ve got, at very least, hundreds of years before you’re going to make much inroads into creating the Rational Utopia men like Dawkins believe in and want to see, even if it is possible. Until then children are going to continue growing up being conditioned into the kind socially-constructed mental universes that we experience around us today.

“your god has blessed me” er, what? you’re not making sense? What god?

Dawkins did not say the New Statesman should not employ Mehdi Hasan, nor did he specifically suggest that absurd belief invalidates every other thing that a person writes. James Clerk Maxwell and Lord Kelvin were two of the greatest physicists to ever live and both were religious. James Hutton the founder of geology who realised through observation and reasoning that the earth was very old was religious. Our current scientific understanding is built on the insights of men who often held strange religious beliefs that seemed at variance to their understanding of science. But the point is belief is not above criticism just because it is a religious belief.

“Unfortunately, I phrased it poorly. Instead of saying “Isn’t it quaint that such a successful journalist can simultaneously believe something so daft”, I wrote, “Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist.”

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.”
http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/3846#

People are entitled to believe in what they want, as an atheist I may not agree with that belief, but as a liberal I believe that they have the right to that belief, and that belief doesn’t make them any less of a serious person. Richard Dawkins gives atheists a bad name.

48. Witchsmeller Pursuivant

Until then children are going to continue growing up being conditioned into the kind socially-constructed mental universes that we experience around us today.

Our personalities are social constructs by necessity. Our civilization and wealth rests upon the accumulated knowledge of all mankind. If we had to start again every time, we’d still be grunting at each other and scratching about like chickens in the bushes. It’s also gives us the luxury of scoffing at our forefathers’ beliefs whilst benefitting from their hard-won discoveries.

And we haven’t even started to try to deprogram ourselves yet… You’ve got, at very least, hundreds of years before you’re going to make much inroads into creating the Rational Utopia

Be mindful that when you try to deprogram us, you have something better to take it’s place, else you might create the Rational Dystopia instead. How will you comfort those who you strip of hope, along with their dreams of unicorns?

49. the a&e charge nurse

[46] ‘Richard Dawkins gives atheists a bad name’ – no he doesn’t. Dawkins and others like him have been criticised for drawing attention to the absurdity of certain beliefs – and certain lefties are so conditioned to respect religious groups they can no longer see them for the antirational, magical believers they are.

In itself belief in a winged horse might seem fairly innocuos but we have learnt to our cost that certain religious beliefs are invariably used to rationalise actions that many find abhorrent – as the Hitch used to say – religion poisons everything.

It’s crap like this that gives atheists a bad name.

Dawkins did not say the New Statesman should not employ Mehdi Hasan

Yes he did.

Now he’s retracted it, and quite right too.

Quite interesting that certain commenters here are prepared to robustly defend the original tweet, when even RD admits that it was ill-judged.

Maybe you could point out where he said the New Statesman should not employ him. Other people may have concluded that he was implying that, but then that is their problem with reading comprehension.

We have the ultimate proof of just how confected a shit-storm this all is: Andrew Brown has written about it in the Grundiad.

54. Badstephen

I’m an atheist but if I looked like Dawkins and was married to the most beautiful Dr Who companion of all time, I would get down on my knees and thank a bountiful God every day of life.

Dawkins cannot accept any beliefs other than his own – as usual his little fan club follow him around and spring to his defence. So sad to live a life without magic and even sadder to belittle the religious beliefs of others.

So sad to live a life without magic and even sadder to belittle the religious beliefs of others.

That sort of faux sympathy is what gives the religious a bad name.

It is surprising that the New Statesman employed someone so devoutly religious as a Senior Editor (Politics). The default setting for someone like that would have once been Marxist atheist or unthinking atheist or lazy agnostic.

Mehdi H. is okay, but nothing special in the writing line, and is highly defensive when pushed on his religious beliefs. Does he believe in the winged horse in the same way as in, say, the assassination of Julius Caesar? or does he put that kind of fuzzy halo of a different kind of believing that modern CofE Christians manage?

If he doesn’t he’s closer to a Christian fundamentalist of the Bible Belt kind – and it’s definitely weird to have someone like that in a senior position on a lefty intellectual magazine.

Other people may have concluded that he was implying that, but then that is their problem with reading comprehension.

No, it was a problem with his writing, as he now concedes.

58. Patrick James

It is absolutely clear throughout the tweets that Richard Dawkins is not saying that people of faith, or followers of any religion should not be journalists.

Dawkins has just questioned why we treat people who believe in winged horses as sane, but we tend to wonder about those who believe in fairies.

There is nothing bigoted about Dawkins comments.

In comment 55 sasastro writes:

“Dawkins cannot accept any beliefs other than his own”

but no, sasastro, that is the position of the majority of the major religions. They are ideologically hostile to people who do not share their beliefs, and indeed some tell their own believers that the unbelievers will go to hell when they did.

That is what a bigoted position is actually like.

“That is what a bigoted position is actually like.”

Absolutely. Presumably, Christians are committed to this policy:

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29

Never mind the winged horses getting him there, it’s the seventy two virgins waiting for him you’ve got to be worried about.

They’re the ones that cause the mayhem!!!

The Dawk has always been an obsessive. He had an intemperate debate with the (agnostic/atheist)philosopher Mary Midgley (once a Guardian columnist) about ‘The Selfish Gene’ and his silly theory about ‘memes’. The Dawk lost. He is an embarrassment to atheism with his fanaticism.

Incidentally, why should belief in winged horses, or God, be seen as the benchmark of rationality? Many folk here believe (very vaguely) in something the pursuit of which has caused huge suffering, yet has never actually existed, and never will exist…namely socialism. Holding views – like socialism (or Islamo-fascism) – is dangerous…er, but winged horses or mild religious belief is largely harmless.

Done with the Dawkins, a lot of what he says now seems intended to generate hostility buy his band of followers(all be it indirectly) towards whoever is his chosen target.
There is some truth in all of these

“But get him on Twitter and its Jekyll & Hyde. He is nasty, petty, makes silly and ignorant caricatures of his opponents beliefs & arguments and resorts to strawmen”

“People believe in all kinds of (to my eye) nonsense. Probably lots of people think that how you or I or an atheist see the world is nonsense too.

That’s where tolerance come in.

Something it seems to me that Dawkins very much lacks. with Dawkins it appears he wants it always to be “my way or the highway”.”

“You really can’t see anything wrong with what he said? Yeah, he believes in that. So fucking what? Martin Luther King probably believed in a lot of scientifically impossible things because he was a Christian”

“It’s crap like this that gives atheists a bad name”

63. the a&e charge nurse

If Dawkins is right about the pernicious influence of religion this will presumably manifest itself (in some way) whenever certain political or social issues intersect with religion.

What are Hasans views about abortion for example? (I read this morning he was pro-life).
Homosexuality?
The position of women in the religious heirarchy?

And did he say ‘The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief —people of “no intelligence” — because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Quran describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.’

Isn’t it an oxymoron to equate the quran (or indeed any theistic book) with rationality?
The quran teaches about flying horse – how is that rational?
Still – focus on Dawkins twatter gaff if it makes some people happy.

@ the a&e charge nurse – Hasan is somewhat pro-life, but claims his position is not affected by his religious belief. Yes, his comments about cattle were crap. I was wondering yesterday whether he is a bit like Dawkins – both demonstrate a slightly supremacist disdain for the intelligence those who don’t share their beliefs.

http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/dawkins-religion-makes-you-stupid.html

Hasan did apologise eventually, and Dawkins has apologised too.

http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2013/4/22/away-with-the-fairies

When I was young, lefties had no time for religion or religious bigots.
(To put it mildly.)

How times have changed!

@ SarahAB – you’re right to say that Dawkins & Hasan are both irascible types with short fuses, who are very bad at taking criticism. Also, both over-estimate their own cleverness.

@ cjcj – yes – religious lefties used to keep their religion to themselves. Most were outspoken and even sneering atheists. Now they’ve gone muted and respectful. Native clerics have lost their power so when exotic clerics appear they are picturesque rather than repressive. In a secular society you can shrug your shoulders at religious beliefs, which in other societies cause real cruelty and misery.

13/Richard Smith: Why is it acceptable to believe in the patently false simply because a lot of people do it?

This is, though, hardly restricted to religious beliefs. And pretty much everyone believes several things which cannot be rationally or experimentally proven. (And conversely by starting from particular premises one can justify all sorts of unpleasantness in a rational manner)

24/Shatterface: The thing is, racist atheists, homophobic atheists [...] are ultimately responsible for their own beliefs and prejudices: they don’t palm responsibility off onto the supernatural and put their prejudices beyond scrutiny.

Well, maybe. I’ve seen enough of them use discredited research like The Bell Curve, or some of the worst evopsych “studies” to try to do the same. This doesn’t seem a great improvement on a supernatural agent, in practice, and with similar resistance to evidence.

(For that matter, Dawkins himself makes a lot of evidence-resistant statements in areas such as history or anthropology, even though his work in the field of evolutionary biology is solid)

57/Larry: No, it was a problem with his writing, as he now concedes.

A problem with his writing that he conceded? Just a few days ago he was denying that any such thing could exist except as a problem in the mind of the reader…
https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/statuses/324802551516106752

68. the a&e charge nurse

[67] ‘This is, though, hardly restricted to religious beliefs’ – of course, but surely you can see that not all such beliefs are equal and this is what goes to heart of the problem.

Disagree with religion at your peril – for example we know that Hasan is hardly a proponent of free speech, especially when some people have a problem with islam.
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/11/the-right-to-offend-mehdi-hasan-freedom-of-speech_n_1959512.html

If you cannot see an utter and absolute distinction between the kind of ‘truths’ demonstrated by scientific traditions as opposed to religious dogma then you are as deluded as winged horse believers.

Another pair who richly deserve one another.

23 have to disagree, and someone putting a different view that they’re an atheist, doesn’t make it a rant,

71. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

Is believing the Labour party to be socialist a religious act?

The thing that Dawkins doesn’t understand, because he’s an aspie scientist at base, is that there is a double standard that has to be maintained or we’re all in a lot of trouble.

If you are are white British, Christian, and so on, then of course your beliefs and your culture ought to be publically shredded and stamped into the dust. If you are not white British, but are, for example, Muslim, then your culture and beliefs can’t be attacked publically. Belief in God is idiotic–unless you are non-white / non-Christian, in which case, belief in God is a valuable contribution to diversity.

Vimothy wins the “predictable comment” award.

Speaking for myself, if RD had written a tweet apparently* attacking a political magazine for “seeing fit” to publish someone as a “serious journalist” despite their preposterous Christian beliefs, I would have been equally unimpressed.

It’s perfectly right an proper to criticize and mock all religions. But it should be possible to do that without being an aggressive, boorish arse about it, which is where RD fell down on this occasion.

*I accept that isn’t what he meant to say, and that he’s withdrawn the comment.

74. Shatterface

This is, though, hardly restricted to religious beliefs. And pretty much everyone believes several things which cannot be rationally or experimentally proven. (And conversely by starting from particular premises one can justify all sorts of unpleasantness in a rational manner)

There’s a difference between ‘values’ and ‘facts’.

Values aren’t necessarily ‘rational’ but there’s a great deal of consent to values that secularists and religious people can agree on whether or not those values have a rational basis.

Claims about ‘facts’ are different. It either is or isn’t a fact that winged horses have ever existed: claiming that they did is not the equivalent of a statement of values like ‘be nice to each other’ or ‘killing people is wrong’.

The thing that Dawkins doesn’t understand, because he’s an aspie scientist at base, is that there is a double standard that has to be maintained or we’re all in a lot of trouble.

Dawkins isn’t an Aspie but I am and the term shouldn’t be thrown around indiscriminately – and that goes for Hundal’s snide reference to Dawkins’ ‘meltdown’.

The authoritarian Left has a history of abusing psychological terminology for crushing dissent.

Larry,

Is there also an award for “unpredictable comment”? Like you, I feel that predictability (or lack of it) is the supreme criterion when judging a comment’s worth. Frankly, comments that respond straighforwardly to the OP are obvoius and boring. Zzzz! What I’d like to see is comments that screech at you like a bat, before offering you a mint julep and a quick game of hearts.

68/a&e charge nurse: Obviously there’s a major difference between scientific and religious approaches to the truth. But … I largely take a consequentialist view of ethics, so whether someone believes that Mohammed’s journey on a flying horse was literal, metaphorical or non-existent only matters to me in so far as it affects what they do in practice.

So I don’t see believing in a flying horse, implausible as that is, to be something of particular concern. I doubt any of Hasan’s actions particularly hinge on that belief. Conversely the general cultural set of values can be concerning – Unity gives a good example of this for Hasan at 16 – as they will guide actions, but that’s also true of atheists like Dawkins.

74/Shatterface: I agree with that, though there are quite a few in the atheist movement that do believe that a completely rational approach to ‘values’ is possible and desirable as if they were just another sort of ‘fact’, or that believe themselves to be able to take a purely rational approach to decisions just on the ‘facts’ without acknowledging that they too hold values which will influence their interpretation and selection of those facts.

Dawkins certainly acts like he holds that to be true at times, though whether he actually does I don’t know.

Imagine how cross he’ll be when he finds out his University actually awards degrees in this sky fairy stuff.

Pitiful, you could always get a proper job you know.

79. the a&e charge nurse

[76] ‘I largely take a consequentialist view of ethics’ – OK, but we take a consequentialist view of truth (or how we ask questions about the truth) at our peril.

You say ‘whether someone believes that Mohammed’s journey on a flying horse was literal, metaphorical or non-existent only matters to me in so far as it affects what they do in practice’ – its the what happens in practice part of the equation that causes such great concern about the maintenance of such untenable beliefs.

Hasan is perfectly entitled to ply his trade as a journalist but as a believer he is bound by his faith to remain true to the principles of islam and for many these principles simply do not sit well with a rational or indeed liberal world view.

“In what way is it bigoted to ridicule the absurdities of all religious belief?”

It’s not. Saying a religious person shouldn’t be allowed a platform to write about anything at all, because their religion contains mention of a winged horse (furthermore, a winged horse which the particular person in question has never been known to write about), on the other hand…

Sunny has never criticised Mehdi Hasan for his foul characterisation of non-Muslims as ‘animals’, ‘unthinking cattle’ etc. But here he calls Dawkins a ‘bigot’ for far less.

Once again Sunny chooses his side in an argument according to how close a person’s skin shade is to to his own. Weak stuff.

82. Shinsei1967

@Jimmy

Good point. That’s a good example of Dawkins’ puerile tweeting. He’ll tweet “Is theology even a proper subject ? How can you study a subject that is start to finish nonsense ?”

Fair enough as questions but slightly odd coming from a Fellow of New College Oxford, an academic institition that has (when I last looked) a couple of Professors of Theology and about six lecturers in theology. And I guess 30-40 students studying theology. An institition that pretty much only taught theology for 500 years.

He’s clearly wholly aware that theology has academic status, and what it involves (largely I guess a combination of ancient history, difficult ancient languages, philosophy and literature).

83. the a&e charge nurse

[82] Simon Blackburn describes religious doctrines as ‘fossilized philosophies’ or philosophy with the questions left out.

84. Shatterface

74/Shatterface: I agree with that, though there are quite a few in the atheist movement that do believe that a completely rational approach to ‘values’ is possible and desirable as if they were just another sort of ‘fact’, or that believe themselves to be able to take a purely rational approach to decisions just on the ‘facts’ without acknowledging that they too hold values which will influence their interpretation and selection of those facts.

The only atheist I know making that claim was Sam Harris and he was widely criticised by other atheists (PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Ophelia Benson, etc.) for (among other things) failing to bridge the gap between is and ought.

Fair enough as questions but slightly odd coming from a Fellow of New College Oxford, an academic institition that has (when I last looked) a couple of Professors of Theology and about six lecturers in theology. And I guess 30-40 students studying theology. An institition that pretty much only taught theology for 500 years.

You can study Klingon too – and you’d learn something about real languages. You can also study psychoanalysis and homeopathy.

He’s clearly wholly aware that theology has academic status, and what it involves (largely I guess a combination of ancient history, difficult ancient languages, philosophy and literature).

Any of which could be studied seperately and without a commitment to the reality of flying horses, zombies with nail-wounds or blue monkeys. I studied Egyptology but I wasn’t expected to believe Ancient Egyptian cosmology was true.

He’s clearly wholly aware that theology has academic status, and what it involves (largely I guess a combination of ancient history, difficult ancient languages, philosophy and literature).

His main stated beef is that it starts from a faulty assumption – ie God exists – then proceeds from there.

There’s also some history that biologists might generally be more aware of regarding a past biologist who was an astounding genius and brilliant mathematician, who’s name unfortunately eludes me, who developed a biological theory for something or other (4 years ago I think I read this, the lesson has stayed with me, if not the details), with reams and reams of beautiful equations that allowed one to figure out all aspects of the biological process he was studying. Unfortunately, his original assumption was wrong, so all his subsequent work ended up being a complete load of donkey-balls waste of time, meanwhile the other biologist that had studied under the same tutor, but who was only of above average intellect figured out the correct theory by first putting all his assumptions under scrutiny, since ya know, being a lackwit in comparison he MUST have made a mistake if he was coming up with something different to genius chops.

His main stated beef is that it starts from a faulty assumption – ie God exists – then proceeds from there.

It doesn’t start from this assumption at all.

@86 Good. It’s not a complete waste of bloody time then.

88. Shinsei1967

@Cylux

I’m not expert but I know it’s perfectly possible to study theology and have no belief in God at all.

When I was at Cambridge theology I knew a couple of people who studied theology. Neither was in the slightest bit religious. It was regarded as a rather soft option, easier way of getting to Cambridge than applying for law, and allowed plenty of time for sport or drama or student politics/journalism or just going down the pub.

In fact I recollect one of these students saying they had spent the entire first year writing essasys on Marxism.

Obviously many study theology as a means to then becoming a priest. However plenty of others do just regard it as an esoteric byway of history, literature and philosophy. Also pretty sure “atheism” and “history of atheism” appear in the syllabus,

Isn’t it a bit like being an atheist in a church choir ? You’re there for the music not for God.

@Shinsei1967 – being an engineering graduate I of course have nothing but contempt for people who elect for ‘soft options’ at university. Indeed the one behaviour of hard-nosed managers that always brings a smile to my face is when confronted with such a degree, like sociology, on a CV, they’ll ask in the interveiw ‘so what’s this good for then?’.

90. Shinsei1967

@Cylux

“So what’s this good for then ?”

“Practically nothing. But it did allow me to spend three years directing plays. Including taking a Tom Stoppard production to Edinburgh Festival and won an award. So when can I start as the Guardian’s theatre critic ?”

being an engineering graduate I of course have nothing but contempt for people who elect for ‘soft options’ at university.

Theology is the senior degree at Oxford, and as Shinsei says it’s only really a soft option if you think philosophy and ancient languages are soft options.

His main stated beef is that it starts from a faulty assumption – ie God exists – then proceeds from there.

Blimey, he really is terrifically ignorant then. ‘Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent’…

“Practically nothing. But it did allow me to spend three years directing plays. Including taking a Tom Stoppard production to Edinburgh Festival and won an award. So when can I start as the Guardian’s theatre critic ?”

Said to an unimpressed manager of a haulage company. Or the civil service. Or poundland. Which are all quite reasonable jobs for graduates these days to expect.

If you think objectively a non winged horse is not much less complex then a winged horse. Earlier the earth was a ball of fire and now there are non winged horses on earth. If you consider time taken in that relative you can safely say that Richard Dawkins believes in non winged horses coming out of a ball of fire. Without considering an intervention believing in non winged horses and winged horses is equally absurd.

95. the a&e charge nurse

[92] ‘Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent’… problem is religionists remain far from silent, while adherence to an all encompassing ideology like islam must have a significant effect on the way certain social issues are reported/discussed.

Wittgenstein also said ‘nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself’, this quote goes to the heart of why religious delusions like flying horses have persisted for so long.

Wittgenstein also said ‘nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself’, this quote goes to the heart of why religious delusions like flying horses have persisted for so long.

And, incidentally, is a perfet illustration of what a lot of theology is about. Wittgenstein’s precept that I quoted above is a riff on a theme explored by St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica – itself an examination of the Old Testament.

Dismissing all this as superstitious claptrap is pretty ignorant – it’s akin to dismissing the KJV as worthless because it isn’t truly the word of God.

I didn’t read theology, incidentally, but bridle when science graduates dismiss the humanities as worthless soft options. Never trust a man with a pocket protector…

Both Dawkins and Hasan are fundamentalists in their own way. You shouldn’t mock religion believers too much, but they should be mocked a bit.

I always thought it might have been relevant though as to whether a country imported certain kinds of religious people as new immigrants. As it cetainly can have an effect on the host country. Usually not in a positive way (if you value secularism).

I went to the largest Dublin mosque for friday prayers a few years ago (just to see what it was like) and the sermon was all about ”The Zionist Entity” trying to undermine the walls of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem … which I thought was a wholly inappropriate thing to be talking about in front of the hundreds strong congregation of mostly new immigrants to Ireland.

So religious people shouldn’t get a free ride, but you shouldn’t hound them either I think.
Though it’s difficult to take Mehdi Hasan seriously as a person, when you conjure up images of him crying inconsolably about the death of the Shia prophet Hussein ibn Ali.
Slightly bonkers.

98. the a&e charge nurse

[96] ‘Dismissing all this as superstitious claptrap is pretty ignorant’ – maybe, but at least I can say it now without being burned as a heretic, the approach adopted in europe until the patent absurdity of religious dogma was overtaken by logic and reason.

The Hitch said, ‘Where once it used to be able by its total command of a world view to PREVENT the emergence of rivals it can now only impede and retard – or try to turn back – the measurable advances we have made’.

Put another way how many people down the years have been tortured, or killed by religious authorities because they were in pursuit of the kind of truth that goes beyond winged horses, or a world view that no longer fitted with fossilized dogma?

Hasan has saddled himself with this embarrassing tradition, not least because islam has attained such great notoriety for intolerance – yet some befuddled commentators take Dawkins to task for having the temerity to make such inferences – imagine the sort of world we would have if the winged horse version of events trumped Darwin!

‘Dismissing all this as superstitious claptrap is pretty ignorant’ – maybe, but at least I can say it now without being burned as a heretic, the approach adopted in europe until the patent absurdity of religious dogma was overtaken by logic and reason.

We’re at cross purposes. You’re talking about religion, I’m talking about the study of theology.

Put another way how many people down the years have been tortured, or killed by religious authorities because they were in pursuit of the kind of truth that goes beyond winged horses, or a world view that no longer fitted with fossilized dogma?

Why not ask the same question, but about secular authorities? I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer was orders of magnitude larger.

Whenever I see atheists talking up the merits of a secular state compared to a religious one they always tend to mention tolerance.

I have to say looking at the comments here I find those claims of tolerance about as plausible as a horse with wings.

102. the a&e charge nurse

[100] the bad behaviour of secularists does not make the fantastical claims made by religionists any more believable, neither does it exonerate generations of god’s henchmen from the suffering they have inflicted on innocent people for not subscribing to untenable belief systems.
It sounds like you are suggesting the world needs industrial quantities of self deception to be a better place?

[101] nobody here is suggesting that anybody should not be free to practice their own brand of religion, and I guess we even have to accept some of the nasty traditions that go with such beliefs. Nonetheless there is no reason not to make an intellectual case against why winged horse believers are problematic not least because some are apologists for ideas that are clearly antagonistic to genuine liberalism.

103. Shatterface

I have to say looking at the comments here I find those claims of tolerance about as plausible as a horse with wings.

You obviously don’t understand the word ‘tolerance’.

Mocking someone’s superstitions isn’t the same as killing non-believers or denying their humanity – as Hasan did – because they don’t believe your fairytales.

And removing the word ‘meltdown’ from the headline doesn’t remove it from the URL, Sunny.

@103

“You obviously don’t understand the word ‘tolerance’.”

That’s possible. I was always taught that tolerance was about accepting that people might not believe the same things as me but that it was their actions, not their beliefs, that were important.

I was also taught that part of tolerance is engaging with the people who don’t share my beliefs to try to persuade them to change their minds.

I don’t see how you can hope to do that if your first resort is to ridicule and insult them rather than using rational discussion.

Obviously you, and a lot of the other people posting here seem to have a very different idea of what tolerance is than I do.

105. the a&e charge nurse

[104] ‘I was also taught that part of tolerance is engaging with the people who don’t share my beliefs to try to persuade them to change their minds’ – a blog is a way of exchanging ideas, that’s what we are doing here, isn’t it?

Having said that its not easy to influence ideas driven by faith rather than evidence because such beliefs exist in the mind of the believer and nowhere else, even if a lot of people are buying into the same story.
So religionists can believe whatever they want, just don’t expect rationale commentators like Dakins not to wince when educated men like Hasan express their views about flying horses.
Mind you in some peoples minds god is even unhappy about what’s on telly!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/25/hamid-karzai-afghan-tv

@105

actually I would describe a lot of the comments here as trading insults rather than exchanging ideas. It may be fun but it’s not exactly conducive to dialogue or changing minds.

But in the interests of exchanging ideas perhaps you can explain something to me. Why does the idea of a flying horse seem to be such a deal breaker to so many people posting here?

After all if someone thinks that God can create an entire universe, bring the dead back to life etc etc, why is it so hard to understand that that person wouldn’t have too much of a problem accepting the idea that God could also create a horse with functioning wings?

107. the a&e charge nurse

[106] because horses like hippos or giraffes are not aerodynamically designed to fly – obviously if we suspend the laws of logic or reason then anything becomes possible, for example gods rather strange views about women’s hemlines, or foreskins.

@107 – It’s possibly my Christian cultural prejudices but the Resurrection seems less absurd than a winged horse. You can make a naturalistic explanation. Jesus in coma, then revives. Winged horses are just too much of a fairy story.

I read somewhere that for an angel to be able to fly its collar-bone would have to be something like 10 feet across.

@107 and 108 but surely by definition one of the major features of an omnipotent divinity is that they could pretty much choose what physical laws they want to obey and which they want to ignore. Like I said in comparison to creating an entire universe bringing a flying horse into existance really doesn’t seem to be that implausible an achievment.

110. Dr Fash Habbard

Dawkins has made a life of studying the complex picture of how we, and all life, has evolved on Earth and he has written some accessible and intelligent books on the subject.

The other bloke is a rent-a-mouth knob who believes in irrational stories dreamed up centuries ago when people were not quite as knowledgeable about the planet, solar system and universe. And that’s where his views belong.

Simple.

Creating a universe does not, of itself, logically endow the creator with moral authority.

The capacity to intervene in the everyday affairs of human kind leads to many challenging issues about whether humans then have free will and the attribution of moral responsibily for natural disasters, such as earthquakes and virulent pandemics, or for man-made disasters, such as despotic tyrants or the Thirty Years War in Europe 1618-48, when sovereign states invaded neighbouring states so as to install the correct brand of Christianity among the residents to save them from eternal damnation.

110/Dr FH: Dawkins has made a life of studying the complex picture of how we, and all life, has evolved on Earth and he has written some accessible and intelligent books on the subject.

He has indeed. “The Ancestor’s Tale” is one of my favourite pop-science books, and he’s done some very important work in evolutionary biology.

However, this doesn’t qualify him to speak on matters of history, anthropology, philosophy, linguistics etc. with the same levels of authority. (Atheism, which most of his other published works are about, he obviously knows a lot from personal experience and can talk with some authority on, of course)

(I honestly thought on first reading of your comment that you were contrasting “Dawkins” and “Dawkins on Twitter”)

@109 – I would say that modern Christianity is influenced by Deism. “Creating a universe” is a fairly nebulous activity which happened a long time ago (6000 years is as long as so many billions for many human beings). You create the universe, set physical laws in motion, and away you go. Making things happen that go against ordinary observation is rather a different matter. It is far closer to superstition and riding on broomsticks.

I would agree that Dawkins’s tweet was something that would not lead to reasoned debate, but insults and counter-insults.

Mind you, Mehdi has just been calling Maryam Namazie a supporter of the EDL in an equally aggressive twitter exchange. In modern Britain, supporting EDL would be much worse for your career than believing in winged horses.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/04/arguing-again/

the bad behaviour of secularists does not make the fantastical claims made by religionists any more believable

I agree–it makes the fantastical claims made by secularists less believable.

115. Shatterface

I agree–it makes the fantastical claims made by secularists less believable.

Do you want to spell out what those ‘fantastical claims’ are – and why we should prefer theocracy? Honestly, you are putting stoning adultresses and lynching homosexuals on a higher moral and intellectual plane than, say, quantum mechanics?

116. Shatterface

After all if someone thinks that God can create an entire universe, bring the dead back to life etc etc, why is it so hard to understand that that person wouldn’t have too much of a problem accepting the idea that God could also create a horse with functioning wings?

Well, actually I’d agree: if someone believes utter bullshit about God creating the entire universe then flying horses aren’t such an outrageous idea – but that If is doing a massive amount of work and I don’t see many people here arguing that God did create the universe but can’t make flying horses.

If you’ve evidence that Dawkins believes God created the universe but just disbelieves in flying horses because he’s Islamophobic please present it.

Do you want to spell out what those ‘fantastical claims’ are – and why we should prefer theocracy? Honestly, you are putting stoning adultresses and lynching homosexuals on a higher moral and intellectual plane than, say, quantum mechanics?

The suggestion was made that religion is “bad” because religion has inspired a lot of violence. But by that standard, secularism doesn’t look so good either — in fact, it’s record is terrible: industrial scale destruction, war, tyranny, the gulag, death camps…

So your apples to oranges comparison is not valid. When we compare apples to apples, secularists have nothing to be proud of.

118. Shatterface

I was also taught that part of tolerance is engaging with the people who don’t share my beliefs to try to persuade them to change their minds.

Like Hasan did when he characterised non-believers as ‘cattle’?

Shatterface,

“Like Hasan did when he characterised non-believers as ‘cattle’?”

As I said above part of tolerance for me is judging people by their actions not by their thoughts.

I don’t give a fig whether or not Mehdi Hassan believes in the literal or poetic truth of flying horses. I do ,however, care very much about him getting up in a public place and categorising the vast majority of Mankind as “cattle”.

In my view he got away far too lightly from that and has been cut far too much slack by people who should know better. Had Dawkins had a go at him for that then I would have backed him all the way.

It’s the tendancy of Dawkins and some other atheists to insult, belittle and patronise all religious people simply because they hold different opinions about unknowable and unprovabel things that I dislike and disapprove of.

It’s the tendancy of Dawkins and some other atheists to insult, belittle and patronise all religious people simply because they hold different opinions about unknowable and unprovabel things that I dislike and disapprove of.

I agree with that to a degree. But that means that secular people have to shut up a bit so not hurt the feelings of people who believe in completely weird stuff. And allows it to become normalised and uncommented upon. But I really DON’T like it when I see very young girls in ”training hijabs” for example. Their parents put them in them apparently so to get them used to wearing one so it won’t be so strange when they would be forced to wear one anyway when they’re older.

On St George’s day someone had the bright idea of celebrating Morris dancers drinking ale and wearing hijabs as part of our idea of Englishness.

And then what do you say when quite austere, po-faced zealots start throwing their weight around (for example) on the university campus and start making demands? Whether for more space for their group prayers and meetings or complaining about secular activities such as The Secular Society making cartoons mocking the prophets?
http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/102731/row-over-muslim-prayer-space-city-university

Is that the problem with these religious people? That you give them an inch and they take a mile?

What I’d like to know is whether the measles epidemic in South Wales has divine sanction by an intelligent creator?

122. Chaise Guevara

Ah, I see Sunny’s labelling clarifications (often necessary on Twitter, Sunny, there’s this character limit you may not have heard of) as “backpedalling”.

This TOTALLY isn’t a case of deliberately misunderstanding someone because you hate them, no sirree.

I might be talking to myself, but what Dawkins has done is to lift the lid slightly on a Pandora’s Box.
He’s mocking Mehdi Hasan for believing in fantastical stories. Just like all the Muslims I saw walking along the road after friday prayers in Oxford yesterday. Many wearing religious clothing. Men were even wearing ”dresses”.
But we (secularists) are really not meant to notice that and it would be rude to say (or even think) anything derogatory. Even when the news is full of stories about men who look like them wanting to commit acts of terrorism against the wider society.

Muslims are no worse than my own famaly’s tradition of Catholicism – and that’s just embarrassing reading about how they’re going to fast track Pope John Paul into sainthood. People who believe that gobbledygook ARE lesser people IMO, but it’s just not really possible to say it.

I was in ”The Holy Land” in January, and seeing the crowds of touist pilgrims all doing the Christian circuit, one could only pity them a bit. Queuing to get into the Bethlehem church and kiss the spot where Jesus was said to be born for example. Coach loads of them from all over the world. It’s a pathetic sight to see.
But it’s too rude to actually say these things, particularly against non-Christian religious people it seems. It’s OK to laugh at George Bush and Tony Blair, but not Mehdi Hasan.
I’m not sure why though. They are about the same.

124. Chaise Guevara

@ 123 damon

“Just like all the Muslims I saw walking along the road after friday prayers in Oxford yesterday. Many wearing religious clothing. Men were even wearing ”dresses”.”

OMG were people not conforming to the clothing traditions you’re used to???!!!! That must have been horrifying. How did you get through that harrowing experience? I hope this won’t give you PTSD, but I recently saw someone wearing trousers AND IT WAS A WOMAN!

“But we (secularists) are really not meant to notice that and it would be rude to say (or even think) anything derogatory. Even when the news is full of stories about men who look like them wanting to commit acts of terrorism against the wider society.”

It’s ridiculous. You can’t even abuse brown people in the street anymore – even though you know of another brown person who was evil! – without someone calling you an arsehole. What this country really needs is a tradition of blaming people for the actions of people who look like them.

That’ll solve all our problems.

“Muslims are no worse than my own famaly’s tradition of Catholicism – and that’s just embarrassing reading about how they’re going to fast track Pope John Paul into sainthood. People who believe that gobbledygook ARE lesser people IMO, but it’s just not really possible to say it.”

But you just said it! Wow! What superpowers do you possess that allow you to do the impossible?

125. the a&e charge nurse

[124] ‘What this country really needs is a tradition of blaming people for the actions of people who look like them’ – when you heard about the bomb in boston did you wonder if the act might be connected to islamic nutters – if you didn’t I suspect you were in a minority?

The main reason for the bad feelings is not liberalism (although we still have work to do) but members of the same faith – there may be intolerance on both sides but one far outweighs the other.

But you just said it! Wow! What superpowers do you possess that allow you to do the impossible?

What I mean ‘Oh Chaise one’, is that it’s not really polite and the done thing to do that.
I do kind of agree that Dawkins is being a bit of a dick about Mehdi Hasan. But when you think about it for a moment, Hasan is ridiculous for his belief in winged horses and all that stuff. As were the people I saw in Oxford yesterday, and all the hijabed students I see here too. They’re all a bit odd.
That’s what I meant by Pandora’s Box. It’s a dilemma.
Say nothing and let the religious grow in confidence so much that they start to impinge on the rest of society (which they always do) or point the finger and call out ”Ha Ha” like that character in The Simpsons.

Things like Islamic Societies can have an adverse affect on some student campuses where they are strong, and some neighbourhoods might suffer from having too many religious headbangers. When you look at the pictures of the people recently convicted for planning to set off bombs in England, their bushy beards and dress show that the were actually taking the mick as well.
I no longer trust the guys with the ‘Salafist look’. ”They’re either mad or bad” I can’t help thinking when I see them.

As for people’s dress – I remember reading some newspaper stories about Scotland fans when they went out to Argentina for the World Cup in 1978, and locals were mocking them for wearing ”women’s skirts” (kilts). And why not really? It would have looked odd to these Argentines.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the normalisation of wearing islamic dress on the streets of Britain. Maybe on fridays going to mosque, but it’s just not a look that I like particularly. In east Leeds where I was living last year, it made the place look like a bit of a ghetto. But then I didn’t really like the local hoodie look either. Or tatoos on necks and pitbull dogs, so I’m ‘prejudiced’ all round really and not only against one part of the community.

127. Shatterface

It’s the tendancy of Dawkins and some other atheists to insult, belittle and patronise all religious people simply because they hold different opinions about unknowable and unprovabel things that I dislike and disapprove of.

There’s nothing ‘unknowable’ or ‘unprovable’ about flying horses. They don’t exist because they are a physical impossibility – and even if they did exist there’s no physical Heaven to fly you too where you can physically meet Allah and make deels with him about the number of prayers you make per day.

Dawkins gave Hasan ample oportunity to say that he believed the story was metaphorical – but Hasan refused to do so: he insisted that he literally believes in miracles.

You can find the original encounter on YouTube but you can read an excellent summary at Heresy Corner:

http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2013/04/dawkins-and-flying-horse.html?m=1

“Do you believe that Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse? I’ll do you the compliment of assuming that you don’t.”
“No I do. I believe in miracles.”
“You believe that Mohammed went to heaven on a winged horse?”
“I believe in God. I believe in miracles. I believe in revelation.”

See? Dawkins started from the assumption that Hasan wasn’t an idiot but Hasan threw Dawkin’s compliment back in his face.

Hasan takes his faith literally, and that, combined with his ‘cattle’ outburst, makes him a fundamentalist.

128. Charlieman

@126. damon: “But then I didn’t really like the local hoodie look either. Or tatoos on necks and pitbull dogs…”

Tattooing dogs is immoral, full stop. ;-)

If Mehdi Hasan believes in winged horses, it is largely his business; it becomes our business if he edited news reports in support of his belief, of which no evidence has been reported.

There are other complicated cases of misplaced faith. Eric Hobsbawm was a member of the CPGB who never apologised for Stalinism. Hobsbawm was respected for his historical analysis by right wingers because, as a Marxist, Hobsbawm studied and reported the facts. He could not make stuff up because he knew that history would prove him wrong. He has been accused of missing things out, of course.

But as a politician, Hobsbawm got little right over eighty years of activism — which should include the side track of New Labour that he helped to create.

Dawkins’ attack on Hasan is childish because it is about an ill founded belief of Dawkins. Dawkins provided no example that Hasan has written a news story that depends on winged horses. The self announced rationalist, Dawkins, is irrational because he projects religious faith on secular acts of others.

129. Charlieman

A previous discussion about Mehdi Hasan on LC:
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/07/27/an-attempt-to-smear-mehdi-hasan-from-new-statesman/

@Sunny Hundal: This is a bit like Pickled Politics, innit?

130. Richard Carey

@111 “the Thirty Years War in Europe 1618-48, when sovereign states invaded neighbouring states so as to install the correct brand of Christianity among the residents to save them from eternal damnation.”

I think you’ll find that the main antagonists, especially in the latter part of the war, were France (catholic) versus the Habsburgs (also catholic).

Shatterface,
I used “unknowable and unprovable” for a reason. The same reason why I classify myself as an agnostic and not an atheist even though I’m not a believer.
My position on religion is this. There are two possible scenarios. Either God exists or he doesn’t. As there is no proof that God doesn’t exist and, since absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence, it’s possible that he does either position might be true.
Since God’s existence, or lack of it, is not something which humans can hope to prove or disprove, at least for the foreseeable future, it logically follows that neither belief in God or non-belief are rational or factual – both are just untestable opinions.
I don’t know about you but I am not going to attack somebody’s character or cast doubt on their sanity just because they hold an opinion with which I disagree.
For me there’s something of the big ender/little ender debate of Gulliver’s Travels in some of the debate between believers and atheists. A load of sound and fury about something which pragmatically is of little importance – at least in the UK. Most believers and non-believers I know share pretty much the same human and moral values and few have the characteristics that the more extreme of their opponents say they should. I don’t know many godless atheists who are totally immoral or many theocrats convinced they know the “Truth” and happy to burn people at the stake for their own good.
Perhaps if people on both sides concentrated more on looking at those things we have in common and less in being critical about the ones we don’t then everybody might benefit. There would certainly be a lot less ink spilt, unnecessary keystrokes or wasted air in futile debates that only seem to harden rather than change minds.

132. Shatterface

If Mehdi Hasan believes in winged horses, it is largely his business; it becomes our business if he edited news reports in support of his belief, of which no evidence has been reported.

If you follow the story from the beginning you’ll see it began with Hasan trying to discredit Dawkins on Al Jazeera and Dawkins turning the tables on him. This was Hasan losing his shit when Dawkins put the onus on him to justify his beliefs rather than expect Dawkins to justify his non-belief.

But for some reason Sunny wants to make it look like Evil Atheists attacking Muslims.

133. Shatterface

My position on religion is this. There are two possible scenarios. Either God exists or he doesn’t.

No, there are about 2,000 different gods people believe in, and atheism, where we don’t believe in any god at all.

So its not just God on one side and atheism on the other, its faith in one god vs. faith in 1,999 other gods plus faith in none at all.

As there is no proof that God doesn’t exist and, since absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence, it’s possible that he does either position might be true.

Do you apply the same reasoning to fairies, yeti and the Loch Ness Monster?

Since God’s existence, or lack of it, is not something which humans can hope to prove or disprove, at least for the foreseeable future, it logically follows that neither belief in God or non-belief are rational or factual – both are just untestable opinions.

That’s an interesting but unusual use of the word ‘logical’

I don’t know about you but I am not going to attack somebody’s character or cast doubt on their sanity just because they hold an opinion with which I disagree.

The fuck you won’t. If someone claims to be a reincarnation of the Emperor Naploeon and he wants your seat on the bus you are going to give it up for him?

134. Shatterface

There are other complicated cases of misplaced faith. Eric Hobsbawm was a member of the CPGB who never apologised for Stalinism. Hobsbawm was respected for his historical analysis by right wingers because, as a Marxist, Hobsbawm studied and reported the facts. He could not make stuff up because he knew that history would prove him wrong. He has been accused of missing things out, of course.

Not a good example because if Hobsbawm’s faith in Stalin lead him to ‘miss things out’ – inconvenient details like genocide – then Hasan’s faith might lead him to ‘leave things out’ too.

Hasan’s not just a Muslim, he’s a fundamentalist with a track record of dehumanising non-Muslims.

135. Dissident

@ Shatterface

Well said, all your posts. Why are “religious” people sooooo touchy. Is it their delusion that something they were indoctrinated into when they were weak? Most people become religious through childhood indoctrination – the rest through serious trauma in adulthood.

Shatterface@133
“Do you apply the same reasoning to fairies, yeti and the Loch Ness Monster?”
Actually I apply the same reasoning process to everything. I believe it’s called taking an open mind until conclusive evidence it available.
On the one hand people had attested to the existence of all three for centuries and (with the exception of Nessie) across large areas. On that basis it would not seem unreasonable to think they existed. However, I’m also aware that they have all been thoroughly investigated and no hard evidence has been found. As such, taking everything into account, I would say that I don’t think any of those three exist.
However, as far as I’m aware, there haven’t been any similar scientific investigations which have disproved the existence of God. Unless there are then I don’t think it’s necessarily unreasonable or irrational for people to believe in him.
“That’s an interesting but unusual use of the word ‘logical’”
Perhaps but I couldn’t help noticing you didn’t actually manage to get around to refuting the reasoning. If you want to try to persuade me I’m wrong you might want to try using rational arguments rather than sarcasm.
“The fuck you won’t. If someone claims to be a reincarnation of the Emperor Napoleon and he wants your seat on the bus you are going to give it up for him?”
I might depending on the circumstance. Having said that, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make.
I was talking about not attacking people simply because they hold opinions that I don’t share. The person in your example is going far beyond that. As I’ve posted before I have no problem with people being criticised or opposed for trying to impose their opinions on others. I really can’t understand why you seem to think we’re at odds on that.

Shatterface@133
“Do you apply the same reasoning to fairies, yeti and the Loch Ness Monster?”
Actually I apply the same reasoning process to everything. I believe it’s called keeping an open mind until conclusive evidence is available.
On the one hand people had attested to the existence of all three for centuries and (with the exception of Nessie) across large areas. On that basis it would not seem unreasonable to think they existed. However, they have all been thoroughly investigated and no hard evidence has been found. As such, taking everything into account, I would say that I don’t think any of those three exist.
However, as far as I’m aware, there haven’t been any similar scientific investigations which have disproved the existence of God. Unless there are then I don’t think it’s necessarily unreasonable or irrational for people to believe in him.
“That’s an interesting but unusual use of the word ‘logical’”
Perhaps but I couldn’t help noticing you didn’t actually manage to get around to refuting the reasoning. If you want to try to persuade me I’m wrong you might want to try using rational arguments rather than sarcasm.
“The fuck you won’t. If someone claims to be a reincarnation of the Emperor Napoleon and he wants your seat on the bus you are going to give it up for him?”
Depending on the circumstance I might. Having said that, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make.
I was talking about not attacking people simply because they hold opinions that I don’t share. The person in your example is going far beyond that. As I’ve posted before I have no problem with people being criticised or opposed for trying to impose their opinions on others. I really can’t understand why you seem to think we’re at odds on that.

Shatterface@133
“Do you apply the same reasoning to fairies, yeti and the Loch Ness Monster?”
Actually I apply the same reasoning process to everything. I believe it’s called keeping an open mind until conclusive evidence is available.
On the one hand people had attested to the existence of all three for centuries and (with the exception of Nessie) across large areas. On that basis it would not seem unreasonable to think they existed. However, they have all been thoroughly investigated and no hard evidence has been found. As such, taking everything into account, I would say that I don’t think any of those three exist.
However, as far as I’m aware, there haven’t been any similar scientific investigations which have disproved the existence of God. Unless there are then I don’t think it’s necessarily unreasonable or irrational for people to believe in him.
“That’s an interesting but unusual use of the word ‘logical’”
Perhaps but I couldn’t help noticing you didn’t actually manage to get around to refuting the reasoning. If you want to try to persuade me I’m wrong you might want to try using rational arguments rather than sarcasm.
“The fuck you won’t. If someone claims to be a reincarnation of the Emperor Napoleon and he wants your seat on the bus you are going to give it up for him?”
I might depending on the circumstance. Having said that, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make.
I was talking about not attacking people simply because they hold opinions that I don’t share. The person in your example is going far beyond that. As I’ve posted before I have no problem with people being criticised or opposed for trying to impose their opinions on others. I really can’t understand why you seem to think we’re at odds on that.

139. Dissident

Typo shock – my first comment on this. It should read “is it their delusion? Most people are indoctrinated in times of weakness – whether that weakness is childhood, or after adulthood trauma”

Apologies for multiple postings. For some reason the first two posts didn’t show up after I posted then

141. Dissident

@dmra
Yes multiple postings happen! As far as your comment is concerned, have you ever heard of a mathematician called Godel? “If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent from within itself, then it is inconsistent.”

His mathematical hypotheses did result in some people asking whether he proved the lack of the existence of god.

That isn’t the problem however. It is a matter of faith, and “faith” has all to frequently been used to justify actions that directly contradict the self proclaimed morality of all the worlds religions – and ideologies, which is where you should be looking when religion crops up.

Religion is ideology – at times even idolatry. None of the words religions escape that assessment.

142. Richard Carey

@ 141 Dissident,

do you mean this Gödel?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof

Newsflash, Shatterface: Religious believers don’t think that the physical universe exhausts the whole of reality.

There’s nothing about miracles that is shocking from the point of view of religious belief. There’s no “reasonable” level of religious belief that includes belief in God but restricts God’s actions to those things that can be proven “scientifically”.

Essentially, what you object to is that people believe in God. People who believe in God cannot be rational — instead they’re fundamentalists, regardless of how reasonable their actual beliefs
are or aren’t.

What can we say about this dismissal of the beliefs of the majority of human kind? It is at least pleasingly ironic. The Ancient Greeks thought that only the Gods and the Sages were truly wise. Philosophers, as lovers of wisdom could not be /truly/ wise — love being the desire for that which one lacks. Not being wise, they must be ignorant and senseless.

Now, wisdom is absolute. Either one is wise or one is not. But ignorance admits degrees of variation. The philosopher — think of the the figure of Socrates — is one who, knowing he is ignorant, wants to be wise. The truly ignorant, being ignorant, think that they are wise
already.

144. Dissident

So vimothy, what you are saying is we should accept without questioning the fact that a winged horse transported someone. Next you’ll be saying that x number of Angels dance on a pin…

145. Chaise Guevara

@ 124 a&e

“when you heard about the bomb in boston did you wonder if the act might be connected to islamic nutters – if you didn’t I suspect you were in a minority?”

Course I did. There’s a far cry between that, and blaming everyone who’s a Muslim or looks a bit like one and saying we should abuse them all in the street.

@ 125 damon

“What I mean ‘Oh Chaise one’, is that it’s not really polite and the done thing to do that.”

Indeed. Most people frown on bigots who go around throwing insults at strangers. Could you explain why that’s a bad thing?

Also, I’m guessing “Oh Chaise one” is meant to be some kind of dig, but it’s over my head.

146. the a&e charge nurse

[145] ‘There’s a far cry between that, and blaming everyone who’s a Muslim or looks a bit like one and saying we should abuse them all in the street’ – maybe we are cross purposes here, Chaise?

For the record, even though I agree with Hitch’s axiom, ‘religion poisons everything’ I think people should be entitled to follow their faith free from secular harassment.

At the same time secularists should have equal freedom to point out that certain groups are drinking from the same poisoned well while using their doctrine to rationalize all manner of violence, from burying homosexuals alive to blowing up crowds at a sporting event.

It goes without saying that followers of islam (since we are discussing Hasan) interpret their book in any way they see fit, often to justify their own particular agenda.
But what do you expect when an illiterate was entrusted with gods purpose and it took another hundred years before the first version of the quran was knocked out, a book that can only be understood in arabic.
Presumably the arab world must have been feeling a bit left out after god already had a quiet word with the christians and jews before finally pitching up in the desert?
At any rate the sunni and shia were at each others throats then, and have been ever since.

Still if people want to believe such stuff, then that is a matter for them, presumably the emotional need for a device like religion must go deeper than intellect?

147. Chaise Guevara

@ 146 a&e

I agree with pretty much everything you said there. And incidentally, the bit about “the Arab world feeling left out” is, as I understand it, the reason Islam was created in the first place. Monotheism was doing really well, and Mohammed wanted in.

But this thread is not called Why Religion Sucks. I’m explaining to Damon that screaming abuse at random brown people in the street is not, in fact, the best way to react to 9/11. If you agree with me on that, we don’t need a sidebar on the irrational and damaging nature of religion. If you disagree, I guess we’re gonna have an argument.

Chaise Guevara @, I certainly think it would be terrible to throw insults at strangers in the street.
I said what Dawkins does though lifts the lid a bit on a Pandora’s Box of difficulty. There are ”religious nutters” walking around in public wearing clothes that mark them out as such. Nuns and priests included.
You could take that view if you were very strong in your atheism – like Dawkinns. It’s a logical follow-on from his line of logic.

But our modern multi-cultral idea is that no one is meant to really notice or especially comment on this.
So we get to the situation where you get a practicing Muslim rising to the very hights of the Metopolitan police like Tarique Ghaffur – who then complained of racism and Islamophobia amongst his fellow top officers – and who took out a discrimination case agaist them. He said he was made to feel like an outsider and that his ”face didn’t fit”. Even though he’d made it to the number three position the Met police.

So now the problem wasn’t that he had been discriminated in the Met police and stopped from rising within it, but he felt like other (non muslim officers) thought he was not ”one of them” so to speak. And why should they if he was a practicing Muslim – and never drank and observed Ramadam, whose wife wore a hijab or whatever? He was mostly accepted as a fellow officer, but not 100% IN HIS OPINION.

That’s what you can end up with. People resenting the fact that you don’t RESPECT their religion, because it’s such an important part of who they are.

As for having a dig at you, no really CG, you are usually quite fair and astute … but you do come across as a bit ”chaste” sometimes.
Chaise the chaste.
You said you’d never looked at the Harry’s Place website for example.
I don’t particularly like them, but they do raise some important issues (about this kind of thing).

149. Shatterface

dmra:

Actually I apply the same reasoning process to everything

Then you are an idiot.

vimothy:

There’s nothing about miracles that is shocking from the point of view of religious belief. There’s no “reasonable” level of religious belief that includes belief in God but restricts God’s actions to those things that can be proven “scientifically”.

Essentially, what you object to is that people believe in God. People who believe in God cannot be rational — instead they’re fundamentalists, regardless of how reasonable their actual beliefs
are or aren’t.

You’ve just admitted that people who believe in God are free to discount the laws of physics when the feel like – so why would I want to engage with someoneone who can discount evolution because it contradicts his brlief no matter what evidence I supply? Why discuss climate change with someone who thinks it is God’s wrath at gay marriage or that if things get really bad God will simply snap him up to Heaven?

No, Dissendent, what I am saying is this:

All religion depends upon revelation. All revelation is supernatural. If you wish to be a hard rock empiricist, then you should not entertain any religious doctrine whatsoever.

–Harold Bloom

151. Chaise Guevara

@ 148 Damon

“There are ”religious nutters” walking around in public wearing clothes that mark them out as such. Nuns and priests included.
You could take that view if you were very strong in your atheism – like Dawkinns. It’s a logical follow-on from his line of logic.”

To be honest, presupposing you’re an atheist, what determines when religious people fall into your “nutter” category is where you set the boundaries for insanity. If you think any irrational thinking makes one insane, then religious people are crazy… but so is absolutely everyone else.

“But our modern multi-cultral idea is that no one is meant to really notice or especially comment on this.”

I’m always suspicious of the word “meant” in sentences like this. What does it mean? Which agent is doing the meaning? C.f “allowed”.

Generally it indicates that the claim being made is either completely untrue (“you’re not meant to say blackboard”) or massively exaggerated, as I believe yours is.

“That’s what you can end up with. People resenting the fact that you don’t RESPECT their religion, because it’s such an important part of who they are.”

I can’t comment on that particular case, due to ignorance, but I certainly accept that such people exist. That’s the cause of your campus Muslims demanding special treatment for Islamic activities, and of the Daily Mail doing its nut every time it sees a non-Christian looking celebratory (or failing to look celebratory) during December.

So if we didn’t have a religiously tolerant society, this wouldn’t happen as often. Because Christians would have everything their way, and if anyone else piped up they’d be persecuted the hell out of. This isn’t a good thing.

So if you’re commenting on and lamenting the tendency of some people to throw a wobbler when they see their religion being “disrespected”, then I agree with you. If, however, your subtext is “and therefore a tolerant society isn’t worth the price” (and that’s what I’m hearing), then I decidedly don’t.

“Chaise the chaste.”

Not quite the word I’d use. I admit to being one of LC’s preachier regulars, but “Chaise the preachy” doesn’t alliterate/rhyme/whatever.

152. Charlieman

@132. Shatterface: “If you follow the story from the beginning you’ll see it began with Hasan trying to discredit Dawkins on Al Jazeera and Dawkins turning the tables on him.”

I can’t say I’ve been following it intently. But this spat has been going on for four months. This is what Hasan said about it before Christmas 2012: http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2012/12/god-best-answer-why-there-something-rather-nothing

And in April 2013, Dawkins pops up saying exactly the same as before in the hope of getting a bigger reaction second time around.

@134. Shatterface: “Not a good example because if Hobsbawm’s faith in Stalin lead him to ‘miss things out’ – inconvenient details like genocide – then Hasan’s faith might lead him to ‘leave things out’ too.”

There is no such thing as a ‘pure’ historian or journalist or scientist because all have blind spots. That’s why we have processes such as peer review or editing. Hobsbawm is a great historian if you want to study 19th century capitalism; as you say, you read somebody else to learn about the USSR.

“Hasan’s not just a Muslim, he’s a fundamentalist with a track record of dehumanising non-Muslims.”

I thought the jury was still out on that. Hasan is certainly guilty of being an arsehole when talking about his faith but everything else is debatable.

Shatterface,
“Actually I apply the same reasoning process to everything.
Then you are an idiot.”
Well thank you for proving the point I made earlier about the intolerance of some atheists.
Thank you also for demonstrating that you either can’t understand or aren’t listening to the arguments being put forward by the people who don’t agree with you.
The reasoning process I described is essentially a rationalist one. Have another look at what I said. Before coming to a conclusion on a subject I look at all the available evidence and then decide what I think about it. Hardly a controversial way of thinking at least not since the 18th Century.
You on the other hand reject that and declare that looking at the evidence for something before reaching a conclusion is idiotic. Oh well so much for the lessons of the Enlightenment.

154. Charlieman

@damon and @Chaise Guevara

Please may I gently collide your heads. You are two non-party political contributors on LC and your free thinking makes this a good place to debate. So please cut out the sniping.

Incidentally, I tried the word “Chaise” in a rhyming dictionary online and it suggested “verb phrase”, a perverse incident of recursion.

155. Chaise Guevara

@ 154 Charlieman

“Incidentally, I tried the word “Chaise” in a rhyming dictionary online and it suggested “verb phrase”, a perverse incident of recursion.”

OK, that was pretty good.

To be fair, we’ve dialed the sniping way back in the last couple of posts (and to be REALLY fair, 90% of the sniping was on my end, not Damon’s).

“a pathetically confused bigot”
Would you think this applies to one of those muslim preachers who may now say anything, anywhere, anyhow? Nope, it is used on a “liberal” blog about an atheist!
Islamophilia (episode 2580)

157. Chaise Guevara

@ 156

“Would you think this applies to one of those muslim preachers who may now say anything, anywhere, anyhow? Nope, it is used on a “liberal” blog about an atheist!
Islamophilia (episode 2580)”

Traditionally, when one asks a question, one waits for an answer.

Also, criticising an atheist makes you an Islamophile? Pretty weird definitions you’re using there.

158. simon apsey

How could anyone not believe in Winged Horses?? I mean come on Mr Dawkins how else are 72 virgins going to be whisked off to Paradise for the pleasure of our Jihad brotherhood.Surely you cant believe that the virgins will be forced to travel the “flying pig economy class”.

159. Shinsei1967

@Simon Aspey

Although I realise the 72 virgins is a mistranslation from “”72 white grapes” I was always concerned that for an eternity in Paradise 72 virgins, or white grapes, wasn’t going to be nearly enough.

Isn’t this the sort of question theologians should be debating ?


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