In a way, I feel sorry for strict biblical literalists. They have chosen to follow rules laid down by men who had very little understanding of what the universe is really like. It’s their choice but it’s an unfortunate one and they’ve made themselves intellectually and culturally poorer by it.
I will never perform a Cat Stevens song. First, converting to Islam? That’s just stupid and that’s bad enough. But then he endorsed the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Think about that. He agreed that a man should die because he wrote a book. A book! There is no excuse, there is no justification. Such a man has no morality. Fuck him.
It seems to me that there is in these terrorist attacks a kind of sick collectivism in which the perpetrators hold whole nations, races, or religions responsible for wrongs (real or imagined) committed in the past or present by a government or some other supposed representative of the larger group.
In the audio post linked above, Sam Harris addresses the accusation that he and other ”new atheists” are somehow responsible for the Chapel Hill murders. He points out some of the same things that I have but perhaps more eloquently. There is nothing inherent in atheism that should lead anyone to commit such atrocities. There are no atheist “holy books” at all and nothing in the works of any well-known “new atheist” thinkers that should reasonably be seen as promoting murder. Atheism differs significantly from the major monotheistic religions in that respect.
Headline: Prominent Muslim cleric urges imams to vet new Islamic converts
From the article:
“I’m not sure who helped them to convert to Islam. Who was the imam? What kind of relationship did those people have with those people who converted them to Islam? Those very important questions need to be answered,” said Soharwardy.
“They should take on the responsibility of checking backgrounds and staying in touch and make sure this person is not being recruited by any radical organization or terrorist organizations.”
Soharwardy estimates 20 to 30 Canadians convert to Islam every week. He said it is the responsibility of clerics to make sure the converts are doing it for the right reasons.
That there are still significant audiences for those who promote obvious nonsense – from creationists like Ken Ham and Ray Comfort to anti-vaccination lunatics like Jenny McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or proponents of crazy political notions (take your pick) – is testament to the fact that the human brain is a product of evolution and that evolution does not necessarily produce optimal solutions. That, is the human brain has significant weaknesses.
Scientific methods of investigation have been specifically designed to compensate for the shortcomings of our brains but they are not able to compensate for the fact that some people choose to trust bullshit more than they trust science.
It comes down to values: reason or faith? Pick one.
I often see my fellow atheists saying or implying that Christian apologists are all necessarily morons, idiots, etc.. No. That’s stupid. People like Michael Behe, William Lane Craig – and, yes, even Ken Ham – are obviously very intelligent human beings. The mistake you’re making is that you think it’s about intelligence. It’s not. It’s about values. A fairly dim-witted person can understand that religious claims are without rational basis and a very intelligent person can choose to ignore that fact. Some people value reason and evidence above tradition, comfort, and dogma. Some don’t.
Some years ago, I had a debate via email with someone regarding the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. I seem to recall that he was a Christian chaplain in the U.S. military with the last name of Huger. I only remember the name because that is also the surname of the fellow who wrote this charming piece: jhuger.com/kissing-hanks-ass
I pointed out that the evidence for Jesus having existed at all was not of high quality – eg. the complete lack of contemporaneous accounts and the fact that the purported eye witness accounts are anonymous and were written decades after the events in question were supposed to have occurred and, even if one were to accept them as eye witness accounts, eye witness accounts are one of the least reliable forms of evidence.
The fact is that the various authors of the Bible could have simply stated that it is wrong for one human being to claim another human being as property. They didn’t. They were products of their culture and time, as are their writings. If they were truly inspired by a god and if that god truly wanted people to think that slavery was wrong, he could have inspired them to say so. However, what we have is exactly what would one should expect of purely human books written by humans who were of that time and of that culture, nothing more.
Now, it’s true that some parts of the New Testament are somewhat progressive (eg. Galations 3:28) but those passages are counter-balanced by others that prescribe an inferior place for women and which instruct slave owners on how to treat their slaves rather than telling them outright that owning people is wrong.
Tired of winter? So is Muhammad and, naturally, he’s got just what it takes to deal with the problem!