Why the New Atheism Isn’t Islamophobic

Kaaba

In the past few weeks, there's been a barrage of attacks on the so-called New Atheists, accusing them of inciting bigotry against Muslims or of fostering irrational hatred for Islam. This charge has been laid by Murtaza Hussein on Al Jazeera, Nathan Lean on Salon, and Glenn Greenwald on The Guardian, among others.Now, it's true that some high-profile New Atheists have made serious missteps when speaking about Islam. But it's equally true that New Atheism is a freewheeling, disputatious, … [Read more...]

Weekend Presents: December 23

XmasTree

It's two more days before you can open the gifts under the tree, but I have some early presents:• Now hear this: I'm on the New Books in Secularism podcast, discussing my book Daylight Atheism.• Big news out of the Philippines: The legislature has finally passed a national Reproductive Health Bill, defying fierce objections by the Roman Catholic church. The bill, which had been stalled for years by church pressure, would create government-run health clinics to dispense contraception in th … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: October 21

Coffee

Some links from the last week: • As you may have heard, my good friend and awesome secular activist Greta Christina was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. It's fully treatable, but she needed some help to cover her living expenses while she recovers, and the atheist community came through in spades, meeting and exceeding what she had hoped to raise in barely 24 hours. • Dinesh D'Souza, the well-known Christian apologist, showed up at a conference last week with a much younger woman … [Read more...]

The Age of Mockery

Although the initial riots and flare-ups of violence over the "Innocence of Muslims" video were over a month ago, the global battle over blasphemy laws is still raging. In London this week, thousands of Muslim marchers assembled outside Google's U.K. headquarters to demand the banning of ideas that offend them:Organiser Masoud Alam said: "Our next protest will be at the offices of Google and YouTube across the world. We are looking to ban this film. "This is not freedom of expression, there … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: October 7

Coffee

Some links gathered over the week for you to peruse: • Ed Miliband, the leader of the UK's opposition Labour party, is a nonbeliever. He says he doesn't hold religious faith, but rather a faith in human progress. This column by Fraser Nelson admits that this may be a smart move in increasingly secular Britain, which is no longer a Christian country "but... still a country of compassion and principles". • A UK judge rules that parents have "no sacred right" over the education of their … [Read more...]

How Do You Start an Islamic Reformation?

Since my post on the U.S. embassy riots had so many good comments, I thought I'd write a sequel and continue the discussion. I'd like to offer some further thoughts about Ayaan Hirsi Ali's article in Newsweek, on the mindset of "Muslim rage" and what this violence means for the future of Islamic and Western civilization. In general, I agreed with the article (its awful, lazily prejudiced title aside [would anyone ever write about "Christian rage"?]), although there are some points where I think … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Embassy Attacks

As you've no doubt already heard, American embassies throughout the Middle East have been attacked by violent mobs in the last few days, ostensibly due to outrage over a YouTube video called "Innocence of Muslims" that lampoons the Prophet Mohammed as a blundering, deceitful fraud. At least one of the attacks, on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was apparently an organized assault by Islamic militants who wanted it to seem like a spontaneous mob action. But the violence has been too … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 12

Coffee

There's a lot of news this week: • Two examples of humanism in action: Charles Feeney, a billionaire philanthropist, plans to give away all his remaining money within a few years, and a new nonprofit helps to crowdfund DNA sequencing for children with rare genetic diseases. • Since we still have a lot of work left to do on this problem, here are two very good articles on sexual harassment: An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping by John Scalzi, and a post on what "creepiness" means from … [Read more...]

Complicated Thoughts on Citizens United

At Netroots Nation last week, I attended a panel on Citizens United, the infamous case in which the Supreme Court tossed aside decades of campaign finance laws and ruled that corporations had the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. This gives them an incalculably greater amount of power than before, and not just because corporations can spend in total secrecy, without disclosing the amounts or even the fact of their involvement to the public or even to their own … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: June 3

There are a couple of stories from this past week that I wanted to mention: • A three-judge panel on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, two of whom are Republican appointees, have struck down part of DOMA, ruling that it violates the Constitution for the federal government to deny benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their home state. • You may remember a notorious net kook named Dennis Markuze, who engaged in a longstanding campaign of harassment and threats against … [Read more...]


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