Convention Day 2: Brief Update

Bomb sniffing dog.

White men dancing to rap music.

One speaker’s suggestion that there should be a special fast-track line for atheists at airports. Because, really, are there ever atheist suicide bombers?

Details (and more!) to come later.

Good night!

  • Mriana

    Why was there a bomb sniffing dog? White men dancing to rap music? Now that has to be a halarious site. What were they doing? The male version of the “White Girl”? :lol:

    Nope! Never met an atheist suicide bomber yet. Contrary to popular opinion, I think non-theists are more civilized. (Oh I’m going to hear about that one :roll: )

    BTW, why do you keep handing us bones concerning this convention? I maybe a vegetarian, but I still like something to sink my teeth into. :lol:

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Because, really, are there ever atheist suicide bombers?

    IIRC, the Tamil Tigers, who pioneered modern suicide bomber tactics, e.g. the suicide bomb belt, were secular.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/06/30/schuster.column/index.html

  • Mriana

    Oh great! You just blew my misconception. :(

  • JohntheChristian

    haha, and its not even a religion vs. Atheism thing.

    How Many christian bombers? How many Buddhist bombers? Ever hear of any Jains blowing the hell out of an airplane….? Have we ever had a taoist poison our mail lol?

    Its…. certain ….. specific…..other….religions we should be nervous about.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    JohntheChristian: “How Many christian bombers? How many Buddhist bombers?”

    Robert Pape mentions that there were three Christians in the ranks of the suicide bombers in Lebanon in the 1980s:

    http://www.amconmag.com/2005_07_18/article.html

  • Winthrop J. Quiggy

    Realistically, wouldn’t you think that any potential suicide bombers would claim to be “atheist” with the intention of circumventing the gauntlet of security? Honesty does not seem to be a major driving factor among those inclined to these things.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    I was gonna say the same thing as John — how bout that but alas… looks like all of us are stupid sinners atheists, Buddhists Christians, Hindus Muslims,etc. all of us need help don’t we?

  • Aj

    The Tamil Tigers are not secular, people hold them up as examples to support the claim that religion has nothing to do with acts of terrorism. The argument is made about nearly all, perhaps every, other terrorist organisation, including Islamic ones. Whenever this argument is sold they only name terrorist organisations people don’t know much about (like the LTTE), for good reason, trying to persuade someone Hezbollah has nothing to do with religion has got to be a hard sell.

    For these people, whenever a terrorist uses religious language, speaks about religious ideas, he’s speaking “rhetoric”, whenever the conflict is pretty much sliced down religious/ethnic lines, it’s “nationalism”, that apparantly has nothing to do with religion. As Sam Harris says, we think that religion is a big motivation because they constantly talk as if it is.

    Just because some religions do not lead to violence doesn’t mean it isn’t religion that is a problem. Although, for the record, Christianity is not an example of a religion that doesn’t lead to terrorism. There probably has been atheist suicide bombers, however, it was not an expression of atheism, rationalism, humanism, or naturalism. I think there’s a strong case for the role of religion in violence of this nature.

  • Karen

    Bomb sniffing dog.

    Looks like they have the security really ramped up. I watched Christopher Hitchens and caught part of Ayaan Hirsi Ali yesterday and I noticed at the end there was mention of “bodyguards” and a quick exit out the kitchen! Given their unpopular views (unpopular with some segments of society anyway) I’m not surprised.

    White men dancing to rap music.

    Ouch. That’s usually not good. Visions of Karl Rove float queasily into mind …
    ;-)

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Aj: “The Tamil Tigers are not secular …”

    And your evidence for this is? Last time I checked, the Tigers were Marxist.

  • Joe Blow

    The Uni bomber was an Atheist

  • Aj

    From the article you posted:

    This is a Marxist group, a completely secular group that draws from the Hindu families of the Tamil regions of the country.

    In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community. That is true not only in places such as Lebanon and in Iraq today but also in Sri Lanka, where it is the Sinhala Buddhists who are having a dispute with the Hindu Tamils.

    The organisation may be secular, some of the people in the organisation may be secular, the members and supporters, I don’t think so. Therefore, the “Tamil Tigers” are as non-religious as the IRA. Is the Pope a Catholic? It seems to me like saying that when somewhere in the US bans an abortion practice, because it’s supposed to be a secular entity, and there are possible secular motives, that we should disregard the involvement of religion.

    Even if it’s in a general sense, how many religions have a concept of reincarnation or heaven? If people really believe what they say they believe about an afterlife, then surely that’s going to effect their actions, and views on suicide bombing.

  • monkeymind

    Aj, you’d certainly have to a lot of semantic juggling with the historical record to conclude that there have never been any secular/atheist terrorist organizations. From Narodnaya Volya to the Baader-Meinhoff group, the SLA and the Weathermen, there are lots of examples of suicidal terrorists whose motivations have been non-religious ideology or nationalism. By your definition -any terrorist group that claims religious motivation/justification is a religious terrorist group, which seems reasonable- the Tamil Tigers are not religious terrorists. Of course, neither are the IRA or even the PLO in its early days.

  • Aj

    It would seem that you have dropped the ball on the semantic side.

    Aj, you’d certainly have to a lot of semantic juggling with the historical record to conclude that there have never been any secular/atheist terrorist organizations.

    I did not state that.

    here are lots of examples of suicidal terrorists whose motivations have been non-religious ideology or nationalism.

    I did not deny that.

    the Tamil Tigers are not religious terrorists. Of course, neither are the IRA or even the PLO in its early days.

    I disagree, if you are stating that their members and supporters are not religious, that’s absurd.

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    How does one prove they are an atheist?

  • E favorite

    “How does one prove they are an atheist?”

    By defiling a rack of sacred books lined up at airport security. If you’re willing to do that, you must be an atheist.

    It was a joke, by Matthew Chapman, great-great grandson of Darwin. (I was there too). It got a good laugh

  • Richard Wade

    How does one prove they are an atheist?

    They just show their membership card.

    How does one prove they are a theist?

  • Richard Wade

    Perhaps the convention should employ theist-sniffing dogs.

  • http://www.hitchenszone.com Hitchens Zone

    How was Christopher HItchens’ speech? Maybe someone will put it up on YouTube soon for those who could not attend.

  • Mriana

    :lol: That’s funny, Richard, but if they are nice curious people? Not all theists are bad, you know.

    Does a card carrying Humanist count? I have it right here. :D

  • monkeymind

    Sorry Aj I read this:

    The Tamil Tigers are not secular, people hold them up as examples to support the claim that religion has nothing to do with acts of terrorism. The argument is made about nearly all, perhaps every, other terrorist organisation, including Islamic ones.

    as implying that you thought all terrorists were religious.

    In fact you said that “There probably has [sic] been atheist suicide bombers, however, it was not an expression of atheism, rationalism, humanism, or naturalism.”
    OK, but I think you could argue that Baader-Meinhof and other Marxist-oriented terrorist groups felt that they were acting rationally in accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism.
    Yet apparently you also think that when a group’s stated goals have nothing to do with religion, and they use no religious justifications for their actions, they are religious if any of their members and supporters are religious. Huh? Something about that does not compute for me. Anyway, the remark quoted in the post, that atheists should be allowed to skip the security check at the airport, is just plain dumb. The world doesn’t divide that evenly between good/evil, theist/atheist and it’s simplisitic and dangerous to think so. It makes as little sense to argue that terrorist groups that use religious rhetoric aren’t really motivated by religion, as it does to say that all sectarian conflicts are purely religious and have nothing to do with ethnicity, economic inequities, and the post-colonial legacy. It’s interesting that a number of people, such as Scott Atran and Robert Pape, who have actually studied suicide bombers using empirical methodology, strongly disagree with Sam Harris’ conclusions about their motivations.

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com globalizati

    White men dancing to rap music.

    Woah, so Karl Rove came out as an atheist at the conference?

  • Richard Wade

    Hi E Favorite! Good to see (read) you again!

  • Aj

    as implying that you thought all terrorists were religious.

    No, clearly not, but you’ll run with it anyway.

    OK, but I think you could argue that Baader-Meinhof and other Marxist-oriented terrorist groups felt that they were acting rationally in accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism.

    That’s not a argument for whether materialism or rationalism were being expressed.

    Yet apparently you also think that when a group’s stated goals have nothing to do with religion, and they use no religious justifications for their actions, they are religious if any of their members and supporters are religious.

    No, I do not think that. You cannot say they are secular. I am not sure you can say that no Tamil Tiger has ever used religious justification. You cannot separate a group from its members.

    as it does to say that all sectarian conflicts are purely religious and have nothing to do with ethnicity, economic inequities, and the post-colonial legacy.

    Good job I didn’t. If your argument is going to consist of misrepresenting what I posted or arguing against someone else’s points, I don’t think it’s worth replying to you. You’re making it out to be all-or-nothing, groups have to be religious or non-religious.

  • monkeymind

    Hi Aj, sounds like we agree that the roots of terrorism are complex and multi-faceted. Great! :-)

    When Baader-Meinhoff or another leftist terrorist group claims their justifications are based on a reasonable, logical assessment of political reality, we can agree they are in actuality completely bonkers. When a Palestinian kid straps on a suicide belt and claims hes about to kill and die for Allah, we can agree that his dim prospects for anything like a normal life probably also have something to do with his decision.

    BTW, everything in my last post after I quoted the remark about the fast-track security check for atheists, wasnt directed at you but the type of thinking that would come up with that remark. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    I would quibble with you about the definition of secular, however. You say a group cannot be considered secular if any of its members are religious – I would disagree with that definition as a general rule. For instance, we definitely want the government, the school system etc to be secular but I don’t think that has to mean that everyone involved has to be free from religious belief.

  • Emerson

    I go to a Unitarian church with many atheists and humanists. Once in a while the minister mentions something about “spirit” but rarely mentions “god”

    They do emphasize science and reason (also social action) There’s no “creed” or beliefs but they affirm 7 basic principles.

  • http://associatenotes.blogspot.com Niall

    “Therefore, the “Tamil Tigers” are as non-religious as the IRA. Is the Pope a Catholic?”

    Are you suggesting that the IRA are religious? If you are, then I’d love to hear how you managed to come to that conclusion.

  • monkeymind

    Because Niall, not all members of the IRA are card-carrying atheists and secularists. So your saying that they are not religious is like saying that the ban on abortion in South Dakota had nothing to do with religion. Or something.

    You need to get with the program! The problem is and remains Those Other People who are not like Us.


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