Video for Ontario talks on science and Islam

The Centre for Inquiry Ontario has made a video of the talk I gave on "Science and Religion in Islam" on October 3 at Ryerson University in Toronto, plus the Q & A, and Q & A's after I gave a similar talk in other institutions. It's pretty dark and the slides are not very visible, so until the Q & A starts, it's not great visually. If you want to follow the PowerPoint slides along with the talk, you can get them from my web site as well. … [Read more...]

Freedom to criticize

Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie have an important op-ed in the LA Times, "Ayaan Hirsi Ali: abandoned to fanatics."In fact, I'd add this: Ayaan Hirsi Ali gets a lot of accusations that her critique of Islam is not sophisticated enough, that she oversimplifies things, or that her tactics do not really help the Muslim women she speaks for. She gets flak for being inflammatory and unnecessarily insulting to a world religion. In some contexts such criticisms might need to be debated; I expect some of … [Read more...]

Are religious people more generous?

There's a very interesting article on The Edge, by psychologist Jon Haidt, called "Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion." Haidt takes some ill-conceived cheap shots at the so-called "New Atheists," but that that shouldn't get in the way of some important questions he raises. Haidt suggests that in some ways, religiosity is more socially useful than liberal nonbelief, and argues that religion is beneficial on a personal level as well. surveys have long shown that religious … [Read more...]

Encountering Naturalism

An interesting book by Thomas W. Clark came my way recently. Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and its Uses is a well-written, short (101 pages) book that serves as a very readable, non-academic introduction to naturalism. It's very light on scientific and other technical considerations, focusing instead on other questions readers new to naturalism might have.One aspect of the book that I found particularly interesting, perhaps because it's the sort of thing I haven't paid much attention to, … [Read more...]

Overly diplomatic?

In some of my recent talks about science and religion in Islam some Muslims in the audience asked me whether I thought there were scientific mistakes in the Quran.I've answered such questions very diplomatically so far. I usually point out that all this depends on how you interpret the text, that Muslims have a number of different interpretive approaches available to them, and that being a nonreligious person, it was none of my business to try and sort out what is the "correct" interpretation. … [Read more...]


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