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...]

Gay Marriage

Watch this. Keep in mind that this is an American politician—a Republican mayor of San Diego. And not only does he come out in support of gay marriage (that's only civilized, I figure), but never in his speech is there any religious reference. Amazing. … [Read more...]

Pentecostal rave party

(Hat tip to Ed Babinski, who found this at the Wittenburg Blog. The music is titled "Det snurrar i min skalle" and is from a Swedish group called Familjen--they've got several other songs on YouTube.)I found an apposite quote about this in an Economist article published last year titled "Christianity reborn":"A Pentecostal service is an unforgettable experience, part religious service, part spectacle, part rock 'n' roll rave. ... Harvey Cox, a professor at Harvard, points to two things that … [Read more...]

Talks in Ontario

I'll be giving talks on "Science and Islam" at three Ontario, Canada universities: Ryerson University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and University of Toronto at Mississauga.All are free and open to the public, and are on September 27 and 28. Click on each event above for more details.Just in case anyone is interested in attending... … [Read more...]

Intelligent Design: A Blind Alley

IslamOnline.net just ran my article "Intelligent Design: A Blind Alley," which asks Muslims to reconsider widepread Islamic sympathy toward creationism and intelligent design. Mind you, it's a bit of a fruitless task. My article appears as one in a series on the debate among Muslims concerning creation and evolution, and the creationist contributions are more numerous and more popular. Notably, it's hard to get believing Muslims to contribute the pro-evolution material.Oh, and take a look at the … [Read more...]


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