An Illusion of Harmony review

The Brunei Times has a review of my critique of Muslim attitudes toward science, An Illusion of Harmony.The review is interesting. Not because it has any substance; it consists largely of invective. But it's an interesting example of what those of us who want to be critical of Islam face. Even when you avoid going on an Islam-bashing expedition, it's very hard to get devout Muslims to pay attention to what you're actually saying. … [Read more...]

Ted Rall on pandering to the religious

Ted Rall, the cartoonist and opinion writer, has an interesting piece out called "Onward Christian Panderers."It's mostly complaints about politicans sucking up to the Christian Right—nothing unfamiliar, though well-expressed. It's worth mentioning, however, that while Rall might not be a great fan of organized religon, he is a theist. We should notice how many, from liberal religionists to the "spiritual but not religious," are just as pissed off at religious politics as the average … [Read more...]

Hitchens, apparently, is bleeding insane

PZ Myers reports on his experiences at the Freedom From Religion Convention, including a lengthy description of Christopher Hitchens's talk, where Hitchens apparently goes of the deep end and gives full rein to his revenge fantasies against Muslims.Great. With Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, we get two prominent and articulate spokespeople for godlessness who responded to 9/11 with bigotry against Muslims. Hell, that's half the public face of atheism in English-speaking circles, these days. … [Read more...]

Mitchell Cohen on “The New Atheism”

There's an interesting interview with political scientist Mitchell Cohen in the leftist magazine Dissent.One of Cohen's virtues is that he refrains from discussing the "New Atheists" in terms of the media stereotype of the angry atheist. He also displays a critical attitude toward political Islam that is refreshing in leftish circles. Heh, he even slams the cheap anti-Darwinism that some leftists indulge in.Being leftwardly inclined myself, I figure I should applaud such outbreaks of sanity. … [Read more...]

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...]