Come talk to me about Hitchens?

(193 Posts)
ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 01:41:47

How did I not know about Hitchens?

How do I not stay up all night trawling youtube....

Seriously..I have been a kinda quiet atheist...don't poke me with your religion and I won't poke you with how stupid it all sounds to me.

I feel like someone stuck a fire cracker up my back side.

What if there is a moral imperative that atheists get out there and attempt to rid the world of the evil that is religion?

I am all confused now.

Isabeller Fri 12-Apr-13 01:51:30

DP is quite into Hitchens I think. I am religious (maybe not the way you are meaning though?) and you're welcome to try a bit of ridding on me for as long as I stay awake wink.

I think I am not evil and I think my religion/faith is not evil although probably not as good as it would like to be. I may be mistaken though.

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 02:01:12

I am religious and always quite liked Hitchens. He certainly died much too early. sad

As far as your question, though, I am an adult and my beliefs are my own. I was not brainwashed or conditioned into them. It's not up to you to decide anything for me, or talk me out of anything.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 03:17:40

What if there is a moral imperative that atheists get out there and attempt to rid the world of the evil that is religion?

Because of if you go on the terrain of "moral imperatives" on this subject you are also slipping into proselytism.catch 22.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as church and state are separate…..each to their own!

I LOVE Hitchens because am also a contrarian at heart.
He was quite prolific, look up his wiki page to find list of publications he contributed to.
Lots of very funny and bittersweet biographical articles chronicling his life as a Brit in the US (on the vanity fair & slate websites).

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 09:51:39

Hitchens is my god! (disclaimer: I recognise that he is a human being and not a supernatural deity)

He is by far an away the best presenter of arguments I have ever been fortunate enough to listen to. His mixture of incredible recollection, fact, cutting sarcasm, damning thought provocation..... Just brilliant.

Have you read God is Not Great? Fantastic book.

He will be sadly missed.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 10:00:49

isabella Oh no! It is not religious people who are evil, it is established religions themselves (I think).

The average catholic was not out spreading the message that aids is better for the soul than using a condom. But the 'catholic church' was.

cheerful well quite. That is what I have thought previously....that it is not my business what other people think. Actually I guess it is the same point as above. If your religion is a private thing that you do alone then it really isn't any of my business. As soon as you join up with an organised religion it may become my business because you may build a church or start setting 'moral standards' or dress codes etc.

master Are you french? I am living in the UK and the church and state are FAR from separate.

pedro I haven't read anything...this whole phenomenon has bypassed me....I mean I was aware of Dawkins but this seems a whole level above even Dawkins.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 11:32:58

Hitchens isn't above Dawkins. A notch below, maybe.

I read God is Not Great, and it's pretty dull - on a level with his Vanity Fair journalism. Mind you, Dawky is awful too - so thick-skulled. Bring back Bertrand Russell's Why I A Not a Christian. And The Brothers Karamazov.

I was genuinely sorry about Hitch's death, but his politics were FUBAR beyond words.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 12:26:08

Above or below really depends what angle you are taking. Dawkins is a biologist by trade and has become a poster boy for atheism as a result of his study. He's not the best debater, but knows his area of science very well and uses it to argue his atheistic stance.

Hitchens was a contrarian, sitting on the edge of philosophy. He wasn't a scientist, although he understood a great deal of the theory. But where he shone was a debater and presenter of ideas. He was also a self confessed anti-theist and was able to very effectively present his view of the world in every aspect. His knowledge of religion and its angles around the globe was unparalleled.

msrisotto Fri 12-Apr-13 12:32:08

FUBAR?

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 12:40:05

Oh I meant a level up on the rage scale tbh.

I am not even sure it is successful as a debating tactic.

I watched the intelligence squared debate with him, stephen fry, widdy, and an archbishop type. I really thought it was Fry that won people over with his calm quite 'why is my love evil' sentiment.

I was just blown away that anyone would stand up and say that organised religion is an evil that strips away human dignity and prevents us from reaching our full potential. I mean I think I actually agree...but to yell it in the face of a high up bishop guy....

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 12:40:20

Fucked up beyond all recovery?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 13:15:17

Point taken siegelinde but its still great journalism.
He never really pretended to be more than that, surely you can give him credit for that?

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 13:40:05

Fucked up beyond all RECOGNITION. On this, see wikipedia, but basically he thought Lenin and Trotsky were great men, and in particular felt everything Lenin did was justified because In 2005, Hitchens praised Lenin's creation of "secular Russia" and his discrediting of the Russian Orthodox Church, describing it as "an absolute warren of backwardness and evil and superstition"...

In a nutshell this is why Christians find it hard to see secularists as white knights.

As bad, he eagerly supported the Iraq war, again because he saw it as combatting religion. He was right about that, in a way - there are hardly any Christians left in Iraq.

These aren't cutely perverse views. They are plain wrong, as in morally wrong.

I'm more than willing to give him credit for what he was, Master of the Yoniverse (are you really Pedro Yoni? Do we need some lingam in here to balance us?) As long as nobody mistakes him for a deep thinker. He was funny and readable, but also slick, glib and incredibly shallow.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 13:46:17

Yes certainly more slick than deep.

I guess it has made me think though.

I think it is wrong to mix church and state.

I think it massively more wrong to mix church and school.

But I'm not sure I would ever have thought to do anything about it till watching him in action.

I mean if I believe that starting your school day with an act of collective worship is about the most self-contradictory thing you could do to a child then why aren't I out there saying it loud?

Coz I don't want to upset people....

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 14:23:17

In America it's beyond all REPAIR. smile

I agree. I do not approve of mixing church and school or state either. I'm religious but will teach my son about my beliefs at home or church.

Our state funded schools are secular and I'd fight to keep them that way.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 14:32:53

cheer okay so this might be a bit of a personal question so feel free not to answer.

When you say you will teach your son about your beliefs at home, do you mean that you will:

a) teach him about your beliefs (as in 'I believe in the existence of a benevolent god because I feel his presence in my heart')

b) teach him to believe (as in 'god exists and you will only be a good person if you believe in him')

Coz I was mostly taught about religion actually from church and it was very much b) and not a).

It is also the difference between teaching religious education (which I have no issue with) and having collective worship in schools which I do have a problem with.

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 14:37:01

Very much A. I say "Mom thinks" or "I believe".

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 14:37:41

Sometimes "the church thinks, but I'm not sure", etc.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 14:48:17

<hugs>

I have committed to doing the same with DD. 'Mummy and Daddy don't believe but lots of people do'.

Although I am still working on DH.

I don't know what will happen the first time she comes back from nursery/school telling Jesus related stories ...but I suspect home schooling will be involved.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 15:01:34

I'm RC and THEREFORE very keen on the separation of church and state. The C of E isn't my church either. It isn't the church of Islam or Judaism. Far from it - the C of E used to exclude ALL OF US from every profession and all universities.

Collectively, there are more people of faith who are not C of E than there are those who are. Get rid of its institutional role.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 15:03:05

ICBINEG, why are you so worries about DC being indoctrinated?

DH and I are born and bred muslim.
And yet, within a religion where it seems these days you are radical or you are not, we have managed to find a deep rooted identity beyond the dogma.

chill!

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 15:09:21

master because although some kids grow in to adults that find their own way lots of others don't.

I am a first generation atheist, so to speak, but that doesn't mean that everyone is in a position to get out.

Also many people that do get out are scarred in the process. I have friends that agonized over baptising their DD because of the competing pressures of parents, guilt, upbringing, conscience. It was truly horrible and it continues to blight them now.

I still vividly feel the pain of discovering that the evil, useless, non-believing, amoral, enemy of the righteous that I heard so much about was actually a description of me. That hurts a child, and tbh if I could save other children that pain then I would.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 15:13:52

ICBINEG - that is completely sad and horrible, and I fucking bet it ISN'T you. I bet you are lovely. You sound lovely. thanks

I'm RC and so are my children, but they have never gone to RC schools. They are free to leave, and I ask them occasionally if they'd like to . My son is turning out het, but I think my daughter may not be, and it will make NO DIFFERENCE to how I feel about her. Or to how Jesus feels about her.

What gets me is unchristian Christians.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 15:50:51

Oh ICBINEG! You still battling with guilt?
Maybe you need to work out how you feel before you work out on hiw you pass it on to your children?

Not sure how to help.....but really, take a breath. If you just step back and not talk much about religion, your children will ask all the questions they want when they feel the need.for guidance. By then they should be able to draw their own conclusions.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 18:27:28

I'm more than willing to give him credit for what he was, Master of the Yoniverse (are you really Pedro Yoni? Do we need some lingam in here to balance us?) As long as nobody mistakes him for a deep thinker. He was funny and readable, but also slick, glib and incredibly shallow.

Firstly, to set things straight, MasterOfTheYoniverse and I are not the same person, but fellow Yoni thread lovers I presume!

I don't necessarily agree with everything Hitchens ever said or did, but that doesn't mean that his stance on specific issues is necessarily less valid. And the genius of his speaking was that it was not deep. His understanding of the topics was, but anyone could understand what he was saying and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone to debate him on religion, he had that nailed. Definitely one of the greatest speakers ever to have lived.

ICBINEG Are you familiar with Sam Harris? He's a neuroscientist and brings another fascinating angle to the same topical sphere. Also a great speaker, also a great debater.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 18:30:12

I watched the intelligence squared debate with him, stephen fry, widdy, and an archbishop type. I really thought it was Fry that won people over with his calm quite 'why is my love evil' sentiment.

That is a great debate and example of Fry at his very best. But if I'm honest, it wasn't really a fair debate. Widdy and the Archbishop had such a retarded argument that Fry and Hitch just ripped them apart!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 18:33:00

If you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend this debate again showing Hitchens at his very finest!

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 18:47:04

I don't think I feel guilty for not believing in god any more. It was so obviously not in me once I looked properly that I, like Fry find that I can't really hate myself for being who I am. I also feel like if there is a god then he must have made me without the spark of faith...possibly for a reason. Pretending to have it certainly doesn't get you anywhere anyway.

I was C of E so I don't have the whole catholic guilt baggage that my friends have at least.

But yes that is my big deal with it. How do I make sure my DD knows her faith or lack of makes no difference to my valuing her as a person? And what duty do I have to make sure society doesn't ever make her feel shit for going one way or the other....(in current climate of church influenced school that would be more of a worry if she takes after me than if she doesn't.)

Will check the video once DD is in bed smile

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 19:34:10

I remember Sam Harris getting a kicking from both sides for this, which I found irritating. He was just being honest!

Icbineg if I'm to be completely forthright I have to say that I hope my son finds faith of some kind, because it has given me such comfort over the years, and I enjoy the rituals of religion like christenings, etc. Also (and I can only speak for myself of course) I feel that my faith has made me a better person.

But I'm sure he will be a good person regardless, and he could find comfort elsewhere. I'd be okay with it. I wasn't raised to be a religious person, yet I am, and my parents gave me total freedom to become that. I owe DS (and unborn DD smile) the same.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 19:44:26

Icbineg if I'm to be completely forthright I have to say that I hope my son finds faith of some kind, because it has given me such comfort over the years, and I enjoy the rituals of religion like christenings, etc. Also (and I can only speak for myself of course) I feel that my faith has made me a better person.

I have to say, I think it's great when people find comfort in faith, if what you believe helps you be content in life then there's nothing wrong with that in itself.

Having said that, in stark contrast I find comfort in a world without deities and personally find religious rituals quite boring, annoying and preachy. Really not my cup of tea at all.

noblegiraffe Fri 12-Apr-13 19:52:55

I don't agree with his politics, but he earned my utmost respect when he decided to actually be waterboarded, I assume to better inform his view on whether it constitutes torture.

www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens200808

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 19:55:31

Completely agree noble, you can't accuse him of not doing everything he could to understand what he was arguing against.

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 20:11:45

Yes, I liked him for that too. And many other things.

I get that Pedro. That's what I meant when I said he could find comfort elsewhere. smile

MasterOfTheYoniverse Sat 13-Apr-13 01:09:42

Pedro thanks for clearing the ambiguity smile that said i totally identify with your comments 19:44:26

I do envy the sense of community found in Congregations though.
Having lived pretty much all my life as an expat, i have often struggled with loneliness and i find it very difficult to pass on knowledge about religion to my children.
On that point OP, i feel exactly the same as you. I prefer my children to have very minute doses of exposure to religion And dont that it to define them until they make their own choice.

Cherful,lovely conclusion, i hope our children can say the same of us one day.

ICBINEG Sat 13-Apr-13 12:12:39

Yes, I think even as a teen I knew I was losing a ready built accepting community any where I went...but if you don't fit you don't.

CheerfulYank Sat 13-Apr-13 22:44:25

It would have been his birthday today. Or, is his birthday I suppose.

I'm sure it's a hard day for his family. I hope they're doing as well as possible.

NicholasTeakozy Sun 14-Apr-13 09:31:04

Thank you CY for pointing me in the direction of this thread. To quote Mike Patton, "You are an angel heading for the land of sunshine, and fortune is smiling upon you".

I think Christopher Hitchens was an important figure whether you're a 'silly theist' (private joke), an agnostic or an atheist. I remember my feeling of disappointment when Hitch publicly agreed with the invasion of Iraq, and his pronouncement that women aren't funny. In other areas, such as religion and freedom of speech he could easily have been speaking for me. Of course Hitch would've explained that a lot better than I ever could because, like Marvin, he had a brain the size of a planet.

On the subject of children and religion Hitch was of course right when he stated that all children are born atheist, and that they take on the prejudices and superstitions of those around them, including their parents. Both my daughters are atheists. DD2 has always been an atheist, she even regarded Santa Claus with suspicion when she was very young. DD1 became an atheist after five years of theology studies and is a strident anti-theist and much more scornful of religion than her sister. They're both scared of spiders due to them seeing how their mother deals with them.

There is a story, whether it's true or not I don't know, that a day or so before he died he was visited by a priest who begged him to reconsider his atheism, or at least accept Pascal's Wager. Apparently he argued his position so passionately and with such eloquence and elegance that the priest left doubting his own faith.

And of course he left us with Hitchen's Razor. "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence".

In my opinion, out of all the so called New Atheists (I really detest that description) only Daniel Dennett, James Randi and Penn Jillette are fit to lace his drink. Which of course would be Scotch. Or red wine, depending on the time of day.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 09:45:23

I'd add Sam Harris to that list.

sieglinde Sun 14-Apr-13 11:57:40

"Hitch was of course right when he stated that all children are born atheist, and that they take on the prejudices and superstitions of those around them, including their parents."

There's some neurological evidence that people seek out religion from around 10... and btw why do you assume that YOUR children aren't affected by YOUR beliefs, but are 'naturally' atheists? Given that they've learned arachnophobia from you? Given how militant you are?

YRS on the story about Hitchens and the priest - downloading an old bit of John Foxe martyrology.... love the predictable way new atheist is but old presbyter writ large. Who can POSSIBLY be the source of this tale?

Dennett is even shallower than Hitchens. FFS. Why can't you people read some Nietzsche or some Spinoza or some Hume or some Frazer? At least put some welly into it.

NicholasTeakozy Sun 14-Apr-13 14:41:31

There's some neurological evidence that people seek out religion from around 10...

10 what? AM? Years of age? You hardly do your argument any favours there. I mean, you've quoted the babies born atheist bit and not even bothered to counter it. DD1 was a Christian until the age of 16. Five years of studying theology cured her of it.

If a child seeks religion at age ten why do so many theists insist on indoctrinating their children with their own brand of poison and insist that theirs is the only one that counts? Oh, must correct another point. It's their mother who's arachnophobic, not me.

Hitchens was shallow? gringringrin Given that he is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest orators of his generation, and certainly able to debunk theologisms and wrote and spoke about a wide range of subjects again renders your argument facile and wrong.

I sort of see where you're coming from Pedro, but Harris always comes across (to me at least) as being a bit lacking in humour. Dawkins too. Gervais too often attacks the man not the idea, which is a tactic I don't agree with. Which are all good reasons why the list of those who could conceivably succeed Hitch is so small, though given that Randi is now 84 years old I feel confident that list will be shorter fairly soon. And Dennett is knocking on a bit now too...

noblegiraffe Sun 14-Apr-13 14:51:39

I haven't read any Sam Harris but there seem to be concerns about him and islamophobia that go beyond an atheist argument.

m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/03/sam-harris-muslim-animus

(sorry, on phone so mobile version).

I've seen Dawkins and Dennett speak, and Dennett was simply dull. I was very disappointed, but could barely stop myself falling asleep. Dawkins, at least, was an engaging speaker.

crescentmoon Sun 14-Apr-13 15:02:06

Yes Sam Harris goes beyond other atheist writers and speakers to advocate not just a moral crusade but a military style crusade against the Muslim world. An apologist for imperialism and colonialism- pedro's ringing endorsement makes alot of his other comments fall into place. sam harris is of the 'bomb them into submission' school of thought. Hitchens was also a big advocate of the Iraq war as a front against Islamo 'fascism' except...of course.... Sadaam Hussain and al Qaeda were worlds apart in ideology and enemies to each other. But the neo cons went after Iraq because of a 'while we're in the neighbourhood'....

sieglinde Sun 14-Apr-13 15:04:24

Mr Teakozy,

Being a great orator and being deep are not related. One could even make a case for an inverse correlation. Look at Hitler, Churchill, and JFK.

I shall leave your corrections to one side - you're only making yourself look petty. I made no assumptions about your daughter's position before she began her studies. For my argument, it's immaterial which parent is the arachnophobe.

You write (illustrating that warm and benign tolerance so much to the fore among humanists/atheists) 'many theists insist on indoctrinating their children with their own brand of poison and insist that theirs is the only one that counts?'
I have no idea what this means. I guess/assume you mean that I take my children to mass? I do. But they don't have to go and I never ever compel or threaten them in any way. Just a reminder - the RC church says virtually nothing about helfire nowadays, and nor do I. We know many people of other faiths - Jewish, pagan, Quaker, C of e, Mormon - and none. I have no clue what it would mean to say ours is the only one 'that counts.' It's not what I think, so why would I say it?

CheerfulYank Sun 14-Apr-13 15:44:04

Glad you found it, Nick! smile

I've been accused of brainwashing my son before, and I do find it a bit irritating. I tell him I believe in God and Jesus, and in an afterlife. I do, so anything else would be a lie.

Also, as we are American, there are no RE classes. If parents don't teach their children about religion (whether they are believers or not), it isn't something they have any knowledge of. I think it's hard to relate to people of other cultures if you don't understand what they believe and why, or even people of your own culture if you have no understanding of the religious beginnings of holidays, different phrases, etc.

I haven't had any coffee yet and am stumbling a bit to say what I mean. Plus, I'm trying to get DS ready for mass. wink

sieglinde Sun 14-Apr-13 16:59:03

Given that psychology no longer believes in brainwashing, it's intriguing that militant atheists aren't quite up to date in their science, cheerfulyank confused.

If every child in the RC church is 'brainwash'ed and deprived of choice why do we also hear - wrongly - that the RC church is in decline? (In fact it's growing - even in Europe - by 2% last year and by much higher % everywhere else.)

A few of the militants on here ARE ex-Catholics. Why were THEY and they alone able to overcome their conditioning and bound to freedom? grin

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 17:25:42

Yes Sam Harris goes beyond other atheist writers and speakers to advocate not just a moral crusade but a military style crusade against the Muslim world.

It wouldn't be too difficult to come up with a pretty lengthy list of Muslims who want to bomb the Western world and would actually follow through with it (or already have) so yes, I think Harris has a point.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 17:32:43

sieglinde you seem to be suggesting that children are born as theists. This is simply not true. If a child grew up in a world where there was no religion at all, it's pretty unlikely they'd ever be religious.

Also, if it were true, why is it that children who turn into religionists almost invariably end up believing in the god of their local/familial culture??

The reason is that they are not born theists, they will tend to believe what their parents believe. You don't have to say "you will believe in this", just saying "I believe in this" is usually enough because that is how children are wired, it's an evolved beneficial trait for children to do and think as their parents do.

NicholasTeakozy Sun 14-Apr-13 17:34:31

Similar to you CY but not exactly the same, my son asked me if I believed in god. He was 5 years old and had got told about it at school. Of course I told him no, I don't. His next question, "why not?" was a little more difficult to answer, bearing in mind his age and the fact he still believed in Santa Claus. grin

Just for you Sieglinde, here's an article from one of the links in the article Noblegiraffe posted showing Hitch being all shallow again. If you call dismantling ideas and decrying Sam Harris' views on Islam and fascism shallow then fair enough, you had a better education than I. Also, bear in mind the language Hitch uses in the article; hardly the words of a shallow human being. Then take into account that it was probably knocked out in an hour in between arguing with friends and drinking.

Considering his prodigious alcohol intake Hitch's work ethic and output were astounding, and the world is a poorer place without the benefit of his wit and wisdom.

JoTheHot Sun 14-Apr-13 19:11:55

It's pretty weak to glibly dismiss intellects of world renown as shallow just because you don't understand agree with their arguments. And tossing in erroneous facts doesn't help either.

"we also hear - wrongly - that the RC church is in decline? (In fact it's growing - even in Europe - by 2% last year and by much higher % everywhere else.)"

No. We hear - rightly - that the church is in decline. According to the vatican www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1203473.htm, who say that numbers in europe are declining, while in the rest of the world the proportion is flat, and the number of weddings and baptisms are declining. I.e. catholics are becoming more lax.

EllieArroway Sun 14-Apr-13 19:59:53

Hitchens was "shallow"? In what universe? Oh right - the universe where anyone with a different viewpoint, no matter how well argued, is automatically "shallow".

Most people of faith hate Hitchens - he's an embarrassment to them. He demolishes their entire system of belief in about three sentences. Rather than actually refute any points he's made, they simply call him names and pretend to laugh at him.

Why were THEY and they alone able to overcome their conditioning and bound to freedom? Honestly? Intelligence, I think. That's what happened in my case.

There's some neurological evidence that people seek out religion from around 10.... Well, perhaps I'm wrong - but children aren't born at age 10, are they? So how this refutes the proposition (actually, the fact) that everyone is born an atheist, I've no idea. What happens around the age of 10 is a new sense of questioning and curiosity about the world - and if you have a parent that you love and trust who takes you to mass every Sunday and makes it clear that they completely believe the nonsense being spouted by the men in long dresses then you are evolutionarily inclined to believe it.

And I'm not quite sure where you get the idea that "brainwashing" (mind control is a better description) has been completely refuted by psychologists. All of scientific ideas are open to debate, always, but the idea that the consensus now is that there's no such thing is barking mad. Not true.

ICINBERG Personally I think that religion has had such a detrimental effect on this planet, and continues to have in many parts of the world, that there is a moral imperative to at least remove it's sense of entitlement to "respect" and privilege. Of course people must be free to believe what they like - but they aren't, and shouldn't be, free to demand that we all tip toe around being respectful of it. That was Hitchen's message, I think, and he was right.

CheerfulYank Sun 14-Apr-13 20:18:40

I think I may have been born a theist.

ICBINEG Sun 14-Apr-13 20:44:29

I think that if children grew up in the vacuum away from societal and parental influence (a thought experiment - not something that could ever be achieved) they would fall onto a spectrum from feeling alone in an uncaring universe to feeling deeply loved by a spirit larger than their own.

But nowhere on that spectrum would anything approximating Islam or catholicism etc. exist.

Can you imagine such children spontaneously deciding that sex was evil, or that only men could represent that spirit? Or that one persons interpretation was more important than another's? Or that certain specific words must be said in a certain order to avoid hell?

Basically I think that while faith or lack of it may be inherent in the human brain, organised religion is a pathological self-perpetuating virus like entity that the human race would be well shot of.

NicholasTeakozy Sun 14-Apr-13 21:16:45

Ellie, I guess you're shying away from another of his most quotable lines, 'religion poisons everything'.

What puzzles me is why women, especially women who identify themselves as feminists, would admit to being a follower of any of the Abrahamic faiths, given the misogynist nature of their scriptures and practices. It all seems to me a bit Mr Cholmondely-Warner, Women, know your place.

crescentmoon Sun 14-Apr-13 21:51:08

ok then, lets not beat about the bush.

Samuel P Huntington, the first proponent of the clash of civilisations theory said:

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do"

its not high ideals, the enlightenment, liberal democracy, christianity, capitalism, et al that won or even still win it for the west, it is the superiority in applying organised violence.

the guns, the steel, the bombs, the nukes, the drones, etc that was how the vast majority of the world came under european colonialism and how they are still beholden.

if you are on the wrong side of history, you know it, non westerners never forget it. as muslims we are made to collectively answer for the acts of an extremist fringe of individualists - not state sponsored, not organised or given consent to/for - when there are hundreds of thousands plus muslim deaths as a direct or indirect consequence of official US government policy since 'desert storm' in 1991. thats within my OWN living memory.

"It wouldn't be too difficult to come up with a pretty lengthy list of Muslims who want to bomb the Western world and would actually follow through with it (or already have) so yes, I think Harris has a point."

how many people on that list? out of 1.6 billion people who are muslim that 'lengthy' list wouldnt even make 0.01%. to get to even 1 per cent you would need a list of 16 million names.

if we are to understand that citizens of a democracy, that can elect their governments, that can oppose their governments, are not to be held culpable for the oppression their government endorses/ acts out in another country - as everyone but al qaeda terrorists and israeli government officials on Gaza would know....

what then of those living under dictatorship, or under tyranny, like in Afghanistan under the taliban or Iraq under sadaam? what did the average afghan, poor oppressed himself have to do with the sept 11 attacks?

what about the iraqi? what did sadaam's iraq have to do with al qaeda? they said 'weapons of mass destruction' then as they say about iran now, 'sexed' up fabricated evidence.

crescentmoon Sun 14-Apr-13 22:01:17

"What puzzles me is why women, especially women who identify themselves as feminists, would admit to being a follower of any of the Abrahamic faiths, given the misogynist nature of their scriptures and practices. It all seems to me a bit Mr Cholmondely-Warner, Women, know your place."

the thing is Western feminist liberation paradigms means nothing to Muslim women because it ignores the myriad forms of oppression that are visited upon Muslim societies by occupying or colonial forces in ways that violate the well-being, indeed the very lives, of Muslim men.

cut and paste afghanistan, palestine, iraq in place of hawaii, and Islam in place of 'culture' in this quote from Hawaiian sovereignty activist and scholar, Dr. Haunani Trask. she writes from a context fundamentally defined by racism, not sexism. and that is the context i also find myself defined by.

"From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i"

"Pacific Island women, like Hawaiian women, seek a collective self-determination. That is to say, we want to achieve sovereignty through and with our own people, not separated from them as individuals or as splintered groups. Such individualism and separation promise only more confusion and more alienation, the very maladies which so afflict industrial people...

Secondly, our efforts at collective self-determination mean that we find solidarity with our own people, including our own men, more likely, indeed preferable, to solidarity with white people, including feminists. Struggle with our men occurs laterally, across and within our movement. It does not occur vertically between the white women's movement and indigenous women on one side and Hawaiian men on the other side.
The reasons for this are many. We have more in common, in both struggle and in controversy, with our men and with each other as indigenous women than we do with white people, called haole in Hawaiian. This is only to make the familiar point that culture is a larger reality than "women's rights..."

In Hawaii, as is so many parts of the island Pacific, haole feminists have steadfastly refused to support our efforts to regain our lands, to protect our civil rights, and to achieve self-government. They have defined what is "feminist" as that which relates to women -and only women- e.g., reproductive rights, women's health problems, employment and education concerns.
But to most Native people, women's concerns are part of the greater concern for our lahu'i, our nation. For example, we see our lack of control over our bodies as a result of colonization. Therefore, poor Hawaiian health is directly traceable to the Americanization of our country, including loss of our lands where we once grew healthy Native food. High breast cancer rates for our women are similarly related to our forced assimilation into the junk-food, supermarket American diet...

But haole feminists don't see the causal connection between our life conditions and our status as colonized people. Their failure of vision is a result of their privilege as white Americans. In Hawaii, they see the oppression of women but they refuse to see the oppression of Hawaiian women as a product of colonization."

Quoted from, "From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i"

cjel Sun 14-Apr-13 22:06:29

I prefer his brother Peter!!!!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 22:09:33

how many people on that list? out of 1.6 billion people who are muslim that 'lengthy' list wouldnt even make 0.01%. to get to even 1 per cent you would need a list of 16 million names.

Did I say large proportion? No I did not. I said lengthy. So I don't know what on earth you are going on about.

It only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke to be a problem.

crescentmoon Sun 14-Apr-13 22:45:08

"Did I say large proportion? No I did not. I said lengthy. So I don't know what on earth you are going on about. "

on military crusade 'on' the muslim world you said sam harris has a point because of a 'lengthy' list when this would not even make a minute proportion. yet this would be used not just to stereotype all muslims as terrorists but you even would see a point to military neo colonisation of the muslim world. not many atheists including dawkins go so far as that.

does sam harris speak then as an atheist or as a capitalist or as a white supremacist? because a variation of those arguments have been used to incite violence against the 'other' many times before excuse me if i see 'new atheism' as just a fake crock of shit along with that that.

hitchens supported military action on iraq based not on weapons of mass destruction but because the iraqis were muslims even though the dictator sadam hussain a secular, totalitarian iraqi dictator. that was it. thats the sum total of his argument. and he cheerled the iraq war and the commencement of the murder of innocents.

'it takes one type of fundamentalist...'

what type of fundamentalist? religious? we dont see that but we see a fundamentalism about 'the market' and about 'capital' that has and still can overcome any democracy, human rights, protection of society etc.

some of you would say religion and you can but i think personally capitalism serves as the biggest evil in the world and the biggest threat to human peace and security. to base a philosophy not just a monetary system on 'selfish greed' however rational, relies on insecurity and would view any connections between human beings not based on money as a threat. any tranquility or peace not gained from materialistic acquisition must be fought and brought down.

EllieArroway Sun 14-Apr-13 22:48:40

Ellie, I guess you're shying away from another of his most quotable lines, 'religion poisons everything

Not shying away, just didn't think about it in that moment - but yes, I agree completely with that too.

EllieArroway Sun 14-Apr-13 23:00:17

I think that if children grew up in the vacuum away from societal and parental influence (a thought experiment - not something that could ever be achieved) they would fall onto a spectrum from feeling alone in an uncaring universe to feeling deeply loved by a spirit larger than their own

See, this is interesting and something I've pondered a lot. There is a tendency within all of us, I think, to "look up" for answers. I don't mean into the sky necessarily, but to refer upwards for answers to difficult questions - your parents, then the priests, then the leaders of the tribes, then the emperor or king - and further up to God/s.

Every civilization (I think) establishes a hierarchy of some description - even democratic societies like ours. We don't want to feel alone, so we look for authority - the ultimate and usurping authority being God. And since God never manages to speak to us himself, it's pathetically easy for people with an agenda to put words in his mouth.

So, I think you're probably right - that looking for "love" or authority seems a natural inclination. But that doesn't demonstrate that a god exists (as CS Lewis suggested with his hunger analogy), it just demonstrates that we all feel individually feeble and alone and want to believe that we're not.

Snorbs Sun 14-Apr-13 23:15:44

I think Hitchens had a wonderful ability, when he was on form, to cut through the societal pressure to acquiesce to religious faith and instead to strike at the real heart of the issue. There's a clip on youtube here from a discussion where a genial rabbi was talking about circumcision. Hitchens did a magnificent job of making it clear that what the rabbi was cracking jokes about was non-consensual genital mutilation and how inappropriate that was.

That being said, I wasn't particularly impressed by "God is Not Great" and some of the things he said I flat-out don't agree with. But that's ok. He's not a prophet, no-one is expected to go along with everything he said.

Isabeller Sun 14-Apr-13 23:53:17

So glad your thread took off, will catch up properly but (harking back) are you saying the religious group I belong to is evil (polite question smile?

CheerfulYank Mon 15-Apr-13 01:48:44

Nick for me it's easy because I'm a Red Letter Christian, who follows what we believe are the actual recorded words of Jesus. As far as I know (I'll have to reread) he didn't have much to say that was anti-feminist.

EllieArroway Mon 15-Apr-13 03:02:40

As far as I know (I'll have to reread) he didn't have much to say that was anti-feminist

No, he was too busy being pro-slavery and supporting the laws that say we should kill cheeky children and homosexuals. He didn't mention lesbians, which was nice of him.

CheerfulYank Mon 15-Apr-13 03:27:25

Okay. smile

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 08:05:11

'it takes one type of fundamentalist...'

what type of fundamentalist? religious? we dont see that but we see a fundamentalism about 'the market' and about 'capital' that has and still can overcome any democracy, human rights, protection of society etc.

I never used the word 'type', you are misquoting me. That changes the sentence quite a bit. I said it only takes one fundamentalist.

But to suggest that you don't see religious extremists causing problems..... well, I'm not really sure what to say to that.

I'll start with 9/11 but if you really want a big long list, I'll dig one up for you.

crescentmoon Mon 15-Apr-13 08:41:43

but you didnt say religious fundamentalist, and i think there are many more fundamentalists than religious.

and you said a fundamentalist WITH A NUKE. you mean iran i suppose? those weapons of mas destruction that iraq was supposed to have? that was used as a pretext to attack the iraqis? im watching the news and feeling dejavu about it all - nothing the iranians as the iraqis can change course.

but its an atheist Kim Jong Un that is threatening to plunge the world into nuclear war. actually making plans to make the first strike, not in self defence, and against the USA as well as South Korea.
now, Hitchens himself said that atheism entails no moral position, and i would go further and say that there is absolutely no reservation in atheism against evil. so what forms the rational basis of morality for an atheist? and if it is rational self interest as Dawkins would say, well what happens when someone is powerful and independent enough - with nuclear weapons - not to any longer need to cooperate with others? then in what name can we appeal to their better side as their 'evil' is relative and so is 'morality'. as with the other atheist leaders stalin and Mao who - throwing off the shackles of religion - decided, as well, that they must arrive at their own values through their will to power.

sieglinde Mon 15-Apr-13 09:28:14

Pedro said
"sieglinde you seem to be suggesting that children are born as theists. This is simply not true. If a child grew up in a world where there was no religion at all, it's pretty unlikely they'd ever be religious."

Not what I said. Just that there's some neurological evidence that human beings are wired to seek a universal explanation that makes sense of things. This might just as well be an atheist as a theist argument, as Ellie has pointed out. All I really wanted to say is that human children go through neural phases, only some of which predispose to theism/atheism - so really it's not entirely relevant. left to themselves, without the notorious men in frocks that seem to trouble ellie so much, they might for all we know evolve their own religion - say, worshipping a dead pig... or they might bypass religion. we can't ever find out, because our own society is - in all ways - the product of religion.

Interesting that some here don't seem to know what 'shallow' means. It's not a judgement about truth and falsity. The point is that Hitchens was a slick, sleazy and simplistic thinker, exactly the kind of thinker for the 21st century - soundbites and no nuances. Sorry, but he's not a martyr because he volunteered to be waterboarded. Anyone with two neurones to make a synapse didn't NEED to experience it personally to know it was horrible. It's part of his huge eogtism to turn it into the Hitch Show. FFS. Whty not do some work, people? Read some Ferber. Read some Kant.

Religion, you all say, is bad for the planet - can someone explain to me why it is worse than militant atheism? Let's not argue Hitler all over again. Let's stick to Stalin and Mao. Let's just start with a glance at their combined death tolls - somewhere near 100 million or more. Now tell me again why the RC church is to blame for desertification in China and pollution in Russia.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 09:36:49

and you said a fundamentalist WITH A NUKE. you mean iran i suppose? those weapons of mas destruction that iraq was supposed to have? that was used as a pretext to attack the iraqis? im watching the news and feeling dejavu about it all - nothing the iranians as the iraqis can change course.

You make a lot of assumptions. Did I say anything about Iraq? No I did not.

You like to think that you know what I'm talking about when clearly you don't.

What I said was that it only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke. I didn't say religious. In fact you brought religion into it and suggested that we don't see religious extremists truing to blow stuff up. I pointed out that you were wrong.

As for North Korea, if Kim Jong Un really is completely atheist, then I can say with much confidence that he is not doing whatever it is he's doing because he's an atheist. However, the religious attacks are carried out precisely because of the religious beliefs of those who plan and carry out the attacks.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 09:40:35

Religion, you all say, is bad for the planet - can someone explain to me why it is worse than militant atheism?

Militant atheism is not a thing. It doesn't exist. People don't perform atrocious acts because they are atheists. There are always other reasons because atheism doesn't propose a way of doing things, a moral code or a list of people to hate, it's just a word. What can't you grasp about that?

juule Mon 15-Apr-13 09:44:13

"Religion, you all say, is bad for the planet - can someone explain to me why it is worse than militant atheism"

Saying that atheism is bad doesn't make religion good.
This type of argument reminds me of my children. Tell one off for doing something and that child will then claim that a sibling did something wrong earlier in an attempt. It's an attempt to divert the attention and it doesn't make a wrong deed any better that someone one else did the equivalent or worse.

nailak Mon 15-Apr-13 10:16:00

It only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke, does this mean military action against all groups which have one fundamentalist in them is justified and should be carried out?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 11:16:35

I can tell you at the moment in Asia many of us think it would be justified to teach the spoilt brat in North Korea a lesson.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 12:02:23

It only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke, does this mean military action against all groups which have one fundamentalist in them is justified and should be carried out?

No. And I never suggested it was.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 13:01:38

hmm militant atheism...

Would we define that as the attempt to promote atheism through use of arms/violence?

Has that actually ever happened?

Both theist and atheist may be accused of using violence to expand their countries/resources/money etc but I think only the theists are guilty of using arms/violence in order to promote their religious view point?

Basically I think there is no such thing as militant atheism...while I am struggling to think of a religion that isn't a militant religion....even the buddhists seem to be having a crack at genocide at the moment.

This may be a selection problem...any religion not willing to use violence to expand it's membership has not survived to this era....

isabella well if your religious group has used violence, oppression, and torture simply for the end of expansion then yes I would suggest the religion is both militant and evil. Again this is far from saying that you are evil.

By analogy, for those of us living in the UK it is obvious that the British empire was evil, vast amount of violence was done for no reason other than expansion of the British meme, but that doesn't mean that all British people are evil....

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 13:12:04

Well the cultural revolution and the works of the khmer had a strong component militant atheism

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 13:13:26

mao's cultural revolution and the khmer rouge sorry for the generalisation.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 13:21:54

There are actually notable instances of bloody "state atheism"...french revolution cult reason and of the supreme being with a mini genocide of the royalist catholic "Chouans" and in Vendee.
Cuba? North korea? Contemporary russia....
Cant think of more now but in all these examples, significant damage inflicted on at least 2 generations....
Thats not anecdotical in my book.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 13:30:49

In china today there is very strong resistance to overt displays of faith. Its just not politically correct.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 13:33:50

The french revolution? Didn't they kill people because they were in charge rather than because they were catholic?

Hitch said something about the russia thing....something that implied it wasn't atheism to blame (unsurprisingly) but something which I didn't understand on account of being an imbecile when it comes to any topic that isn't physics (or octonauts).

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 13:34:48

regarding china, are we talking strong resistance as in societal peer pressure? Or strong resistance as in armed violence?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 13:40:07

Yes, there was one particular episode in the FR During what is called the reign of terror. I would expect that to be common knowledge but anyone who knows a bit about the FR would know.

But lets come back to contemporary Asia. Is that not evidence enough?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 13:59:32

Many Chinese Christians congregate in safe houses to avoid the state-controlled churches. They risk imprisonment, torture, and even, in some cases, death. Its well documented in the media.

Have you followed whats been going on in inner china with chinese muslims along the khyrgiz borders. We are tLking 2% of the chinese population just to put things in perspective.
Now i dont want to drop the bomb, by might as well in this region....tibet anyone?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 14:02:20

ICBINEG, i think i might just have re-ignited that firecracker grin

seriously, all am saying is we cant hold the moral high ground as atheists if we start being militant about it.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 14:06:10

Of course for the party, religion is just an expression of a particularism and is meant to be stiffled as such to keep a cohesive policy.
But still....its opportunistic atheism and just as bad as a means to an end.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 14:15:51

How about spain during the civil war? Not to mention the nationalst german worker's party....thats a biggie no?

sieglinde Mon 15-Apr-13 14:32:34

Thanks, Master. Saved my gnarled fingers some work there!

Yes, a militant atheism is the one which imposes it, one that ignores the right to religion.

Anyone still in doubt could go to

www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html

The death tolls of Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao given here are very much on the low side. Even Mao's 75 million is probably an underestimate, and the figures for Stalin are ridiculously low because they do not include the deaths caused directly by him in Eastern Europe. Moreover, some of the figures on this list - Bin Laden, say - are partly motivated by religious militancy and bigotry.

Nonetheless, the militant atheists have it on numbers last century.

I know all atheists are not dangerous militants. So why don't YOU know that not all people of faith are?

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 14:42:28

No I refuse to accept that someone who is both militant and an atheist is necessarily a militant atheist.

I don't know what Stalin was attempting to achieve but I don't think the primary motive was the removal of religious activity.

You can likewise be militant and theist without being a militant theist. But religions have caused a fantastic body count on missions whose primary goal WAS to spread their religion.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 14:44:37

See I am not counting the evils done by the british empire as done by religion even though it was C of E at the helm at the time.

As with all the examples listed below, they cannot be laid at the door of atheism simply because the person in charge was atheist.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 14:45:44

"I know all atheists are not dangerous militants. So why don't YOU know that not all people of faith are?"

Who is 'you' in this please?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 14:46:07

No I refuse to accept that someone who is both militant and an atheist is necessarily a militant atheist

chillgrin thats exactly what we are saying
But those who are proved to be real baddies as attested by contemporary history.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 15:00:37

So what IS your point then?

Much evil has been done by individuals in the history of the world, regardless of their faith / lack of faith.

But much evil has been done by organised religion also. My point was that this implies that organised religion is also a force for evil in the world, above and beyond the actions of individuals.

As far as I know there has been no equivalent body count to lay at the feet of organised atheism (if that even exists).

All major religions have a body count due to their expansionistic tendencies alone, and as far as I can tell atheism has no equivalent. (maybe we just aren't organised enough yet).

I checked out Stalin a very little and I can't find religion/anti-religion listed as a motivating force in his personal body count....

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 15:01:57

master but what of the aids deaths caused by the catholic insistence on unprotected sex?

This isn't one bonkers person, but the entire institution of the church killing millions of people?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 15:06:15

Sorry off to bed now, not ignoring you....be back tkmorrow!

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 15:15:30

Before i go, and back hitchens, you must find the article where he decides to whiten his teeth and have a crack, sack and back waxing job!
Never mind the waterboarding grin

NicholasTeakozy Mon 15-Apr-13 16:49:17

Hitch's 8 point plan (as an addendum to Steyn's) for the Middle East:-


"Steyn ends his book with a somewhat slapdash ten-point program for resistance to Islamism, which includes offhand one-line items such as “End the Iranian regime” and more elaborate proposals to get rid of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Authority, and (for some reason) NATO. His tenth point (“Strike militarily when the opportunity presents itself”) is barely even a makeweight to bring the figure up to ten.

Steyn is much more definite about the cultural side of his argument, in other words, than about the counterterrorist dimension. If I wanted to sharpen both prongs of his thesis, I would also propose the following:

1. An end to one-way multiculturalism and to the cultural masochism that goes with it. The Koran does not mandate the wearing of veils or genital mutilation, and until recently only those who apostasized from Islam faced the threat of punishment by death. Now, though, all manner of antisocial practices find themselves validated in the name of religion, and mullahs have begun to issue threats even against non-Muslims for criticism of Islam. This creeping Islamism must cease at once, and those responsible must feel the full weight of the law. Meanwhile, we should insist on reciprocity at all times. We should not allow a single Saudi dollar to pay for propaganda within the U.S., for example, until Saudi Arabia also permits Jewish and Christian and secular practices. No Wahhabi-printed Korans anywhere in our prison system. No Salafist imams in our armed forces.

2. A strong, open alliance with India on all fronts, from the military to the political and economic, backed by an extensive cultural exchange program, to demonstrate solidarity with the other great multiethnic democracy under attack from Muslim fascism. A hugely enlarged quota for qualified Indian immigrants and a reduction in quotas from Pakistan and other nations where fundamentalism dominates.

3. A similarly forward approach to Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the other countries of Western Africa that are under attack by jihadists and are also the location of vast potential oil reserves, whose proper development could help emancipate the local populations from poverty and ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

4. A declaration at the UN of our solidarity with the right of the Kurdish people of Iraq and elsewhere to self-determination as well as a further declaration by Congress that in no circumstance will Muslim forces who have fought on our side, from the Kurds to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, find themselves friendless, unarmed, or abandoned. Partition in Iraq would be defeat under another name (and as with past partitions, would lead to yet further partitions and micro-wars over these very subdivisions). But if it has to come, we cannot even consider abandoning the one part of the country that did seize the opportunity of modernization, development, and democracy.

5. Energetic support for all the opposition forces in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora. A public offer from the United States, disseminated widely in the Persian language, of help for a reformed Iran on all matters, including peaceful nuclear energy, and of assistance in protecting Iran from the catastrophic earthquake that seismologists predict in its immediate future. Millions of lives might be lost in a few moments, and we would also have to worry about the fate of secret underground nuclear facilities. When a quake leveled the Iranian city of Bam three years ago, the performance of American rescue teams was so impressive that their popularity embarrassed the regime. Iran’s neighbors would need to pay attention, too: a crisis in Iran’s nuclear underground facilities—an Iranian Chernobyl—would not be an internal affair. These concerns might help shift the currently ossified terms of the argument and put us again on the side of an internal reform movement within Iran and its large and talented diaspora.

6. Unconditional solidarity, backed with force and the relevant UN resolutions, with an independent and multi-confessional Lebanon.

7. A commitment to buy Afghanistan’s opium crop and to keep the profits out of the hands of the warlords and Talibanists, until such time as the country’s agriculture— especially its once-famous vines—has been replanted and restored. We can use the product in the interim for the manufacture of much-needed analgesics for our own market and apply the profits to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

8. We should, of course, be scrupulous on principle about stirring up interethnic tensions. But we should remind those states that are less scrupulous—Iran, Pakistan, and Syria swiftly come to mind—that we know that they, too, have restless minorities and that they should not make trouble in Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Iraq without bearing this in mind. Some years ago, the Pakistani government announced that it would break the international embargo on the unrecognized and illegal Turkish separatist state in Cyprus and would appoint an ambassador to it, out of “Islamic solidarity.” Cyprus is a small democracy with no armed forces to speak of, but its then–foreign minister told me the following story. He sought a meeting with the Pakistani authorities and told them privately that if they recognized the breakaway Turkish colony, his government would immediately supply funds and arms to one of the secessionist movements—such as the Baluchis—within Pakistan itself. Pakistan never appointed an ambassador to Turkish Cyprus.

When I read Sam Harris’s irresponsible remark that only fascists seemed to have the right line, I murmured to myself: “Not while I’m alive, they won’t.” Nor do I wish to concede that Serbo-fascist ethnic cleansing can appear more rational in retrospect than it did at the time. The Islamist threat itself may be crude, but this is an intricate cultural and political challenge that will absorb all of our energies for the rest of our lives: we are all responsible for doing our utmost as citizens as well as for demanding more imagination from our leaders"

I realise it's a bit long but it's worth a read. It's far more sensible than any suggestions made by Blair or any other 'experts'. I'm not saying Blair is an expert, other than of being a fool for agreeing to back an illegal war and a different unwinnable war.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 16:52:54

There seems to be a confusion here.

Even in instances where violence is put upon the religious by the non religious, this is not driven by atheism. It may be political, it may be that the individuals are anti-religion, but there's no atheist doctrine that tells them to kill all the religionists.

On the other hand, most religious texts say, either explicitly or can easily be interpreted as saying, kill the unbelievers.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 16:55:49

I'm not saying Blair is an expert, other than of being a fool for agreeing to back an illegal war and a different unwinnable war.

He is a raging Catholic though, and has some pretty weird ideas. Also debated Hitchens.... Worth a watch!

nailak Mon 15-Apr-13 17:39:14

pedro" Yes Sam Harris goes beyond other atheist writers and speakers to advocate not just a moral crusade but a military style crusade against the Muslim world." =

"It wouldn't be too difficult to come up with a pretty lengthy list of Muslims who want to bomb the Western world and would actually follow through with it (or already have) so yes, I think Harris has a point."

So you say you never suggested military action against all groups which include one fundamentalist, but after your further comments accepting it is 0.1% of Muslims which would want to bomb the west, in conjunction with your comment that it only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke, it sounds like you are saying that people who advocate military action against groups with one fundamentalist within them have a point.

nailak Mon 15-Apr-13 17:45:03

Nicholas

"The Koran does not mandate the wearing of veils or genital mutilation" Is it really down to an atheist who is strongly anti religious to dictate to the adherents of a religion how to intepret their books?

"reduction in quotas from Pakistan and other nations where fundamentalism dominates." How do you get to the conclusion that fundamentalism dominates in Pakistan? are the ordinary people of Pakistan fundamentalists according to him? As there are many who would beg to differ. I am sure you all know people from Pakistan who are in no way fundamentalists.

sieglinde Mon 15-Apr-13 18:26:21

Ok, now we see the brilliance of your position.... If atheists commit crimes, even crimes directed specifically at members of religious groups, then that has nothing to do with their atheism. Even if they say it has. Whereas if even the most tangentially faith-led people commit crimes - as the British empire - then those are caused entirely by their religious beliefs.

Come the fuck off it.

On Stalin and religion:

Stalin took [atheism] further than his predecessor, Lenin, and initiated a nationwide campaign to destroy churches and religious property and even persecute and kill church officials.2 It is said that under Stalin, the Russian Orthodox Church went from 50,000 to 500 open and operating churches.

Stalin once said:

'You know, they are fooling us, there is no God… all this talk about God is sheer nonsense.'

In the war years he did grit his teeth and tolerate the church to build up morale. He even pretended to tolerate Islam. But all that evaporated as soon as the war was won.

I have to say in honesty that these quotations are from a website very much in the loony atheist camp, one that thinks Stalin's religion is a complex question because of his wartime tolerance. I have to go and be a mother now... but the point is that atheism was an intrinsic, non-discardable part of Stalin's communism, and Mao's too, and yes, they set out to wipe out competitor faiths, believing they were doing good, in a way. Will post tomorrow on the others I namechecked.

Isabeller Mon 15-Apr-13 18:40:44

ICBINEG I don't think my religious group has used violence, oppression and torture for the end of expansion, not to say that it is perfect or everyone has always behaved perfectly. Do you think the fact that it has survived is proof that it must have used violence to expand?

I'm not trying to be trivial but are you saying the litmus test of whether a religious group is evil is it's attitude towards violence?

drjohnsonscat Mon 15-Apr-13 18:51:35

I'm an atheist and absolutely no fan of Hitchens. He was pretty crap on women and abortion. But as long as he got to pontificate about god and all the big stuff, leaving women to get on with doing their natural duty by giving birth and laughing at his jokes, then he was fine.

Isabeller Mon 15-Apr-13 18:53:50

Pedro you say "most religious texts say, either explicitly or can easily be interpreted as saying, kill the unbelievers" and I'm not too sure about this.

How have you decided what to include in all religious texts and which ones count. I know that sounds pernickety and you are making a serious point but I wonder if it would be possible for a religious text to pass your test of not saying kill the unbelievers? I hope what I am asking makes sense.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 19:08:15

Come the fuck off it.

Anti religious, not atheist. You wouldn't go killing religionists because you are atheist, you might if you are a militant anti religionist. Is that really so hard for you to understand??

You can't do anything in the name of atheism because it has no mandate to do things in the name of.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 19:18:56

Seig So that twice I feel you have attacked me for saying the opposite of what I actually said.

Firstly I have gone out of my way more than once to state that individuals may be blameless or guilty within both religion or atheism yet you yell that I can't understand that not all the religious are militant.

Secondly I state that I definitively would NOT lay the blame for the british empire activities on religion on the basis that it was religious people in control at the time and you yell that I do blame them on religion?

Are you really as dense as you are acting? Or are you simply massively deficient in reading skills?

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 19:21:01

isabella I think it is a fair litmus test as to whether a religion is a force of evil in the world...yes.

Although I admit there may be other criteria of lesser importance...

Which maor religions do you feel may be guilt free on that score?

NicholasTeakozy Mon 15-Apr-13 19:21:30

From that Nailak, I take it you're in favour of the disgusting pracrise of FGM.

Why don't men cover their faces, an article by a Yemeni woman bemused at having to cover up and still getting leered at. Imagine her amazement at seeing women in a Western country not getting stared at for dressing 'immodestly'.

It's time to change these mens' attitude, wouldn't you?

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 19:30:44

Ohh did I have genital mutilation in my list of things a neonate exploring their intrinsic relationship with god/spirituality would never in a million years think of?

Consider it added!

Isabeller Mon 15-Apr-13 19:37:05

It sounds as if you are not necessarily against religion and religious groups, which I thought was what you were originally saying but I may have misunderstood that. I say that because it sounds as if pacifist religious groups are not evil in your eyes.

Again I may have missed it but I didn't completely pick up that your real concern is 'major religions'. Are you assigning different groups to the same 'major religion' even if they don't see things the same way? It doesn't seem reasonable to say someone's religious group is evil based on the beliefs or actions of a different religious group.

I am a bit nervous about asking these questions but I think it is an important subject.

nailak Mon 15-Apr-13 20:00:00

I am in favour of clitoral hoodectomy by a surgeon by those women who want it. Not of FGM

Definitely it is time to change these mens attitudes. These men exist in all cultures and religions.

EllieArroway Mon 15-Apr-13 23:19:49

Religion, you all say, is bad for the planet - can someone explain to me why it is worse than militant atheism? Let's not argue Hitler all over again. Let's stick to Stalin and Mao. Let's just start with a glance at their combined death tolls - somewhere near 100 million or more. Now tell me again why the RC church is to blame for desertification in China and pollution in Russia

Yes - let's avoid talking about Hitler. Embarrassing to admit that he was born a Catholic, remained a Catholic all his life, was never excommunicated and publicly proclaimed that Jesus was his saviour. Ooops blush

But you know what - I would never advance that argument anyway. Because it's stupid. Nothing Hitler did, in terms of atrocities, was because of his religion - or lack of it. He was influenced by an ideology.

And that's the same as Stalin and Mao. Yes, they did terrible things - but it was not in "the name of atheism". The fact that they were atheists had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

I am an atheist. If I went shoplifting tomorrow, who in their right mind would say I was doing it "in the name of atheism"? Nobody does anything because of something they DON'T believe in - that makes no logical sense. They take actions based on what they DO believe in - and in this case it was an ideology. An ideology, by the way, that had far more in common with organised religion than the free-thinking atheism we have today.

They demanded worship, of themselves and the state, and only got rid of religion because that diluted the worship they felt they were due. At no point did they say, "Right...I don't believe in a god, so I'm going to kill people because, er, I don't believe in a god".

Really, this trotting out of Stalin and Mao by Christians displays not only ignorance of the history but also of what atheism actually means.

Isabeller Mon 15-Apr-13 23:27:15

Ellie much of what you said sounds very reasonable but I think it is possible that for some people not believing in God or another religious/spiritual idea does liberate them to do anything they think they can get away with including violence.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 23:46:50

I think that atheists in general are more likely to suffer doubt about their actions?

Like I have to question all my actions and measure them against my own internal moral compass because I have no ready made set of rules to follow.

I think that the religious are more likely to see things in black and white because some believe whole heartedly in the rule set they have been given.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 23:48:04

Or in other words you are more likely to think you can not only get away with violence but that violence is actually the best course of action when you think you have god backing you...

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 00:10:45

I'm not sure black and white thinking or lack of doubt or questioning actions internally are especially linked to being either religious or atheist.

I do question my actions and tend not o see things in black and white but I'm not sure whether I necessarily pass your test of being religious so perhaps my experience doesn't count in the larger picture.

Are you convinced that any religious or spiritually based approach is inherently 'evil'?

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 00:12:09

'having god backing you' I think I know what you mean when you say this but it doesn't really make much sense to me as a concept at first reading.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 00:16:05

Ellie much of what you said sounds very reasonable but I think it is possible that for some people not believing in God or another religious/spiritual idea does liberate them to do anything they think they can get away with including violence

Not supported by any evidence. There is a very clear correlation between levels of religiosity in a country and crime.

The most atheistic (or non-religious would be a fairer way to put it) on Earth are those with the lowest crime levels - Sweden, Japan etc. Those with the highest number of religious people, like America, have the highest.

I'm NOT saying this is all down to religion, or the lack of it, but if you were right there would be some evidence suggesting that religious societies are more likely to be law abiding than non-religious ones and that is simply not the case.

And are you really suggesting that for many religious people it's their religion that stops them being violent or committing crime? Not just that they are decent people who care about others? Really?

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 00:16:49

The most atheistic (or non-religious would be a fairer way to put it) countries on Earth ... that should be. Sorry.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 00:19:45

Ellie much of what you said sounds very reasonable but I think it is possible that for some people not believing in God or another religious/spiritual idea does liberate them to do anything they think they can get away with including violence.

How exactly does one become liberated to do anything they want because they don't believe in a religion? What a ridiculous comment. This would only hold any weight if you genuinely believed that all morals can only come from religion. To be frank, I think if you need a book to tell you what's right and wrong then you probably have a much weaker sense of self morality than most atheists and are more likely to commit horrendous acts inadvertently because you thought it's what your God wanted.

And for the record, just like Penn Jillette, I do exactly as much murdering, raping and pillaging as I like. Which is none, because I'm not a psychopath.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 00:22:15

Are you convinced that any religious or spiritually based approach is inherently 'evil'?

9/11

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 00:25:35

And for the record, just like Penn Jillette, I do exactly as much murdering, raping and pillaging as I like. Which is none, because I'm not a psychopath

What none, Pedro? You are letting the atheistic side down, you know. I thought we were all meant to be immoral sinners. I must be doing it wrong wink

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 00:31:56

That's really interesting Ellie (about Sweden and Japan) I wasn't trying to make a point about countries though, just about the possibility that some people might be disinhibited by their convictions. I don't mean to suggest that they shouldn't think what they think. Does my point not make any sense to you at all?

I don't see why I am implying religious societies should be better behaved. I'm thinking on a rather individual level I'm afraid but I'm not convinced being religious as such is being party to something evil.

For myself I think religious conviction has played a part in preventing me being violent. I do know a lot of people (religious and otherwise) who seem naturally nice and nonviolent but for me it is a bit if a struggle.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 00:34:10

For myself I think religious conviction has played a part in preventing me being violent. I do know a lot of people (religious and otherwise) who seem naturally nice and nonviolent but for me it is a bit if a struggle.

So without religion you'd be a violent criminal? <<backs away slowly from church>>

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 00:37:30

What none, Pedro? You are letting the atheistic side down, you know. I thought we were all meant to be immoral sinners. I must be doing it wrong

Well, you know, I did consider it once, but then I got hungry and went to McDonald's.

Don't let me stop you though. Far be it from me to go around dictating moral truths. That's the reserve of the beardy dude up the mountain with his chisel.

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 01:02:36

Pedro apologies for my badly posed question. I didn't mean is there one example of religious evil (there are so many awful ones) but whether religious/spiritual approaches to life appear inevitably and always evil in every case? ie is it possible to be religious and not evil?

How exactly does one become liberated to do anything they want because they don't believe in a religion? What a ridiculous comment. This would only hold any weight if you genuinely believed that all morals can only come from religion. To be frank, I think if you need a book to tell you what's right and wrong then you probably have a much weaker sense of self morality than most atheists and are more likely to commit horrendous acts inadvertently because you thought it's what your God wanted.

I can't agree with your logic here and I'm afraid you have misunderstood me. If all the 'you's are meant to apply personally to me you are assuming I hold beliefs I don't hold but if not then we don't necessarily disagree entirely. I don't have a God telling me to do hideous things as far as I can tell. I don't think you object to my being guided by the writings and thoughts of others I wouldn't say I 'need a book to tell me what's right and wrong'. You may well have a point that I am weaker than most atheists.

I am not trying to make enormous generalisations and I apologise if I seemed to imply that I believe religion is necessary to morality because that is not what I think at all. I have met individuals who believed that the only consequences of their appalling actions were whether or not they got caught. They did not have the self morality of most atheists. Ellie was saying no one does anything because of what they don't believe in and I was wondering if that is literally true.

I think involvement with the underground railroad and kindertransport was spiritually motivated for some people.

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 01:10:03

I think I probably do have it in me to be violent and certainly criminal, I am not a natural pacifist. I don't know for certain though. Which church are you backing away from wink?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 07:29:07

I was backing away from the church full of potentially violent people only restrained by their god! grin

It's a logical truth that you can't do anything because of what you don't believe in. You wouldn't rob a bank because you don't believe in fairies.

But perhaps I wasn't clear enough. You are saying that you have it in you to be violent. Well, I guess we all do potentially, but you think that you only don't act upon that potential because of your religion?? Well that's a pretty volatile position to be in. It also calls into question your own set of moral values.

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 08:05:51

I am confused

"you have it in you to be violent...you think that you only don't act upon that potential because of your religion??" is a surprising interpretation of my saying I think religious conviction has played a part in preventing me being violent.

The OP talks about a possible moral imperative to rid the world of the evil that is religion. It sounds as if, whatever my personal beliefs or behaviour, the fact that I describe myself as a member of a religious group is enough for some posters to want to rid the world of evil me, what with my questionable morals and all wink. Bit sad about this.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 08:58:08

"you have it in you to be violent...you think that you only don't act upon that potential because of your religion??" is a surprising interpretation of my saying I think religious conviction has played a part in preventing me being violent.

I think it's a reasonable conclusion to what you're saying. Your religion helps stop you being violent.

Anyway, it's not necessarily the individuals who are evil, it's the organisations who control the religions.

sieglinde Tue 16-Apr-13 09:29:59

Oh, ellie, must we do Hitler AGAIN? He was brought up RC and abandoned it at the age of 14. He did his best to get rid of all Xtian groups but saw it didn't pay politically because he needed the support of the conservatives in the south. It's pointless to talk to someone who prides themselves on their rationality but can't apparently be arsed to check their facts in even the most elementary way.

Let me reiterate. I am NOT saying that all atheists are mass murders, though YOU are inclined to say all Christians are, somehow. I'm simply pointing out the inconsistent bigotry by which you approach the issues.

Sorry, but atheism was not somehow incidental to communism, but fundamental to it. I imagine there's no hope you've actually read Marx, but if you had you would know this. You would also know that the Stalinist regimes in eastern Europe even targeted the YMCA, ffs, because it was Christian.

I KNOW that's not the kind of atheist you are. (Though actually I'm not 100% sure that you couldn't be coaxed to be that quite easily - you're so very very certain you're right and that you know best for everyone). Why don't YOU know that I'm not that sort of Catholic? Your intolerance is the problem because you are so inconsistent - cutting atheists every kind of break, and none for people of faith.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 10:45:31

Morning, Sieglinde.

I brought that up as a joke. I couldn't give a flying fart about Hitler's religious affiliations, or lack of them - the man was clearly not above lying for the cause, and pretending beliefs he didn't have to get people to do what he wanted.

Unfortunately, lots of the people who did what he wanted were, in fact, Catholics, and he knew exactly what to say to get them on side - but that's for another thread.

Now, then...you have an annoying habit of using the term "YOU" when addressing me a lot. Do you mean me, specifically, or atheists in general?

If you mean me specifically then this....*though YOU are inclined to say all Christians are, somehow* is utterly without justification. I have never said or implied any such thing. In fact I am careful, always, to make sure that I don't imply that I hold all members of any religion personally responsible for the atrocities carried out by their churches. I've even said to YOU that I consider you better than the faith you subscribe to - as I do all Catholics.

So, please stop putting words in my mouth. As I'm sure you're aware by now, I am perfectly able to speak for myself.

Sorry, but atheism was not somehow incidental to communism, but fundamental to it. I imagine there's no hope you've actually read Marx, but if you had you would know this. You would also know that the Stalinist regimes in eastern Europe even targeted the YMCA, ffs, because it was Christian

How patronising. I have a degree in Modern History and an MA in Medieval History (not specifically relevant, but anyway). History is my subject - just so you know.

Was Stalin a communist? That's highly debatable - his actions & attitudes certainly bore very little relation to anything written by Marx or Engels. There's nothing within their writings that could lead to mass murder, purges and gulags. Nothing at all.

So while a society free of religion (because of it's oppressive nature) may have been advocated by Marx (for ideological reasons) this was not, absolutely 100% not, what Stalin was aiming for. Stalin couldn't have given a shit whether people were being oppressed or not - he was chiefly concerned that any oppression be done by him & the state.

Stalin's regime was totalitarian - a universe away from Marxism. He demanded total control of everyone and everything and was prepared to kill to get it. If people were getting together to worship their god, then Stalin wasn't the ultimate authority that he was determined to be. Religion, in this respect, was a rival institution.

He invented his own ideology - we have a name for it. It's Stalinism. And there's no way that you can make a logical link between not believing in a god (or anything else) and mass murder on the scale that we saw in Stalinist Russia.

you're so very very certain you're right I usually am though, which is why I make you so cross wink

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 11:33:15

A little thought experiment for you, Sieglinde.

As you know, I loathe the religion you subscribe to. I think it's inherently evil and is directly responsible for a great deal of physical and psychological suffering on this planet. I don't think you are evil, and I know that there's much of the doctrine that you reject - you've told me and I believe you. Now, if it was me, I could not bear to be part of an organisation capable of such atrocious acts. I would leave. Simple as that. I'd find another way to worship God.

Now, you clearly have similar feelings about atheism...that it's been responsible for many deaths and so on.

So, by the same token - could I leave atheism in protest? Surely, if atheism is responsible for so many evil acts, why would I want to be part of such an organisation?

Er, no. I couldn't, could I?

And why not? Because it's not an organisation that I have joined - there are no doctrines or dogmas for me to turn my back on. There are no rules for me to disapprove of. Nothing has ever been done in my name for me to be ashamed of.

My atheism is only the response I make to the theism of another. Nothing more. It's not a positive thing, a belief in it's own right - it's the rejection of your belief that I haven't been persuaded to share.

I could, however leave Stalinism, if I'd ever been part of that ideology. I could protest those atrocities by defecting, or whatever. But I can't leave atheism.

So, you see - your attempt to conflate the atrocities committed IN THE NAME OF and BECAUSE OF your religion are in no way equal to the actions of a man who happened to be an atheist but, more importantly subscribed to a particular ideology that, he decided, were best served by mass murder.

Do you see? Frankly, I'm doubting it.

YoniMaroney Tue 16-Apr-13 12:43:10

"Not supported by any evidence. There is a very clear correlation between levels of religiosity in a country and crime.

The most atheistic (or non-religious would be a fairer way to put it) on Earth are those with the lowest crime levels - Sweden, Japan etc. Those with the highest number of religious people, like America, have the highest."

You just made that up though.

The US has high murder rates, a fact that many link to high levels of gun ownership (NOT a religious issue), but rape statistics, for example, in Sweden are DOUBLE those of the US. Assault statistics are more than THREE times higher in Sweden. Burglary levels 50% higher. Vehicle theft rates 70% higher.

www.civitas.org.uk/crime/crime_stats_oecdjan2012.pdf

And beyond the fact that you just made that up, and it's just not true, unsupported by evidence, there are many in the US who say 'but crime is a racial issue', and would say that the reason that US murder rates are so much higher than Sweden is because Sweden is a white country, whereas the US has a lot of black people. E.g., Ann Coulter suggested that the white murder rate in the US was the same as that of Belgium. www.nationalreview.com/media-blog/337839/ann-coulters-truthful-rhetoric-gun-violence-and-race-greg-pollowitz

But if anyone came out on mumsnet and said 'but these high crime rates are because there are too many black people', providing statistics to support this claim, they would be accused of bigotry. When you however say that crime is due to religiosity, without providing any evidence of that, and with no justification for any correlation, and when in fact the statistics don't support your claim, people just say 'that's really interesting', and nobody suggests you are bigoted, even though it clearly is.

And just to make it clear, I'm not trying to debate any link between race and crime, just pointing out that your claims are false, and bigoted.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 13:02:08

When you however say that crime is due to religiosity

Where did I say that?

Oh, you mean when I said....

I'm NOT saying this is all down to religion, or the lack of it, but if you were right there would be some evidence suggesting that religious societies are more likely to be law abiding than non-religious ones and that is simply not the case

Learn to read, please.

I was responding, as you are clearly incapable of understanding, to the suggestion that religion stops people behaving badly. Clearly it does not. This is not AT ALL the same thing as suggesting that all crime is due to religiosity.

Really - how fucking dare you call me a bigot because you aren't bright enough to understand what I actually wrote?

Go away.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 13:07:28

But if anyone came out on mumsnet and said 'but these high crime rates are because there are too many black people', providing statistics to support this claim, they would be accused of bigotry. When you however say that crime is due to religiosity, without providing any evidence of that, and with no justification for any correlation, and when in fact the statistics don't support your claim, people just say 'that's really interesting', and nobody suggests you are bigoted, even though it clearly is.

Except that nobody chooses the colour of their skin but everybody chooses their religion. So these are not at all comparable and just another example of how the religious think they should be afforded special treatment because of their religion.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 13:11:31

By the way - Sweden has a higher level of REPORTED rapes, because people are more likely to report it to the authorities there than anywhere else.

This has to be taken into consideration when looking at any crime rate figure - it usually reflects a societal willingness to engage with law enforcement more than anything else.

But you just carry on calling me a liar and a bigot. Don't let any pesky facts get in your way, eh?

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 13:17:50

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.pdf

An article in the Journal of Religion and Society proving my points.

Read it and apologise.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 13:21:52

Here's a summary for anyone not wanting to plough through an academic paper:

Several weeks ago, a ground-breaking study on religious belief and social well-being was published in the Journal of Religion & Society. Comparing 18 prosperous democracies from the U.S. to New Zealand, author Gregory S Paul quietly demolished the myth that faith strengthens society.

Drawing on a wide range of studies to cross-match faith – measured by belief in God and acceptance of evolution – with homicide and intimate behavior, Paul found that secular societies have lower rates of violence and teenage pregnancy than societies where many people profess belief in God.

Top of the class, in both atheism and good behavior, come the Japanese. Over eighty percent accept evolution and fewer than ten percent are certain that God exists. Despite its size – over a hundred million people – Japan is one of the least crime-prone countries in the world. It also has the lowest rates of teenage pregnancy of any developed nation.

(Teenage pregnancy has less tragic consequences than violence but it is usually unwanted, and it is frequently associated with deprivation among both mothers and children. In general, it is a Bad Thing.)

Next in line are the Norwegians, British, Germans and Dutch. At least sixty percent accept evolution as a fact and fewer than one in three are convinced that there is a deity. There is little teenage pregnancy , although the Brits, with over 40 pregnancies per 1,000 girls a year, do twice as badly as the others. Homicide rates are also low -- around 1-2 victims per 100,000 people a year.

At the other end of the scale comes America. Over 50 percent of Americans believe in God, and only 40 percent accept some form of evolution (many believe it had a helping hand from the Deity). The U.S. has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and homicide rates are at least five times greater than in Europe and ten times higher than in Japan.

All this information points to a strong correlation between faith and antisocial behavior -- a correlation so strong that there is good reason to suppose that religious belief does more harm than good.

There's an email address for the author should anyone want to let him know he's a bigot Let me know if you want it.

sieglinde Tue 16-Apr-13 13:25:01

Alas, ellie, you are more often wrong than right. Loudly wrong. This time I am addressing you. Last time I was addressing the group of tireless atheist bigots here. Clear now?

Your zany claim that Stalinism and marxism are distinct is a new low. I note you are now trying to hold on to Marx too, as well as atheism, perhaps because not even you think Marx was anything but a militant atheist. of course there are many forms of marxism, of which Stalinism was one, and Leninism another, and Maoism a third, but I challenge you to tell me of a form of Marxism in politics since 1918 that is tolerant of religion.

Your thought experiment amounts to this - because there's nobody to whom you can hand in your resignation, you need accept no responsibility for any acts committed as hate crimes against people of faith by people whose beliefs you support and defend in other key respects. Frankly, it's just special pleading. MORE special pleading.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 13:49:09

Your zany claim that Stalinism and marxism are distinct is a new low

Marxism is a form of communism. Communism promotes the idea of common ownership etc etc

Totalitarianism is the exact opposite - the state owns and controls everything.

If you are incapable of understanding even this much then I strongly, strongly suggest you don't attempt to get into this with me.

And if you're addressing me - please find and quote for me exactly where I claimed that all Christians are mass murderers.

The rest of your post is too stupid for me to respond to.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 13:49:48

And you're on the wrong thread.

YoniMaroney Tue 16-Apr-13 13:50:40

"Except that nobody chooses the colour of their skin but everybody chooses their religion. So these are not at all comparable and just another example of how the religious think they should be afforded special treatment because of their religion."

Everybody chooses their religion? So the 90%+ of Indonesians who are Muslims all chose that did they? Whereas the 90% of neighbouring Filipinos who are Christian likewise chose Christianity?

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 13:56:02

You don't have to believe in your religion. It's a choice. Unless it's an indoctrination, in which case there's a whole other conversation to be had.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 14:08:26

So, just going to ignore your mistake and the despicable personal attacks based on it, then?

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 14:12:07

wow just wow.

There isn't actually any point engaging with sieg is there? I have made several posts directly to them labelled sieg and none have been responded to.

for what its worth I think you argument regarding the organisations you subscribe to is a very interesting and valid one.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 14:14:07

I am atheist. All by myself. But I may or may not join the humanist society. IF the humanist society blow up a mosque then I would leave them immediately. If the humanist society only offered aid to people who renounced their faith I would leave them immediately.

If they did these things and I still remained a member than I would consider myself culpable in their crimes.

So you believe in the catholic version of God. But you choice to belong to the catholic church. If the catholic church refuse aid to those who do now convert than you are culpable for that crime if and only if you are a member of the church. Your belief in the catholic god is entirely separate to that.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 14:15:10

sorry you = ellie

YoniMaroney Tue 16-Apr-13 14:16:11

"An article in the Journal of Religion and Society proving my points.

Read it and apologise."

???

This man appears to be an 'evangelical atheist', a member of the Council for Secular Humanism, who in addition maintains a personal website saying how stupid religious people are.

He has a massive axe to grind.

Besides which, the article clearly states:

"Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular
democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and antievolution America performs poorly."

This article is not about crime, as you in fact claimed:

"There is a very clear correlation between levels of religiosity in a country and crime"

It's just a random collection of social ills, for instance he argues that

"Life spans tend to decrease as rates of religiosity rise (Figure 5),
especially as a function of absolute belief"

In fact, if you look at figure 5 there doesn't appear to be any correlation at all.

Looking at his cherry picked selection of stats, you can see:

Figure 2 (homicides):
no evidence of correlation, but the US has much higher rates

Figure 3 (suicides at a certain, arbitrary age (15-24)):
no correlation at all

I got bored at this point, he's so obviously a bigot, and his article is basically based on the Bangladeshi Butter Indicator, except that in this case rather than trying to figure out how to make money in the markets, he has written this article in order to 'prove' his pre-determined point-of-view, namely that religion is evil. And whereas the Bangladeshi Butter Indicator correlates rather well, his stats do not (even though he can cherry pick the ones he wants to use, and discard similar stats that don't fit hs pre-determined conclusion).

So rather than as a normal, rational, non-bigoted person might do, saying 'Hmm, the US has infant mortality rates that are 50% higher than the UK, maybe there is something different about their respective healthcare systems, income equality, etc.', he just blindly asserts that this is because of religion, based on a sample, of er, one.

And again where he looks at life expectancy, rather than saying 'Many Americans are obese, and are suffering premature death as a result, maybe US planning laws encourage urban sprawl, overuse of cars, portions are too large, diets unhealty, etc.', and comparing it with European-style living with car use heavily taxed, etc., he, based on nothing at all, decides that it's all to do with religion.

Absolutely the definition of a bigot.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 14:33:15

Here's another one

http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/zuckerman/Zuckerman_on_Atheism.pdf

There's been quite a few. That I can produce any proves that I haven't just made it up.

You owe me a fucking apology.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 14:33:25
EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 14:35:00

.....who in addition maintains a personal website saying how stupid religious people are

Well, he won't get an argument from me on that one.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 14:39:39

Well I think as long as it says correlation then that is fair...although I doubt causality in the extreme.

In fact I suspect it goes the other way...more enlightened fairer less fearful societies will have more atheists because less people feel the need to conform.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 14:44:20

but yeah if you accuse someone of making up data when they can show you the published data, then you deffo owe an apology.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 14:48:33

athiests have "lower levels of prejudice, ethnocentrism, racism,
and homophobia, greater support for women’s equality, child-rearing that promotes independent thinking and an absence of corporal punishment, etc"

well homophobia is certainly a banker at least....I find it extremely easy to agree with that one...

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 14:52:11

And poorer nations tend to be more religious too - and they generally have a higher crime rate. So, it's not a simple thing.

But really - this is not on.

You accused me of making it all up....a bare faced liar, in other words. I have produced two studies that back up what I say. Come up with whatever objections you like, but it's clear that I got my information from somewhere so I am NOT A LIAR making stuff up.

You then accused me of claiming that all crime was caused by religious people. I didn't say anything of the sort - or even implied it. I went out of my way to say that NOT all high crime could be put down to levels of religion, the situation is way more complex than that, but you deliberately misread me and called me a fucking bigot.

Enough. How dare you and the likes of Sielglinde continually attack me and use that awful word when all I'm doing is debating an issue.

You have the almighty bloody cheek to demand respect but flagrantly offer absolutely none in return.

Absolutely bloody disgusting.

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 14:52:47

Icbineg the religious group I belong to is very much opposed to violence so perhaps passes your litmus test. It is a relatively small group and I have a problem with the concept of a major religion when you are looking closely at the evils done with a religious excuse. I realise this whole area is very problematic and I think you pose very important questions.

I'm not sure whether your goal is to convince people of faith that they are fundamentally mistaken or whether you want to advocate non-tolerance of religious faith and practice.

I'm struggling with finding anything I say on this thread is understood as a vast and ridiculous generalisation so perhaps I should be concentrating more on trying to properly understand other poster's points of view. On the other hand perhaps you would prefer not to hear from someone in my position.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 14:59:33

isabella it's okay - we can chat and ignore the yelling.

My position does not currently involve anything other than being quietly atheist at the moment. Certainly I have never tried to argue anyone out of their faith, nor prevented anyone from practising their faith.

I am working my way up from just ignoring the whole issue to thinking that it isn't okay for there to be mandatory god worship in schools....and that I should actually actively campaign against this.

In trying to make that leap I am exploring whether the wrongs perpetrated by organised religion are bad enough that I should get off my ass and attempt to remove their influence from my children's education. In the area I live in their are religious schools both C of E and catholic and any other school is C of E by default.

So I am primarily interested in the morality and pros and cons of removing C of E and catholic influence over children's education.

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 15:13:01

Religion in school is certainly an incredibly important and tough subject. If you feel strongly about this I hope you will really look into it and act on your conclusions.

Are your children being forced into being involved with worship of some kind? I don't know if it was you but I saw a thread recently about someone who was rightly unhappy that in order to apply to their school of choice they would have to manufacture a pretend faith. I don't see how any religious school could in conscience want to be party to that.

YoniMaroney Tue 16-Apr-13 15:20:03

"Here's another one

http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/zuckerman/Zuckerman_on_Atheism.pdf

There's been quite a few. That I can produce any proves that I haven't just made it up. "

???

You said, and I will quote again :

"The most atheistic (or non-religious would be a fairer way to put it) on Earth are those with the lowest crime levels - Sweden, Japan etc. Those with the highest number of religious people, like America, have the highest."

This is and was bollocks, and you made it up, and yet you are still getting all indignant trying to defend yourself with links to random long essays that don't actually support your claim, rather than just admit that you were wrong.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 15:41:22

isabella all schools in the UK have to do an 'act of worship' every day.

I believe you can get your kid out of that if you want to but that isn't really a solution in my opinion. The majority of people in the UK are not C of E so why have a C of E act of worship every day?

My own child is too young but it is time to think about the issue before it happens.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 15:42:59

hmm basically I don't want my female child's education to permeated by a religious organisation that cannot manage to treat women as equals.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 15:47:46

ellie don't bother responding to them. Anyone that calls you a bigot for quoting conclusions from peer reviewed literature isn't worth talking to.

although this would include a lot of FFers on MN that don't like the look of the data correlating SIDS and FFing.....

sieglinde Tue 16-Apr-13 17:40:55

Sorry not to have responded sooner, but I really have a busy day today. I'll try tomorrow - certainly didn't intend to blank anyone, ICBINEG, and apologies if it seemed like that, nor to call people bigoted simply for quoting peer-reviewed journals - perish the thought, since I publish in them too. It's just that it's 0th week here...

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 18:58:19

On the schools front I'd like to share an anecdote which happened to me in year 8 (so we're talking mid nineties).

We had a representative from Amnesty International come in to school and we spent a class with them. They told us 12 year old about some Greek guy who had rowing on a river and somehow lost his oars or something (can't remember exactly what it was), anyway, he inadvertently floated into Albania and got picked up by Albanian police as a trespasser and thrown into jail. Part of the class was then to write a letter to the Albanian government to release this innocent man from jail. Our parents also had to supply money for a stamp to send the letter.

All well and good I suppose, and I'm sure Amnesty International do lots of good work. But, how were we supposed to know, at age 12,that this guy wasn't actually infiltrating Albania as a spy or something and been fairly arrested? And they used school children for a very abstract cause. As it happened, I was quite switched on and refused to write the letter, but everyone else in my class just went along with it.

Since that day, I've hated Amnesty International. Although that's irrelevant to my point.

What I am trying to say though is that things like daily worship, whilst perhaps not compulsory and have opt out clauses, are still things that the majority of children will just go along with because they don't know any better, at a young age, to challenge what they're doing. And this is the way in which children just end up accepting that there's a god, etc. because it's just not even taught, it's referred to in activities the children do as a matter of fact.

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 20:39:07

This is and was bollocks, and you made it up, and yet you are still getting all indignant trying to defend yourself with links to random long essays that don't actually support your claim, rather than just admit that you were wrong

I said that there is a correlation there, which there is - I didn't imply causation. That you are not intelligent enough to understand the fairly massive distinction is your problem - don't make it mine.

Thank you for your lovely PM, Isabeller. I'm not upset. People like that are shamefully common on MN and I'm used to it. Doesn't mean it shouldn't go unchallenged, though.

She wasn't talking about you, Sieglinde. No - you call people bigots for daring to point out the horrors of the Catholic Church. Can't imagine what peer-reviewed journal you think you publish in. You know the letters page of Take A Break doesn't count, right?

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 23:04:39

ohh I don't know...the letters page of Take a break may well be peer reviewed.....it all depends on your definition of peer.

I'm actually hiding on here due to someone who I am willing to bet serious money on not having a science A level let alone degree telling me I am to stupid to understand quantum mechanics....I mean I have a degree in physics from Oxbridge and teach the topic at a Russel group Uni but on account of my not feeling it can be used to throw out the whole of scientific method I am apparently to dumb to get it....

MN is quite the meat grinder sometimes....

Isabeller Tue 16-Apr-13 23:23:08

Exhausted wave - day got hijacked by care crisis - will return with more sensible contribution tomorrow. School thing v important also impressed by quantum mechanics- would love to understand this - just had fantasy of explanation of QM in style of Take a Break (Imagine your violent ex partner passes you at the speed of light in a police car, ...). Sorry really am exhausted smile

EllieArroway Tue 16-Apr-13 23:50:56

Icbineg That it is! Have you been keeping up with the hilarious ramblings on the YEC thread?

I'd also like to hear about QM - alert me if there's ever a thread where you're talking about it.

Why the hell don't we have a Science section on MN? There's loads of yer actual scientist types amongst MNers that I'd love to be able to talk to without the idiotic objections of certain religious types getting in the way.

ICBINEG Tue 16-Apr-13 23:59:45

YEC? I have been QMing on the toddler past life experiences thread....mildly......as in I haven't gotten out any maths yet smile

ICBINEG Wed 17-Apr-13 00:02:22

oh it must mean young earth creationism right?

Ill have a look but tbh I find it really depressing how utterly scientifically illiterate people are on here....

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 00:09:27

Here. Could really use a physicist on there. Good for a laugh if nothing else - we have the proven existence of fire breathing dragons and everything!

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 00:19:19

I understand this might be a 'ickle' bit difficult for you to understand ICBINEG

Oh boy.......! I see what you mean! Not unlike, "I suppose it's too much to expect you to have read any Marx". No dear, it's not given that I had Marx coming out of my ears when I was studying for my BA in Modern History hmm

Patronising twazzocks.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 17-Apr-13 07:22:38

also impressed by quantum mechanics- would love to understand this

Anyone who understands quantum mechanics doesn't understand quantum mechanics grin

Isabeller Wed 17-Apr-13 07:32:28

Please do a QM thread ICBINEG flowers

NicholasTeakozy Wed 17-Apr-13 09:15:10

To get back to the OP, if the current crop of 'celebrity atheists' such as Dawkins, Harris etc are a bit too erm, light and fluffy, why not try Bigot Vanquisher. Definitely NSFW, and DO NOT watch if easily offended as she doesn't take any prisoners. grin

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 09:24:38

She's wonderful, Nicholas. And so, so, so, so right.

ICBINEG Wed 17-Apr-13 09:26:31

isabella the problem with a QM thread is that it is a mathematical theory that describes our experimentally verified reality very well.

However a fantastic amount of what people think it says/implies comes from converting elegant mathematical concepts into something that relates to our everyday experience that can be discussed in words. This is not a process that ends particular well for anyone.....

Also some of the famous (from a pop sci point of view ) thought experiments don't actually work, and in particular suffer from the 'special observer' problem. People don't in fact have a unique observer status and hence the cat in a box thought experiment doesn't work. As in the cat is dead or alive (not a superposition of both) long before the scientist opens the box.

Gah maybe we should have a thread...

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 09:39:05

See, I think we need a science thread where you and our various other scientists can visit to answer questions from those of us trying to get a handle on stuff. A kind of general, ask your questions here kind of thing.

I read those pop sci books you mention (Marcus Chown et al) and I always arrive at a place where I get completely stuck. I know they're meant to be dumbed down - but they're not quite dumbed down enough for me blush.

Also, I (and other atheists, I think) quite often get asked questions by questioning Christians that would really be better answered by a professional.

I won't start the thread myself - I am not exactly bathed in popularity on these threads, on account of my intolerance and bigotry ahem - so I'd probably get ignored. Perhaps someone else could?

sieglinde Wed 17-Apr-13 10:13:12

Sorry all - did a huge post and just deleted it by accident. FFS. No time now to fix it, but let me quickly say these things.

Apologies to ICB if I misread - and actually it's good that I didn't have to yell. I've stopped yelling now.

Ellie, I'd love to get into socialism - and its Pythagorean and in fact Xtian origins - care to? Maybe a new thread? I feel sure you've read Marx - my doubt was based on the fact that you never cite his works. Since i see them as very powerful - as opposed to Hitchens - I just assumed you hadn't had the chance to read them. But I meant no insult.

I also promise you that refereed journals in my field are refereed journals - I'm on the editorial board of two... neither has anything to do with the redtop press grin.

I also really really like the idea of a science area. And a QM thread.

May I just say all over again that I am a keen disestablishmentarian, loathe compulsory prayer in schools, and believe strongly that evolution is the best explanation for the natural world's form and variety?

I won't get into the crime debate. I don't know enough.

ICBINEG Wed 17-Apr-13 10:18:20

Oh I didn't mean to do down pop science books so much!

There are two things...firstly they aren't necessarily that dumbed down at all. And secondly many physics graduates leave with the same misconceptions that many in the general public have. We are not talking easy here!

EllieArroway Wed 17-Apr-13 11:00:03

firstly they aren't necessarily that dumbed down at all Good! That makes me feel slightly less thick. I currently have "Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You" beside my bed & I'm having to read each page at least three times to get the gist grin

Sieglinde Read and understood. I'm not ignoring you at all, but truly have to dash now. Will reply later. I'm glad we've both stopped shouting - we're better than that, I think. My second truce of the day thanks.

Have a good day all smile

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Wed 17-Apr-13 12:18:33

ellie have you read "How to Teach Quantum Physics to your Dog"?

Isabeller Wed 17-Apr-13 12:32:18

Just been told about Science and Nature Club

NicholasTeakozy Wed 17-Apr-13 13:10:56

Yes Ellie, she's brilliant. She doesn't pull any punches, and I think she's had her Facebook page taken down as a result. Too many theists complained about getting butthurt by a woman with an opinion.

CheerfulYank Wed 17-Apr-13 13:40:32

I love women with opinions!

<pointless post as place marker grin>

NicholasTeakozy Wed 17-Apr-13 14:11:27

That's 'cos you are a woman with opinions CY! grin Tbh it was mostly men who called her out and didn't like it when she put them in their place. I may just love her a little bit.

sieglinde Wed 17-Apr-13 18:29:40

Truce gladly accepted, Ellie. I love opinionated women too - I have to! thanks

EllieArroway Thu 18-Apr-13 07:13:40

Sieglinde

Ellie, I'd love to get into socialism - and its Pythagorean and in fact Xtian origins - care to? Maybe a new thread?

Certainly. I was thinking I might start a thread about the whole Stalin/Mao thing since it's such a common theme on here. It raises so many issues, not to mention misunderstandings, that I think there's scope for a really interesting discussion. Christianity/Marxism is also an interesting topic to explore, and the "souls" of socialism. Give me a day or two to get myself together and I'll get one set up.

I feel sure you've read Marx - my doubt was based on the fact that you never cite his works Well, there's never any real need for me to, since my discussions on here in this vein are only ever about Stalin and his atrocities. I don't accept that Marx/ism had anything at all to do with it, so I don't raise it. Don't worry - I'll explain on the new thread exactly what I mean by that and you can argue me out of it to your heart's content wink

May I just say all over again that I am a keen disestablishmentarian, loathe compulsory prayer in schools, and believe strongly that evolution is the best explanation for the natural world's form and variety? Well, kudos for using the word "disestablishmentarian"!....but don't worry, I know all that.

smile

sieglinde Thu 18-Apr-13 09:07:03

All really great stuff, Ellie.

Count me in, and since I'm a bit busy just now, maybe message me when you've got something set up as I've got a bit too much on to search for it... Very much hoping to learn from the debate, and from the extra reading it will push me to do!

I hope you yourself are not antidisestablishmentarian ;). Anyone who is must surely have been convinced by yesterday's event?

EllieArroway Thu 18-Apr-13 09:21:52

Sorry. I don't know why I stuck the "anti" on. Brain fart.

No, definitely not! Ha.

EllieArroway Thu 18-Apr-13 09:23:30

Oh - FFS! That last post made no sense. Ignore it. I'm trying to work and post at the same time, big mistake.

No - I'm not anti.

sieglinde Thu 18-Apr-13 11:08:54

Phew. My wink didn't work... wink See you for socialism/communism, then...

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