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  • Marc Kreidler wrote a new post, You win some, you lose some! (KPFA Cancellation) 2 years, 11 months ago

    Richard got a lovely piece of news this week:

     

    And then this came in (apparently you can critiicise religion all you want – except one religion!)
    Subject: Notification for Richard Dawkins: Science in […]

    • While I’m angered that they would deplatform Richard, I have to admire his response to it.

      Don’t let them get to you Richard.
      Stay strong and healthy. We need you.

    • @OP – We regret to inform you that KPFA has canceled our event with Richard Dawkins. We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people. KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech.

      Oh dear! Poor diddums!
      Those long suffering god-delusions which desperately need high security protection from rational criticism, to protect them from extinction in rational minds!

      While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech.

      Ha! ha! ha!
      Presumably this was uttered with the straight face of a delusional faith-head, and with no sense of irony!!!

      We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier.

      Perhaps they should also apologise for posing as an educational informative source, when they demonstrably now lack the capability to recognise rational criticisms, and show no basic research skills!

      (Hint:- Some delusional fundamentalist, jumping up and down being “offended by facts”, does not indicate the criticism is “abusive”!)

    • The Selfish Gene changed my thinking forever. Now my daughter has decided she wants to read it. Knowing her and the book I anticipate another transformation of thought.

      Superb responses by Richard and Pinker on the pathetic de-platforming. I see it as moral and intellectual cowardice.

    • It would seem, nay, make that the pendulum has swung too far again. Shame on KPFA for taking an intolerable stance against rational though and reason for no rational reason.

      Facts getting in the way of dogma surely cannot be found to be abusive? Have the inmates taken over the Asylum? Surely KPFA has scored an own goal, or shot itself in the foot with this questionable action. But then again we are all free to make ourselves look like fools.

      Suggesting Richard Dawkins, an individual who prides himself on correctness, FairPlay and EVIDENCE has not done his homework, in his musings, published work etc., as KPFA are suggesting, must rate as one of the most ignorant suppositions in the last 50 years. jcw

    • I see it as moral and intellectual cowardice.

      Very well said, Phil!

    • Cheers, Vicki.

      Have you seen? We’ve got an open thread.

      Richard got a lovely piece of news this week: And then this came in (apparently you can critiicise religion all you want – except one religion!)Subject: Notification for Richard Dawkins: Science in […] [Read more]– Marc Kreidler (@mkreidler) Jul 21, 2017

      Free discussion on anything within the remit of Science and Reason.

    • to: Quincy McCoy
      Station Manager
      KPFA

      RE: Richard Dawkins cancellation

      I have looked at what seems to have constituted your reasoning

      for cancelling an event with Richard Dawkins, and found it to be
      woefully thin. This compounded by your cowardly avoidance of
      explaining to the author your actions

      I can say that i may take issue with Dawkins on some of his methods.

      However i still do absolutely stand up for free speech and good manners.

      It would seem that you have been unable to muster either
      of these in this instance.
      You have not had the actual courage of your theoretical convictions
      and so did not personally engage with the Speaker about the cancellation,
      and the reasons thereof.

      I think this rather shows your convictions . . . . and most certainly your courage
      to be somewhat in deficit.

      you are therefore a bit of a cad & a bit of a coward.
      So unless you issue a much needed apology, then
      your schoolboy behaviour will not feature on my radar
      again.

      with neither regards nor regrets

      thomi wroblewski
      London UK

    • “It also promotes selective freedom of the press and acts as a forum for various viewpoints.[2]”

      This is the description of FPFA’s mission statement from Wiki.
      Selective freedom?

    • It is understandable that the venue might fear repercussions. This fear of repercussions, imagined or otherwise, is why Dawkins’ criticism was made to begin with.

    • It appears Prof Dawkins has a new religion to contend with, Post modernist regressive hogwash, Its a little sneakier a little more of a chameleon than the typical religion, most of the adherents do not even realize what they have accidentally become. they have already attacked Dawkins twice, They wont stand a chance when he strikes back!

    • For those of you who have clearly been sleeping, Islamist organisations and activists have used the new left-ring rise of puritanical brats, professional victims & science deniers as a shield to hide behind. This new brand of post-modernist neo-Marxist egalitarianism is hell-bent on tearing down society as we know it, to be replaced by one of pure personal gratification and equality. In that endeavour, they attempt to silence all attempts at rational criticism of their ideology and they try to brand everyone who criticises their world-view as being racist, misogynist and basically everything that they perceive, and the wider society perceives, as bad. They have thrown away their rationality and in the more extreme wings of this new ideology, even logic & reason is seen as racist. Science is seen as racist and misogynistic.

      I have no doubt that the reason for this cancellation was the threat of protest and violence from the extreme left. That is their modus operandi.

    • “to be replaced by one of pure personal gratification and equality.”
      in the more extreme wings of this new ideology, even logic & reason is seen as racist. Science is seen as racist and misogynistic.”

      Ricky. You said a lot but it didn’t make any sense. This is the GOP’s tactic of accusing the left of obviously false accusations while being guilty of that offense.
      The readers and posters who are regulars will see right through that one.

    • Martin #14
      Jul 24, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      Richard Dawkins today:

      If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary
      fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM “vile” but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam
      .

      Richard Dawkins on Twitter:

      Replying to @ToddKincannon

      @ToddKincannon – I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the
      world today. I’ve said so, often and loudly. What are you talking about?

      I easily found that courtesy of the article in the Guardian about this dis-invitation today.

      Perhaps you should have read my comment @#10 before blundering into this discussion and making a fool of yourself!

      @#10 –

      He said harsh statements he has made in the past have been directed at “IslamISM” – apparently referring to those who use the religion for political objectives – and not adherents of the faith. “I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief,” Professor Dawkins writes.

      Which by any unbiased reckoning, describes wanton killing and physical and mental abuse of unbelievers in a particular faith, women, and homosexuals and trans-sexuals as “the greatest force for evil in the world today”

      Sorry, sir, you’ve clearly put yourself in the wrong and possibly made a liar of yourself.

      Do you really believe that murder, beheadings, state thrashings, and executions of dissenters and unbelievers, for those making objective criticisms of activities of followers of Islam, or for leaving that religion, (when educated by the evidenced knowledge of the modern world), is “the RIGHT side of a moral position? – Or do you just have difficulty in understanding plain English?

      You may prefer to forget what you’ve said in the past, but the internet remembers. This is not the position from which to unleash the smugs and demand apologies.

      Err no!
      The quote and the meaning is perfectly clear in separating the attitude to ordinary civilised Muslins, and the objective criticism of actions of Muslin fundamentalists and the actions of Islamic theocracies in the likes of Saudi-Arabia and Egypt!

      This is not the position from which to unleash the smugs

      Oh dear! What smug emotive ignorance! – Even after quoting Richard’s very good advice in the same post!
      Psychological projection, is NOT a rational argument!

      @ your comment:- Richard Dawkins – “or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam.”

      Facts are not “abusive” – regardless of the emotional antics of deluded people whose heads are in the sand, and whose closed minds decide to be “offended” by the subjects being raised and independently judged!

      So – back in the real world: – beheading, beating, and imprisoning believers in rival denominations of Islam, Christians, and unbelievers, is highly offensive and seriously evil!
      Objectively criticising of this, and describing it as “evil” is not!

    • Ricky Payne #16
      Jul 25, 2017 at 1:45 am

      I have no doubt that the reason for this cancellation was the threat of protest and violence from the extreme left. That is their modus operandi.

      While the extreme left are certainly into irrational “political correctness” based on fudge and ignorance, the threats of protest and violence come from the fundamentalist religious and the far right! – egged on by the sort of right wing junk media I linked @#11.

    • Here’s another letter you all might be interested in. https://twitter.com/GodDoesnt/status/889600614224756736

    • Alan4discussion #18: perhaps you could point out where the references to misogyny, murder, beheadings, etc. occur in the linked Tweet? I only found “Islam”.

      I get that you want to argue the interpreted word of Professor Dawkins vs. the literal word of Dawkins, but the quote vs. the Tweet are clear and simple statements and he put himself in that position of nay-saying himself. If he had been concerned about context or interpretation there are Twitter methods of doing so, tweeting 1/3, 2/3 etc. or posting a pic of text. That Tweet stands on its own lack of merit.

      He wants to say Islam is the greatest force for evil. Maybe it is, but to then claim he doesn’t say abusive things about Islam is what’s foolish here. Calling Islam “the greatest force for evil in the world” doesn’t appear to be a rational, evidence-based analysis. Evil I understand to be a moral judgment of being wrong, wicked. I’d be interested to see, for example, a timeline graph of evil in Xianity and Islam, watch the former’s “evil” trend-line drop while the other stays steady, maybe goes up? I wonder what that data would look like?

      Also:

      The quote and the meaning is perfectly clear in separating the
      attitude to ordinary civilised Muslins, and the objective criticism of
      actions of Muslin fundamentalists and the actions of Islamic
      theocracies in the likes of Saudi-Arabia and Egypt!

      Good grief, not the muslin thing again…

    • Martin@26

      Calling Islam “the greatest force for evil in the world” doesn’t
      appear to be a rational, evidence-based analysis.

      Hard core Islamists follow the Quran’s teachings to the letter. Here you can read and learn about some of these ‘teachings’:

      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx

    • “I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today.”
      Unfortunately true.

      Is it the only (religious) force for evil?

      No, not by a long shot, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, even Buddhism, never mind “Christianity’s bastard children” Nazism (as a form of Fascism) and Communism, are forces for evil, and of course racism; and some forms of capitalism, too; or any other isms.

      But do a current ranking and Islam comes out first, as greatest evil.

      And as to the “hurtful” bit: yes, unfortunately the truth sometimes hurts – if yout let it hurt you. Feeling hurt about anything is a decision every person makes for themselves (or made a while ago, which leads to knee-jerk reactions), turning themselves into puppets with strings for others to yank, or loaded with “hot buttons”. Those people have given others far too much power over themselves.

    • It’s with some trepidation that I dare to voice my objections to the prevailing view here, as a member of the namby-pamby, regressive left who thinks that now isn’t the time to stoke the fires of anti-Islamist sentiment.

      That isn’t to say that I consider Islam of any merit at all however, it’s certainly no worse than any other religion when viewed from the perspective of the text alone. What’s more, most Muslims living under the protections offered by the secular society, obey the laws and are decent members of the community.

      The sort of intense focus on Islam by critics such as Sam Harris is not productive towards our goal of harmonious interactions. I feel that the current us vs them mentality is unhelpful when fueled by the atheist community and can’t help but hark back to previous times when a religious group was demonised by the majority.

      Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a complete reversal of my thinking on this issue. This change of heart has come about by listening to the voices of many others and by having enough flexibility to be able to discern the forest despite the abundance of trees clouding my vision.

    • Nitya #35
      Jul 25, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      It’s with some trepidation that I dare to voice my objections to the prevailing view here, as a member of the namby-pamby, regressive left who thinks that now isn’t the time to stoke the fires of anti-Islamist sentiment.

      ;

      That isn’t to say that I consider Islam of any merit at all however, it’s certainly no worse than any other religion when viewed from the perspective of the text alone.

      Do I take it that you have studied large numbers of religions, denominations and cults, placing them in order of merit?
      Do share this information please!

      Perhaps you should seriously study the poll figures @#27!

      What’s more, most Muslims living under the protections offered by the secular society, obey the laws and are decent members of the community.

      The evidence is that the fundamentalists and extremists are kept in check by enforcement of secular laws, but run amok where Sharia law replaces these!

    • As Sharia Law does not feature in any of our Modern Western Democracies Alan, the objection is of academic interest only. Perhaps I should qualify that. Sharia Law has no impact in any way that counts.

      We have no say on the way in which other countries conduct their affairs, and nor should we. I agree with suggestions that Islam would be wise to enact reform so that’ it’s more in keeping with 21st century sensibilities, but we have no control over this process. A reverse situation would be unthinkable. Imagine the indignation experienced by the RCC should Islamic clerics dare to dictate
      the way they run their empires.

      Personally, I don’t care how people dress (up to the point of full face covering); I consider that to be a choice for the individual. Unfortunately the degree of disapproval has become so extreme that women in Islamic dress are attacked daily. How brave is that? I hate to see a segment of the community marked out for vilification by people who’se own views include fantastical elements every bit as
      bizarre and irrational.

      I’d like to think that atheists as a group are able to see no hierarchy in terms of religious observance and be able to put them all in the same basket of nonsensical ideas. Most atheists of my experience seem to do this. Unfortunately the term Regressive Left has been coined and perpetuated by a couple of prominent US spokespeople who seem to have their own agenda.

      I see no good coming from such demonisation. As atheists I think we need to rise above it and leave the petty squabbling on religious differences to believers themselves.

    • Nitya #39
      Jul 25, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      I see no good coming from such demonisation.
      As atheists I think we need to rise above it and leave the petty squabbling on religious differences to believers themselves.

      I don’t see murder of apostates, rape with impunity and victim blaming, religious wars, and genocides between different denominations of Islam, or suicide bombings, – as “petty squabbling”!
      I am looking at abuses of real people in the real world – not some remote namby – pamby debate in cushy surroundings about semantics or political correctness!

      There are plenty of clear examples on the links and comments on this thread, even for those who look no further.

    • Nitya,

      Its great to see you here again. Usefully everyone changes through time though they often don’t notice or care not to admit to it.

      Sam Harris has even been softened a bit. More surprisingly Ayan Hirsi Ali. I never supported her views. Her blazing anger at the FGM she endured and the murder of her partner by Islamists, excused her her to an extent but what she proposed (eliminating/containing Islam) seemed simply a recipe for oppressive disaster.

      Along comes an Islamist terrorist Maajid Nawaz and because he is intelligent he sees that he was mistaken. Starting the Quilliam Foundation to aid the rehabilitation of Islam, to support the silent majority of moderates and promote clearer moral thinking when confronted by folk like his former self. Over the years he has won around Hirsi Ali, who now sees enabling the moral but silent majority and helping them have a voice and push back against the bullies at the gate is the solution needed. This change of heart is now reflected in her latest book.

      Nawaz even wrote a book with Sam Harris…

      To restore the voice of the majority it is important that we ourselves are not silenced. But the condemnation needs to be adjusted to more clearly take aim at those immoral folk using religious dogma to oppress those in their own communities. We cannot give up on this if we are to retain any moral integrity. Citizens must have full and free access to the boons and services of the state, nor be shielded from them by community leaders, most often un-elected self serving elders who have no legal standing in the eyes of the state.

      This makes for some discomfort on occasions but this is far from a good enough reason not to stick to our moral guns. Every citizen deserves a chance to make the same decisions for themselves that we would wish for ourselves.

      For the sake of the moral majority we must voice our concerns until that Muslim majority gain the confidence to speak out for themselves, shake off the intimidations of the bullies at the gate. Like gay and atheist folk, the Muslim moral majority need the chance to come out and be heard, re-assert their forgotten identities from the Golden Age of Islam, rich, tolerant and learned.

      Maajid Nawaz’s work is crucial as is honesty and getting folk to rediscover that our morality is only moral when we do our own moral thinking. Our day job as humans is moral authorship. We must speak our minds and no one elses. Richard too.

    • I don’t see murder of apostates, rape with impunity and victim blaming, religious wars, and genocides between different denominations of Islam, or suicide bombings, – as “petty squabbling”!
      I am looking at abuses of real people in the real world – not some remote namby – pamby debate in cushy surroundings about semantics or political correctness!>

      These real world examples are beyond our jurisdiction, unfortunately. As we can’t change the way in which Islamic Republics implement their laws we’re better to focus on the shortcomings in our own communities.

      Alan, I’d appreciate a more respectful tone when you’re addressing my comments. You may have noticed that I haven’t reciprocated with snide remarks. We’re all grown-ups here and my thoughts are every bit as deserving of an audience.

      I believe there are examples of a limited take-up of Sharia in some areas in the west. I don’t think we need fear any change with respect to child brides, death of apostates, or other criteria deemed unacceptable by our secular government. This limited up-take is a token as I see it, in order that people feel they’re concerns are acknowledged.

      Should we look at various denominations of Christianity we find many examples of practices deemed AS unacceptable as those in the Islamic community. A blinkered vision leaves us unable to see these examples around us and to get the broader picture. That is; religions are all much of a muchness if given priority over secular thinking and legal processes.

    • FURTHER MOD MESSAGE

      Please also refrain from making derogatory remarks about users you may disagree with. We have removed a comment from this discussion.

    • @Nitya,

      Thanks for the thoughtful response. I completely disagree but I applaud you expressing it here.

      I’d agree with you that the Quran is no more violent than the bible in it’s stories, in fact the Bible has worse. However the instructions and description of hell in the Quran is actually worse, look them up for yourself. The other aspect with makes Quran a problematic text is that is states repeatedly that it is the final, perfect translation directly from Allah through Gabriel to Mohamed. It is constantly ranting on this when other tribes diagree with him or refuse to fight for him. This is problematic because it lends itself to a more literal interpretation of the book, in fact it demands it under threat of hellfire (which is graphically described). So the effect of this fact makes moderation of the book difficult to anyone who actually cares to read it and this is exactly what ISIS point out. Pretending that this is not a real issue is simply putting your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away.

      The sort of intense focus on Islam by critics such as Sam Harris is not productive towards our goal of harmonious interactions. I feel that the current us vs them mentality is unhelpful when fueled by the atheist community and can’t help but hark back to previous times when a religious group was demonised by the majority.

      It takes all sorts, do you think women would have ever got the vote if they hadn’t made an awful lot of noise? Would Blacks have to vote or right to go to any school if they hadn’t made some very unpopular moves/protests?

      Sam’s voice is actually very calm and almost zen, I don’t think I’ve every heard him shout or scream or use anything stronger than a witticism. So yes we need non threatening atheists who are prepared to talk to these people and respect their faith, in my country Phillip Adams and ABC radio host would be a good example of this he often has had religious thinkers on his show and they never get too challenged, but the refusal to call out nonsense and evil when present is one of the reasons that Cardinal Pell is only just now at 76 being forced to go to trial for crimes allegedly committed decades ago.

      Why was he not charged at the time? Because people didn’t want to unset the church or diminish the value of religion in our society. So now because too few made noise and jumped up and down, if I was gay man I could not marry another gay man, if I get a terminal disease I do not have the right to ask a doctor to inject me with Nembutal at a moment of my choosing and would instead if confronted with a particularly nasty terminal disease have to take myself out with a shot gun or hang myself while I was still able bodied enough to do so, traumatizing my wife and son and the police and ambulance officers who have to contend with my remains. I’ll for one be prepare to jump on your bandwagon with you (I’m serious here) the very moment religion takes it foot of the neck of non-believers and not a moment before.

      Regards

    • Hi Reckless. # 55

      I’ve just this moment sent off a reply to Phil, though it seems to have disappeared. I hope it returns in time and it’s just detoured for moderation or some such.

      As I recall you live in the north, somewhere near Stradbroke Is? It’s possible that you have fewer occasions to rub shoulders with Muslims than I do here in Sydney. For me , this is a daily occurrence. In the case of all my interactions, I’ve never had any cause for the slightest trace of fear or hostility. I’m not sure that the experiences of a Muslim woman in Sydney would be the same.

      I’ve long since stopped worrying about what happens under the laws and customs of other countries, I can only express concern over what happens here in Australia. As you probably remember I’m no fan of any religion at all and see their main focus in causing division and us vs them thinking. Still, strangely enough we all manage to live side by side in relative harmony.

      The defining feature as I see it, is in our secular status. . Other than that, people are free to believe what they like, it is a free country after all. The emphasis should be in obeying our secular laws or risk imprisonment.

      Of late, I’ve been spending much of my energy on The Conversation. Terrific site with an emphasis on a variety of topics (especially politics, which I enjoy discussing). I think you’d like it, though you’re obliged to give your real name.

      Hope to see you there. 😉

    • It seems to me ironic, that a comment criticising demands for respect for unevidenced bad arguments which contradict available evidence, has been conflated with a personal attack on a poster, and has disappeared from a thread discussing the conflating of Richard’s criticism of the negative effects of Islamism with personal attacks on Muslims in general!

    • Nitya@56

      You’re more likely to die at the hands of a teapot cosy than be killed
      in a terrorist attack. Lawrence Krauss is much more my type of
      atheist.

      This is an absurd comment and belittles the thousands of deaths in recent years of innocent people across the world committed by Islamist lunatics who believe they are doing ‘god’s’ work by causing these atrocities.

    • Nitya,

      I still utterly reject Sam Harris on issues like gun control. I don’t though see fanaticism. I do see someone who genuinely struggles with problems, who talks most about the things that are most strugglesome. I do approve of the direction he is now moving (though too slowly for me.) Ali was always objectionable but is happily understanding that the Muslim identity needs building and broadening to encompass a rich cultural heritage. This allows people to move within families on the specifics of faith and still share that common bond of Muslimhood.

      In the UK we have some problems with dispossessed young Muslims and poorly educated immigrants from particular countries with dire educational records failing to allow their kids access to the boons and services of the state. The establishment of fake schools funded with Saudi money has been irksome. London with its Muslim Mayor is at the forefront of tackling this isolationism. Most recently immigrant communities positively thrive in the UK education system nearly always outstripping “the locals”. But a few marked out by specific religious fundamentalisms under perform.

      For me this is a theft of of a child’s future choices in life. Adults within the law, may do what they like here, but reducing a child’s prospects and choices through say impoverishing her education and shielding her from the boons and services of the state, requires public debate and objection.

    • Nitya,

      Yes a crappy spam filter needs the mods to intervene sometimes to rescue a wayward post. My response to you has just been canned! It should reappear in the next couple of hours, after the mods have had their breakfast.

    • Nitya #56

      Nice to catch up however briefly

      Well, I for one hope it won’t be too briefly, Nitya. I’m an infrequent commenter but regular reader here, and had noticed and regretted that you hadn’t posted for a while. I’ve always found your comments interesting and thought-provoking.

      FWIW, I share your concerns on this issue. I don’t approve of the deplatforming, and nor do I hold any candle for Islam. But I share your disquiet with the increasing xenophobic victimization of Muslims as a group in multiple western countries, and am also far more concerned about the effects of the far right on our societies than I am about the effects of the Muslims among us, the vast majority of whom, regardless of what they tell pollsters they believe, in reality act peacefully and lawfully.

      That’s not a criticism of Richard, who generally seems (within the confines of Twitter’s 140 characters) to take the trouble to stress that his criticisms are of Islamic ideology in general and Islamist horrors in particular, and are certainly not intended as incitement to hatred or prejudice towards Muslims as people. That said, we live in a world where more and more people seem inclined to seize on any excuse to deepen their hostility to Muslims (i.e. the people, not just their beliefs), and who are clearly deaf to nuance.

      Personally, while disliking Islam and horrified by Islamism, I feel that, given the rise of the far right in so many western countries, the focus should be on building bridges with our Muslim neighbours, trying to find common ground (there is some if we look, simply by virtue of our shared human concerns), rather than risking unintentionally feeding the xenophobic, Muslimphobic Right by constantly drawing attention to our differences. The criticisms may well be justified; but I fear the timing may be unfortunate.

    • How did I miss this thread? Again this is happening? Nothing to add except one more “shame on you” to the little worms that made this atrocious decision. I hope they take Richard Dawkins’s suggestion and either back up what they are alleging to be “abusive” speech or issue a much needed public apology.

      Great comments from Pinker (who I might have to read now) and the other distinguished friends and colleagues of the humane and gifted Dawkins.

      Richard, if you’re reading this: don’t let this get you down: you’re in good company; all men and women of truth (particularly scientists, writers, and philosophers) have been persecuted in some form or another to some degree or another. You responded well, said what you needed to say, and that is all you can do.

      As you can see you have a lot of support.

    • MOD MESSAGE

      We have removed all comments about cholesterol levels, as they are way off-topic on this thread. The Open Discussion thread would be the place for this kind of discussion.

    • Hi Nitya,

      Yes I live in Toowoomba (we often holiday at Stradbroke Island which is lovely we always stayed there as kids over most of the Chrissi holies) and I have somewhat limited interactions with Muslims here, though I teach a few and I’d agree with your assessment about most Muslims, but so too would Sam Harris and Ayaan, it’s the fringes that are problematic. What I find truly appalling here in Australia (and I think we’ll agree here) is the way particularly Muslim women are treaded by the likes of Pauline Hanson (the Oxley Moron), and guys the abuse anyone in a head scarf. This to me is punishing the victim (even if they are willing – they are still victims of brainwashing). The other comment I’d make is that the radicals are a problem not due to the actual impact but the emotional impact they engender. Australians have become more separatist and more racist in the past few years as a result of a small number of attacks. Consider the cost in human lives in going to Iraq. 3000 people are killed by extremists and we all spend trillions to fight in a couple of wars.

      So yes, I’m not particularly worried about getting blown up by terrorists but I am worried about the impact that the fringe has had on my society. I don’t blame Sam for this I blame the perpetrators. So to summarise this bit I’d say Muslims worry me to the extent that they follow the beliefs and actions proposed quite clearly in the Quran and Haddith’s.

      The emphasis should be in obeying our secular laws or risk imprisonment.

      Yes, but as I explained before there is a timidity in dealing with the religious in Australia. This is why we still can’t get gay marriage passed. In this situation the conservatism of Islam is as problematic as all other religions. FMG is also still a problem among some Muslim communities but inspite of many reported cases I’m unaware of a similar number of arrests. Like footballers they seem to be somewhat untouchable if convincting them of a crime that as a white atheist I committed against my son I would be rightly locked up for child abuse. The left (my side), however avoid talking about this.

      I’ve long since stopped worrying about what happens under the laws and customs of other countries, I can only express concern over what happens here in Australia.

      True but multiculturalism (which I support) means this needs to be a consideration even if only to ensure that orientation immigration is made with the understand that FMG for example is a crime and will be punished as such. Likewise when we are wedded to oil, the culture of say Saudi Arabia is a significant issue.

      As you probably remember I’m no fan of any religion at all and see their main focus in causing division and us vs them thinking. Still, strangely enough we all manage to live side by side in relative harmony.

      Yes, no doubt provided secular values are maintained to the full at the moment they are not.

      Of late, I’ve been spending much of my energy on The Conversation. Terrific site with an emphasis on a variety of topics (especially politics, which I enjoy discussing). I think you’d like it, though you’re obliged to give your real name.

      Yes, I’m on the conversation as well but under another (although not my own) name. As a high school teacher I need to be aware that students may sometimes google you and as a science teacher I really want to maintain the stance when say teaching evolution that my beliefs are not relevant to the fact of evolution, the facts should speak for themselves, so at school I volunteer nothing about my beliefs, I don’t want atheist students siding with me because I’m an atheist, likewise I don’t want Christian students building a wall for the same reason. This and avoiding having some kid with grudge stalking me on-line is why I choose anonymity on line. If the conversation wants me to use a real name I will and have, just not my own.

      Anyway good to have a healthy debate Nitya, good to see you back on the site.

    • Marco@52

      ….the Muslims among us, the vast majority of whom, regardless of
      what they tell pollsters they believe, in reality act peacefully and
      lawfully.

      No one doubts that this is true! But if you have a large population that might contain a tiny proportion of zealots who read into the words written in the Quran as God’s own then it’s no surprise that this small fraction are the ones who are inclined to commit the type of horrors that we’ve witnessed in recent years.

      What do you propose should be done to combat or dissuade this tiny proportion of the Muslim population?

    • Walking the middle way, being fair, thinking of the children who deserve none of this but only our best endeavours on their behalf, means we can not silence debate on these matters.

      Right wing nonsense must be confronted at every turn. Equally a false preciousness denying any debate because it may hurt the few is not good enough. It is a moral dereliction of sorts. Moral debate is the very essence of what our day job as social animals is.

      The worst of it though is when its earnest participants are maligned by categorising them as of ill intent. Walking the middle, non idealistic, evidenced based way is buffeting from both sides, especially when the media use precisely the slurs from either side to goad a response and manufacture a story. Walking the middle evidenced based way is intellectually taxing and emotionally bruising.

    • They should be pursued with the full force of the law (both preventative and punitive).

      Acting in a hostile fashion towards Muslims in general, however, only does the Islamists’ work for them by lending credibility to their claim that Muslims will never be accepted into Western societies and that Islam and the West must therefore always be at war. Not driving susceptible people into the Islamists’ arms by making them feel victimised and excluded might be a good start.

      Can’t off the top of my head think of a single example where persecuting/alienating an entire group of people, rather than individuals actually committing crimes, has ever achieved a positive outcome.

    • Marco and Nitya,

      A further though on this whole mess. Like both of you I hate the racism we see and the rise of the far right. But the left is becoming just as intractable just in the opposite direction. A few weeks ago I became aware of the furore over the men’s right movement and the movie “Little Red Pill”, now I hadn’t heard of the film until I found out that it was being banned and protested at numerous Universities here in Australia. I think it was Dendy cinemas were going to distribute the film here but decided against it. Well the good natured crank that I am I made of point of watching it. Of course I had to do it on google play (thank you Chromecast) because it was otherwise unavailable here in Australia. And it was entirely uncontroversial, it wasn’t anti womens rights in any sense and was in fact just just a sweet little, informative film but the outcry over it was terrible.

      I then googled the Australian media appearances and the left media Hack, The Panel were frankly appalling examples of the sort of nonsense we see here with the left refusing to engage in any debate. The truly frighting thing was that the only people who gave the film maker a fair go we bloodly Mark Latham and Andrew Bloodly Bolt who then will likely use this as a propaganda tool to re-enforce bigotry and sexism. The left are in real danger of pushing many further and further to the right. The little red pill should have been a great opportunity for the left to have a healthy debate around these issues and sure disagree if you like but at least engage in civil debate, instead we get screaming feminists calling the film maker a rape apologist (in spite of not having seen the film- she is not) and being banned from Dendy for what out of fear that the left will boycott them? what have we come to? The left are giving up all the ground and moral authority they once had and are giving it to right wing nut bags. We are in real trouble, which is why I so much appreciate that you both disagree with me (somewhat) and are still here posting your disagreement on this site. Please don’t stop.

      rant over 😉

    • Reckless,

      I concur but part of the problem in all these debates is the approximate terminology generates needless contentiousness.

      I think the problem is not “the left”, but the Hyper Pro Social who tend to find a natural home amongst we lefties. (My moral sentiments are irredeemably of the left…harms and fairness. These are intractable aesthetics.) For me these well intentioned but over emotional under evidenced folk play against true rational compassion and do not minimise harms or maximise fairness. They are narrow and groupist and essentialist, too often certain they know, intuit on the least phrase, the hearts and minds of all.

    • maria melo #44
      Jul 25, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Alan,

      I think the country of the tv documentary could be Jordan, but I´ve checked now, it is not totally free from religion.

      Thanks for the link! Your quote confirms that Jordan is anything but “Humanist” or “secular”

      Islam in Jordan does not explicitly ban apostasy in its penal code; however, it permits any Jordanian to charge another with apostasy and its Islamic courts to consider conversion trials.[186] If an Islamic court convicts a person of apostasy, it has the power to sentence a prison term, annul that person’s marriage, seize property and disqualify him or her from inheritance rights. The Jordanian poet Islam Samhan was accused of apostasy for poems he wrote in 2008, and sentenced to a prison term in 2009.

      So recentely I´ve watched another tv documetary about Jordan, about the traffic of drugs jihadists use, captagon) so I´ve checked and know it´s not totally a “humanist Law”.

      Looking at your Wiki quote, I don’t think it is anything like a Humanist Law.

      No civilised country needs the spread of this sort of Sharia Law which threatens its own citizens in theocracies, and any visiting business people or travellers!

      The only secular secular country within the islamic world was until recently Turkey

      . . . and unfortunately that is going backwards rapidly under the influence of Islam in the present government, along with the imported political turmoil from Iraq and Syria.

    • The latest Data on FGM in the UK is here.

      http://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB30015

      Click the top PDF.

      It makes unhappy reading BUT it rather confirms the theory that FGM has its roots in abject, precarious poverty. Elsewhere I explained-

      “Poor communities depend on children as biddable slaves. Young family members act as health insurance and pension ensuring you’ll be fed when sick and old. Boys will bring a bride and a dowry into the household, but girls, it is imagined, are at risk of running off or demanding a husband after they discover sex, losing a “slave” and incurring a dowry cost.
      Thwarting/delaying this by stealing the pleasure and adding subsequent pain (as happens in many cases of FGM) is a plain economic act, an obscenely callous and life-quality destroying one..
      Education of women (who often conspire in this selfish horror) and the relief of poverty will best turn this around. I think even a charity to pay the very poorest not to cut may be worth considering….”
      If we observe from the fascinating data posted by the NHS, the profile of FGM victims and perps, we can see the majority come from those countries that most experience famines. These tend to be Northern African (Somalia, Ethiopia…) where Islam had most penetration from the Arabian Peninsula then Turkey.. The religious correlation is consistent without being causal.
      The problem now is the cultural momentum of tradition, of course. The old and old women victims themselves, sadly the instigators of much of this “cultural” obscenity. They need to know they were not wrong or were not victims. The plainly abused become abusers in their turn in a pathetic attempt to normalise their experience.
      The religious theory is itself something of an obscenity in being patently only a second or third order causal factor. Fixing this shouldn’t be about meeting our needs, say, as secularists. We need to properly understand this to fix it fastest.”

    • @PhilRimmer #58,

      Agree with your distinction, I identify as a lefty, but what bothers me is the “Hyper Pro Social” get lip service from the left. Shows over here like ‘The Panel’ started as a left leaning show although they have weekly appearances by a mind numbingly ignorant right wing radio shock jock as a combination of comic relief for the left and an appeasement to the right. I haven’t been able to watch the show for a long time mainly because they constantly miss the point of issues and interviews so they can give the appearance of playing nice with the politically correct left.

      A good example of this is in the interview with the director of the Little Red Pill that I mentioned above in which they avoided talking about the actual issues being shown in the film and instead gave this short shift and attacked her in defense of the cowardly banning of the film. However one of the panel members then went on the ‘we the people’ podcast the following week and proceeded to make all of the points made in the “Little Red Pill Movie” more strongly than the film had. So what gives? On one show she is attacking the director, but its clear she actually has stronger feelings in support of the mens rights cause than the director. The only reason I can see for this discontinuity is that they know that if they come out too much in support of nuance and real debate on a show like this they will loose the left wing audience. So while I agree the average lefty is much more reasonable than the hyper pro social left it’s the latter that seem to be wagging the whole dog and too many on the left are self censoring to accommodate these nut-bags. Are we on the left too in touch with our inner cowards? Time we stood up for the values that brought us to a compassionate understanding of others as you rightly point out must be the day to day job of social creatures.

      regards

    • Nitya #31
      Jul 25, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      The sort of intense focus on Islam by critics such as Sam Harris is not productive towards our goal of harmonious interactions.

      First of all lumping all of “Islam” together, when it consists of numerous conflicting sects, is to miss the point!

      Secondly there is no evidence that some Islamic sects are the least bit interested in harmonious interactions, with other sects of Islam or with anybody else! They are interested in theocracy and domination!

      I feel that the current us vs them mentality is unhelpful when fuelled by the atheist community and can’t help but hark back to previous times when a religious group was demonised by the majority.

      Certain groups such Wahhabis and ISIS, are pretty demonic (beheadings, canings, convictions for sorcery, and death for apostasy) in their approaches to anyone who does not subscribe to their views, so it is naive to suggest that it is informed civilised people are “demonising them”.

      the current us vs them mentality is unhelpful

      In some sects in their minds, there is no “us” v them.

      Their view is
      Their sect v everybody else!

    • Marco #52

      Hi Marco. It’s nice to make your acquaintance and I’m glad my return has been met with some enthusiasm. I’m still grappling with the unfamiliar formatting because I’m used to having a reply button after a comment and I’ve forgotten how to incorporate the name and comment number into the text. Sigh! Guess it will come flooding back.

      That’s not a criticism of Richard, who generally seems (within the confines of Twitter’s 140 characters) to take the trouble to stress that his criticisms are of Islamic ideology in general and Islamist horrors in particular, and are certainly not intended as incitement to hatred or prejudice towards Muslims as people. That said, we live in a world where more and more people seem inclined to seize on any excuse to deepen their hostility to Muslims (i.e. the people, not just their beliefs), and who are clearly deaf to nuance

      I’m loathe to blame Richard for any imagined wrong-doing so great is my respect however, in the current political climate in the US I can see the reason for the hesitancy.

      Trump attained office in part to anti-Islamic rhetoric. This is despite the fact that Muslims comprise 0.8% of the US population according to my latest search. Any perceived threat to harmony in the community whether it’s justified or not is understandable. If someone of his stature can be voted into office, it goes to show that voters are not paying heed to any subtlety in regard to victim blaming.

      For what it’s worth, I think all religious criticisms need to be made as generalisations from now on, because the ill-informed and easily inflamed are going to take to these criticisms as licence to initiate their own pogroms. There is precedent!

    • Phil Rimmer #61

      The religious correlation is consistent without being causal.>

      Yes Phil. It would appear that the greater correlation is one of regional significance, though once an idea takes hold an arms race can gather momentum especially if it’s seen to affect the marriageability of the female offspring. The regions shown here include evidence of Christian Countries at fault as well.

      Of course I agree with the commentariat, quick to point to the evils of this practice but from my perspective it also represents a failure in policing. When cases are unearthed, the hapless parents need to feel the full extent of the law and it should be made quite clear that this practice is not tolerated. Unfortunately we can’t dictate to other countries, though it’s possible to apply economic sanctions. This begs the question, ‘is this a moral thing to do with respect to poor countries?’

    • Reckless,

      The left are rather albatrossed by the right with the activities of the HPS as if they represented the hardcore left, the essential left. The point is they don’t. They really don’t. They are regressive. They do display right wing failings like groupism, dehumanising the out group. They have all the anxieties and self serving narrowness of the right apart from their still exclusionary group of the hurt and their saviours.

      The media lies at the heart of this disaster. In part because of purchased influence but also because they are being trashed by Facebook and Google taking their ad revenue. Strawman descriptions are stronger and more memorable

    • Reckless Monkey #57*

      Hi Reckless. I’ve missed the flame-wars accompanying this doco, my only knowledge based on a brief glimpse in the last few minutes. Any pronouncements coming from the likes of Mark Latham (a bitter and twisted man these days) and the truly awful Andrew Bolt should be summarily ignored IMHO.

      I gather from your post that the voices from the left are alienating potential sympathisers. It’s hard for me to comment, because I’d need more information. I noticed that film chain Dendy, refused its release! This group of cinemas would have an ear to the ground regarding acceptability as their Sydney cinemas are situated in areas that hold ‘progressive values’. Needless to say, I spend much time there as film-going is a favourite pastime. (Running a very close second to commenting.)

      Regarding your comments on TC-Aus, I’m trying to guess the name used. Any hints? I’ll give you a clue regarding my identity; I’m a Friend of the Conversation and this means my name is accompanied by a little heart in a box. This simply means that I pay to subscribe. Fair enough considering I’ve discontinued my long subscription to the smh. So sad.

      I hope to address your comments on the other post, but I’m running short of time and can only manage one more, before leaving.

    • Alan4discussion #66

      I’m in definite agreement with you on this point, Alan. Foolish to generalise with respect to Islam as there are as many differences in interpretation as there are adherents. For example, there’s a widely held belief that all Muslims are averse to education and education of their girls more specifically. As with Christianity there are certain sects, but by no means the faith group in its entirety.

      When catching an afternoon bus that services Sydney Uni, scores of hijab clad young women climb on board. Our nearest District Hospital boasts female registrars wearing all sorts of distinctive headwear pointing to an adherence to Islam.

      On the other hand, there’s Wahhabism!! That’s the one to avoid.

      If we look at various Christian sects such as the Brethren, we see the same sort of thing happening and I guess for the same reasons. Education leads to ‘questioning’ and pretty soon doubts set in. Better to keep their young ignorant and trusting. Not rocket science really.

      Perhaps a well educated daughter increases the ‘Bride Price’. I know a similar practice is in play with an Orthodox Christian sect I’ve encountered in my teaching.

    • @Nitya,

      Regarding your comments on TC-Aus, I’m trying to guess the name used. Any hints? Ah, there’s a D and an S in there 😉 Should be able to pick it up from tone I would think but I haven’t been on in some time, trying to think of the last time I posted there.

      We could often visit the Deny in Brisbane, not sure how I feel about it now, they can usually be relied on to support fringe, interesting and controversial films however it would appear that now they are filtering those through the lens of what is acceptable to the (regressive) left.

      Something I would add to the issue in general. I came from a Mormon background, Mormonism is a silly religion but it is very brittle, very black and white and they like Islam make the same mistake of asserting absolutely correct translation – in this case from gold plates translated through a seer stone which would not translate a word until Smith had correctly had that word correctly transcribed. This made it significantly easier to leave the church and less painful I think than for my wife who followed a squishy (by comparison) Anglicanism. So it did not take much for me to realise the whole lot was a load of bollocks. It strikes me that Islam may fall into the same catagory, it struck me that reading it given the context – direct translation through Gabriel from Allah to Mohamed that any flaws in logic, contradictions etc. (which are plentiful) might make it easier to leave than squishy religions.

      @Maria Melo,

      how could one even explain the number of islamic groups, the number of christian goups…religions,… religions that nevertheless are a reposition of a previous one becomes the ultimate…. (even when anthropologists visit a regional traditional culture within a few years they report changes).

      I agree that there are many different sects of Islam and they adhere to greater or lesser degrees to the Quran. Also remembering that many learn the Quran only in Arabic often not speaking the language themsleves and therefore having no idea what the book says but through the teachings of their local Cleric. So I’d agree then the Islam is adaptable in that sense. The way I would define my concern is this…

      I am concerned by the religious only to degree to which they adhere to their holy texts.

      Thus my concern is based on the degrees to which individual Muslims understand or pay attention to the Quran. Probably 90% + have never read it in their own language – like most Christains. However the fundamentals are there and part of the problem with radicalization is that fundamentalists can point to Quran and quite rightly point out the Allah is very clear that this is to be taken literally. This is a problem. Maajid Nawaz then has a lot of work to do to convince people to see it differently. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not criticizing him or his goals, he is a massive part of the solution and a big part of that is he doesn’t shy away from talking about the massive difficulties and issues that are around this. So yes most Muslims like most other religious people take their religion lightly which is good, but I’d just point out that the fundermentals of the religion make it very difficult to shift anyone who takes the time to read the book in their own language or learns Arabic to do so. For these people the next thing to do IMO is to confront them with the cognitive dissonance of their belief structure. Somewhere between these extremes lies the only sort of solution we can hope for I think.

      @Phil, thanks for your informed and thoughtful remarks, being taken on board as I write.

    • Nitya, #68

      Unfortunately we can’t dictate to other countries, though it’s possible to apply economic sanctions. This begs the question, ‘is this a moral thing to do with respect to poor countries?’

      No!! These are dirt poor countries!

      As I suggest the solution is entirely the reverse, lifting these folk out of poverty, which should be our moral duty anyway. This is why I suggested a charity to reward families who don’t cut, though this is necessarily a very long term project. Educational programs are working well but need dramatic expansion. These cultural habits are mostly inflexible through the extent of people’s lives. Change, as ever, can happen at the generational transition.

    • Reckless, #73

      fundamentalists can point to Quran and quite rightly point out the Allah is very clear that this is to be taken literally.

      And yet major schism goes back to the very start of Islam. Ambiguities remain and interpretations of context , historical or general significance made. Further the faith is not intended to be mediated but directly addressed. This makes it a little like Protestantism. When I talk to the occasional Muslim about this stuff (its often a seemingly embarrassing subject) they have (if religious) the tendency to say “I am a simple man. What do I know of these things..?” etc.

      The key problem is this latter state of affairs is not sufficiently allowed to pertain, by the richly rewarded, the bullies at the gate, rewarded by coerced women and political power.

      We, colonialists (not you!) caused a big historical problem, very usefully revealed in Jim Al Khalili’s excellent series on Islam, science and the Renaissance. As a Muslim scholar revealed Muslims even now are mostly unaware of their technological and scientific achievements as the conquering west suppressed these to justify their own rightness of action. Their early culture was rich, pluralist, tolerant, with atheist poets and philosophers advancing the view that identity dies with us, that measured the height of the sky (53 miles), that created the most accurate and comprehensive astronomical data that allowed Newton to see his hypotheses in action, huge free hospitals….

      By getting Muslims to see the varieties of other Muslim societies now and in the past, that their faith has indeed been accommodated in the once most progressive of societies, bringing Christendom to its dozy senses, then a much broader and reflated sense of what it is to be a Muslim could pertain. The adjective and noun Muslim could be rescued from its current redundancy of being merely “Islamic” and restored to enfolding its rich cultural history. Like Judaism in fact (which has its own bullies).

      The task isn’t some dull, narrow thing about mere interpretation of scripture but about building a broader identity. The task isn’t to create schisms within families, but to widen the envelope of Muslimhood to allow individuals changing views and judgements at different speeds to be better able stay together. This is what will enable ordinary folks to move. The very clever, able to survive without family support, could always jump free.

    • Nitya #72
      Jul 26, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      Alan4discussion #66

      I’m in definite agreement with you on this point, Alan.
      Foolish to generalise with respect to Islam as there are as many differences in interpretation as there are adherents.

      The key difference between Islamic sects and Christian sects, is the percentage of violent fundamentalists and repressive enforcers in their countries’ populations.

      When catching an afternoon bus that services Sydney Uni, scores of hijab clad young women climb on board. Our nearest District Hospital boasts female registrars wearing all sorts of distinctive headwear pointing to an adherence to Islam.

      Yes – I also meet and deal with Islamic students at university and with staff in the UK medical services.

      On the other hand, there’s Wahhabism!! That’s the one to avoid.

      Unfortunately this is in power in governments in Saudi Arabia, and is using oil money and western arms, to aggressively spread throughout the Middle-East and Africa- Using wars and sponsored terrorism.

      If we look at various Christian sects such as the Brethren, we see the same sort of thing happening and I guess for the same reasons.

      The difference, as I said earlier is the numbers and percentages in the populations. – and the degrees to which they are allowed to have repressive political power.

      Education leads to ‘questioning’ and pretty soon doubts set in.
      Better to keep their young ignorant and trusting.
      Not rocket science really.
      Perhaps a well educated daughter increases the ‘Bride Price’.
      I know a similar practice is in play with an Orthodox Christian sect I’ve encountered in my teaching.

      Indeed so! In the UK, a Muslim school friend of my daughter, on leaving school, had a marriage to a rich Pakistani in Pakistan arranged by her family, – and there was an almighty row when she refused to go!
      Prior to that deep-rooted culture re-emerging, the family APPEARED to be semi-normally integrated into British society!

      The problem is that, such underlying issues are hidden from casual observers, just as physical abuse and fgm, can be hidden under burkas!

    • Reckless Monkey #73

      I’ll be looking out for comments from someone with the initials D S.

      I was recently at a talk given by a former JW. He described religions that impinge on the daily life of observers as High Control. Mormonism would fall into this category, as would Orthodox Judaism, Islam, Catholicism and Jehovah’s Witnesses of course. Probably many more. Such religions have a high degree of control over one’s every action from the moment of getting up in the morning. They determine clothes worn, food eaten, prayers said as well as medical matters. My guess is that these are the ones in opposition to the ‘squishy’ variants you’ve mentioned.

      I think this was the speaker?. Worth a read.

    • Alan4Discussion #78

      I think these would be the ones described as High Control as mentioned in the comment to Reckless above. What I failed to mention, was the fact that they have a far higher incidence of child abuse. This is possibly linked to the amount of power in the hands of the clergy/elders.

      This is not unknown to me. I probably heard it on the Thinking Atheist podcast.

    • Alan4discussion #77

      Indeed so! In the UK, a Muslim school friend of my daughter, on leaving school, had a marriage to a rich Pakistani in Pakistan arranged by her family, – and there was an almighty row when she refused to go!
      Prior to that deep-rooted culture re-emerging, the family APPEARED to be semi-normally integrated into British society!

      The Bride Price was half joking, but not far off in reality. Umm…how can I put it without implicating the innocent? On second thoughts, I’d better not. Suffice to say it ensured the young woman was more marriageable.

    • As regards the interpretation of the Quran as either infallible (of course the greatest idiocy of the Roman Curial church, proclaimed at the first Vatican Council in 1870, pops into mind immediately), or a human product (which it certainly is, considering it was not even written down, much less canonized, until the third of the “Rightly Guided Caliphs” Uthman ibn Affan), there is the group in most importantly Baghdad of the Abbasid Caliphate called Mu’tazila. They existed during the 8th–10th centuries, predating anything comparable in „the West“ by at least six centuries (Descartes in the 17th century, to be precise). Quoting Wikipedia (and being conscious of the limitations it has on controversial subjects), they “are best known for their denying the status of the Qur’an as uncreated and co-eternal with God,[2] asserting that if the Quran is the word of God, logically God “must have preceded his own speech”. For today’s Muslims, assuming the Quran is of human – Muhammad’s – origin, and thus many parts of it are very time-and-situation-bound, without much if any relevance for today, about 1400 years later, remains a major problem. At the time, and even the odd century later, scientific and technical knowledge and its propagation in the Islamic world were far ahead of the, for whatever reason (Roman Curial church does come to mind), primitive knowledge of Europe, the only Civilization topping Islam at the time being the Chinese one. But even within Baghdad, “clerics” (whatever their other intellectual merits may have been) were able to incite the ignorant mob against the Mu’tazila about 1000 years ago.

      Not that critical thinking immediately disappeared in the Islamic world. Two of their greatest geniuses, Ibn Rushd (Latinized Averroes), 1126 – 1198, last and greatest of the Arabian commentators of Aristotle, and Ibn Khaldun, 1332 – 1406, greatest historian in (Arabic) Islam for a long time, perhaps of all times, had serious issues with their reactionary environment. I just get the shits when some Muslim idiots claim that “the West” would have been ignorant of Aristotle – and other ancient – and of course pagan – classical thinkers without some very admittedly genius “Islamic” thinkers. Just for Aristotle, that would include at least Ibn Sīnā (Latinized Avicenna),  980 – 1037, and Al-Ghazali (Latinized Algazel), 1058 – 1111). And just for information, Al-Ghazali’s works contradict Ibn Sīnā’s, while Ibn Rushd again contradicts Al-Ghazali. The works of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and others were preserved (if not discussed) in some places in Europe, and the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 led to scholars knowledgeable about these classical authors fleeing to (western) Europe, initiating the Renaissance. What “the West” (and the entire world) would have missed are the brilliant commentaries of Ibn Sīnā, Al-Ghazali, and Ibn Rushd – but the survival of at least the latter’s writings have exactly nothing to do with Islam, rather, amazing as it may seem, with Christianity. Best-known (at least to me) of the Christian theologians who profited from Ibn Rushd was Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274. Had it not been for him and other Christian theologians, this philosophical genius might be utterly unknown to the world.

      So what happened? Islam became fossilized despite Ibn Rushd and Ibn Khaldun. In the West, the strife between Popes and “Holy Roman” Emperors (mostly, but not entirely German) weakened the Roman Curial church. Then came Martin Luther (still in many aspects a medieval man). Then Enlightenment, and most importantly empirical (and theology-free) theoretical science. The social sciences, admittedly, occasionally screwed up royally. And just in case you’re confused, economy is the weakest of the social sciences, incorporating the weaknesses of all others (though too many of the professors and practitioners are oblivious to this – there’s this mythological figure called “homo economicus”, instilled with some Spock-exceeding “rational” properties, which upon short examination show themselves to be utterly moronic – how “rational” are raging greed and terrified panic, emotional excesses that roll across the epicenter of white-collar crime called Wall Street like tsunamis on an all-too-regular basis?

    • GK #83

      I think I must disagree with the analysis on the service Muslim scholars rendered to the west. Ten years ago I was mostly convinced of your view in discussions here but Jim Al Khalili changed my mind with books

      Pathfinders and

      The House of Wisom

      and his recently re-screened documentary series,

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00gksx4 Science and Islam.

      Of course the specifics of religion have nothing whatsoever to do with the specifics of science, neither for Islam nor for Christendom. The essential ingredient for a culture to do science successfully is to be rich enough and open and pluralist enough. Islamic society in the Dark Ages of Christendom was rich and open. Greek scholars in the west were few and far between. The bulk of Greek wisdom was channelled into Christendom by folk like Gerard of Cremona and it is notable that “our” first scientist of note, Roger Bacon held his contemporaries in the lowest esteem but Aristotle, Averoes and Avicena in the highest.

      The fall of pluralistic Islamic culture and science, has many reasons, but this issue of not being able to employ Guttenberg’s technology and then later the spectacular increase in the wealth of the west through trade with and theft from the further west are sufficient for most of the comparative turnaround. One or two religious reasons too.

      I tend not to agree with the Aquinas thesis. Besides this was entirely the period of handover from Islam to Christendom.

    • GK a post will reappear before this one….sometime…

      Gerard of Cremona translating this Muslim intellectual wealth bemoaned the “poverty of the Latins”. His team simply couldn’t afford to do this science stuff themselves

    • Hi Phill,

      And yet major schism goes back to the very start of Islam. Ambiguities remain and interpretations of context , historical or general significance made. Further the faith is not intended to be mediated but directly addressed. This makes it a little like Protestantism. When I talk to the occasional Muslim about this stuff (its often a seemingly embarrassing subject) they have (if religious) the tendency to say “I am a simple man. What do I know of these things..?” etc.

      Yes I’d agree, but it’s not the average Muslim I’m worried about. This is why I don’t support Muslim bans or the xenophobic anti-boats campaign here down under – We Australians have been fed the BS that stopping a few thousand refugees is going to free us from terrorist attack, it clearly won’t as the doctrine is portable, we need to combat the doctrine not the people. I am concerned about the impact that the minority who take the Quran seriously enough to be seriously masochistic, abusive to to their spouses (on religious grounds) and performing FMG on their girls. This is a very small minority in the Muslim community, but it is there and needs to be confronted.

      Trouble is the hard right are the only ones talking about this in the mainstream consciousness. Because the hard right and the xenophobes have aligned themselves against Muslims at this time then the hard (regressive left) are bending over backwards to support without question many fundamentalists or even just seriously conservative Muslims in the media. We had a Muslim TV presenter here recently who did a tweet about ANZAC day

      “Lest We Forget (Manus. Nauru. Syria. Palestine.)”

      For those not familiar Manus and Nauru are detention centers set up to house boat people Australia would rather not reach our shores lest we have to treat them with some humanity. She has essentially been hounded until she declared she had received one death threat too many and decided to leave Australia. Now she would be someone who would be considered a progressive, moderate Muslim and I am horrified by what has happened to her.

      Her stance on ANZAC day effected me not at all. Now for context my grandfather fought in WW1 (in Europe not in Gallipolli) but when in training in Egypt he acquired a venereal disease which delayed him entering the war for some time while he had mercury injected up with urethra, during this delay many of his mates went to Europe and died. He arrived sometime latter and was buried alive and dug out again he coped some gas and again survived, he was a runner in the trenches. He survived the war damaged but alive but after building a house and beginning a family WW2 had just begun (he received white feathers in his mail) and my Grandfather began to suffer more badly from PTSD he would lash out in his sleep and scream about the Hun after he awoke one night in terror and thought my grandmother was a German hitting her rather hard he was put into an Asylum at Stadbroke Island (which had been used to keep lepers quarantined) he was cared for by Aboriginal nurses who staffed the hospital (remember it had been a quarantine station). He died there a couple of years latter (my father was 5) and my grandmother survived with little money on a War widows pension until she remarried – her second husband died from complications of injuries sustained from WW2 (shot in the stomach I believe). So every ANZAC day all I can think about as the last post is played is the image of my grandfather (who I never met) having mercury shoved up his John Thomas and the gratitude for the venereal disease that may well have saved his life and made mine possible. Anyway I digress…

      Abdel-Magied’s comments were far milder that what I have to say about the stupid ANZAC campaign but before this all happened she would often make ridiculous comments about Islam being progressive on issues of gender etc. Now to my way of thinking the left should have been attacking these positions not her but her indefensible comments on Islam as a set of ideas. She should never have been targeted as a person or even attacked for holding silly beliefs but she should not have been considered for a second to be right about many of her pronouncements but the left find themselves bending over backwards to defend deep conservatism and sexist views even in moderate Muslims. Instead we are in a mess that results from what happens when the only people who are prepared to speak about ideas have them aligned with emotional ideology. We need to be able to attack dumb ideas with civility, we need to be able to attack ideas without demonising the victims of those dumb ideas. The left needs to assert and practice the values that led to its existence. I hope it does.

    • Reckless Monkey #86
      Jul 27, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Now for context my grandfather fought in WW1 (in Europe not in Gallipolli) but when in training in Egypt he acquired a venereal disease which delayed him entering the war for some time while he had mercury injected up with urethra, during this delay many of his mates went to Europe and died.

      History has a habit of repeating itself when warmongers don’t learn from it! – so some of the nastier diseases can actually be better for preserving people than the politicians and generals who claim to be looking after their interests.

      My father in law was in the RAF during WW2 in Syria and Palestine as a ground based spotter with a truck and a radio! He survived the war – probably by missing out on fighting Rommel in North Africa, due to catching malaria in Egypt!

    • During my brief stint posing as a college student I had a professor who jokingly said that I remind him of Aquinas because at the time I was constantly referring to Schopenhauer. Aquinas did the same thing with Aristotle but he was worse: Aristotle said this, Aristotle said that, Aristotle tells us this, Aristotle tells us that… What an obsessive compulsive bore Aquinas must have been – and no mind of his own.

      I prefer Plato to Aristotle. The former must be read in the original English! Much is lost in translation.

    • Thomas Aquinas didn´t too much to preserve Aristotle´s writings it seems, rather the opposite.

      Exactly, maria.

      It was Siger of Brabant that did the heavy lifting of promotion, disagreeing with Aquinas over Aristotle and Averroes. The Church banned Averroesm and Siger for that crime. Roger Bacon was an avid Averroest and despised Albertus Magnus who took conservative Catholic Aquinas’s side. The Catholic Church suppressed such innovative thinking.

      The RCC never took to science early on seeing it a clear threat.

    • maria, try this

      This may or may not be blocked for you. It comes in three parts. Search Khalili Science and Islam to find the others.

    • maria,

      I adored the novel and loathed the movie.

      I must read it again sometime. More than anything Eco gave me a taste for the deep philosophical concerns of the time.

    • Reckless, #86

      The HPS truly are a roadblock to resolving problems. Everyone has something to be criticised for and criticism of the well-intentioned-but-wrong is particularly needful. We need to do it, acknowledging their good intentions but further noting the inadequacy of those in bringing sufficient consensus to improve things.

      Dialling back the emotional content in debate to more clearly sort out the facts has been kicked in the teeth by social media and the main media are haring off after them.

      One of the few places where decent evidence-led journalism is got is The Atlantic. Quite standout and prepared to tread on sacred toes when needed.

      I think I’d like to kick off this as a topic on the open thread. Find out where good journalism and debate is.

    • maria

      Thomas Aquinas was inspired by Aristotle

      Yes but used him in a very narrow, reductive and regressive way that served Catholicism.

    • Thanks Phil,

      I’ll check out the Atlantic we need to support good versions of media. In my country there is very little good media other than our public broadcaster which is generally excellent. All our mainstream newspapers are utter rubbish absolutely partisan conservative and full of utter bollocks. We have a good media watchdog show out here called media watch which while showing all the flaws in our media here it also complains about the lack of a money going to the media from loss of advertising to the internet. My feeling has been for about the last 15 years our mainstream papers haven’t been worth the paper they are printed on and any criticism of news online was equally true of the mainstream papers – they are generally not worth saving. Podcasts have been my main way of staying informed now. That and our public broadcaster.

    • I’m very sorry richard that free speech is undr attack in the US. and I’m olso sorry t say that it is islam ie muhammad/quran – sunne and she’e etc – sects that prescribe the deth penalty fr apostates (and any that “spreds mischif on the land” Quran 5.33. The punishment of those who wage wor against God and His messenger….that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned.) There ar innumrabl texts like this in the Quran/hadeth.

      I think u need t maka distinction between islam and practising/non practising muslims. Not between islamism and islam: wud u say Muhammad was a muslim or an islamist? The ansr is clear.