April 6, 2013

A burgeoning feud between Glenn Greenwald and Sam Harris

Found a Twitter exchange between the two, posted by Greenwald. Harris is against Islam (no surprise if you've read The End of Faith) and Greenwald is against the fallacy of composition and against ignoring the aggression of the US. Greenwald: So some Muslims, Christians, and Jews do X. @SamHarrisOrg says that Muslims do X more, and you can't refute that. Includes links to critiques of Harris's views. From Chomsky: the "new atheism" should focus its concerns on the virulent secular religions of state worship [instead of fundamentalist religion], so well exemplified by those who laud huge atrocities like the invasion of Iraq.

Then an aggregation of articles spurred on by journalist Murtaza Hussain's article on Harris. Of the many-links-to-read, Theodore Sayeed's article stands out.

(Unrelated: the manner in which Blogspot builds a page of images and text from Ajax calls and dozens of loads of the same timestamp-expired JavaScript file can suck a fuck. TB-L should hunt down the developer and slap them.)

posted by sstrader at 12:32 PM in Religion | permalink

November 10, 2012

Death rattle

One cause I see for the anger of this election, and much of the vitriol of the right, is as a group fighting against their impending extinction. Before mainstream bigotry of the poor (47%), gays (treating gay marriage as a "special right"), and atheists (who are unelectable) can die, the group that holds these beliefs must boldly reassert its position. This light brigade charge ended with our first lesbian Senator, an increase of legal same-sex marriage from six states to nine, and the defeat of two Republican Senate candidates with a shockingly ignorant understanding of rape. Not to mention Obama's reelection.

The most cringe-inducing statements that conservatives made were just verbal leaks of commonly-held beliefs within this angry, dying demographic. They all believe the absurd statements, but must mince with apologies and half-apologies because, spoken aloud to outsiders, those beliefs are embarrassing. Murdock, who declared that rape is something God intended to happen apologized ("apologized") with: That anyone could come away with any meaning other than what I just said is regrettable, and for that I apologize. The belief that rape can't cause pregnancy is widely held in conservative religious circles but never spoken of to outsiders, presumably because it's easily proved false. In God Is Not Great, Hitchens tells of a debate he had with a member of the clergy. When Hitchens brought up the absurdist stories of Adam and Eve or Noah's Ark, the other waved the discussion off as if a bodily function was made apparent. When in-group falsehoods are accidentally exposed to outsiders, the falsehoods of the entire system become more visible.

When pro-rape candidates accidentally leak their group's secret beliefs or theists are confronted with ignorance they've long ignored, they may choose to go all in and lash out. Truth is not on their side. The hypocrites of the fundamentalist 80s and 90s should have ended this but did not. We have a much better chance now as those with such primitive beliefs become more angry and speak their absurdities more proudly. There will always be those on the winning side of history to speak up against them (sometimes from unexpected sources).

posted by sstrader at 12:34 PM in Politics , Religion | tagged election | permalink

October 3, 2012

Hitchens on criticism

In the middle of reading Sam Harris's The End of Faith, did not expect his focused criticism of Islam, and so browsing other, similar discussions. Hitchens schools a Muslim on free speech is, of course, relevant to all religions:

Religion makes very large claims for itself, that it is the total solution to all human problems, and that the sooner that it's imposed on everyone, the better. Well, that's a point of view, but if it's going to make such claims it has to drop the demand that it be immune from criticism and especially from satire.

This in response to the Danish Muhammad cartoons, a pre-echo to the recent protests over That YouTube Video, and brought to mind by long-suffering X-tians who demand satisfaction whenever atheism brings up long-known contradictions in their faith.

posted by sstrader at 12:24 AM in Religion | permalink