Keeping the Faith

With a tip of the waka waka waka tam o’shanter to our old friend Jess Kaplan, we have further evidence of the beneficial effect of religion upon the world.

Today the spotlight is on one Sheik Ahmad Bahr, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who in a sermon on Friday offered an inspiring example of faith-based tolerance and love. Here’s an excerpt:

‘You will be victorious’ on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] ‘you will be victorious,’ but only ‘if you are believers.’ Allah willing, ‘you will be victorious,’ while America and Israel will be annihilated. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah…

…Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one.”

Nothing to be concerned about here; I don’t know what that horrid Richard Dawkins, and his equally vicious pals Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, could possibly be talking about. Aren’t they awful? So full of themselves. And they’re just so darn pushy

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  1. However, Dawkins reserve most of their ire for Christianity, i.e. the members of their own society. Christians aren’t trying to destroy us, Muslims are.

    Posted May 2, 2007 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Dennis, and thanks as always for visiting.

    I have no doubt that all of the authors mentioned would agree that virulent Islam presents a far more immediate threat to society — indeed, to our physical safety — than Christianity. But even though they’re all aiming at religion as a broad and general target, most of their readers are likely to live in Christian societies, so it’s Christianity that is chosen as the example to which the bulk of their critical examination is directed. But the objections and criticisms that they present certainly extend to Islam as well, which is where the disturbing characteristics of the religious mindset currently offer their sharpest threat to civilization.

    Posted May 2, 2007 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  3. Andrew says

    I agree with Malcolm

    “Dawkins reserve most of their ire for Christianity”. I don’t think this is accurate. Their most wildly discussed works are the books they wrote to target readers in Christian nations so the bulk of the critical evaluation is focused on the dominant religion in these countries. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Go and watch the beyond belief series Malcolm linked too a while back:

    or this debate involving Sam Harris:

    They all very much recognize the threat of radical Islam. In the beyond belief series, Steven Weinberg is particularly outspoken on this.

    Posted May 3, 2007 at 7:10 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Hi Andrew,

    Yes, thanks for pointing out that excellent series of conference videos. (I haven’t seen the Harris link before, so thanks for that also.) It’s a pity Dan Dennett couldn’t have been at the conference, but it is understandable that he might have found a a dissection of the aorta somewhat distracting.

    One can certainly see how Dennis might have got the impression that these evangelists of atheism are singling out Christianity, if he hasn’t been following them too closely; titles like Letter to a Christian Nation indeed would make it seem that way. But they are digging deeper than that; they are concerned about the overall effect of religious memes throughout human culture. These ideas have infected human minds since our history began, and it’s high time they were given an unblinking critical examination.

    Posted May 3, 2007 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  5. Dennis and Malcolm:
    I imagine that the Salk 4 are too prudent to fulminate against Muslims however they may deplore their mouthiness and their penchant for the infamy of flag burning. Being men of science they may also look at the strange spectacle of modern people allowing a claim on an entire region on the basis of the book of stone age goatherds. They may also ask themselves what the kill rate of Muslims is compared to that of Israelis and Americans. Trifling, a hiding to nothing. The Mullahs rage is that of the thoroughly whipped.

    I followed through your link which let me to the discussions. I thought Scott Atran made sense on religion for an atheist. He also made sense on the subject of suicide bombing which is not to be wondered at because he has studied both those subjects. I’m not sure about the concept of ‘sacred space’ being part of the equation; Northern Ireland was kept going nicely for 300 years since the Plantation of Ulster on injustice and discrimination. Realistically as long as America supports Israel you may expect a state of alert with occasional atrocities. Like South Africa and Northern Ireland there will in the end have to have a binational state.

    Posted May 4, 2007 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Hi Michael,

    Oh, I’ve seen Dawkins and Harris do plenty of first-rate fulmination against the fundamentalist Muslims, and Hitchens, bless him, pauses only to sleep or drink.

    As for the kill rate of Muslims, it spiked sharply a few years back, a couple of miles from my house, and about three blocks from where my daughter was in high school. I have little doubt that they are keenly interested in a blockbuster sequel.

    Posted May 4, 2007 at 12:15 pm | Permalink