Author Topic: Would these quotes by Dawkins on Islam be considered bigotted and/or wrong?  (Read 1878 times)

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Offline John Albert

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You wouldn't say that a Christian who shoots an abortion doctor wasn't influenced by his religion...but if you say a Islamist Terrorist was influenced by his religion then you're a racist in certain circles.  That's why it's brought up.

I agree that if you're going to attribute Christian terrorism (like murdering an abortion doctor) to the murderer's extremist Christian beliefs, then the same kind of reasoning leads us to attribute Islamic terrorism to the perpetrator's Islamic beliefs.

But when it comes to something specific like stoning gay people or throwing them off a building, there's even less ambiguity because those actions are specifically instructed by the holy book and ordered by Muslim religious leaders.


Fundamentalist Muslims are putting actions into certain beliefs, much like fundamentalist Christians are here in the U.S.  Those beliefs translate into actions like throwing gays from buildings and shooting abortion doctors.

Even "fundamentalist" is a characterization of how certain followers interpret their holy book, relative to the "moderate" or "reformed" adherents. It doesn't necessarily tell us much about the exact set of beliefs of that subset, only that we consider them more fervent and strict about their religion than the norm.

But as Eternally Learning said, in order to really know the specifics of what the adherents actually believe, we must ask them individually and then examine that data.


Belonging to Islam does not predict violence and other disgusting behaviors by itself as there are millions of believers who don't participate in any of that stuff.  Belonging to a race does not predict a lot of things that statistically may be more common among that race.

Of course race is not a reasonable analogy. Race is not an ideology. But what about white supremacy?

Being a white supremacist does not necessarily predict violence and other disgusting behaviors by itself either. I've met a few "sweet" little old ladies who held horrible racist beliefs but never physically harmed another person in their lives.

But if a known white supremacist commits mass murder in a public space crowded with nonwhite people, how safe are we to assume that their racist beliefs had something to do with it? What if the white supremacist is a known follower of a white supremacist leader who issued a command to do it? Are we then justified in blaming the ideology of white supremacism?

What about Grandma Whyte, the sweet little old racist lady? Does she also deserve some of the blame? What if you're at Thanksgiving dinner and Grandma Whyte speaks admiringly of the fine young man who cleaned up the neighborhood? She didn't walk into that building with a gun and pull the trigger, but she heartily supports the action.


We must deal with each individual and group on their own merits or else we risk disenfranchising those who might otherwise be allies.  And if we did, what would it be in service of?  An easy categorization?  The knowledge that we are independent thinkers?  I just don't get what purpose it serves to do all this work to justify a view that an entire religion is worse than others.

It's important to recognize that "fundamentalist Islam" is not separate from Islam, it's a subset of the religion. Religious fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists both adhere to the same holy books and set of beliefs and principles; it's just that the fundamentalists interpret the same ideology in a strict, totalitarian manner. The non-fundamentalists simply ignore the worst teachings of the religion.

For what it's worth, the point is not to justify a view that an entire religion is worse than others. It's about recognizing that certain human rights abuses are actively promoted through a particular ideology. We have no qualms about attributing some human rights crimes to other ideologies, so why would we balk at doing the same with religion? 

« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 12:31:31 PM by John Albert »

Offline Eternally Learning

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For what it's worth, the point is not to justify a view that an entire religion is worse than others. It's about recognizing that certain human rights abuses are actively promoted through a particular ideology. We have no qualms about attributing some human rights crimes to other ideologies, so why would we balk at doing the same with religion?

There's a big difference between ideologies which are specifically about doing harm and whose members are cult-like in their devotion (like say, Scientology for example) and something like Islam, which has a vast variety of people who live all sorts of different lives and treat others very differently.  Generally speaking though, I am against attributing the acts of individuals to whatever group they may belong to; religious or otherwise. 

Offline Calinthalus

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I only qualified with "fundamentalist" because in any of the Abrahimic beliefs it seems the Fundamentalist is the most prone to violent acts.  You don't have to be a fundamentalist Muslim to believe that women should not be allowed to go outside or be alone with a man or vote.  We're not too far removed from non-fundamentalist Christians believing that African-Americans being descendants of Hamm bore the curse of their race and therefore deserved captivity and abuse.


Remember, 84% of Pakistani Muslims support Sharia law which contains all kinds of pretty horrible things (death to apostates for instance).  That's not exactly a minority.
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Offline Calinthalus

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All of that being said, I don't subscribe to the belief that the individual automatically reflects on other individuals within the same group.  Even if the teachings of said group led one person to behave a certain way, it doesn't mean that any individual I meet will come to the same conclusions as his fellow <insert group here>.
"I think computer viruses should count as life. Maybe it says something about human nature, that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. Talk about creating life in our own image."
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Offline John Albert

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For what it's worth, the point is not to justify a view that an entire religion is worse than others. It's about recognizing that certain human rights abuses are actively promoted through a particular ideology. We have no qualms about attributing some human rights crimes to other ideologies, so why would we balk at doing the same with religion?

There's a big difference between ideologies which are specifically about doing harm and whose members are cult-like in their devotion (like say, Scientology for example) and something like Islam

I'd say that any ideology that teaches that women are property, gay people should be put to death, and anybody who leaves the ideology should be killed is "an ideology specifically about doing harm." 


Islam which has a vast variety of people who live all sorts of different lives and treat others very differently.

I understand that religions are different, and I agree that it's unreasonable to make broad generalizations about a diverse population like a major world religion with over a billion members.

But looking at what the holy books specifically say, and how the religious leaders interpret and teach them, that can also shed light on the influence of the religion. Widespread polling of various populations of that religion can reveal the everyday beliefs of the average adherents. Look at the 2013 Pew poll and tell me it's not revealing. 

In addition to all that, Islam lays out specific political rules for ordering a proper godly society. So in nearly all countries where Islam is a majority, the religious laws are tightly integrated into the governments. This allows us to look into the human rights situation in those countries and see how it is directly affected by the socially regressive teachings of the religion.


Generally speaking though, I am against attributing the acts of individuals to whatever group they may belong to; religious or otherwise.

All of that being said, I don't subscribe to the belief that the individual automatically reflects on other individuals within the same group.  Even if the teachings of said group led one person to behave a certain way, it doesn't mean that any individual I meet will come to the same conclusions as his fellow <insert group here>.

I agree 100%. I don't believe in maligning people because of the religion in which they were brought up.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 10:50:50 AM by John Albert »

Offline Eternally Learning

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At any rate, I still get back to my first question of wanting to know what purpose labeling Islam as "worse than every other religion" serves.  I don't think it helps anything, and I think it in fact can hurt. Am I missing something?

Offline John Albert

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At any rate, I still get back to my first question of wanting to know what purpose labeling Islam as "worse than every other religion" serves.

As I said before, I have no dog in this fight. Christianity has the potential for being just as bad. It's not a contest between religions. It's calling attention to a dangerous ideology that is currently responsible for the ongoing harm and killing of innocent people.


I don't think it helps anything, and I think it in fact can hurt. Am I missing something?

Seems to me that you're missing something rather obvious, if you think that more harm is caused by opposing human rights abusers than by ignoring them.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 11:35:29 AM by John Albert »

Offline Eternally Learning

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At any rate, I still get back to my first question of wanting to know what purpose labeling Islam as "worse than every other religion" serves.  I don't think it helps anything, and I think it in fact can hurt. Am I missing something?

As I said, that's not the point. The point is identifying and calling attention to a dangerous ideology that's responsible for the harm and killing of lots of innocent people.

And why do that if it doesn't lead towards making things better by doing it? Also, who at this point needs to learn that there are violent factions of Islam?

Offline John Albert

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And why do that if it doesn't lead towards making things better by doing it?

Do you really think nothing is to be gained by opposing harmful ideologies? Why should we bother telling people that racism, sexism, or homophobia is bad? Why even have a "skeptic" movement at all?


Also, who at this point needs to learn that there are violent factions of Islam?

Some people are pretending very hard that it's all just politics and the religion has nothing to do with it. That's how we get national policies like calling ISIS "terrorists," while at the same time supporting the Saudis, whose human rights record is nearly as bad.

When we get refugees coming from brutal dictatorships and genocides abroad, we usually invite them to give testimony of their experience as a lesson about the value of human rights. Given that situation, doesn't it seem counterintuitive that when apostate refugees from Islamic countries escape to the US and try to speak out about the brutality of the religious laws in their home countries, they get shouted down by apologists, lumped in with the alt-right, and de-platformed from speaking on college campuses?

Why the double-standard with Islam? Why are the victims of religion shoved aside and ignored?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 11:36:00 AM by John Albert »

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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At any rate, I still get back to my first question of wanting to know what purpose labeling Islam as "worse than every other religion" serves.  I don't think it helps anything, and I think it in fact can hurt. Am I missing something?

You will have to ask Dawkins I think.

Offline Eternally Learning

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And why do that if it doesn't lead towards making things better by doing it?

Do you really think nothing is to be gained by opposing harmful ideologies? Why should we bother telling people racism, sexism, or homophobia is bad? Why even have a "skeptic" movement at all?


Why are you equating "opposing harmful ideologies" with "Islam is the worst relgion inthe world?"

Also, who at this point needs to learn that there are violent factions of Islam?

Some people are pretending very hard that it's all just politics and the religion has nothing to do with it. That's how we get national policies like calling ISIS "terrorists," while at the same time supporting the Saudis, whose human rights record is nearly as bad.

When we get refugees coming from brutal dictatorships and genocides abroad, we usually invite them to give testimony of their experience as a lesson about the value of human rights. Given that situation, doesn't it seem counterintuitive that when apostate refugees from Islamic countries escape to the US and try to speak out about the brutality of the religious laws in their home countries, they get shouted down by apologists, lumped in with the alt-right, and de-platformed from speaking on college campuses?

Why the double-standard with Islam? Why are the victims of religion shoved aside and ignored?

Why are you equating "Islam is the worst religion in the world" with addressing human rights violations by Muslims?

To be clear, I'm not against criticism of Islam or any other religion, but to label one as "the worst" is just stupid, subjective, and counter-productive towards actually making the world a better place. In engenders division, not reformation.  I think the world we be a better place if humanity could move past religion entirely, but in lieu of that being remotely likely anytime in the next few centuries, I'll choose to focus on the specific groups and practices that I think are problematic, of which I think Islam is too large and too old to generalize about. Seriously, you said the same so i don't understand why you now seem to want to do the opposite.

Offline John Albert

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Why are you equating "opposing harmful ideologies" with "Islam is the worst relgion inthe world?"

I'm not.


Why are you equating "Islam is the worst religion in the world" with addressing human rights violations by Muslims?

I'm not.

Let's be clear though, it's not just "human rights violations by Muslims." The fact that the perpetrators follow Islam is not just incidental to the human rights violations. The human rights violations are literally commanded by the Islamic scriptures and expressly ordered by Islamic religious leaders. Hence, the actions are to some degree a consequence of the teachings of Islam. 


To be clear, I'm not against criticism of Islam or any other religion, but to label one as "the worst" is just stupid, subjective, and counter-productive towards actually making the world a better place.

I'm not sure about that. It's an empirical question, so it ought to be supported by evidence before it can be concluded.


In engenders division, not reformation.

It's the very concept of religion itself that engenders division.


I think the world we be a better place if humanity could move past religion entirely, but in lieu of that being remotely likely anytime in the next few centuries, I'll choose to focus on the specific groups and practices that I think are problematic, of which I think Islam is too large and too old to generalize about.

The relative age of Islam is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. Scientology is a terrible religion that is very new, whereas there are millennias-old religions that aren't beheading people for adultery. 

Here's the problem: the ideology of Islam greatly influences the legal systems of several countries. Those countries consequently have some of the worst human rights records in the world. Beside those countries, Islam is also the majority religion in about 20 other countries which have human rights records ranging from middling-bad to atrocious. All of the "Islamic world" shares in a common set of human rights abuses against certain sub-populations, especially women and homosexuals. And it's no coincidence; the laws are taken directly from The Qu'ran and Hadiths and those countries make no secret of the fact that they derive their laws from Islam. 

If you don't think that's "problematic" enough, then maybe we need to do more to publicize the fact that Islam is harmful, because obviously the facts are being ignored. 

Even when the religious laws in Morocco were being debated in that other thread, it was pointed out that Morocco has a different set of laws for tourists than native Moroccans, and that was considered a mitigating factor. As if it's acceptable that a Moroccan can be put in jail for voicing his atheism or eating in public during Ramadan, so long as the same law doesn't affect the white folks who go there to visit.

That to me seems rather telling. "Who cares about the human rights abuses, so long as I can go vacation there without fear of suffering the same mistreatment that the locals inflict upon each other?" 

Let's stop pretending this is a debate between the relative merits of Methodism and Presbyterianism. It's a human rights crisis.


Seriously, you said the same so i don't understand why you now seem to want to do the opposite.

I don't know what you mean by "do the opposite." My position has not changed.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 10:08:19 PM by John Albert »

Offline SkeptiQueer

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At any rate, I still get back to my first question of wanting to know what purpose labeling Islam as "worse than every other religion" serves.  I don't think it helps anything, and I think it in fact can hurt. Am I missing something?

As I said, that's not the point. The point is identifying and calling attention to a dangerous ideology that's responsible for the harm and killing of lots of innocent people.

And why do that if it doesn't lead towards making things better by doing it? Also, who at this point needs to learn that there are violent factions of Islam?

Maybe I'm off base, but there's been a lot of discussion about this sort of thing, and i have a hard time not calling a lot of the desire to "raise awareness" slacktivism.
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Offline John Albert

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Maybe I'm off base

At least you're willing to entertain that possibility. See, progress can be made!

Offline Eternally Learning

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Why are you equating "opposing harmful ideologies" with "Islam is the worst relgion inthe world?"
I'm not.
Why are you equating "Islam is the worst religion in the world" with addressing human rights violations by Muslims?
I'm not.

Every time I've said I was against calling Islam the worst religion in the world, you've responded like I'm saying we shouldn't be critical of the Islamic religion.  Nowhere have I said that Islam should be free of criticism, just that the religion itself is an inanimate concept and that it's the people who do things and teach things that we object to. 

Let's be clear though, it's not just "human rights violations by Muslims." The fact that the perpetrators follow Islam is not just incidental to the human rights violations. The human rights violations are literally commanded by the Islamic scriptures and expressly ordered by Islamic religious leaders. Hence, the actions are to some degree a consequence of the teachings of Islam. 

Again, the religion itself is nothing; it's the followers who do bad or good, or choose to focus on the bad or good elements of the religious teachings.  If Islamic teachings were so clear that its followers must be horrible, then all the follower would be horrible.  They are clearly not.  I used to work with a guy who was convinced because of a line in the Koran (I don't remember the details) that all Muslims are liars and cannot be trusted when they profess to have good intentions or be good people.  That is an extreme example of what you are talking about, yes, but still a dangerous indicator for where that kind of absolutist thinking can lead.  I refuse to judge a whole group or individuals based off of what some words in a book say they should do.

To be clear, I'm not against criticism of Islam or any other religion, but to label one as "the worst" is just stupid, subjective, and counter-productive towards actually making the world a better place.

I'm not sure about that. It's an empirical question, so it ought to be supported by evidence before it can be concluded.

You're not listening to me.  It's a subjective question which serves only to support a divisive worldview; us versus them.  We're not measuring units of badness, we're judging an entire group of people as bad because of the actions of some and some words written down by others.

In engenders division, not reformation.

It's the very concept of religion itself that engenders division.

It's that very attitude which does the same.  Religion evolves constantly.  The Christianity of 100 AD is not the same as it is today.  Same with all other religions.  I'm open to religion having a place in this world so long as its followers can live peacefully along side those they disagree with as well.  I'm just as against atheists who cannot coexist with others and would rather live in a world full of tolerant religion than intolerant atheism.

I think the world we be a better place if humanity could move past religion entirely, but in lieu of that being remotely likely anytime in the next few centuries, I'll choose to focus on the specific groups and practices that I think are problematic, of which I think Islam is too large and too old to generalize about.

The relative age of Islam is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. Scientology is a terrible religion that is very new, whereas there are millennias-old religions that aren't beheading people for adultery. 

The older a religion, the less unified its members seem to be.  Scientology now is much like Mormonism was at the beginning, but these days there is a lot more variation within the Mormon religion, even if it is still holding onto a lot of its cult-like tendencies.  I imagine that in a few centuries, it won't be that dissimilar from other, older religions in terms of member uniformity.

Here's the problem: the ideology of Islam greatly influences the legal systems of several countries. Those countries consequently have some of the worst human rights records in the world. Beside those countries, Islam is also the majority religion in about 20 other countries which have human rights records ranging from middling-bad to atrocious. All of the "Islamic world" shares in a common set of human rights abuses against certain sub-populations, especially women and homosexuals. And it's no coincidence; the laws are taken directly from The Qu'ran and Hadiths and those countries make no secret of the fact that they derive their laws from Islam. 

If you don't think that's "problematic" enough, then maybe we need to do more to publicize the fact that Islam is harmful, because obviously the facts are being ignored. 

Even when the religious laws in Morocco were being debated in that other thread, it was pointed out that Morocco has a different set of laws for tourists than native Moroccans, and that was considered a mitigating factor. As if it's acceptable that a Moroccan can be put in jail for voicing his atheism or eating in public during Ramadan, so long as the same law doesn't affect the white folks who go there to visit.

That to me seems rather telling. "Who cares about the human rights abuses, so long as I can go vacation there without fear of suffering the same mistreatment that the locals inflict upon each other?" 

Let's stop pretending this is a debate between the relative merits of Methodism and Presbyterianism. It's a human rights crisis.

It just seems to me that you're making a big jump from "people who do bad things selectively use portions of Islam as a justification" to "Islam is harmful."  There are defensible and indefensible aspects of the religion.  Right now it seems like there are many who focus on the indefensible aspects, and there's no denying it.  That's why I have no problem in standing against those aspects, against those practices, and against those people.  I draw a distinction between that and saying "Islam is bad" though

Seriously, you said the same so i don't understand why you now seem to want to do the opposite.

I don't know what you mean by "do the opposite." My position has not changed.
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You seem to be both saying "don't judge individuals by the group they belong to" and "Islam is a bad religion" which seem to be at odds with each other.  To reiterate; a religion is what its followers do and while we can judge words on a page, we cannot presume to judge that individuals within a religion must adhere to those words more or less than any that might be less objectionable.

 

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