The social in social justice

We hear a lot – a LOT – about how “social justice” aka atheismplus aka feminism & anti-racism & LGBT rights & trans rights & animal rights and fill out the list as you like, is a distraction, is divisive, is “drama,” is attention-whoring, is whatever label you want to use by way of saying it has nothing to do with atheism or skepticism or secularism or free inquiry.

There are ways that’s true, if you look at both parts of the equation very narrowly and literally. It is of course perfectly possible to be both an atheist and an aggressively misogynist shithead. If we didn’t know that a priori we would certainly still know it empirically, because we’ve encountered so many glowing examples. (I mean “glowing” in a radioactive sense.) [Read more...]

Guest post: Is Islam a More Radical Religion? An Inside View

Guest post by Kaveh Mousavi, the pseudonym of an Iranian atheist. First published at The Proud Atheist.

When it comes to Islam, there is a controversy among the atheists regarding how they should deal with it. There are those like Sam Harris and Bill Maher who say not all religions are the same, and some are worse than the others, and then there are those who say that it is wrong to single out Islam as all religions are equally bad. There are those who even accuse people like Maher and Harris of racism. Now, in this controversy former Muslims rarely speak up. The dialogue is usually between Muslims – or their defenders – and people who have been born and raised in a different culture. That is understandable to some degree, because being a former Muslim somehow doesn’t improve your resume when you live under a theocracy. But I believe someone with a more intimate knowledge of the religion should weigh in.

I believe I have the right to do so. I am familiar with the faith more than other people, because once I planned to be a “perfect Muslim”, and I studied the religion in depth. I was not pleased with the result and ended up an atheist instead. I am an Iranian living inside Iran. I have been the victim of a theoretical totalitarian regime which bases its laws on Shiite sharia law. I have seen Islam from every angle – from the inside as the firm believer, and from the outside as the non-believer. So this is the question: is Islam more radical than other religions? Is it particularly violent? [Read more...]

Beliefs can be more or less reasonable

Sigurd Jorsalfar pointed out that Stephen Law has a recent post related to this subject of more and less reasonable beliefs.

Beliefs can be more or less reasonable. There is, if you like, a scale of reasonableness on which beliefs may be located. Unfortunately, that reasonableness is a matter of degree is often overlooked. It’s sometimes assumed that if neither a belief A, nor its denial B, are conclusively “proved”, then the two beliefs must be more or less equally reasonable or unreasonable. As we will see, this assumption is false.

I suspect that happens more with discussions of theism and atheism than with any other kind of discussion, because it’s so damn convenient. [Read more...]

A kernel

For once, there’s a kernel of truth in something Brendan O’Neill writes (in the Telegraph this time). Only a kernel though.

When did atheists become so teeth-gratingly annoying? Surely non-believers in God weren’t always the colossal pains in the collective backside that they are today? Surely there was a time when you could say to someone “I am an atheist” without them instantly assuming you were a smug, self-righteous loather of dumb hicks given to making pseudo-clever statements like, “Well, Leviticus also frowns upon having unkempt hair, did you know that?” Things are now so bad that I tend to keep my atheism to myself, and instead mumble something about being a very lapsed Catholic if I’m put on the spot, for fear that uttering the A-word will make people think I’m a Dawkins drone with a mammoth superiority complex and a hives-like allergy to nurses wearing crucifixes. [Read more...]