Banality and bigotry


Well, well, well. Richard Dawkins declared himself a “cultural Christian” on Easter, which is no surprise and no big deal. He has been saying how much he likes Christmas and church bells for years, so this is absolutely nothing new. I could say that I’m a “cultural Christian,” too, being brought up in a functionally Christian country with Christian traditions and a Christian history, but I’m defined more by my atheism, and my rejection of many of those beliefs. It’s meaningless and trivial to say that we have all been shaped by our environment…although, of course, many Christian believers think that this is a huge deal and are acting as if Dawkins has renounced his unbelief.

He has not. What he then goes on to do, though, is to declare his bigotry, and that is what I find disturbing.

He likes hymns and cathedrals and parish churches — fine, uncontroversial, kind of boring, actually. But then he resents the idea that people would celebrate Ramadan instead of Christmas. Why? They both seem like nice holidays, that some people follow a different set of customs shouldn’t be a problem. Then he goes on to say that Christianity is “a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that Islam is not.”

How so? Because Islam is hostile to women and gays. He goes on to talk about how the Koran has a low regard for women.

Jesus. It’s true, but has this “cultural Christian” read the Bible? I don’t see any difference. The interviewer tries to bring up the record of actual practicing Christians, and he dismisses that as only those weird American protestants, as if jolly old England has no gay baiting, no murders of young women, and as if JK Rowling were just an open-minded, beneficent patron of the arts. Many American Christians are virulent homophobes who treat women as chattel, but his equally nasty culturally English Christianity has people and organizations that are just as awful.

70% of women teachers in the UK face misogyny. The British empire left a legacy of homophobia. The UK is so transphobic that some people are fleeing. Cultural Christianity does not seem to have made Great Britain a kinder, gentler place, but Dawkins must have some particularly rosy glasses that he wears at home, and takes off when he looks at any other country.

Dawkins has come out as sympathetic to Christianity, but only because it justifies his bigotry. At least he’s being open and honest about both biases.

Comments

  1. says

    ..but Dawkins must have some particularly rosy glasses..

    Like the same rose colored glasses as Dumb Idiot Ham’s stupid “bible glasses” he tells his stupid followers to put on every now and then.

  2. mordred says

    Seriously? How “decent” were the European nations when the christian churches were the highest moral authority?

  3. says

    I’m an atheist in part because I rejected my cultural Christian upbringing that told me to make hundreds of exceptions to that whole “love thy neighbor” thing that’s supposed to be a big deal. Actually reading the Bible and noticing all the genocide, slavery, and other atrocities didn’t exactly help my perception of the dominant Christian culture. The constant lies of Creationists and theocrats vilifying civil rights groups told me that Christianity as a whole hasn’t changed for the better.

    For me, most good religious people I encounter seem to be good people in spite of their religion, not because of it.

  4. raven says

    Then he goes on to say that Christianity is “a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that Islam is not.”

    Dawkins has completely lost the ability to read and reason on a basic level.

    Xianity isn’t a fundamentally decent religion and never has been.
    Just read their magic book, the bible.
    There are death penalty offenses for what are today not even crimes including adultery, being a nonvirgin bride, working on the Sabbath, being a disobedient child, and heresy and atheism. Under biblical law, 99% of the US population would be dead under a pile of rocks.
    Including Richard Dawkins for being an atheist.

    Slavery in the bible is widely accepted and you can sell your kids into slavery if you need a few bucks.

    The xians have a bloody history of atrocities to show for their terrible religion. The genocide of the Pagans and Albigensians, the Crusades, one of which was against other xians, the Reformation wars, the Inquisition, the witch hunts. The death toll has been in the millions.

    Dawkins knew this at one time and even wrote a famous book about it, The God Delusion.
    Which he seems to have forgotten about.

  5. raven says

    Then he goes on to say that Christianity is “a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that Islam is not.”

    There really isn’t any such thing as “Christianity”. The religion is divided up into 42,000 sects that don’t agree on much of anything.
    They used to fight wars among themselves until we took away their heavy weapons.

    You could say that some of these sects are OK, maybe even decent. You don’t need the superfluous adjective “fundamentlly”, which is stretching the point.

    I would include the Unitarians and some of the Mainline Social Justice sects, i.e the Methodists or ECLA. Maybe even the UK Episcopalians that I don’t know too much about.

    But they aren’t decent because of xianity but more because someone made decisions to ignore the ugly parts of xianity and emphasize the few good parts.

    Judging xianity by a very small and minor subset of it is the worst type of cherry picking and subsetting of data. It’s an obvious logical fallacy that anyone with their wits about them wouldn’t make.

  6. says

    Methinks Dawkins is now surrounded by woman-haters and transphobes, who have been attracted to him by his recent stupid bigoted brain-farts, and who have become his core following, and who are largely Christian or at least Christian-Reich-adjacent. And those are the people guiding and rewarding him for telling them more of what they want to hear. And he no longer has the mental chops to understand or be responsible for his words. I had a response to his latest rubbish all typed up, but once again, the only appropriate response to Dawkins is “Goodbye.” Long story short, he’s gone.

    Slavery in the bible is widely accepted and you can sell your kids into slavery if you need a few bucks.

    Yabbut St. Nicholas bought a cute little girl out of slavery, so that cancels all the previous stuff out, and that’s why we celebrate Santa Claus at Christmas!

    Come to think of it, that strikes me as a damn good reason to celebrate a mature, aware and compassionate Santa Claus in place of Baby Jesus at the Winter Solstice!

  7. Deepak Shetty says

    Did Dawkins skip his History classes to attend Biology ? Surely he cant be ignorant of his own country’s history when the church was deeply embedded with the rulers ?

  8. stevewatson says

    @7: Seconded.
    The number of self-identified atheists, secularists and humanists who have jumped into bed with Christianity — and in some cases, quite regressive versions of it too, not the cuddly liberal kind — because of their opposition to Islam (and also “wokeism”) is truly disturbing. They seem to have fallen hard for the Enemy Of My Enemy fallacy.

  9. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Because Islam is hostile to women and gays.

    Funny, cause Dawkins doesn’t actually care about women and gays, he just wants to be the one subjecting them.

  10. Owlmirror says

    It’s true, but has this “cultural Christian” read the Bible?

    Of course he has. And in his less confused moments, he has stated:

    The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

    But he wants to have it both ways. His “Cultural Christianity” rises above and ignores the worst and cruelest bits of the Bible; Old and New Testaments both. But there’s no possibility of some “Cultural Islam” doing something similar? Because reasons?

  11. Matt G says

    Richard is well past his sell-by date. And isn’t he the same guy who said that he was sexually abused by clergy but just shrugged it off as not so bad?

  12. Hemidactylus says

    There’s a substitution hypothesis floating around, and I think Boghossian and Dawkins have discussed it, where atheism led to people latching onto replacement “religions” like wokeness. Christianity could be seen as a preferred lesser evil to extending civil rights any further. Add an obligatory IDW reference to MLK on content of character as a call for colorblindness because everything is peachy keen.

  13. Doc Bill says

    I’ll never understand why a guy like Dawkins needs a label. I remember an episode of “Kung Fu” where Kwai Chang Caine is asked, “What are you!!??” He replied calmly, “Just a man.”

    That said, I enjoy the Christmas holidays. I put up a tree, send out an annual letter, display greeting cards from friends, indulge in eggnog and brandy, cook up a storm, play the Choir of Kings College and all that stuff. If I had a nativity scene it would feature my Dr. Who action figures and Daleks. I don’t feel a need to explain enjoying Christmas any more than I do liking cats. Maybe Dawkins has just gone around the bend. It happens.

  14. Tethys says

    It sounds like he is still trying to justify his personal contribution to culturally enshrined misogyny.

    How so? Because Islam is hostile to women and gays. He goes on to talk about how the Koran has a low regard for women.

    Dear Muslima, remember that time I used you as a shield to deflect from the criticism resulting from my actions surrounding an event known as Elevatorgate?

    ——
    The Abrahamic religions all share the core belief in Patriarchy. It’s obvious that Richard is all about supporting the white male cultural model of entitlement.

  15. drsteve says

    One wonders what Dawkins would think of Hindu nationalism in India. Would it also get his blessing because of of its (sometimes violent) opposition to Islam?

  16. microraptor says

    Matt G @14: Yes, he said that he was abused as a child but then immediately tried to claim that sexually abusing children was a much lesser form of abuse than raising them to be Christian.

  17. says

    Owlmirror quoted Dawkins back at him first, kudos! That was my first thought on the matter. Also quotable Dawkins:

    Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism.

    Perhaps as a ‘cultural Christian’ Dawkins has accepted homeopathic theism.

  18. says

    Doc Bill: I remember an episode where (after yet another climactic battle where Kane takes down multiple armed men with just his pinkies and no fatalities) someone asked Caine “Y’ain’t a lawman, y’ain’t a bandit, y’ain’t a claim-jumper, y’ain’t just another railroad coolie – what are you?” And Caine replied “I am a priest.”

  19. vucodlak says

    Christianity is, as far as I can tell, the bloodiest, cruelest religion in the history of this little planet, and I don’t just mean the Crusades, the Inquisition, and heretic/witch hunts of centuries past. For fuck’s sake, the Nazis were (and are) “cultural Christians,” as is modern day Russia. So too was the Confederacy, and so was and is the United States. It’s Christianity that’s bringing things like the drive to make being gay a death penalty offense in nations like Uganda, not Islam.

    The Christianity I was raised in was breathtakingly cruel, seemingly designed to make people more hateful and closed-minded.

    I was taught that God inflicts tortures beyond imagining on all those who don’t believe in him the right way, and that even professed believers weren’t safe from Hell if they questioned or mocked God.

    I was taught that God knows our every thought and feeling, and would condemn even a child for a moment of doubt.

    I was taught that a crying baby was a horrible sinner worthy only of the fires of Hell.

    I was taught that we should be grateful for every horrible thing on this planet because God could have made things so much worse, and we would have deserved it.

    I was taught that humans are disgusting, loathsome, wretched things who should be tortured for all eternity, but that God might be persuaded to spare us if only we obeyed his will without question.

    I was taught that we must forgive those who harm us, no matter what they’ve done, if we are to have any hope of being forgiven.

    I was taught that love is always conditional, based on obedience.

    This is Dawkins’ “fundamentally decent religion.” There are decent Christians, some of whom I am proud to consider my friends, but I have a hard time seeing Christianity itself as anything but the worst of the worst. That’s not to say that there has never, ever been anything positive done in the name of Christianity, but I don’t see how anyone could make a good-faith argument that the good isn’t far outweighed by the bad.

  20. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    The God Delusion 2006, same paragraph as Owlmirror’s quote:

    Thomas Jefferson […] was of a similar opinion: ‘The Christian God is a being of terrific character—cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.’
    […]
    The God Hypothesis should not stand or fall with its most unlovely instantiation, Yahweh, nor his insipidly opposite Christian face, ‘Gentle Jesus meek and mild’ […] this milksop persona owes more to his Victorian followers than to Jesus himself. Could anything be more mawkishly nauseating

    Dawkins since 2007: ~The Christian God is a being of terrific character~

  21. Rob Grigjanis says

    vucodlak @22:

    Christianity is, as far as I can tell, the bloodiest, cruelest religion in the history of this little planet

    Is that based on an exhaustive study? I think human history, and prehistory, is replete with horrifically cruel religious beliefs and other ideologies. Choosing the worst is a mug’s game.

    Consider the Aztecs; Calendar of sacrifice. There are plenty of others. They don’t excuse Christianity. Just put it in context.

  22. Akira MacKenzie says

    He likes hymns and cathedrals and parish churches — fine, uncontroversial, kind of boring, actually.

    Funny, when I rejected Christianity for atheism, I dropped that shit. Now I loathe, despise, and want to see them erased from human thought and memory as all lies should.

  23. vucodlak says

    @ Rob Grigjanis, #24

    I’m no great student of history, so I suppose it’s possible that I missed the part where the practitioners of the Aztec religion went on a centuries-long, blood-soaked march around the globe that continues to this very day, but I doubt it. You’re welcome to argue that some religions have been deadlier with regard to local populations during some stretches of history than Christianity, and you’d probably be right. If you’re going to argue that any other religion has a higher overall toll in terms of the brutalized, broken, and dead, though, I’m going to have to ask for receipts.

    I’d also point out that I said “as far as I can tell,” which rather excludes prehistory from consideration.

    Beyond that, I will freely admit to being biased. I despise Christianity in particular for what’s been done in its name to those I love (and yes, to me as well), and I have a personal grudge against the God of the faith I was raised (Lutheran Church Missoui Synod, a far-right Christian sect). I don’t know that he exists but, as I believe the deity I worship exists, I’m open to the possibility. Regardless, I hate the fucker.

    Nevertheless, I am capable of having respectful conversations about religion. I sit quietly while my family or friends pray to their God. I don’t argue with them about their faith, as long as they extend the same courtesy to my faith. I listen politely whenever someone talks about the good their God has done in their lives, and refrain from making any comments. I don’t deface the ubiquitous territorial markers of (white) Christian (Nationalism) around my community, even when they’re blatantly in conflict with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

    In this space, however, in a discussion of a prominent atheist’s remarks about the supposedly benign nature of Christianity, I’m gonna grind my ax, even to the point of making hyperbole-laden statements about what I believe to be the pernicious nature of said faith. Dawkins knows better, and it gives me some small satisfaction to gore his ox, even if he’ll likely never see it. If that’s spiteful of me, well, I guess we can never be fully free of the faith we’re raised in, can we?

    But fine, if it will please you, I will amend my statement to “As far as I can tell, Christianity has a bloodier and crueler history than Islam and, contrary to the narratives favored by the likes of Richard Dawkins, the extreme violence done in the name of Christianity is not a thing of the past just because he pretends not to see it.”

    Oh, hey, for the sake of context, you wouldn’t happen to recall what happened to the practitioners of the Aztec religion, would you?

    (And yes, I’m aware I probably butchered some of the above metaphors.)

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    vucodlak @26:

    If you’re going to argue that any other religion has a higher overall toll in terms of the brutalized, broken, and dead, though, I’m going to have to ask for receipts.

    It would be hard to exceed the overall toll exacted by a set of cults which spanned, at its start, Europe geographically, and well over a thousand years temporally. But I’d argue that the kill rates of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot make Christians look like amateurs.

    Oh, hey, for the sake of context, you wouldn’t happen to recall what happened to the practitioners of the Aztec religion, would you?

    Probably much the same as happened to people conquered by the Aztecs, or Incas, or many other imperial powers (including the European ones).

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    PS

    But fine, if it will please you,…

    You’re not here to please me. You’re here to make whatever comments you see fit to make. As am I.

  26. numerobis says

    It would be hard to exceed the overall toll exacted by a set of cults which spanned, at its start, Europe geographically, and well over a thousand years temporally.

    Why so? Christianity isn’t the oldest religion around, and Europe isn’t the most populated region around.

  27. Tethys says

    Since Christianity is the religion behind the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, AND the colonization and genocides of four continents, it wins most murderous ideology by an enormous margin. Nazi’s were Christians, so we can add all those genocides too.

    Pol Pot and Stalin combined aren’t anywhere close to Maos count, which is exceeded by the genocides of the indigenous populations of the Americas alone.

  28. John Morales says

    Hm. So, Dawkins explicitly declares himself a cultural Christian, which as PZ notes in the OP was basically done long, long ago (I posted exactly that, since it was obvious), and people wank on about which religion is worst. With muddled metrics (most killed; worst ideology; longest duration; etc).

    Point being that Dawkins considers himself a Christian in a similar way to how a cultural Jew considers themself Jewish, except in his case it’s entirely volitional — obs, one can utterly ignore childhood inculcation into Christianity just as I did. I myself am not a cultural Christian.

    Basically, Dawkins is weak. I am more gnuish than he. :)

  29. Silentbob says

    Morales, It was Dawkins who claimed Christianity is fundamentally kindly, unlike Islam. It’s a claim deserving of rebuttal, hence the “wank”.

    I think Dawkins has specifically Anglicanism in mind. I doubt he’d say Catholicism is particularly “decent”. Which is silly given Anglicanism was just invented so English Kings didn’t have to answer to the pope. To this day King Charles is the highest (human) authority in the Church of England.

  30. Erp says

    “I think Dawkins has specifically Anglicanism in mind. I doubt he’d say Catholicism is particularly “decent”. Which is silly given Anglicanism was just invented so English Kings didn’t have to answer to the pope. To this day King Charles is the highest (human) authority in the Church of England.”

    Charles might have theoretical power, but, his effective power is far lower. The current Prime Minister has more effective power and the bishops have the on the ground power. I note that Humanists UK have been fighting for more secular state schools; something that my Quaker, Unitarian, and atheist ancestors (I had a some atheist ancestors starting at least in the 1880s) would have supported. The Church of England has been fighting for more CoE schools (mostly state funded but the church gets a strong say in indoctrinating its version of Christianity).
    On the other hand I find more in agreement with many progressive Christians (and Muslims) than I do with Dawkins. I also note Humanists UK seems on the whole to be more progressive than Dawkins.

  31. birgerjohansson says

    I would argue islam in islam-majority countries is nastier to people who leave the religion. Otherwise than that it is just another Meh religion with different branches finding excuses for hating each other. And like christianity, it blames Jews for stuff.

  32. says

    But I’d argue that the kill rates of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot make Christians look like amateurs.

    I read somewhere that the sectarian civil wars of the Reformation killed a greater percentage of the affected populations than Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot killed of theirs.

    And given the degree and insanity of the hateful rhetoric we’re hearing from Chrisofascists today, and given the inability of hysterical religious zealots to control themselves, or be controlled even by their own so-called leaders, I wouldn’t expect a present-day re-enactment of such sectarian warfare to be any more restrained or rational than the last one.

  33. birgerjohansson says

    BTW populist political parties in Europe cannot blame Jews these days, so they blame immigrants in general and muslims in particular. I do not know how Dawkins is on the immigration issue.

  34. beholder says

    a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that Islam is not.

    I wouldn’t gloss over the blood-soaked history of Christianity to the point of calling it “fundamentally decent”, but I get what he’s saying. A 21st-century Christian ruling class is a bother for apostates, but a 21st-century Islamic ruling class chops apostates into pieces. I know which countries I would never set foot in for that reason, and I empathize with the secularists just trying to survive in there.

  35. vucodlak says

    @ Rob Grigjanis, #27

    It would be hard to exceed the overall toll exacted by a set of cults which spanned, at its start, Europe geographically, and well over a thousand years temporally.

    Ah, so now we’re comparing the number tortured, killed, and/or forced to convert by Christians to the total who suffered the same by a nebulous “set of cults,” which is… I honestly don’t know point you’re trying to make. Yes, if you collect all the religions the world has ever known, minus Christianity, and add up their atrocities, you might get a higher number compared to Christianity alone, but since that’s not what we were discussing, I don’t see what it has to do with anything.

    But I’d argue that the kill rates of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot make Christians look like amateurs.

    That’s nice, but I specified overall toll for a reason, and Maoists have a lot of catching up to do. It’s not just about outright murder, either- there’s also the small matter of the countless cultures that Christians have done their level best to stamp out for their Christ, and all the hideous acts of violence and vandalism they’ve committed in furtherance of that goal.

    Probably much the same as happened to people conquered by the Aztecs, or Incas, or many other imperial powers (including the European ones).

    Since you seem to be having some trouble, I’ll help you out:
    Christians. Christians happened to them. The same thing that happened to who knows how many hundreds of other indigenous religions. Christians showed up and stamped them out by any means necessary. I don’t disagree that the Aztec religion was a vicious, bloodthirsty thing. I do disagree that the Christians who slaughtered them were any kind of an improvement.

    Look, I’m not sure what point you think you’re making here. If you’re trying convince me that Christianity isn’t that bad, I’d suggest giving it up. I’m no historical scholar, but it’s obvious that I’m at least better read on this topic than you are, and I’ve a better idea than you how many mass graves Christianity’s adherents have filled with their victims, and how many cultures they’ve extinguished.

    Even if you can convince me that Christianity is only the second bloodiest religion in history, it’s not going to make it a “fundamentally decent” anything. Nor is it going to make me hate it any less.

  36. raven says

    Why so? Christianity isn’t the oldest religion around, and Europe isn’t the most populated region around.

    Xianity managed to extend its reach and body count around the world, something that continues today.

    The bloodiest civil war in history, the Taiping Rebellion in China was started by a heterodox xian. It killed between 20 and 30 million people in the mid 19th century.

    Wikipedia:

    Estimates of the conflict’s death toll range between 20 and 30 million people, representing 5–10% of China’s population.[4] While the Qing ultimately defeated the rebellion, the victory came at a great cost to the state’s economic and political viability.

    The uprising was led by Hong Xiuquan, an ethnic Hakka (a Han subgroup) who had proclaimed himself to be the brother of Jesus Christ. Hong sought the religious conversion of the Han people to the Taiping’s syncretic version of Christianity,

  37. John Morales says

    Morales, It was Dawkins who claimed Christianity is fundamentally kindly, unlike Islam. It’s a claim deserving of rebuttal, hence the “wank”.

    You can’t rebut someone’s opinion, and it does distinguish between religion and culture.
    That is why the ‘cultural’ qualifier.

    I think Dawkins has specifically Anglicanism in mind.

    Maybe. Culturally-speaking, of course.

    He’s not talking about the religion, but rather his native land’s culture and its extension.]
    It’s traditions, its holidays, its customs, its holidays, its heritage. That sort of thing.

  38. John Morales says

    Heh. You know as well as I to what ‘gnu’ refers.

    A dated meme, as is Dawkins.

    Remember:

    Chorus
    Yeah he’s the Dick to the Dawk to the PhD,
    he’s smarter than you he’s got a science degree!

    Featured here.

  39. John Morales says

    [I still reckon the best putdown is how ‘meme’ now denotes an internet meme, rather than an informational analogue of a biological gene. His only likely lasting idea, perfectly perverted. Heh]

  40. says

    Dawkin’s Christianity is decent the same way Pinker’s 20th century is peaceful.
    Anyway, I’m happy to celebrate Eid al Fitr with my class (we’ll do a belated one because the kids get the day off come Wednesday, which my christian colleagues find bad).

  41. rietpluim says

    Well, who would have thought. Putting Christianity in position in the fight against Islam. Where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, I remember, with virtually every white racist bigot on earth. Every decent Christian, cultural or otherwise, should object against this abuse of their beliefs.

  42. StevoR says

    Its not a contest in any way worth “winning” or participating in at all but sadly the “quest” for the dubious record of which religion has killed & genocided the most human individuals is still on-going.

    It does appear likely that Christianity and Islam are racing for that dubious dishonour but what’s the prize for the “winner” here & given Chjristianity hd abig head start in temporal terms its probly in front for now for whatever ugly “”pride” that is worth.

  43. Hemidactylus says

    John Morales @44
    Yeah the meme meme hasn’t aged well. Call me old fashioned but I prefer the concepts proposed by Emile Durkheim or Karl Lashley depending on whether the focus is externally collective or internally individual. Dawkins was arguing in a vacuum though given his background he should have known of proposed memory units or even something put forth by JZ Young (mnemon) that didn’t quite catch on.

    As Ernst Mayr had opined the term concept itself is perfectly fine on its own. Meme is an unnecessary flourish.
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.94.6.2091

    But now meme has “devolved” to funny captioned images. Fitting survival that.

  44. raven says

    It is probably worth noting that both xianity and Islam were violent, expansionary religions.

    Today, almost all of the violence in Islam is directed towards other Muslims, mostly in endless rounds of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.
    Even with Al-Qaeda, well over 90% of their victims were other Muslims.
    This makes sense. We are over There, while their co-religionists are over Here, where they all actually live.

    Right now, we have the civil war in Yemen, a civil war in Libya, a civil war in Somalia, a civil war in Syria, a civil war in Afghanistan, constant conflicts in Pakistan, and Iran against all the Sunnis.
    There were recent conflicts in Lebanon and Iraq, which have stopped for now but could flare up any time.
    The Islamic terrorists may not like us in the West, but they really hate other Muslims.

    Most of the time, when we see Muslims in the West, they either live here as citizens and immigrants.
    Or, they are doing anything humanly possible to get to the West.
    Not as terrorists or fighters but to get away from terrorists and fighters.

    They don’t want to attack us, they want to join us and live normal lives as normal citizens.

  45. Rob Grigjanis says

    vucodlak @39: The “set of cults” I was referring to is Christianity.

    Christians. Christians happened to them.

    Yes, anyone with a grade school education would know that. Congratulations. And if you ask “what happened to [insert one of many, many ethnolinguistic groups which you may not have learned of in grade school?]”, the answer might be “the Aztecs happened to them”, or “the Assyrians happened to them”, etc. And “what happened” could be subjugation, or extermination, or enslavement, etc.

    The difference is that Christianity happened to be the dominant cult/set of cults in a time and place of massive technological advancement. If it had been some other cult, in some other place, you would presumably be calling that “the bloodiest, cruelest religion in the history of this little planet”, even though it’s less about the particular religion than historical happenstance.

    Look, I’m not sure what point you think you’re making here

    I thought “choosing the worst is a mug’s game” was pretty clear.

  46. vucodlak says

    @ Rob Grigjanis. #52

    The “set of cults” I was referring to is Christianity.

    It’s weird, though, that you don’t just come right out and say it. Just like it’s weird that you choose to play coy with the identity of those who slaughtered the Aztecs. You meant Christianity, and that anyone would know that Christians attempted to wipe the Aztecs off the face of the Earth, but you seem strangely reluctant to say Christianity was the bloodthirsty religion behind these atrocities.

    Yes, if a religion other than Christianity had Christianity’s record of mass murder, brutal oppression, and cultural extermination, while Christianity was all rainbows and puppy kisses, I’d be condemning that other religion instead. That’s not how history reads, however, so I stand by my assessment.

    Maybe you’re right that, given the means, just any old religion would have done the exact same things Christianity has done, but that’s an entirely separate discussion. As I made clear in my original comment at #22, I was responding to Dawkins’ claim that Christianity is “a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that Islam is not.” As far as I’m concerned both the lengthy bloodstained history of Christianity as well as the continued extreme violence of adherents today puts the lie to that statement.

    I thought “choosing the worst is a mug’s game” was pretty clear.

    You chose to take issue with my statement, but not the statement I was clearly responding to. You chose to bend over backwards to avoid simply naming the religion behind the specific acts we’ve discussed.

    As I’ve said several times in this thread, I detest Christianity, and that does inform my response. However, I’m not slandering Christians when I point out that they committed the named acts and justified them with their faith. I’m stating historical fact. Might the people who committed those acts have done so anyway if they weren’t Christian? It’s entirely possible. I never claimed that Christianity is the only religion in whose name evil has been done, or that all evil springs from Christianity.

    I was never interested in choosing the “worst” religion. My claim was merely that a hell of a lot of evil has been done in the name of Christianity, and that I believe it’s been responsible for more evil than any other religion. But, as I have repeatedly stated, I have a grudge against Christianity and its deity that definitely colors my perceptions. Perhaps my subjective opening statement was in error, and you could find a “worse” by some more objective metric of cruelty of bloodiness.

    Nevertheless, I stand by the argument that Christianity is not “fundamentally decent” as compared to any other religion.

  47. John Morales says

    I was never interested in choosing the “worst” religion. My claim was merely that a hell of a lot of evil has been done in the name of Christianity, and that I believe it’s been responsible for more evil than any other religion.

    So the evil function might be ideology (the religious kind) multiplied by the duration multiplied by the size multiplied by the intensity and all of that integrated over time, and the worst outcome would be the greatest integral sum over whatever interval. Plug the numbers in, see what the answer is.

    Anyway, Hitchens is referring to cultural Christianity, which explicitly differentiates it from the religion itself. The bells, the bells! No muezzin, but. That’s just not right.

  48. John Morales says

    Do we attribute Israel’s current genocidal campaign towards the Palestinians in Gaza to Judaism in the same way that Christendom’s atrocities are attributed to Christianity?

    (I think not)

  49. Rob Grigjanis says

    vucodlak @53:

    I was never interested in choosing the “worst” religion.

    My bad, then!

    Ideologues are fucking hilarious.

  50. vucodlak says

    @ Rob Grigjanis, #56

    My apologies, Rob! I had mistaken your engagement on this topic as a good-faith, if rather obtuse, desire for a discussion. If I had known earlier that your comments were merely the self-satisfied preening of an arrogant jackass, I’d have made more of an effort to include shiny objects in my replies, so that you might better view your reflection and wank to your heart’s content. I’m not sure how I’d accomplish that in an internet comment thread, but for you I’d make the effort.

    Gosh, you must have been so bored. Really, really sorry about that. One of these days you simply must share with us what it’s like to be so bloodless that neither injustice nor slight ever moves you to an irrational dislike of those who wrong you and those you lov- ah, sorry, those you associate with. I do hope that language is neutral enough for you.

    Remember: use small words with me. Ideologue funny, but no brain good.

  51. vucodlak says

    @ John Morales #54-55

    And while I’m at it, I must also offer my sincerest mea culpa to John Morales, who has made it abundantly clear how dull he finds this discussion of the OP. You seem to be looking to make some sort of mathematical puzzle out of it, which… doesn’t interest me in the slightest, but I’ll try not to make half a dozen comments about how boring I find it.

    However…

    Do we attribute Israel’s current genocidal campaign towards the Palestinians in Gaza to Judaism in the same way that Christendom’s atrocities are attributed to Christianity?

    It’s interesting that you bring that up, given how much certain strains of Christianity have influenced US policy towards Israel. In particular, it’s possible we wouldn’t have shipped nearly so much weaponry to Israel without the Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist belief that all Jews must be safely contained in Israel (and that Israel must belong exclusively to Jews) so that turbo-Jesus can come back and slaughter them all for not being Christian as part of the apocalypse PMDs aim to create. As a part of that, PMD Christians are huge supporters of the government of Israel’s genocidal actions towards Palestinians.

    Alas, I cannot neatly lay all the blame for the IDF’s slaughter of civilians at the feet of PMD Christians so, if we use your metric, we shouldn’t blame them at all. Oh well. Sorry if that digression bores you. Also, sorry if my “groveling,” as you have referred to it in the past, offends your sensibilities. I am but a disgusting, loathsome, wretched worm, as I was taught my former God made me, and I am heartily sorry for having offended thee.

  52. John Morales says

    Also, sorry if my “groveling,” as you have referred to it in the past, offends your sensibilities. I am but a disgusting, loathsome, wretched worm, as I was taught my former God made me, and I am heartily sorry for having offended thee.

    Relax, vucodlak. I do respect you. Not that I can recall whatever instance might have occasioned that, but I bet it was very much contextually apposite, if and when it came about.

    So. Kinda evinces your own cultural Christianity.

    cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mea_culpa#Religious_use

    Confíteor Deo omnipoténti
    et vobis, fratres,
    quia peccávi nimis
    cogitatióne, verbo,
    ópere et omissióne:
    mea culpa, mea culpa,
    mea máxima culpa.
    Ideo precor beátam Maríam semper vírginem,
    omnes angelos et sanctos,
    et vos, fratres,
    oráre pro me ad Dóminum Deum nostrum.

    Point is, nuanced as it might seem, Dawkins still repudiates Christianity (the religious dimension) but endorses Christianity (the cultural dimension), quite simplistically.
    He ain’t talking religion, but people here are arguing religion.

    Category error.

    BTW, Islam postdates Christianity, and their trajectory and impetus has been similar; they are basically from the same tradition. The first and second spin-offs of the Abrahamic lineage.

    Patriarchal, authoritarian, hegemonic, though around 7 centuries younger, much more than the age difference between the other two main branches of that lineage.

  53. mathscatherine says

    I kind of get Dawkin’s “fundamentally decent” (though I would disagree about the fundamental bit) applied to the Church of England, which he seems to be referring to. There is certainly a part of the CofE which is decent – that ordains women, celebrates (at least to some extent) same sex marriages, and does some good charitable work. It is also the church that married my atheist parents when they didn’t fancy the local registry office as a location (nowadays there are a lot more options luckily), that in my parents’ village hosts a “carol concert” with minimal explicitly religious elements, and indeed has some lovely traditional music. I am, I suppose, “culturally Anglican” in a similar manner – I am familiar with its traditions, and I celebrate Christmas.
    I don’t think, however, that it is actually “fundamentally decent”. I think its fundamentals are that of Christianity in general, which is a violent expansionist religion. But its history as the state church of a nation that liked to pride itself on its democracy (at least in Great Britain – other places is of course a very different story…) forced the church to be dragged along with the changing moral compass and be a more inclusive place.
    But while I disapprove of both Islam and Christianity, there are plenty of people who believe in each religion who are kind and decent, and indeed who are inspired to kindness from their religion and its traditions. My husband’s boss is Muslim, and he invited all his employees and their families to an iftar dinner the other night – we all had a lovely time, and it was very kind of him.

  54. vucodlak says

    @ John Morales, #59

    So. Kinda evinces your own cultural Christianity.

    I certainly can’t deny that my time as a Christian gave me a great deal of experience in groveling. Yes, my use of “mea culpa” was a deliberate religious reference, as was my use of the phrase “I am heartily sorry for having offended thee.” It’s childish of me, but I do enjoy indulging in the occasional blasphemy.

    Point is, nuanced as it might seem, Dawkins still repudiates Christianity (the religious dimension) but endorses Christianity (the cultural dimension), quite simplistically.

    My point is that cultural Christianity is functionally inseparable from religious Christianity. Okay, so Dawkins doesn’t believe in the God of Christianity, but that really only effects him. Voicing his support for cultural Christianity over Islam has the same effect on the culture, regardless of whether or not he personally believes in God or anything the Bible says.

    It’s rather like the way white nationalism and Christian nationalism are functionally the same thing in the United States. Christian nationalists may not personally endorse the uncouth racism of Donald Trump and other white nationalist Republicans, but they’ll vote for them just the same, and the Venn diagram of white nationalist policy and Christian Policy is close enough to a perfect circle that it’s functionally the same thing.

    If you were start talking about the harms of the white nationalism in regard to a policy proposed by a Christian Nationalist, it’s entirely possible that they’d say “whoa whoa whoa, I’m a Christian nationalist, not a white nationalist, get it right!” The problem is, the policies are the same either way. It’s therefore appropriate to talk about what’s wrong with white nationalism, because the policies born from it are the same.

    Dawkins may not intend to endorse Christian religion, but there’s so little difference between the policies that come out of cultural Christianity and those that come out of religious Christianity that it’s appropriate to discuss what culturally-dominant forms of Christianity teach. I was raised in a far-right sect of Christianity and, while the people who control policy-making in my state (Missouri) are not all members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the policies they create are exactly the ones the LCMS supports.

    Most of those policies, like extreme anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, have their roots in the teachings of extremely conservative Christian sects. Those who propose and support these policies generally do so because they’re true believers, but others go along to preserve our “Christian culture.” Which also happens to be a white supremacist culture. That’s not a coincidence, any more than it’s a coincidence that the protestant religious right adopted an anti-abortion stance right after their resounding defeat as supporters of segregation.

    BTW, Islam postdates Christianity, and their trajectory and impetus has been similar; they are basically from the same tradition. The first and second spin-offs of the Abrahamic lineage.

    I am aware. I don’t claim that Islam is superior to Christianity, but I do object to the notion that Christianity is superior to Islam. Even in a strictly cultural sense which, again, I don’t believe can be separated from the religious sense in any meaningful fashion.

    I’d also like to make it clear that I don’t believe that Christianity and its cultural impact are wholly negative.

  55. John Morales says

    vucodlak, I do appreciate you responded to me properly (relevantly), with none of this accusing me of trolling or whatever. It’s nice.

  56. mudpuddles says

    The interviewer tries to bring up the record of actual practicing Christians, and he dismisses that as only those weird American protestants, as if jolly old England has no gay baiting, no murders of young women, and as if JK Rowling were just an open-minded, beneficent patron of the arts. Many American Christians are virulent homophobes who treat women as chattel, but his equally nasty culturally English Christianity has people and organizations that are just as awful.

    The negative impacts of Christianity (and not just through the diktats of the Catholic hierarchy) on practically the entire population of Ireland – which, though lessened, continue to this day – are also widespread, as clear as day, and horrific. A quick Google search for “dead babies, Ireland”, “mother and baby homes” and “child abuse Irish church” will give just a little taste of the consequences of Christianity here. His ignorance (or simple elision) of this shows the subtle but no less disgusting bigotry which Dawkins and many other English gentlemen of his vintage display towards Ireland and the Irish – one which they probably don’t even intend or recognise, because it’s so entwined with their sense of superiority (we’re neighbours in name only) It’s worth noting also that the only religious groups actively involved in progressing social justice and environmental activism as core elements of their social outreach in Ireland are Muslim, Sikh and Hindu. Christian churches are generally just not interested, or in some cases actively work against these issues.

  57. Louis says

    Oh is it “Team Sports” time again?

    Who knew that a myopically considered narrow slice of some relatively idiosyncratic social phenomena, when compared to some carefully cherry-picked other social phenomena, would result in Team From Place being better than Team From Other Place? This has basically, literally, never been done before ever.

    Still, as long as all this results in an opportunity to be Mean To Brown People (surely the highest of ideals), it’s all good. GO TEAM FROM PLACE!

    Louis

    P.S. Caution: Some sarcasm was used in the composition of this post. As most people are unequipped to use sarcasm I have started a crowdfunded to aid these benighted fools. By killing them. Caveat emtpor, lector, postor…

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