The Dawkins Apologists crawl out of the woodwork!

I knew my recent criticisms or Richard Dawkins would enrage the usual crowd. I’m used to it and I knew it was coming. Also unsurprisingly, the noise is coming from Jerry Coyne, who is always willing to praise the hierarchy of atheism.

But the main error of both her [Rachel Johnson, Dawkins’ interviewer] queries as well as Myers’s article is to claim that because there are bad behaviors inspired by both Christianity and Islam, they must be equally bad. And if you say that, you’re a bigot. The error, of course, is the neglect of the real issue: how often do bad behavior promoted by the two faiths occur? Further, says Myers, both the Bible and Qur’an promote some bad behaviors, so the two faiths again must be pretty much equally bad. Here I’d disagree, maintaining that the Qu’ran is full of more hatred, animus, and oppressive dictates than is the Bible. (Yes, I’ve read both.) But that’s really irrelevant to the question at hand, as most modern Christians don’t follow the bad parts of the Bible, while the Qur’an hasn’t been equally defanged.

The problem with that complaint is that I haven’t claimed that Christianity and Islam are equally bad. To the contrary, I think that Christianity and Islam are equally complicated; there are people in each faith who use their beliefs to motivate good social behavior, and others who use it to justify horrors, and that the bigotry lies in treating all members of a religion as the same. Here, Coyne is giving Xians the benefit of the doubt, and claiming that most have denied the “bad parts of the Bible,” while implying that most Muslims are accepting every jot and tittle of the Qur’an. Christianity has been defanged! Except, presumably, the ones in the Republican party that want to institute an American theocracy. We’ll just close our eyes and pretend they don’t exist.

Is he even aware that the US is on the edge of a precipice? That our next election could be our last, if a certain madman and his delusional, evangelical followers get their way? I’m not claiming that they are worse than Jihadi terrorists, but that they’re pretty awful, and that the majority of Muslims have no desire to perpetrate the terrors that bigots like to smear all followers of Allah with.

He also conveniently forgets that Dawkins said this:

“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.”

I haven’t. I agree with that, actually. I’m not the ones making excuses for Christianity: the god of the Bible has not been re-written, but suddenly some former New Atheists would have us think Jehovah has reformed, and now Christianity is just pretty Christmas bells and cathedrals and lovely parish churches, and they’re making that argument entirely because they want to make sure we don’t compromise in our hatred of those evil Muslim terrorists, who know nothing of beauty and peace and art and science. The bigotry lies in the insane polarization that is being promoted. If only Islam could be defanged, so they could have beautiful cathedrals, too!

Here Myers makes the two mistakes I mentioned above. First, he sees no difference between the proportion of bad stuff in the Bible and the bad stuff in the Qur’an. I do see a difference (I presume Myers has read both, as I have), but, as I said this is really irrelevant.

Except, of course, that I don’t make that claim (which is irrelevant anyway, he says, despite making that the bulk of his argument.) Both religions contain archaic horrors and bad ideas. The reason he and Coyne are bigots are that they pretend that the cherished traditions of their familiar religions are better and more important than the comfortable happy traditions of Muslims, and that Christianity has been “defanged” while Islam is a nest of evil. Remember, Dawkins’ first complaint was that he didn’t want to hear that Ramadan was promoted instead of Easter. What’s wrong with Ramadan? I don’t care. I celebrate neither Easter nor Ramadan, and I don’t worry that Christianity or Islam are using their holidays to cloak heinous, barbaric practices.

He has one final gotcha for me.

The main question is where one wants to live: in a Christian or a Muslim country, and whether Islam has more pernicious effects on the modern world than does Christianity. Which religion promotes behaviors that lead to a better, more desirable society?

Oh, that is easy. I’d rather live in a secular country, but since he’s made it a binary choice, I’ll pick the country where my native language, English, is spoken, and where nobody is trying to bomb me into a bloody paste. That narrows my options down to primarily Western countries, which are mostly Christian. I think it would be wise to avoid living in countries that have been wrecked by colonialism, like, say, anything in the Middle East, or that have been crippled by sanctions or brutal, American-led wars.

If we want to identify religions that have had the most pernicious effects on the modern world, we really ought to focus on evangelical Christianity, which dominates in the most powerful nations, and which is now endorsing genocide of Palestinians, and which has dispatched missionaries to various countries in Africa to legislate for death penalties against gay people, or which is striving to demolish American democracy, or which is actively trying to inject anti-scientific nonsense into educational curricula. A Christian sneezing in America has a greater influence in the world than a Muslim preaching jihad in the ruins of Iraq.

Oh, but I forget — I’m supposed to reduce the history and culture and humanity of entire peoples to just their religion, where Christianity gets a pass on any flaws while Islam is a monolithic univocal monster. Sorry, only bigots do that. QED.


  1. numerobis says

    When was Dawkins uphill? I grew up atheist, so his shtick never did anything do me.

  2. raven says

    Jerry Coyne is an idiot and a terrible person.
    I haven’t wasted a second reading his nonsense for at least a decade.

    First, he sees no difference between the proportion of bad stuff in the Bible and the bad stuff in the Qur’an.

    This is wrong or at least arguable.

    Hard core xian theologians and scholars who have read both say the bible and Quran are about equal. The bible might even be worse but mostly because it is a lot longer.

    Coyne is making up facts here.
    Unlike Coyne, I will provide a source for my claim.

    Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?

    NPR › 2010/03/18 › is-the-bible-more-…

    Mar 18, 2010 — Scholar Philip Jenkins argues that scriptures in the Quran are less brutal than those in the Bible. In his forthcoming book, Dark Passages, …

    Philip Jenkins is actually a hard core xian and a xian scholar.

    Wikipedia: Jenkins is at Baylor, a Baptist University.
    Jenkins is a contributing editor for The American Conservative and writes a monthly column for The Christian Century. He has also written articles for Christianity Today, First Things, and The Atlantic.[4]

    If Jenkins has any biases, it would be for xianity.

  3. mordred says

    Wasn’t Dawkins’ claim that Christianity is a “fundamentally decent” religion? That’s quite different from claiming that it’s somewhat better than Islam by some metric or claiming that most traditionally Christian countries are currently better places to live in than most traditionally Islamic countries.

    Seems Coyne is misrepresenting both PZ and Dawkins.

  4. raven says

    Coyne being dishonest again:

    The main question is where one wants to live: in a Christian or a Muslim country, and whether Islam has more pernicious effects on the modern world than does Christianity. Which religion promotes behaviors that lead to a better, more desirable society?

    This is stupid and PZ Myers already pointed it out.

    This is an obvious false dichotomy!!!
    Coyne isn’t being clever here. You can spot the logical flaw in a second.

    Living in a xian or Muslim country isn’t the choice we have.
    We don’t even really have a choice of living in a xian country as there aren’t any left. Unless you look at dismal places like Russia or some of the American South such as Alabama or Florida.

    The choice is between living in a secular society that happens to be mostly xian, or living in a variety of Muslim societies that vary a huge amount among themselves.
    Thomas Jefferson pointed it out long ago.
    The USA is not a xian nation and never was.

    Would I want to live in a society controlled by American fundie xians fanatics or Muslim religious fanatics?
    The answer is neither and I don’t have to choose anyway.
    I live in a secular democracy called the USA.

  5. cartomancer says

    It depresses me that whenever this question comes up, nobody seems to look any further than either “nasty in the Bible vs. nasty in the Koran” or “nasty done by modern Christians vs. nasty done by modern Muslims.” It’s as if all the nuances and complexities of the historian and the social scientist go out the window.

    What we need to be doing is asking the next question and interrogating why the groups doing the nasty things in the name of their religion have settled on their particular nasty version of it (and why the nice ones have on theirs). Why is Wahabist Islam as popular as it is in the Middle East (the US backing for the House of Saud is a big part of that, as is the constant imperialistic warfare against the Middle East by the US and its allies)? Why is rabid evangelical Christianity as popular as it is in parts of the US (the dismantling of the social safety net and pernicious precarity-inducing effects of the Neoliberal revolution are our prime culprit).

    Conversely, why are the Christians Richard Dawkins tends to meet of the milksop, jam and Jerusalem, old church buildings and Victorian hymns type? That’s because he lives in a very wealthy part of North Oxford and moves in comfortably off academic circles where the stakes are so low that nobody’s material needs go unmet. I know this because I was a part of that myself at university.

    If we are going to dismiss religion’s claims to being anything but another type of culture, we have to treat it as such. It is not some extra-historical phenomenon, it grows within and shapes and is shaped by material, economic and cultural factors. If you want to “defang” religions, attend to those factors and you will see them defanged, because all they really are is cultural vocabularies used to discuss and affirm people’ circumstances and desires.

  6. numerobis says

    I live in a secular democracy called the USA.

    The funny thing is that most of the European nations with official state religions are more secular than the US.

  7. chrislawson says

    A quick reminder to Coyne that Iran’s chance at becoming a liberal democracy was destroyed by US machinations to keep a corrupt shah in power because he suited American oil companies.

  8. Howard Brazee says

    Right-wings of religions (but not exclusively of religions) have a lot in common. They believe in external causes for everything good and bad and are willing to enforce their values on everybody else.

    They tend to have authorities that they selectively listen to to confirm their beliefs and actions.

  9. chesapeake says

    I know that Sam Harris is generally reviled here but I wonder if there is anything in this article in Free Inquiry that is objectionable. His main point here is that Hamas is motivated primarily by religious concerns, by the wish to be martyred and to go to paradise. It has been claimed that he gives too little attention to political concerns. I wonder if his description of the religious aspects is accurate. Are they primarily motivated by hatred of Jews and going to paradise?

    Sent from my iPad

  10. raven says

    I wonder if his description of the religious aspects is accurate. Are they primarily motivated by hatred of Jews and going to paradise?


    Sam Harris is an idiot and you can’t take him seriously.

    Both Harris and Coyne are biased against Palestinian Arabs and readily admit that.
    No matter how many they kill or drive off, there are still Palestinian Arabs living in and around Israel.
    It is all just so inconvenient when people you don’t like who have something you want like land, just won’t disappear.
    It is simple. This conflict started in 1948 when Israel was founded by ethnic cleansing and it was and is all about land and territory and who gets to live where and rule what.

    PS A lot of the Palestinians living in Israel were xians, part of the ancient xian community left over from biblical times. Some still are.
    It doesn’t help them though. The Israelis don’t care whether they are xian or Muslim, they care whether they are Palestinians or not.

  11. raven says

    I wonder if his description of the religious aspects is accurate. Are they primarily motivated by hatred of Jews and going to paradise?

    This is dumb and sick even for Sam Harris.

    What Hamas wants is real simple.
    Power and money.

    They won an election long ago and took power after a war with their rivals that they won.
    They’ve never had another election and they hold on to their power by force of arms.

    Gaza is the world’s largest open air prison and Hamas is the prison gang that ended up on top. With a lot of help from Israel who saw a gang of thugs they could use for their own purposes.

  12. awomanofnoimportance says

    I agree that Christianity and Islam are both equally horrible and anyone who thinks otherwise has not been paying attention to the kill the gays law in Uganda, the persecution of gay and trans people in Russia under the Orthodox church, and the theocrats who would like to do the same here. And I also agree that Dawkins is in his dotage and well past his use-by date.

    All that said, I think there is a tendency by some on the left to treat Islam and Christianity differently when it comes to calling out their bad behavior in public. In my experience, I can say whatever nasty things about Christianity I like, but if I say something nasty about Islam someone is going to call me an Islamophobic bigot. And that, I think, needs to change. Being equally awful means it’s just as imperative to call out one as it is to call out the other.

  13. robro says

    I miss the point of their calculus of comparative atrocities. They are all monstrous, including “secular” ideologies that excuse murder in the name of some higher purpose.

  14. Scott McKinley says

    I remember way back in the early 2000’s debating religion on a web forum. It was a pretty small forum – like around 40 to 60 active people with just about 10 actually trying to debate issues. I remember one atheist really started hating on Jews and the rest of the atheists would end up arguing with him about his anti-Semitic focus. What finally changed is he converted to Christianity, which had valid reasons according to the Bible to hate on Jews. I was pretty shocked at seeing someone throw away all their arguments because they really despised a group so much. And the Christians welcomed him with open arms. They paid some lip service about helping him be less angry, but I never saw them argue with that guy after this.

  15. imthegenieicandoanything says

    What a disingenuous asshole Mr Coyne is here. And he’s not so stupid a person as not to know it.
    Prof Dawkins is only excused by whatever unidentified mental condition happened to him those many years ago, immediately before he tweeted complaining about bringing a jar of jam in an international flight.
    He’s now firmly in the “Woody Allen” place, where I thank him for the many fine things he did long ago and try not to let his later ugliness taint them too much — and where anyone who still defends him exposes themselves as either a lying shit or a deluded believer or both.

    How inexpressibly. uselessly ugly.

  16. says

    Western, “christian” nations are not nicer to live in because of christianity, but despite of christianity. Every bit of civil and human rights had to be wrangled tooth and claw from the churches. Well, and of course all the nice resources we stole from other countries.
    As a cis woman of childbearing age who is married to a cis guy, there are places in those nice christian countries I absolutely wouldn’t want to live, but I’m sure Coyne et al would tell me I’m being overly sensitive.

  17. pick says

    I think Cartomancer @#7 has it down.
    Coyne and Harris are just typical religious bigots, their so called atheism notwithstanding.
    Coyne and Harris are Jewish religious extremists, just as hateful and mean as their Muslim and Christian counterparts.

  18. says

    This isn’t any different than telling people to go work on bigotry where they perceived it to be worse instead of dealing with the bigotry in their communities to me. So desperate to move attention to bad behavior in the other group.

    I wonder if this is similar to why the media likes to criticize Biden for what are ultimately minor errors when Trump is far worse? Need to criticize something but afraid of local pushback maybe?

    I don’t believe Dawkins or Coyne for one minute about their shallow perceptions anyway. Dawkins joined in the paranoia about a Muslim kid with school electronics in there bag “because terrorism”. They can’t deal with just terrorism or just whatever they are hand-wringing about now.

  19. alfalfamale says

    This is just “I’m better than you” judgmentalism.. One way to remove it from the judgmental realm is to ask questions that can lead to an action, such as “do I want to live in a predominantly Muslim area and if so, which one?

  20. says

    Thanks PZ for persisting in the face of abject idiocy and intentional distortion. I cringe when I hear the fanatical dawkins apologists engage in two horrible fallacies:
    1) that religion is the most important thing in the lives of everybody
    (it isn’t as both logic and statistics prove)
    2) when they reduce (as you say) ‘the complexity of religion’ to a false binary choice
    (binary is becoming a toxic term. Even though it is useful for certain technical issues.)

    As an old gray dude, I know how foolish binary can be. Not everything is black or white, my existence (as well as that of many others) proves there are many shades of gray in many contexts. I seek to live in a world of honesty, peace, caring and secular enlightenment. Sadly, it is likely that will never exist, no matter how hard we try to create it.

    dog bless america!

  21. Akira MacKenzie says

    …and that Christianity has been “defanged”…

    Christianity. DEFANGED??? HA!

    Obviously Coyne and Dawkins haven’t been paying attention to the last decade or they’d seen the clear and present threat of Christo-fascism here in the States. Hell, we all know about how Dawkins is happy to pal up with Catholic fascists (Whoops! Tautology!) if they’re going after Muslims and LGBTQ folks.

    I’m heartbroken to have to admit it, but it does now seem that “New Atheism” really was more about post-9-11 Islamophobia than it was about standing up for the rights and existence of non-theists and calling out ALL religions on their bigoted, superstitious bullshit. Shame, we desperately need the latter, especially in this day and age. Now, thanks to these shits, atheism’s name is tainted by their prejudice.

  22. KG says

    In my experience, I can say whatever nasty things about Christianity I like, but if I say something nasty about Islam someone is going to call me an Islamophobic bigot. And that, I think, needs to change. Being equally awful means it’s just as imperative to call out one as it is to call out the other. – awomanofnoimportance@15

    Even if “equally awful” (and that’s a vacuous claim as PZ points out, there simply isn’t a metric which you can use to determine it), Christianity and Islam are certainly not equally powerful. If you are in a western country, then in broad terms an atheist attacking Christianity is “punching up”, while attacking Islam is “punching down”. That doesn’t mean the latter should not be done, but it does require more care about when and how it is done.

  23. imback says

    As the war in Gaza drags on, it is clear that there are several motivations for inhumanity to thrive. It does not require a specific traditional religion. It might only require a favorable prospective quarterly earnings report if your company can offload lots of munitions to an indiscriminate warring country. The minimal requirement to performing inhumanity is being human.

  24. crimsonsage says


    It was a jar of honey not jam! Owned by facts and logic!

  25. says

    I just looked at the comments over there, and I just want to say: if you ever start reply with “+1” or “100%” and nothing more, I’ll start banning people. I don’t need a flock of goddamn dittoheads.

  26. lotharloo says

    @Raging Bee:

    Is Coyne starting to go downhill along with Dawkins? Or did he never make it uphill in the first place?

    I have not been keeping up with RD but Jerry has been cheerleading the slaughter of the Gazans to a ridiculous degree, blaming them for all their problems, saying that not enough have been killed, claiming that their famine is their own fault “for not good distribution of food” and shit like that. Has Dawkins been the same? Because if not, then Jerry has been a billion times shittier person.

  27. birgerjohansson says

    I keep criticising the muslim theology for being silly, but going from there to genocide is sick.

  28. Robert Webster says

    I think about how great Christianity is whenever I read a preacher talking about how non-cis-het are evil and should be executed.

  29. says

    I’ve read both. The bible, in particular the Old Testament is much nastier than the Qur’an for two reasons. Firstly it is an account of a history much longer than the history of Islam so much more nastiness. Secondly the Qur’an came as a revelation in response to events current at the time so when perceived nastiness is mentioned it is a response to events at the time. A tribe was busily massacring and torturing Muslims so the revelation gave them approval to fight back and if you read the instructions for fighting in full it also constrains how you fight. The current genocide in Palestine for instance would be forbidden. The first rule Muslim theologians hold to for interpreting the Qur’an is the context of the revelation. Only then do they decide whether any command contained therein is specific or general and there are rules covering the process. Sure extremist Muslims twist meanings to justify evil but so do Jews and Christians and followers of other faiths for that matter. Buddhists in Myanmar and Hindus in Modi’s India for example.

  30. Deepak Shetty says

    Ah heard it all before (was it Richard Spencer ? )- All the bad parts in the Bible are descriptive- All the bad parts in the Quran are prescriptive therefore Quran worse than Bible even if there are many atrocities in both! , therefore all Muslims worse than Christians.. Evidently if the US/UK fictionalise a reason to wage war in Iraq , thats not something that can be attributed to Christianity but if the Iraq war , in response, created a few suicide bombers thats because of Islam and its promise of heaven for martyrs!
    Who could have predicted that an original horseman and a wannabe horseman would be making this ridiculously futile comparison of holy books ?

  31. gijoel says

    The banality of “defanged” Christianity. Where teachers are forced to teach fairy tales in science classes. Where women are forced to carry non-viable fetuses and then charged with a bullshit charge over their inevitable miscarriage. Where nimrods display two photos of the same actor at 20 and then at 60 and wonder why they look so old at 60, then launch into a spiel about said actor looks old because he hasn’t been born again.

  32. Hemidactylus says

    PZ Myers @30
    That’s one thing I like about you PZ is that you allow dissent here and I don’t hesitate to disagree with you when I feel it’s warranted. You also allow quite a bit of conflict to percolate here without getting heavy handed and referring us to Da Roolz!. There are so many ways to irk Coyne and get silently disappeared over there on his BLOG(!) yet he’s ironically a free speech fetishist and considers you authoritarian or Ctrl Left or whatever he’s obsessing about now as a monster under his bed…wokeness.

  33. fentex says

    Because religion is all invented untruths (evolved to justify and persist cultural power structures), eventually, arguing over it will lead to lying and misrepresentation of people who resist it.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

    And resistance is a Sisyphean task.

  34. microraptor says

    Akira MacKenzie @ 24:

    Obviously Coyne and Dawkins haven’t been paying attention to the last decade or they’d seen the clear and present threat of Christo-fascism here in the States.

    Coyne made it clear years ago that he doesn’t actually care about the rise of Christo-fascism in the US as long as they oppress queer people and Muslims. The fact that Christo-fascists are also violently antisemitic, anti-science, and anti-college professors has never seemed to register with him, so if they ever do take over he’s going to be very shocked when the leopard eats his face.

  35. kitcarm says

    Tell me that Coyne knows nothing about history, cultural studies and Islam (or religion for that matter) without telling me. As for the “defanged” thing. This is a weird way of falsely claiming Islam has seen no reformation movements or change since its inception. The Muslims of Russia had the Jadid movement back in the 19th century and in many respects, they were more socially liberal and far more tolerant than their Christian counterparts. The Muslims of China had the Scriptural Hall movement since the 15th century and were far more cosmopolitan and religiously tolerant (many Chinese Muslim scholars studied in Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian institutions) than the Christian Jesuits of the time and are still more open than many Chinese Christians in regards to respecting other faiths. I can go on. People like Coyne and Dawkins just know nothing about non-European history, cultures and religions. It’s insane that the little they know is enough for them to make such affirmative statements. Im well-read in Asian Christianity but as that’s not my specialty, I’m hesitant to still talk about it. I can hardly believe how delusional some self-declared rationalists are. As the Islamic country thing, I have lived and studied in many “Islamic countries”. Anywhere from very secular (Senegal or Bosnia to very religious (Malaysia or Morocco). My verdict? Coyne is a bigot who knows no Muslims personally and think they are all fanatical extremists. Also, many of these countries that scare Coyne have better access to abortion, healthcare, education and even trans rights than in many Republican states or far-right led governments in Europe and the Americas. Also, Islam is a very diverse religion. Nizari Ismailism for example has a robust infrastructure as a organization and a very liberal ideology, far more than the Catholic Church. People in this community have been shown in polls and surveys to be more educated and progressive than their counterparts even in most western countries. I’m sorry but getting your knowledge about a huge religion from the media and vague information you read in old textbooks is not going to cut it. That’s why I don’t even think making generalizations about Christianity or other religions is that simple either.

  36. kitcarm says

    Also more about this strange obsession about making Muslims less “regressive”. Does Coyne not realize that western Muslims practice a very moderate form of the religion. Far more moderate than many western Christians these days. Despite making Muslims seem like an alien group in the west who “refuse to assimilate” or paint as bigoted extremists, the truth is that countless polls have shown that western Muslims are significantly more politically and socially progressive than many other religious groups and even the general population in their respective nations in many aspects. Here in America, they were one of the religious communities with the highest support of BLM and racial equality. Among almost all religious groups, they backed strident progressive Bernie Sanders by a wide margin. Polls of shown a solid majority of American Muslims support abortion, free healthcare and LGBT rights. This is the opposite of Republicans and several Christian denominations. I’m sorry about why are Muslims being attacked and questioned for being a fifth column when they factually and statistically have more respect and empathy towards their fellow Americans than most right-wing politicians and voters? Even more respect for others than far too many “rationalists” and atheists have theses days. Ditto for the western Muslims in Europe. Also, western colonialism ironically made reactionary religious leaders in “Islamic countries” become fanatical, following western modes of religious and political ideologies. For example, the adoption of anti-LGBT and other discriminatory policies laws in many “Islamic countries” were either formed during western colonialism where the imperialist authorities imported or inspired the local elite with such laws from Europe at the time or soon after colonialism, where the influence of Christianity and its church infrastructures inspired unsavory Muslim leaders to crave such influence and centralize Islam (who the colonial government often supported, despite the religion never having a priesthood or structure like in Catholicism) under the guise of political stability, nationalism or nation-building. So such laws came to pass and started to become enforced through the power of the modern state. Lastly, PZ is right, a Republican Christian nationalist has a far bigger impact and can cause far more misery throughout the world than a Jihadist freak preaching to old men in a field of poppies. Did we forget what “the war on terror” even accomplished? Other than kill or maim millions of innocent people or scare people in the west to voting for far-right politicians who have caused nearly irreversible harm to their own country? I’m far more scared of the planet becoming a death trap due to climate change (that conservative politicians in the west don’t care about) than the bad Muslim boogeymen coming for me and my “Judeo-Christian god-given freedoms” as people like Coyne and Dawkins would say.

  37. kitcarm says

    @15. I can see the frustration. The problem I’ve seen is that any good faith attempts to critically discuss the topic quickly leads to people unironically trying to justify to discriminate, persecute or even murder adherents of said religion. Crapping on Islam is one thing but calling for the persecution and killing of all Muslims, starting with the western ones (who suspiciously are often racial minorities as well), is wild and rooted in xenophobia and racism. The reason atheists and religious skeptics in the west crap on Christianity so much without much pushback is because the religion has a far larger influence and impact in our lives than that of a religious minority of immigrant background. Also, talk to basically any critic of Christianity and none will say that they want Christians to be persecuted or discriminated against. A religion needs to be differentiated from its adherents or you risk advocating for heinous things. Something I rarely see in practice even if easy to imagine in theory.

  38. says

    I would like to ask Dawkins, Coyne and co. one question:

    “Would Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Afghanistan etc. any different if instead of Muslim fundamentalists, it was Christian fundamentalists ruling them?”

    I won’t even need to wait for an answer, it’s NO! Putin’s Russia and several countries in Africa have such regimes and they are not any nicer countries to dwell in.

  39. Prax says

    But that’s really irrelevant to the question at hand, as most modern Christians don’t follow the bad parts of the Bible, while the Qur’an hasn’t been equally defanged.

    Does Coyne have any actual evidence that Western society is better at “defanging” the Bible than the Qur’an?

    In the United States, at least, Muslims are much more likely than Evangelical Protestants to be politically liberal, queer-friendly, environmentalist, tolerant of abortion, and supportive of social services for the needy. They do better than mainline white Protestants in half those areas too.

    The main question is where one wants to live: in a Christian or a Muslim country

    Depends on the country, of course. Personally, I’d much rather live in Turkey, Albania or Indonesia than in Honduras, Uganda or the DRC. That said, there’s a definite payoff to living in a Christian country: the US probably won’t bomb you.

    and whether Islam has more pernicious effects on the modern world than does Christianity.

    Well, it’s Christian and “culturally Christian” countries that fought the Cold War and amassed an apocalyptic amount of nuclear weapons. It’s Christian countries that invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and the Ukraine, and finance and greenlight Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians. Christian countries consume far more energy and resources, and pump out far more CO2. Christian countries are overrepresented in the global drug war, on both sides. Most of the far-right movements plaguing the West are Christian-dominated. So there’s no contest, really.

    Yes, most of the above reduces to “Christian countries are wealthier and more powerful, so their bad behavior hurts more people.”

    Which religion promotes behaviors that lead to a better, more desirable society?

    …both of them? Most religions promote a broadly similar set of virtues: kindness, patience, honesty, temperance, courage, charity…you know, the stuff that keeps society from collapsing. Most religions run assorted charitable institutions that are more or less helpful to their communities. (Often less helpful than a comparably-funded secular institution would be, but when that alternative doesn’t exist it doesn’t really matter.) And most believers will tell you, correctly, that their instances of virtuous deeds are encouraged and guided by their religion.

    Of course most religions also promote various behaviors that vary from kinda pointless to severely destructive. So I’m not sure why you’d consider being “culturally” Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu a virtue. It’s just a thing that a lot of people happen to be.

  40. says

    Yes, it’s true, gregory112barrows. I do ban people. People like you.

    Sheesh, it’s been a while since one of those trolling haters showed up and started frothing and spitting all over the place.

  41. benedic says

    ” I think it would be wise to avoid living in countries that have been wrecked by colonialism,”
    Does this imply some were not wrecked, if so why was that?

  42. says

    I just posted a quick response on Coyne’s own blog. “My comment is awaiting moderation” — like Coyne’s gonna make it more “moderate?” Let’s see how long it stays up…

  43. says

    Yet another glaring fatal flaw in Coyne’s us-or-them false choice is at the strategic level: the last time we supported Christofascists against the allegedly-worse Islamofascists was when we gave George W. Bush carte-blanche to start a war against two Muslim countries. It didn’t go well for decent people on either side of that “clash of civilizations” or “war on terror” or whatever you want to call it. In fact, it was the Christian extremists, not the Muslim ones, who did the most damage to our freedoms, our democratic institutions, our credibility, and our ability to uphold our basic values at home or abroad. And that was a feature, not a bug: however much the Christians screamed about Islam, they always saw US as their enemy, and clearly still do.

    Not only is Coyne incapable of understanding history — let alone the far greater complexity of present-day socio-political diversity as kitcarm mentions above — he’s also incapable of learning jaque merde from recent events either.

    PS: I hit “refresh” after fifteen minutes, and my comment is gone from Coyne’s blog. And no message saying I was banned either. The least I can say for Dave Armstrong is that he overtly announces when he’s banning someone. And Coyne can’t even rise to Dave Armstrong levels of honesty.

  44. says

    PPS: I just posted another comment on Coyne’s blog, and it vanished without even “awaiting moderation.” What a pathetic coward.

  45. lotharloo says

    @Raging Bee:
    Jerry Coyne doesn’t allow dissent. His blog has the most regressive moderation policy I have ever seen.

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