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Kurtz defends evangelical atheists, misses point
Posted: 19 January 2007 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]
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In the new issue of Free Inquiry, David Koepsell writes that most people do not know CFI and that position papers and CNN appearances won’t help atheists and humanists gain a better image. But promoting Richard Dawkins’, Sam Harris’ and Chris Hitchens’ angry atheism won’t either.

Paul Kurtz laments in his Op-Ed about "evangelical atheists," that some of we "otherwise liberal secularists" are wrongly upset over strong atheists like Dawkins, Dennett or Harris because the religious fundamentalists (and indeed non-fundamentalist religionists) evangelize all over the place, and atheists hardly get a word in. Well, that’s certainly good reason for atheists to become as dogmatic and preposterous as religious folks, right?

Kurtz mixes and matches legitimate critiques of Dawkins’ and Harris’s simplistic and angry style with critiques from some who are afraid to critique religion at all. But these two sets of criticisms are not the same. Defending atheists’ and humanists’ right to speak in the public square is not the same as defending and promoting the likes of Dawkins and Harris (Kurtz at least admits that these folks are CFI darlings, so he might be taking this a bit personal), and their diatribes which neither understand the causes of religious fundamentalism, the meanings of religion beyond supernaturalism nor, in Neo-Con apologist Chris Hitchen’s case (and his fellow Dutch travelers, Hans Jansen and Herman Philipse), the whys concerning terrorism or the reason for the reaction of Muslims to the Danish Cartoons and other West vrs. Islam cases.

Kurtz thinks his acknowledgment of the Iraq debacle which is indeed fueling the "Muslim" fire in the Middle East, balances his opinion of the rest of this - even though he prefaces this with a crusade against Islam citing the Sunni/Shiite conflict as if politics have no role in causing that situation either - but ignores the political causes of "political Islam" overall ... including the entire history of Afghanistan (I was not one of Kurtz’s humanists who backed that war of aggression and opportunity, any more than I backed the Iraq war).

All of this is mixed in with FI’s publishing an interview with otherwise interesting Susan Blackmore on how memes are the real reason for religion, as well as Sam Harris’s naive essay on religion’s influence… And we have yet another issue of Free Inquiry championing angry atheistic religion-bashing and ignoring the humanist task of finding out the whys and doing something to get people out of bad lives.

PS: I will answer Harris’ challenge as he requests in his essay, to answer the questions he seems unable to, but if it were not for a good essay by Wendy Kaminer (for a change) and insightful essays by Pippa Norris/Ronald Inglehart and Julian Baggini, this entire issue would have found its way into the trash. When will the humanists have a say at CSH? When will reason prevail?

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Posted: 19 January 2007 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Kurtz defends evangelical atheists, misses point

In the new issue of Free Inquiry, David Koepsell writes that most people do not know CFI and that position papers and CNN appearances won’t help atheists and humanists gain a better image. But promoting Richard Dawkins’, Sam Harris’ and Chris Hitchens’ angry atheism won’t either.

Paul Kurtz laments in his Op-Ed about “evangelical atheists,” that some of we “otherwise liberal secularists” are wrongly upset over strong atheists like Dawkins, Dennett or Harris because the religious fundamentalists (and indeed non-fundamentalist religionists) evangelize all over the place, and atheists hardly get a word in. Well, that’s certainly good reason for atheists to become as dogmatic and preposterous as religious folks, right?

Kurtz mixes and matches legitimate critiques of Dawkins’ and Harris’s simplistic and angry style with critiques from some who are afraid to critique religion at all. But these two sets of criticisms are not the same. Defending atheists’ and humanists’ right to speak in the public square is not the same as defending and promoting the likes of Dawkins and Harris (Kurtz at least admits that these folks are CFI darlings, so he might be taking this a bit personal), and their diatribes which neither understand the causes of religious fundamentalism, the meanings of religion beyond supernaturalism nor, in Neo-Con apologist Chris Hitchen’s case (and his fellow Dutch travelers, Hans Jansen and Herman Philipse), the whys concerning terrorism or the reason for the reaction of Muslims to the Danish Cartoons and other West vrs. Islam cases.

Kurtz thinks his acknowledgment of the Iraq debacle which is indeed fueling the “Muslim” fire in the Middle East, balances his opinion of the rest of this - even though he prefaces this with a crusade against Islam citing the Sunni/Shiite conflict as if politics have no role in causing that situation either - but ignores the political causes of “political Islam” overall ... including the entire history of Afghanistan (I was not one of Kurtz’s humanists who backed that war of aggression and opportunity, any more than I backed the Iraq war).

All of this is mixed in with FI’s publishing an interview with otherwise interesting Susan Blackmore on how memes are the real reason for religion, as well as Sam Harris’s naive essay on religion’s influence… And we have yet another issue of Free Inquiry championing angry atheistic religion-bashing and ignoring the humanist task of finding out the whys and doing something to get people out of bad lives.

PS: I will answer Harris’ challenge as he requests in his essay, to answer the questions he seems unable to, but if it were not for a good essay by Wendy Kaminer (for a change) and insightful essays by Pippa Norris/Ronald Inglehart and Julian Baggini, this entire issue would have found its way into the trash. When will the humanists have a say at CSH? When will reason prevail?

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Posted: 20 January 2007 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Huh, Huh, Huh?

Doug said:

I think this isn’t the right time to be a religious apologist

Now if that’s not a strawman argument, I do not know WHAT is!  You are fear-mongering… and I NEVER said I was (or have written as a “religious apologist.”  That spin won’t work, Doug.

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Posted: 21 January 2007 09:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Re: Huh, Huh, Huh?

Fear-mongering, Barry?

rolleyes

I will let our astute forumites read the magazine and decide for themselves who is in the right.

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Posted: 21 January 2007 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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:(

Fear-mongering, Barry?

Yes, Doug, re Islam, I mean.  You are making the problem out to be much worse than it is.  As seven-time award-winner and preeminent British journalist Robert Fisk - www.robert-fisk.com - has said recently at talk in NYC, ‘Muslims have been very patient with the West for a very long time.’  Fisk would know, he has been covering the Middle East for decades. He is author of the book, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, that folks like Hitchens, Warraq and others need to read about the real reasons the Middle East is as it is today, and why Islamic Fundamentalism is on the rise there. 

If there is fear-mongering to do, it needs to be done toward the USA which the most scary nation on the planet at the moment (with or without its own religious fundamentalism, which partly is born from our national creed and partly from fear itself ... fear due to white priviledge, racism, captialism and our war-mongering history from 1492 till today).  Another book to read is Robert Dreyfuss’ Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 01:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Barry, I never said anything about Islam or US policies. I have no idea where you got that.

And I absolutely agree with you about the “scariness” of US policy, towards Islam in particular. Much of that policy is religiously based, which is why we have to push very strongly for more secularization in government.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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fear, power, money and God

Doug said:

Barry, I never said anything about Islam or US policies. I have no idea where you got that.

And I absolutely agree with you about the “scariness” of US policy, towards Islam in particular. Much of that policy is religiously based, which is why we have to push very strongly for more secularization in government.


1) You were talking about the FI issue, right?  It includes essays about evengelical atheism, the Dutch reaction to the cartoons and Islamic fundmentalism, Bagnini’s call for a more humanistic approach to relgion… Hitchen’s silly arguements… etc.  So yes, your comments that I was a “religious apologist” in the light of what I said about these essays were properly addressed by me above.

2) I don’t happen to think “much” of the US’s policy toward Islam is religiously based. The Neo-Cons do indeed court the religous Right (and some of them like Ashcroft were part of this crowd), but they are mainly Straussians who are useing this constinuency to win elections and to defract opinions against them in their home country (USA).  The Neo-Con policies are all about corporate capitalism, neoliberal greed, military dominence and ideological power - not God.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Re: fear, power, money and God

[quote author=“Barry”]1) You were talking about the FI issue, right?  It includes essays about evengelical atheism, the Dutch reaction to the cartoons and Islamic fundmentalism, Bagnini’s call for a more humanistic approach to relgion… Hitchen’s silly arguements… etc.  So yes, your comments that I was a “religious apologist” in the light of what I said about these essays were properly addressed by me above.

I didn’t mention Hitchens or Bagnini. As it happens, I haven’t read either of their articles yet. I only mentioned Kurtz.

[quote author=“Barry”]2) I don’t happen to think “much” of the US’s policy toward Islam is religiously based. The Neo-Cons do indeed court the religous Right (and some of them like Ashcroft were part of this crowd), but they are mainly Straussians who are useing this constinuency to win elections and to defract opinions against them in their home country (USA).  The Neo-Con policies are all about corporate capitalism, neoliberal greed, military dominence and ideological power - not God.

Well, the issues against Islam have little to do with capitalism, except of the crony-capitalist war-profiteering type ... and simple thievery. Much of it has to do with Bush and the Neocons’ dislike of Islam, and their desire to kill Hussein and set up a puppet US protectorate so they can influence Islamic policy.

... or at least that was the nonsensical theory ...

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Posted: 22 January 2007 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Doug Said:

I didn’t mention Hitchens or Bagnini. As it happens, I haven’t read either of their articles yet. I only mentioned Kurtz.

But your comments which included you calling me a religious apologist was in reference to my letter to the editor I started this thread with… so it applied to all I said, I presumed.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Doug said:

Much of it has to do with Bush and the Neocons’ dislike of Islam, and their desire to kill Hussein and set up a puppet US protectorate so they can influence Islamic policy.

Um, no.  Bush and Iraq is just one more chapter in the US’s backing of and fostering of Islamic Fundementalism.  Again, Read Robert Fisk, Robert Dreyfuss and, while you are at it, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer

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Posted: 22 January 2007 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]Bush and Iraq is just one more chapter in the US’s backing of and fostering of Islamic Fundementalism.

I doubt you’ll find a single neocon who is in favor of Islamic fundamentalism.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Neocons and Islam

doug said:

I doubt you’ll find a single neocon who is in favor of Islamic fundamentalism

Exactly that’s what I said.  They are Straussians!

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Posted: 22 January 2007 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Aren’t Straussians the Neocons? Wolfowitz, Perle, Cheney, and the rest? What do you mean, Barry? I don’t understand.

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Posted: 22 January 2007 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Straussians the Neocons?

Aren’t Straussians the Neocons? Wolfowitz, Perle, Cheney, and the rest? What do you mean, Barry? I don’t understand.


Yes, and they do not LIKE Islam, I am sure, but they want to keep Political Islam funtioning because they feel they can control people through religion… and that they can best proceed with their plans if chaos reigns in the Middle East because of Political Islam. Good for the oil business and good for the industrial military complex.  Recall, it was these guys and their predecessors who munipulated the Middle East so that Arab nationalism or Arab socialism would be overturned by political Islam.

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Posted: 23 January 2007 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I don’t follow this line of argument either, Barry. At the very least, the neocons want governments in the Middle East that are controllable. Islamic fundamentalists are eminently not controllable.

It is true that the US got in tight with many of those types during the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, but that was ages ago, under a totally different geopolitical order.

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Posted: 23 January 2007 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Re: Straussians the Neocons?

[quote author=“Barry”][Neocons] want to keep Political Islam funtioning because they feel they can control people through religion

I thought the noecons were after controlling the Americans, not the Muslims. They favor the chaotic Middle East (and Islamic fundamentalists) because it helps them to “have an enemy”, through which they create the ideology of the “just and protective” America. Isn’t this what Strauss was after?

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