In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
According to Klan imperial wizard Frank Ancona, the KKK is just misunderstood because of a “few rogues.”
Which Republican public relations firm is handling the Ku Klux Klan PR these days? They seem to be undergoing a “rebranding,” that overused euphemism for papering over their past in order to renew interest in their future.
“We don’t hate people because of their race. I mean, we’re a Christian organization,” Frank Ancona, an Imperial Wizard of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told WWBT on Thursday.
He insisted that the KKK had been unfairly maligned for its acts of violence against black people in the United States.
“Because of the acts of a few rogue Klansmen our Klansmen are supposed to be murderers and want to lynch black people, and we are supposed to be terrorists, and that is a complete falsehood.”
Awwww, they’re just misunderstood. All of those photos of them burning crosses on lawns and the lynchings that actually did happen? Just a big fat lie.
At any rate, their rebranding is not going particularly well. Perhaps that’s related to the flyers they’ve been leaving in Virginia neighborhoods. Here are some of their marketing pitches:
One of those fliers says “many people have experienced the blacks firsthand” and have seen the “savagery and animalism in many of these people.”
The flier that went to Chesterfield residents says the organization’s mission is “exalting the Caucasian race and teaching the doctrine of white supremacy.”
“That does not mean that we are enemies of the colored and mongrel race, but it does mean that we are organized to establish the solidarity and to realize the mission of the white race,” that flier reads.
Ancona said some misconceptions come from the fact that the organization is open exclusively to white, native-born Christians and that it has rituals and ceremonies that mysterious because they are known only to Klan members.
Yes, that could certainly have something to do with it. There’s nothing particularly racist about excluding anyone who isn’t white, now is there?
i am born in with a lovely tan
but am ridiculed for my dna
give themselves cancer
attempting to achieve the color of gold
that runs through my skin
For a community that is often portrayed as aggressive and pugitive, New Atheism has recently been on the backfoot, defending itself from claims dreamt up by those who should – and, surely, in many cases do – know better.
This time round, the scientific and intellectual elite of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens have found themselves accused of Islamophobia. The whole sorry saga was conveniently summarised in last Friday’s Independent. In short, recent pieces at salon.com and on Al Jazeera’s website have argued, in the words of columnist Murtaza Hussain, that the likes of these prominent atheists are giving a veneer of scientific respectability to today’s Islamophobic bigotry.
Sam Harris is accused of advocating pre-emptive nuclear strikes on Muslims and the profiling of those who merely look like Muslims. Richard Dawkins has come under attack from calling Islam “the greatest force for evil today” and the late Christopher Hitchens has been described as having a bloodlust towards Muslims.
But, sadly, nuance and allegations of bigotry make strange bedfellows. Take Sam Harris. His 2003 book End of Faith catalogues the Qur’an’s long list of orders to murder and exhortations to avenge. He imagines a radical Islamist state acquiring long range nuclear weaponry, thus able to vent its rage against the west. Add in the possibility that it’s headed by an avowedly suicidal regime and nuclear deterrence becomes a worthless currency. Harris anticipates the possibility that in that situation the US may find itself having to press the button first. But it’s a scenario he hardly welcomes.
Surely, rational discourse should be permitted to tiptoe cautiously along the hallowed corridors of the house of Islam without the guards frogmarching it out, bellowing allegations of racism and bigotry. Cannot we not agree that the real issue is whether the critiques of Islam proffered by today’s prominent atheists are correct? For instance, does Islam fall short when it comes to women’s rights? Does it trample free speech while enforcing its own precepts, by the sword if necessary? By all means, apologists may disagree with the likes of Harris and biologist Jerry Coyne. But what signal is sent by a refusal to permit the issues to be even debated?
One can dream up allegations about any religion that are so obscene that no beliver should be expected to respond. But take the suggestion that Islam has some way to go before it promotes gay rights beyond the level of a misnomer. Or that its holy book, taken literally, demands an embrace of violence and reprisals that wouldn’t be tolerated by any humanist ethos.
These allegations, on their face, are wholly consistent with observation. What’s more, its tenets and precepts have real consequences and repercussions for all of us. What is it that leads apologists and liberal writers to nevertheless consider that Islam shouldn’t have to answer these charges, and that those who bring them are merely dressing their bigotry in a cloak of intellectualism? Biologist Jerry Coyne puts it this way:
“Critics of the New Atheists are free to take issue with their tone, but to dismiss them without addressing the substance of their arguments constitutes an implicit admission that they just might have a point.” You can see his point. Plenty of Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Anglicans surely feel aggrieved when their god is put under the microscope and found to be the product of unintelligent design. They challenge both what is said and, increasingly these days, the way it’s said. But they hardly consider that their faith is immune from suitable criticism. For Islam to claim special treatment is to imply that it’s unable to withstand such analysis…