Question #5: Is It Moral To Kill Iranian Nuclear Scientists?

Posted in Morality, Politics, Questions, Quickies on  | 1 minute | 63 Comments →

Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and it’s pretty clear that somebody is killing Iranian nuclear scientists in an effort to stop this. I felt this was interesting because it relates directly to Sam Harris’ remarks that it “may be ethical to kill people based on what they believe.” What do you think? Is it morally right to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists as a pre-emptive measure? Why or why not?

Oh, Yeah, Big Difference!

Posted in Atheism, Gnu Atheism, Humor, Quickies on  | 2 minutes | 24 Comments →

So I’ve been checking out the nice links y’all left in the Gnu Survey. In response to Charlotte Allen’s poignant article, Atheists: No God, No Reason, Just Whining, a self-proclaimed “angry atheist” named Landon Ross writes,

[Allen] is blind to her own argument as she spews vitriol throughout. The quotes she cites are either taken out of context, with some clever editing, or false altogether. Sam Harris is quoted as saying “that it ‘may be ethical to kill people’ on the basis of their beliefs.” This is a blatant misrepresentation. Harris, in fact, makes plain that only if one believes that the canon they subscribe to is the divine word of god, does it become ethical, or seem reasonable, to kill someone for their religious belief.

LOLOLOLOLOL! And the haters say *I* nitpick and split hairs! Friends, this is pure comedy. Nah, Harris didn’t say it “may be ethical to kill people” on the basis of their beliefs, not at all. After all, we atheists are moral! Respectable! We’d never spout a line of tribalistic paleolithic nonsense because by golly, we’re atheists, we’re modern, and we’re more evolved! Harris only said it may be ethical to kill people “if they believe the canon they subscribe to is the divine word of God.”

In other words, Harris said it may be ethical to kill people on the basis of their beliefs. In other words, Allen’s reporting was spotless, and Landon Ross confirms her depiction of your average atheist as a whiny hater spouting anger and vacuity. By the way, since Landon conveniently neglected to cite his atheist pal, what did Harris actually say?

Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them —Sam Harris, The End of Faith, pp.52-53

In other news, I’ve added a Gnu category to TWIM. LOL!

The Official Cult Of Gnu Survey

Posted in Atheism, Quickies on  | 1 minute | 108 Comments →

Howdy all. Hopefully it’s as beautiful in your part of the world as it is in mine. So, here’s the skinny: I’m looking to compile a list of New Atheist-types for an upcoming project. Who do you see as a New Atheist worth exposing? The first people that come to my mind are obviously the obvious ones like Dawkins, PZ, Coyne, Harris, Carrier and the late Hitchens (can anyone explain why Dennett is always lumped in this category? Most of what I’ve seen from him seems rational, or, at least not blatantly irrational unlike the others, but maybe I just haven’t seen enough).

1. What would you list as the defining characteristics of particular New Atheists, and/or the New Atheist movement in general?

2. Who would you list as the most competent and/or entertaining critics of New Atheism, online or elsewhere?

3. What are some of the better New Atheist exposés you’ve read online?

Just What I Needed To Hear

Posted in Encouragement on  | 5 minutes | 28 Comments →

I’ve got a whole heap of posts brewing right now, but none of them are quite ready to pour. So, seeing as how I’ll be undergoing surgery Friday and probably unable to post until next week, I figured I’d at least throw something out there for readers to digest in the meantime.

A few weeks back, Matt left this comment, which contained a link to Victor Reppert’s blog, Dangerous Idea. I had seen the name around, but hadn’t spent any time on the blog. Since the link in Matt’s comment was directly related to our Responding To Universalism discussion, I had to investigate. What I found was one of the better Christian philosophy blogs around. I added it to my links sidebar, and have made a habit to check in semi-regularly. In a nutshell, I’m a fan of Victor’s approach: he has a tendency to parse through the details and clarify things, and—more importantly—he tends to let the reader think for themselves. Victor’s style is more, “having an intelligent discussion with oneself,” than, “let me interpret the facts for you then belittle you if you disagree,” the latter being unfortunately prominent amongst (a)theist blogs.

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Authority Effectively Undermined

Posted in Atheism, Blogosphere, Daylight Atheism, Religion, Responses on  | 7 minutes | 3 Comments →

I was cruising around the blogosphere this morning when I found this post at DaylightAtheism. Although I don’t necessarily share all of Haught’s conclusions as expressed in the source material, I felt Ebonmuse’s response was fraught with inconsistencies.

First on the list is the following peculiarity:

…Haught presumes for himself the right to judge which atheists are or are not sufficiently “serious”

Why should that be any sort of problem? After all, Ebonmuse certainly presumes which theists are sufficiently serious, for example, he says all that believe in demons are ignorant regardless of actual intelligence and should be unilaterally mocked. This makes Occam’s razor look more like a guillotine! As my heart goes out to the closet GLBT kid with a sternly homophobic and closed-minded dad, similar for the otherwise rational person who’s had experiences reasonably interpretable as psychic (‘psychic’ as in the Jungian sense of archetypal), spiritual or biblical in their ultimate nature. Such hasty generalization and harsh criticism in this regard can only effect cognitive dissonance, which is of little use in uncovering the truth.

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