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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

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  • The Golden Woos

  • Voicing our disbelief
    Atheists and sceptics should, no doubt, defend secularism. But if we are realistic, we will understand that the idea of secularism has little traction in societies where the authority of religion is considered legitimate and taken for granted. For many religious groups, moreover, secularism is not an attractive ideal. Advocating secularism and directly challenging the authority of religion should not be viewed as two alternative strategies for atheists and sceptics who wish to resist the political influence of religion. Rather, these strategies are mutually supportive and ought to be pursued in tandem. That is the lesson that we need to learn.

    In short, there is plenty of reason to challenge religions and contest their doctrinal claims, not just as an academic exercise, but as a matter of real urgency. Atheists and sceptics should deny the authority of religious organisations and leaders to pronounce on matters of ultimate truth and correct morality. This will require persistent, cool argument, but also moments of outright denunciation or even unashamed mockery of religion’s most absurd actions and truth-claims.


  • Ireland's atheists test blasphemy law
    SECULAR campaigners in the Republic of Ireland defied a strict new blasphemy law that came into force on New Year's Day by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations online and promising to fight the legislation in court.

    The law, which was passed in July, means blasphemy in Ireland is now a crime punishable with a fine of up to 25,000 euros.

    It defines blasphemy as ''publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted''.


  • Most Anticipated: The Great 2010 Book Preview

  • Bee's tiny brain is a marvel of evolutionary engineering

  • The God Fraud
    Best-selling atheist author Sam Harris pushes back against Karen Armstrong's sympathetic take on religion.

  • Five New Exoplanets run the Gamut From Styrofoam to Ice
    WASHINGTON, D.C.--Those hoping that today's opening plenary talk of the American Astronomical Society's meeting here would deliver a stunning revelation probably came away disappointed. NASA's Kepler mission has added five new planets to a growing roster of more than 400 beyond our solar system--and none of the newbies is remotely hospitable to life. But there's still plenty to chew on. One of the planets, for example, is as light as Styrofoam--and that has astronomers scratching their heads.



 

Comments

Sam Harris does a wonderful job.

He does, doesn't he.

Really, religious folk want our respect, because hey, only half of them are batshit crazy while the rest are only mildly deluded.

It's the constant cry for a respectful debate that I find infuriating.

Sure, i would like one of those.

First religious people would first need to participate in an honest and reasoned debate.

I am more than happy to be respectful of peoples emotions, morals and traditions, but not while they deny reason and insult me in more ways than I can count.

Indeed - and Armstrong's reply is truly pathetic:

To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate.

No, Ms. Armstrong. Sam Harris is simply identifying religion with some of it's central teachings. It is you who wants to airbrush those inconveniently numerous passages of the Koran and the Bible away. The people who wrote those texts and a large plurality (at least) of their adherents did not and do not "abhor violence of any kind". And what the hell is "verbal violence"? If she means incitement, then she should call it that - and of course she'll have to continue to pretend religious texts aren't loaded with it.

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