Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

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Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#1  Postby Alan C » May 05, 2019 11:44 am

Is anyone here familiar with his work? He certainly seems to take issue with Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins and Dennet. Going so far as linking 'new atheism' with white supremacists and mass murder.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opini ... 21871.html

It seems a bit of stretch to me to link the two as well as conflate religious fanaticism with purported secular fanaticism.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#2  Postby Thommo » May 05, 2019 11:49 am

Their works - Dawkins's, The God Delusion, Harris's, The End of Faith, Dennett's, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and Hitchens's, God Is Not Great - were all essentially written as a blind reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and all zoomed in on Islam and the Muslim world, demonstrating a remarkable ignorance of both.


I've only read one of those books, but I don't recall the God Delusion being zoomed in on Islam at all. In fact wasn't one of the principle criticisms that it was extremely Christian focused?
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#3  Postby Spearthrower » May 05, 2019 11:54 am

Oh come on... religious fundies park everything evil on the atheist's doorstep when they're not too preoccupied violently hating each other.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#4  Postby Spearthrower » May 05, 2019 11:58 am

The entire first section is post hoc ergo propter hoc.

White supremacy invariably has either religious undertones or is overtly religious.

The title of the 2nd section is really all that needs to be said: spectacular ignorance.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#5  Postby Alan C » May 05, 2019 12:03 pm

I was confused where he was going trying to link the 'four horsemen' with Pompeo who seems to be a fundy fuckwit.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#6  Postby tuco » May 05, 2019 12:18 pm

From the article:

In today's world, mass murder and religious and secular fanaticism go hand-in-hand.


Secular fanaticism is a thing? Or does it refer to the notion from Brothers Karamazov if God does not exist, then everything is permitted?

As others noted, to me it sounds like a bunch of nonsense, however, I can see how one can get to misinterperting goals of the so-called new atheism. We need to do a better job at the practical application of our, secular, values. Not killing people would be a good start.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#7  Postby Hermit » May 05, 2019 12:55 pm

Thommo wrote:
Their works - Dawkins's, The God Delusion, Harris's, The End of Faith, Dennett's, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and Hitchens's, God Is Not Great - were all essentially written as a blind reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and all zoomed in on Islam and the Muslim world, demonstrating a remarkable ignorance of both.


I've only read one of those books, but I don't recall the God Delusion being zoomed in on Islam at all. In fact wasn't one of the principle criticisms that it was extremely Christian focused?

Chapter 8 of The God Delusion is titled "What's wrong with Religion? Why be so hostile" The last of its six sections is titled
"How ‘moderation’ in faith fosters fanaticism". While Christianity does get mentions, the bulk of the text concerns Islamic terrorism. Dawkins basically argues that the bottom line of the danger is faith, and it does not matter if faith is attached to a moderate or an extremist strand of any religion. The last paragraph of "How ‘moderation’ in faith fosters fanaticism" goes like this:
More generally (and this applies to Christianity no less than to Islam), what is really pernicious is the practice of teaching children that faith itself is a virtue. Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them — given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by — to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Immunized against fear by the promise of a martyr's paradise, the authentic faith-head deserves a high place in the history of armaments, alongside the longbow, the warhorse, the tank and the cluster bomb. If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools: that duty to God exceeds all other priorities, and that martyrdom in his service will be rewarded in the gardens of Paradise. And they were taught that lesson not necessarily by extremist fanatics but by decent, gentle, mainstream religious instructors, who lined them up in their madrasas, sitting in rows, rhythmically nodding their innocent little heads up and down while they learned every word of the holy book like demented parrots. Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong. It is to childhood itself, and the violation of childhood by religion, that we turn in the next chapter.

Note the preponderance of references to the Islamic religion. The entire section stands in stark contrast of the book's extremely Christian focused approach.
Last edited by Hermit on May 05, 2019 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#8  Postby Thommo » May 05, 2019 12:57 pm

That's a fair point, thanks.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#9  Postby Animavore » May 05, 2019 1:08 pm

Dennett's book was an examination on whether religion was a natural phenomena. It wasn't a polemic like the others and I always thought it was strange he was lumped in with the others for no better reason than he was another public, atheist intellectual.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#10  Postby Spearthrower » May 05, 2019 1:42 pm

Animavore wrote:Dennett's book was an examination on whether religion was a natural phenomena. It wasn't a polemic like the others and I always thought it was strange he was lumped in with the others for no better reason than he was another public, atheist intellectual.


Aside from being one of the 4 horsemen, you mean?

I basically agree with you though. Dennett was the odd man out.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#11  Postby Hermit » May 05, 2019 1:47 pm

Animavore wrote:Dennett's book was an examination on whether religion was a natural phenomena. It wasn't a polemic like the others and I always thought it was strange he was lumped in with the others for no better reason than he was another public, atheist intellectual.

Well, Dennett was one of the four horsemen, the others being Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, who participated in a two hour wankfest about religion in general and atheism in particular. You can listen to it in its entirety on Youtube. Well over 3 million others already have.

Edit: Sorry, Spearthrower. ;)
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#12  Postby Animavore » May 05, 2019 2:45 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
Animavore wrote:Dennett's book was an examination on whether religion was a natural phenomena. It wasn't a polemic like the others and I always thought it was strange he was lumped in with the others for no better reason than he was another public, atheist intellectual.


Aside from being one of the 4 horsemen, you mean?

I basically agree with you though. Dennett was the odd man out.


I meant as one of the 4 horsemen he's the odd one out.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#13  Postby Matthew Shute » May 05, 2019 4:20 pm

The best read of the Four Horsemen atheism books, if you ask me, was the Hitchens one: God is Not Great. It's true Hitch chose his title as a direct negation of "Allahu akbar". He only has one chapter about the Quran, however, and he's scathing about every religion he mentions, including some obscure ones. Events such as the Salman Rushdie fatwa, 9/11, and the murderous international fiasco over some Danish cartoons were among his inspirations to write the book. It would be rather weird to write a polemic against religion and not mention the elephant in the room (not talking about Ganesha).

To call "new" atheism (or outright Hitchensian anti-theism) an "ideological branch" of white supremacy is ludicrous on the face of it, and needs no further comment.

Harris has emphasised that different religions have differing theological and ideological tenets, meaning that Christian or Islamic fundamentalists are more worrisome than Jain fundamentalists (the more extreme a Jain gets about Jainism, the more he obsesses about not harming or infringing on the life of a single ant). This has been used to say Harris is "Islamophobic" and bigoted against Muslims, of course. This is a bit like arguing that if someone worries more about Scientology than about Wicca, this just shows they have a deep and hateful prejudice against Tom Cruise & John Travolta in particular.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#14  Postby Blackadder » May 05, 2019 8:50 pm

Hermit wrote:
Thommo wrote:
Their works - Dawkins's, The God Delusion, Harris's, The End of Faith, Dennett's, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and Hitchens's, God Is Not Great - were all essentially written as a blind reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and all zoomed in on Islam and the Muslim world, demonstrating a remarkable ignorance of both.


I've only read one of those books, but I don't recall the God Delusion being zoomed in on Islam at all. In fact wasn't one of the principle criticisms that it was extremely Christian focused?

Chapter 8 of The God Delusion is titled "What's wrong with Religion? Why be so hostile" The last of its six sections is titled
"How ‘moderation’ in faith fosters fanaticism". While Christianity does get mentions, the bulk of the text concerns Islamic terrorism. Dawkins basically argues that the bottom line of the danger is faith, and it does not matter if faith is attached to a moderate or an extremist strand of any religion. The last paragraph of "How ‘moderation’ in faith fosters fanaticism" goes like this:
More generally (and this applies to Christianity no less than to Islam), what is really pernicious is the practice of teaching children that faith itself is a virtue. Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them — given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by — to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Immunized against fear by the promise of a martyr's paradise, the authentic faith-head deserves a high place in the history of armaments, alongside the longbow, the warhorse, the tank and the cluster bomb. If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools: that duty to God exceeds all other priorities, and that martyrdom in his service will be rewarded in the gardens of Paradise. And they were taught that lesson not necessarily by extremist fanatics but by decent, gentle, mainstream religious instructors, who lined them up in their madrasas, sitting in rows, rhythmically nodding their innocent little heads up and down while they learned every word of the holy book like demented parrots. Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong. It is to childhood itself, and the violation of childhood by religion, that we turn in the next chapter.

Note the preponderance of references to the Islamic religion. The entire section stands in stark contrast of the book's extremely Christian focused approach.


I don’t think Dawkins was unjustified in this. Islamic teaching, even in moderate mosques, builds a persecution complex and a resentment against the Western kaffir that is all too easy to turn into hatred in impressionable and immature minds. I’ve seen this first hand, many times. It may not be intentional on the part of moderate preachers, but this is classic wedge strategy in the inculcation of jihadism. And I see no other mainstream religion today that is so regularly associated with mindless acts of mass murder.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#15  Postby Animavore » May 06, 2019 5:59 am

I never did mention in my South African adventure the time I used the word "kaffir" in the Islamic context in a restaurant on my first night.

Oh how my guests laughed; while looking around nervously.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#16  Postby Blackadder » May 06, 2019 6:15 am

Animavore wrote:I never did mention in my South African adventure the time I used the word "kaffir" in the Islamic context in a restaurant on my first night.

Oh how my guests laughed; while looking around nervously.


Oh dear. :shock:

Muslims use the word to convey intellectual contempt (oh the irony), as well as to describe a state of unbelief. So it's not surprising it was borrowed by others to describe those they thought of as inferior to themselves.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#17  Postby Alan C » May 06, 2019 9:07 am

Animavore wrote:I never did mention in my South African adventure the time I used the word "kaffir" in the Islamic context in a restaurant on my first night.

Oh how my guests laughed; while looking around nervously.


Lethal Weapon 2 taught me that was a word that's inadvisable to use.

Anyway, for some reason it looks like Al Jazeera has reposted this a couple of times, or it's a quirk of Twitter's algorithms. It's interesting because on one hand I take issue with the way people like Ilhan Omar are treated because she is a muslim calling out Israel [as well as Saudi Arabia]. On the other hand I'm wary of authors like this guy trying to pin blame on 'uppity atheists' that criticise Islam. If he's talking about people commenting while not understanding arabic and therefore reading the Quran in it's 'native' form isn't that going down the road of quibbling over interpretations? You'd think his all-knowing god would generate a clear unambiguous text regardless of who reads it and when it is read.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#18  Postby NineBerry » May 06, 2019 9:12 am

Well, the Quran itself says that it is a clear unambiguous text. So, it must be true. In the other hand, the Quran also says that some parts of it will not be understood by everyone :shrug:
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#19  Postby Svartalf » May 06, 2019 10:37 am

well, I can't understand the quran at all, I can't lead arabic and don't trust translations.
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Re: Hamid Dabashi and 'new atheism'

#20  Postby Blackadder » May 06, 2019 11:18 am

I do read Arabic and while I am far from fluent in the language, I know that there have been several faithful translations into English by bilingual and sincerely devout Muslims down the ages. The best of these translations are very rarely contested by Muslims as being flawed or inadequate, until someone points out contradictions, barbarism or just plain nonsense that appears in the sacred text. Then, it’s supposedly because we fail to understand the tender nuances of 7th century Arabic. This is the last refuge of the dissembling scoundrel.
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