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Richard Dawkins Now A Heretic To Progressives

This is symbolically big. [1] According to the e-mail the progressive radio station KPFA, the event’s sponsor, sent out explainint its decision:

We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people.

KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier.

Ladies and gentlemen, the vanguard of Progressivism.

It is interesting to know that in the eyes of progressives like these, some religions are more worthy of consideration than others. Islam, generally speaking, is vastly more illiberal than Christianity. Somehow, though, Islam falls under the protecting veil of progressivism.

Mind you, I haven’t seen Dawkins’s tweets on Islam, but based on some of his past tweets about Christianity, I would not be surprised if he were bigoted against Islam. But then, Dawkins hates all religion, so at least he’s consistent. Anyway, in no way should Dawkins be silenced. Let him speak his mind, and let us meet him with better arguments.

It is interesting that a Berkeley church agreed to host one of the world’s best-known atheist abusers of Christianity. Within another decade or two, that church building will probably be turned into condos.

Is there a place in the US less open to free speech than the San Francisco Bay Area? Serious question. Richard Dawkins could come speak in Baton Rouge, where I live, and get a respectful hearing — even here in the heart of Trumpsylvania. But not Berkeley. What does that tell you?

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87 Comments To "Richard Dawkins Now A Heretic To Progressives"

#1 Comment By Egypt Steve On July 22, 2017 @ 11:22 am

It’s not the “Bay Area.” He’ll be in San Jose on Aug. 10. You do know the way to San Jose, right?

#2 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 22, 2017 @ 11:29 am

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this nonsense about how the Muslims need a “reformation.” Really? The Reformation in Western Christianity initiated a century of internecine religious conflict, increasing scriptural literalism and fundamentalism, and an increasing intransigence on both (or all) sides until people were so sick of the violence that they called ceasefire. I think a good argument can be made that the emergence of radical Islam *IS* the reformation in Islam.

It’s also such a crude, infantilizing view of religion, as if it’s a light switch that you can turn off and on and modulate the light. Religions have their own internal logic, you can’t just “make” them have a reformation when you feel like it.

As it happens, I think Islam shares the left’s strong emphasis on social justice. And similarly, at its finest moments Christianity has been on the side of the poor and oppressed. The right, on the other hand, has often been on the side of authority and of the rich.

Khalid,

Generalizing about entire religions, especially when they’re not your own, is a tricky thing. Nonetheless, if I had to list a few things I admired about Islam it wouldn’t be too difficult. As you point out the emphasis on social justice is something I like but that’s shared with Christianity. As far as uniquely Islamic innovations go, I actually really like “Islamic finance” as an innovation to solve the problem of usury. (It’s not the solution I would choose, but it’s certainly better than treating it as a non-problem, which is the route that majority-Christian America has chosen to go down). And as another example I like the way Islam has paid careful identification to documentation of the ‘chain of custody’ for the hadiths, this is the kind of thing Christian intellectuals wish we had for the New Testament books and for early traditions but that with a few exceptions we really don’t. Both of these are areas where Christians could learn a lot from Islam.

#3 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 22, 2017 @ 11:32 am

Could I humbly suggest you take a look at C. Calhoun’s The Roots of Radicalism? And leftists in Russia were, before Communism, actually known for being loyal to the land, tradition.

Grigory Ioffe, the Soviet émigré scholar, actually thinks this was true (at the subconscious more than the conscious level) of the Soviet Communists themselves. A very high proportion of Communists (the mid- and lower-level functionaries, not the top leaders themselves) was apparently of peasant origin, and he thinks that they internalized a lot of the values of the Russian peasant worldview (minus the religion, obviously).

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 22, 2017 @ 11:47 am

The left’s enemy is traditional European identity.

Nonsense. The left IS a traditional European identity. Even African and Asian leftists got their politics at British and French universities. And one difficulty for socialism in America was that, despite the many home grown Anglo socialists, it was associated with all the European furriners bringing an alien ideology to our hallowed shores.

#5 Comment By Ragged Clown On July 22, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

“The idea that the prominent atheists — the so-called Four Horsemen — give Islam a pass is a pernicious myth.”

VikingLS: “It is? Amongst whom?”

Here’s an example of the myth in action:

If I remember correctly, Dawkins has in recent comments opined, at long last, that some religions are “worse than others”, and that Christianity is benign relative to Islam. Many Dawkins’ keeners were shocked that he had thus let down his guard on the threat posed by our faith.

Bolding mine.

One of Dawkins’ earliest salvos in the New Atheist battle was an op-ed on Sept 15, 2001 with the title Faith-based Missiles that blamed Islam for the 9/11 hijackers.

Note: I’m not defending the op-ed (it is terrible). I am defending the idea that The New Atheists have criticized Islam since their movement began.

Barely a week goes by where a commenter on this blog does not say something along the lines of “Ha ha ha. These atheists think they are so brave criticizing Christianity! Let’s hear them criticize Islam! Not so brave now are they?”

The New Atheists have criticized Islam since the beginning. Heck, Sam Harris has made it his speciality.

#6 Comment By Ragged Clown On July 22, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

Sorry for the broken quote in my previous post. I should have exercised more care.

For possibly the first time ever, I agree with Polichinello.

The point is he could bad-mouth and criticize Christianity at will, and no one batted an eye. He was even praised for it. But he uses similar terms of criticism for Islam, and, WHOA! Invite pulled.

This is deplorable and makes me mad.

The broader point to be made here is that the left is not a monolith. This is not the left turning on itself because there is no such entity as “The Left”.

Rod often reminds me of that cartoon, The View from Ninth Avenue where he can make out the fine distinctions between, say Orthodox belief and Catholic belief but when he looks out across the Hudson, there’s a vast plain of indistinguishable beliefs.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m endlessly fascinated by what Rod has to say and I’ve been reading him since the Beliefnet days. I do get a little frustrated by his lack of nuance when he talks about The Left” though. I think his points would land more powerfully if he aimed them with more precision. I might also hope that he would relax a little about the threats to Christians and Christianity if he acknowledged the diversity of opinions among those who don’t share his beliefs.

#7 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 22, 2017 @ 12:26 pm

The problem is that they believe too much in that, raising their own opinion to the status of Established Truth, and deriding as idiots anyone who does not accept their pontifications. There really is an element of subjectivity in knowledge– it no where near as vast as some posit, but it is not exactly zero as either as Dawkins seems to think.

The postmodernist wheel of truth:

* The social sciences are but an application of the biological sciences
* The biological sciences are but an application of the physical sciences
* The physical sciences are but an application of metaphysics
* And metaphysics is simply an application of social science.

In its longer form (<- means "is an application of"):

Political science <- sociology <- psychology <- neurology <- anatomy <- physiology <-
biology <- chemistry <- physics <- math <- philosophy <- theology <- political science.

#8 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 22, 2017 @ 12:33 pm

Oh, good grief no! It isn’t Islam that is “protected” but Muslims, to the extent they are under threat from anti-Muslim bigotry. There’s a big difference there, a very big one.
And Richard Dawkins, in my own experience, has never been well liked on the Left. He’s too small-minded, too intolerant, too dismissive of other people’s experiences. The fundamental epistemology of the Left is the notion that truth is subjective (I am not endorsing that just reporting it). Dawkins proclaims his atheism as a hard cold fact that everyone should recognize. That is as anathema on the Left as any religious sort of fundamentalism.

Did you read this interview with Muslim atheist Ali Rizvi (i.e. an atheist who grew up in an Islamic society and culture; and unlike Dawkins has to worry about someone deciding he is an apostate and trying to snuff him):

[2]

The article makes precisely the distinction you do, between Islam and Muslims. “The left is wrong on Islam. The right is wrong on Muslims” he says.

And of Christianity, the positions are often reversed.

#9 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 22, 2017 @ 12:39 pm

Richard Dawkins: “The God of the Old Testament is a genocidal, infanticidal, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Scientism-Giddy Progressives: “Richard Dawkins, culture hero!”

Richard Dawkins: “Allah is a genocidal, infanticidal, capriciously malevolent world-conqueror.”

Scientism-Giddy Progressives: “BIGOT!!!”

No double-standard or hatred of Christians to see here. Move along.

Richard Dawkins is entirely certain, I’m sure, that neither of the aformentioned deities (ignoring the theological view that holds that “Yahweh” and “Allah” are in fact one and the same) exists at all.

#10 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On July 22, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

VikingLS says:
@Thomas Hobbes

You would be very convincing if none of us had ever met a progressive.

Yeah, thats what liberals say to me when I try to explain conservative or Christian thinking on some issue.

You guys are probably both right. I try to only only hang out with the people I don’t think are terrible. Maybe the terrible people are actually the majority of both tribes?

#11 Comment By Reformed in Oakland On July 22, 2017 @ 1:42 pm

Rod asks:

“Is there a place in the US less open to free speech than the San Francisco Bay Area?”

As a 3rd generation Bay Area native and resident for all of my years on this earth I would say: it depends. In San Francisco you can walk around completely naked because it’s considered an expression of freedom of speech. Protesters frequently shut down freeways and transit systems with very little police response because it is considered their freedom of speech. During Bush’s term and the Iraq War, a group of old gray ponytails would protest at a big intersection in my home town every Thursday. No one really paid attention to them after a while and they just kinda faded into the background.
That being said, when former Gov Pete Wilson spoke at a private event, protesters stormed the gates of the private venue and shut down the event. A friend who was a Berkeley College Republican told me about being frequently harassed and having their table overturned when they would set up a table in the quad. I was once given quite a colorful earful about then candidate Trump from a legal immigrant from Mexico who was also a Vietnam Combat Veteran while running a table at the county fair for the local GOP. I also know quite a few conservatives that have held demonstrations in their local communities with little opposition and even robust support.
To sum it up: I think that no-platforming and outright hostility to non-SJW leftism is something you are more likely to see in SF, Bezerkeley, Oakland, and occasionally San Jose. Those are the cities that have activists and politicians most dedicated to SJW leftism. In most of the suburbs, and with most of the working and disappearing middle classes in the aforementioned cities, people are just too busy working to make rent in an area with a high cost of living. Unless you block the freeway, they have more important things to worry about.

#12 Comment By Joachim On July 22, 2017 @ 1:56 pm

It puzzles me that materialist atheists should care about anything at all, much less feminism/Islamophobia/etc. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to prefer one particular configuration of matter and energy in spacetime over any other.

#13 Comment By Just Dropping By On July 22, 2017 @ 2:16 pm

The disinvitation isn’t surprising to me, but I would have expected Dawkins’ alleged sexist remarks to be given as the primary basis for it.

#14 Comment By VikingLS On July 22, 2017 @ 4:10 pm

@Ragged Clown

That quote didn’t imply that Dawkins had given Islam a pass, just that he had come around to seeing some religions as worse than others. You also didn’t cite atheists generally being accused of giving Islam a free pass, but specifically the Four Horseman.

Sorry but I’d be amazed at anyone who knew enough about New Atheism to know who the Four Horsemen were, who didn’t know that they’d all been very critical of Islam.

#15 Comment By VikingLS On July 22, 2017 @ 4:20 pm

“Yeah, thats what liberals say to me when I try to explain conservative or Christian thinking on some issue.”

Well if you start out with “I don’t know why this is so hard to understand…” and followed it with your explanation of a Christian position, you probably annoyed them too.

“I don’t know why this is so hard to understand: Most progressives don’t like Islam, they just think it’s more deserving of protection in the US than Christianity because it represents less than 1% of the population while Christianity represents 70%.”

I believe you believe this. I don’t believe this is is necessarily the position of progressives.

#16 Comment By Avi Marranazo On July 22, 2017 @ 5:24 pm

The key thing Islam has going for it, from the CultMarx Left’s perspective, is that it’s anti-Christian. Never mind it’s anti-gay and anti-woman too–“the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. It’s practitioners are essentially the shock troops against us deplorables on both sides of the Atlantic.

#17 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 22, 2017 @ 6:07 pm

It puzzles me that materialist atheists should care about anything at all, much less feminism/Islamophobia/etc. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to prefer one particular configuration of matter and energy in spacetime over any other.

You do realize that Plato addressed that conundrum, like, twenty-four centuries ago, right?

Either right and wrong are ‘ultimate’, i.e. they’re their own explanation, or they don’t exist. Postulating a God doesn’t really affect how you answer that question one way or the other.

#18 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 22, 2017 @ 6:09 pm

Rod often reminds me of that cartoon, The View from Ninth Avenue where he can make out the fine distinctions between, say Orthodox belief and Catholic belief but when he looks out across the Hudson, there’s a vast plain of indistinguishable beliefs.

I agree, but is there any of us who’s free from tht problem? Certainly not me. I think the point of the New Yorker cartoon is that we’re all myopic in exactly the analogous way.

#19 Comment By Myles On July 22, 2017 @ 7:15 pm

Dawkins, as far as I can figure, is scornful of Christianity but actually scared of Islam. The same seems to be true of the Church of Wokeness, which is why Dawkins is not welcome any more.

#20 Comment By cka2nd On July 22, 2017 @ 8:52 pm

As an atheist and revolutionary socialist, I loathe Sam Harris and Bill Maher because they are apologists for U.S., Western and Israeli imperialism and violence, they inflate the size of Islamist terrorism as a percentage of overall terrorism in Europe and America, dismiss “feminist obsession over some clinic bombing 20 years ago” as if George Tiller wasn’t gunned down in his church in 2009, and fail to acknowledge the many good works done out of religious faith, not to mention the martyrdom of some of those folks. They give atheism a bad name.

#21 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On July 22, 2017 @ 11:10 pm

@VikingLS

Well if you start out with “I don’t know why this is so hard to understand…” and followed it with your explanation of a Christian position, you probably annoyed them too.

Yeah, I tend to start off mildly offending people so they’ll argue with me rather than ignoring or politely agreeing with me. We all have our character flaws.

I believe you believe this. I don’t believe this is is necessarily the position of progressives.

Progressives are a diverse group just like conservatives. The majority of the left leaning people I know hold this view, but it’s a biased sample (mostly highly educated people working in the education, science, tech, or medical sectors of big cities). I don’t have any real idea what red state progressives are like because all my red state friends and family are conservatives. I can imagine them being more reactionary since they live in “enemy territory”.

#22 Comment By Khalid On July 23, 2017 @ 4:05 am

Hector,

Thank you for those kind words. I personally think there is much one can learn from other people ( whether Christian, Jewish or non- religious). Too many to note here but Merton would certainly be up there. Rowan williams, too.

For Muslim orthodoxy I think Christianity has always been associated with gentleness and humility. For the Sufis Christ is the way of love. And as someone once said, if you see love, you’ll see it everywhere.

The idea of a reformation doesn’t make much sense in the Islamic context given the lack of a central authority. I’m also a bit sceptical of the reading that implies that it was nothing but fundamentalist.mreading Rowan’s Anglican Identities now and it is obviously a lot more than that. I think Chares Taylor has also written on this..we’re looking at a different expression of spirituality.

#23 Comment By ThomasD On July 23, 2017 @ 8:55 am

“Islam, generally speaking, is vastly more illiberal than Christianity. Somehow, though, Islam falls under the protecting veil of progressivism.”

This is not remotely a conundrum Dreher. Islam falls under the protection of progressivism because it too is a form of collectivizing authoritarianism.

Your underlying assumption that progressivism represents anything truly liberal is flat out wrong.

#24 Comment By t smith On July 23, 2017 @ 8:57 am

Em..guys its KPFA. A byword in the Bay Area for nasty vicious lying hypocrites. Mostly from an affluent middle class / wealthy background. At best utter loons and cranks, but mostly truly vile people.

All you need to know about these KPFA people is that one of the sweetest most wonderful people I’ve known was almost beaten to death by one of their staff. After years of the most vicious domestic violence, torture really, in front of very young children. But during the trial the KPFA people could not praise the perp loudly enough, because of all his “progressive” political activities over the years. As far as I’m aware not a murmur of support from the KPFA people for the victim of the sustained violent abuse. But instead of going to jail for attempted murder with special circumstances the prep eventually got off on a legal technicality. Because his family were wealthy (typically) he could afford expensive lawyers who eventually got him off on the technicality. Afterwards he was welcomed back with open arms by KPFA and he is still listed as a member of staff.

And this is not the first time stuff like this has happened. In fact the most horrific abuse stories and the various “progressive” political factions have been pretty much synonymous over the decades in the Bay Area. If you have lived in the Bay Area long enough you will have heard at least some of them. But the local media makes sure these stories are usually buried.

KPFA and the people who support it are evil scum. There really is no other words for them.

#25 Comment By Eric Mader On July 23, 2017 @ 11:00 am

Thanks, @VikingLS. Of course you’re right that I was being misread.

@Ragged Clown

It’s kind of presumptuous of you to claim that my comment above somehow meant to suggest that Dawkins had ever given a pass to Islam. Of course this isn’t the case, and I know it.

What is relatively new, at least compared to THE GOD DELUSION days, are Dawkins’ remarks that Christianity may be something of a bulwark against the greater threat posed by Islam.

Dawkins made these remarks some years ago, c. 2010 I believe, but they’ve recently been getting more attention after the growing SJW rage over his remarks Islam.

Dawkins: Christianity as a Bulwark

Still, I should reiterate, I’m not much interested in what Dawkins has to say about any religious tradition, as the man doesn’t do his homework. I gave his brand of know-nothing pontificating more than enough attention back when the New Atheism was new.

#26 Comment By Doctor Lecter On July 23, 2017 @ 11:48 am

The Leftoids that are not just SJWs (and some who are, re Laci Green) are moving Right simply because the Left, the True Left, the Hard Left, the Leftover Left that is more and more in charge of things at the DNC and culturally, are choking them off. At the least the Leftists are annoying even to other Leftists.

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 23, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

This is not remotely a conundrum Dreher. Islam falls under the protection of progressivism because it too is a form of collectivizing authoritarianism.

Historically, so does Christianity.

KPFA and the people who support it are evil scum.

I can believe that. It means they’ve continued to go down hill the last 2-3 decades, but it is quite credible. Lenin would have made short work of such people.

#28 Comment By Tamara Wilhite On July 23, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

Muslims are murdering atheists from Pakistan to the EU (Charlie Hebdo murders). It is rational for him to speak out against a religion that not only hates atheists but is killing people like him and rolls back human rights everywhere the religion (Islam) dominates.

#29 Comment By Raakhee On July 23, 2017 @ 6:23 pm

I would like to challenge (in a respectful way!) the non-Muslims here to answer these questions regarding Shari’ah/Islamic/Allah’s law and universal human rights for Muslims living in Western countries:

1. Do you support Allah’s law as mandatory for all Muslims? Even for those Muslims who don’t believe it’s all divine in origin and authority?
2. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting Muslims from leaving Islam on threat of death – Do you believe this is desired by Allah (swt)?
3. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting Muslims from dissenting from said law and encouraging other Muslims to dissent from Allah’s law?
4. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting Muslims interpreting the Holy Qur’an by the lights of their own individual reason and conscience?
5. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting novel interpretation of Islam or the Holy Qur’an?
6. Do you support Allah’s law in the death sentence for active LGBT Muslims?

I really encourage everyone reading to visit Muslim websites meant for Muslim audiences and read voluminously there. Thank you for your kind consideration!

#30 Comment By NateWhilk On July 23, 2017 @ 8:05 pm

“Within another decade or two, that church building will probably be turned into condos.”

Or a mosque.

#31 Comment By DrivingBy On July 23, 2017 @ 8:14 pm

t Smith: Based on experience with other of the self-declared righteous, I can believe your account completely. today, the most agreeable mob in the US for the evil to join and use are the Progs. They are the modern witch hunters, flying under a different flag of convenience.

#32 Comment By Nate On July 24, 2017 @ 1:12 am

@Hector: “You do realize that Plato addressed that conundrum, like, twenty-four centuries ago, right?
Either right and wrong are ‘ultimate’, i.e. they’re their own explanation, or they don’t exist. Postulating a God doesn’t really affect how you answer that question one way or the other.”

True, but I think the point made in regard to the New Atheists is that it is bizarre to hold to some sort of hyper-materialist perspective, grounded only in the empirical knowledge of the physical universe, then entertain such an idea of an “ultimate” morality.

Why heap scorn upon scorn on religion and the belief in a permanent, changeless god that exists outside the confines of the material world, then turn around and believe in any sort of moral order that must also exist independent of the material? Whether we are talking about god or the objective morality of the universe, both would seem to be on the same plane of existence – a place the materialism of the New Atheists is woefully unprepared to go.

#33 Comment By Franklin Evans On July 24, 2017 @ 12:06 pm

O, the sweet irony of a militant atheist being demonized!! Sigh…

“God is an iron,” I said. “Did you know that?”

I turned to look at her and she was staring. She laughed experimentally, stopped when I failed to join in. “And I’m a pair of pants with a hole scorched through the ass?”

“If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron.”

— Spider Robinson

#34 Comment By TR On July 24, 2017 @ 3:51 pm

“Lenin would have made short work of such people.”

Lenin made short work of a lot of people.

#35 Comment By Matjaž Horvat On July 24, 2017 @ 5:42 pm

“Either right and wrong are ‘ultimate’, i.e. they’re their own explanation, or they don’t exist. Postulating a God doesn’t really affect how you answer that question one way or the other.”

There’s a third option, which is the one that classical theists have held to, namely that God IS his goodness, his power, his intellect, etc.

It takes some explaining, but you’ve presented a false dichotomy. This has been resolved a long time ago.

#36 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 24, 2017 @ 8:29 pm

I would like to challenge (in a respectful way!) the non-Muslims here to answer these questions regarding Shari’ah/Islamic/Allah’s law and universal human rights for Muslims living in Western countries:

1. Do you support Allah’s law as mandatory for all Muslims? Even for those Muslims who don’t believe it’s all divine in origin and authority?
2. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting Muslims from leaving Islam on threat of death – Do you believe this is desired by Allah (swt)?
3. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting Muslims from dissenting from said law and encouraging other Muslims to dissent from Allah’s law?
4. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting Muslims interpreting the Holy Qur’an by the lights of their own individual reason and conscience?
5. Do you support Allah’s law in prohibiting novel interpretation of Islam or the Holy Qur’an?
6. Do you support Allah’s law in the death sentence for active LGBT Muslims?

No, no, no, no, no, and no.

But where does universal human rights for Muslims require supporting any of that? Part of “universal human rights for Muslims” includes protecting Muslim dissenters, Muslim-born gays, Muslim critics, Muslim women, and so forth from traditionalists and their fatwas.

Just like–drumroll–supporting the religious liberties of Christians does NOT mean that the law needs to entertain traddy attempts to harass or inconvenient those THEY consider sinners–freely noting that trad Christians FTMP (a few nutball preachers notwithstanding) are not calling for the heads of those they disagree with?

This isn’t hard, folks. Protecting the civil rights of MUSLIMS doesn’t require endorsing ISLAM or it’s worst interpretations. I don’t support Sharia law, or Christian theocracy, or any other system by which one religious faith is allowed to impose its values via force of law–either on its own members or on the public. I do support the rights of individual Muslims or Christians.

See the difference?

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 24, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

A lot of people who act and think like your description of KPFA staff tend to accrete around a revolution. Serious revolutionaries recognize them as a liability, since the mass of the population has a low tolerance for it.