All entries by this author

John Gray on Michael Burleigh on Secularism *

Nov 1st, 2006 | Filed by

Much of the book is a laboured defence of the Vatican against charges of complicity with Nazism.… Read the rest

Michael Collins on Sen’s Identity and Violence *

Nov 1st, 2006 | Filed by

Fluid and evolving nature of identities, and differences within cultural groupings, are obscured. … Read the rest

Turkish Archaeologist Acquitted *

Nov 1st, 2006 | Filed by

Charges were brought against her by a Turkish lawyer who took offence at her 2005 book.… Read the rest

Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi on Max Boot *

Nov 1st, 2006 | Filed by

Iranian dissidents want the support of human rights groups, intellectuals, NGOs, not of foreign powers.… Read the rest

US, Vatican Impede Sexual Health Goals *

Nov 1st, 2006 | Filed by

Religious zealots prefer STDs and unwanted pregnancies to birth control.… Read the rest

Odious beliefs

Nov 1st, 2006 12:53 am | By

Oh yes – this sounds familiar.

Richard Dawkins once took part in a debate with the distinguished theologian and philosopher Richard Swinburne. The Holocaust, Swinburne suggested, had a positive element because it gave Jews an opportunity to be noble and courageous. Swinburne’s ‘grotesque piece of reasoning’, Dawkins writes in his new book, is ‘damningly typical of the theological mind’, and an attitude that reveals not just the redundancy of religion but also its immorality.

We’ve had a look at Swinburne’s grotesque reasoning before, more than once. Stuff like that gives philosophy of religion a bad name, I should think. David Attenborough is a useful counter to that kind of thing.

People sometimes say to me, “Why don’t you admit

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Cosmic variance

Nov 1st, 2006 12:52 am | By

What I keep saying! But Sean Carrol says it a lot better in a review of Eagleton’s review of Dawkins.

Okay, very good. God, in this conception, is not some thing out there in the world (or even outside the world), available to be poked and prodded and have his beard tugged upon…The previous excerpt, which defined God as “the condition of possibility,” seemed to be warning against the dangers of anthropomorphizing the deity, ascribing to it features that we would normally associate with conscious individual beings such as ourselves…But – inevitably – Eagleton does go ahead and burden this innocent-seeming concept with all sorts of anthropomorphic baggage. God created the universe “out of love,” is capable of “regret,” and

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Let’s start with vocabulary

Nov 1st, 2006 12:52 am | By

A very interesting discussion last week at the Valve. Similar to many discussions we have, but also different, on account of different people conducting it. It’s about Dawkins and what the Valve poster, Bill Benzon, finds ‘bothersome’ about him. He puts it this way:

As far as I can tell, my target is a certain kind of discourse, a kind which Dawkins exemplifies particularly well, but others participate in it as well. And what bothers me about this discourse is not that it is against religious belief, but that it is against the religious as well.

That’s not as clear as it might be, but I think what he’s saying is, people who are sharply critical of religious … Read the rest

Terry Glavin on Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury *

Oct 31st, 2006 | Filed by

The phony charges against him were revived by a notorious Islamist judge; his trial is next month.… Read the rest

Elephant Recognises Herself in Mirror *

Oct 31st, 2006 | Filed by

Showing self-awareness seen before only in humans, great apes and bottlenose dolphins.… Read the rest

Nick Cohen Reviews Debating Humanism *

Oct 31st, 2006 | Filed by

The politically literate will notice that this collection of essays comes from the RCP.… Read the rest

Faith, Hope, and Selective Schools *

Oct 31st, 2006 | Filed by

Amendment will give greater freedom to discriminate on grounds of religion in hiring staff and teachers.… Read the rest

Atheists’ ‘Nauseous Undertone of Racial Superiority’ *

Oct 31st, 2006 | Filed by

White people are atheists, non-white people are theists, therefore atheists are as bad as Cecil Rhodes.… Read the rest

Garry Wills on Faith-Based Everything *

Oct 30th, 2006 | Filed by

Faith-based war, law enforcement, education, medicine, and science. … Read the rest

Jihad in 1857 *

Oct 30th, 2006 | Filed by

Educated Delhi Muslims rejected the west and the gentle Sufi traditions of late Mughal emperors.… Read the rest

Romano on Young-Bruehl on Why Arendt Matters *

Oct 30th, 2006 | Filed by

Hint: ‘the banality of evil’ is not all.… Read the rest

Review of The God Delusion *

Oct 30th, 2006 | Filed by

Perceptive recognition of excess respect for religious beliefs, regardless of content.… Read the rest

Christopher Shea on Reading Nafisi at Columbia *

Oct 30th, 2006 | Filed by

Some observers question the intellectual merit of the brand of literary criticism Dabashi practices.… Read the rest

Freud’s Perjuries as ‘Spots on the Sun’

Oct 30th, 2006 | By Frank Cioffi

The following is a condensed extract from an essay titled “Are Freud’s Critics Scurrilous?”, translated and published in Le livre noir de la psychoanalyse (Editions des Arènes).

Sigmund Freud may have been a great man but he was not an honourable one. Freud’s claims to greatness rest on his imaginative and expressive powers; his dishonour arises from his leadership of a movement in whose interests he perjured himself repeatedly.
The most striking fact about responses to documentation of Freud’s perjuries is how often they take the form not of denial but of extenuation.


Here is one example of how this is done. Freud repeatedly put forward as a demonstration … Read the rest

Reclaiming your head

Oct 29th, 2006 10:59 pm | By

Here’s a great listen for you – Julia Sweeney on Fresh Air. She’s got a one-woman show called ‘Letting Go of God’ at an off-off-Broadway theater, and she gives a pretty good run-through of the journey from theism to atheism in this interview. In fact it’s pretty hilarious what a lot she manages to get into thirty minutes or so – religion as consolation in despair, Bible study, Abraham and Isaac, perverse excuses for Abraham and Isaac, a wink-wink priest who explains that we sophisticated believers know better but myths are for the people, the anger and sense of treachery at being told that, withdrawal from the church, turn to New Age, in particular Deepak Chopra, being stimulated by … Read the rest