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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How to criticise a religion

I've just read this article:
http://freethoughtblogs.com/hallq/2012/07/30/how-to-criticize-islam-russell-blackford-and-david-silverma/
Which leads to 2 others that have some important points.
The 1st one is here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/2011/12/14/defending-horrors-to-build-bridges/
Of course, you should read the whole thing before continuing to read this post, if it interests you at all, but here I quote some passages:
"Jesus Christ, I can’t stand when people try to sell themselves on how nice they are and how eager they are to build bridges by complaining about those who criticize irrationality and its fruits. It gives the worst qualities of humanity as well as the irrationality demanded by faith a pass. I’m not ok with that. Chris is, of course, not the only person who does this. But in this case, stepping in and defending the worship of a pedophile by suggesting it’s not dehumanizing is not nice, it’s fucked up to the extreme. One may build a bridge with moderate Muslims by catering to their fantasies and by failing to point out the glaring moral shortcomings of the Islamic faith (or by just not criticizing it in general), but they’ve burned the bridge with anybody who gives a damn about honesty or the truth in the process, and that includes any bridges remaining with me."
"Build bridges, but not by assuming people need to be lied to or that evil must be tacitly endorsed (or treated like it’s not shitty)."
And most importantly, "If we’re wrong about Islam being false or about Islam having some anti-human ideas, tell us why, but don’t act like we’re being “dehumanizing” by pointing them out."


The 2nd article is here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/hallq/2012/05/25/daring-to-state-the-obvious-the-dark-side-of-sacred-scripture/
"One of the clearest examples of religious privilege is this: no one would think it rude to describe an overt racist or tract as “hate-filled.” That’s just being accurate. It’s only wrong to call a book hate-filled if it is not, in fact, hate filled. But far too many people are quick to dismiss accuracy as rudeness when the book being talked about is somebody’s holy book."
"A defender of Islam can protest that there is more to a religion than the contents of its holy book, and that religions often find ways to ignore the nastier bits of their scriptures. Saying that, however, does not make Maher’s statement about the Quran any less true. Berlinerblau, then, is condemning Maher for saying something that everybody with a basic knowledge of the subject knows to be true, and the specific complaint, “incivility,” is one that no one would make if the book in question were not a religious text. Even then, though, the mistake could have been avoided if Berlinerblau had focused on the question, “is this true?”"
"But Plantinga is a respected scholar of religion who has spent much of his career defending Christianity from its critics. Surely, when he read the BBQ, he realized that Dawkins could quote verses to back up every item in his list. Jealous and proud of it? See Exodus 20:4-5. An ethnic cleanser? See Deuteronomy 20:16-17. Homophobic? See Leviticus 20:13. Misogynistic? See the various laws that treat women more as property than human beings, including a law that would, in many cases, require a rapist to pay money to his victims father and then marry the victim (thus applying the “you break it you buy it” principle to rape) (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).
[...]
I suppose as an Evangelical, he might want to argue that the law from Deuteronomy is not really misogynistic, that imposing the death penalty for gay sex is not really homophobic, and so on. But at least he should be able to understand how a thoughtful person could disagree. Plantinga can treat the BBQ as evidence of non-thoughtfulness only because he writes from a perspective of religious privilege."

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