This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comments by Barry Pearson

Go to: Surely by now we've outgrown the soul?

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Barry Pearson

Comment 8 by Steve Zara :

I am often accused of attempting to reduce the ineffable beauty of human experience down to ‘just’ a bunch of chemical reactions.

I know the feeling. How do we get around this?

I suspect that many of the people saying those things are immune to explanations.

But surely part of any attempt should include all the known ways that chemical changes in the brain dramatically change our experiences. We can use chemicals to switch off experience (general anesthetic); mind-altering drugs are obvious examples; and there must be many other things we could identify.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 14:00:05 UTC | #881492

Go to: The Magic of Reality (FT review)

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Barry Pearson

The chapter on rainbows has the clearest explanation of how they appear that I’ve ever seen

Yes, this explanation helped confirm to me that this book has something for everyone! As a mathematical physicist & photographer I really though I knew this, but I has missed an important feature, and I had one of those "aaaarrrggh - how did I miss that!" moments.

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 21:21:42 UTC | #876759

Go to: Richard Dawkins puts his scientific 'Magic' on a tablet

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by Barry Pearson

Comment 9 by seals :

I have the hardback but haven't read it yet. I'm a bit surprised there isn't a kindle version of this. Ok the ipad interactive version will be wonderful I'm sure, but not everyone owns, or wants to carry round an ipad, or for that matter a largeish book, yet may have time for the odd half hour of reading during the day. Some may just want to read the book when eating their lunch for instance which is much easier on a phone, ipod or presumably a Kindle, than an actual book.

I have a Kindle, but this is one time I didn't click the link that says "tell the publisher you want this on a Kindle" (or whatever it says).

This is simply not Kindle (current Kindle) material. The graphics are part of the message. Sometimes the text relies on the graphics for explanation, and the rest of the time for entertainment.

Perhaps Kindle Fire?

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 16:43:54 UTC | #876644

Go to: Richard Dawkins puts his scientific 'Magic' on a tablet

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Barry Pearson

Comment 1 by mirandaceleste :

Is "The Magic of Reality" the consummate children's book about science? I'm hesitant to go that far, partly because Dawkins is so militant about going after Judeo-Christian beliefs.

"Militant" again? Sigh. To quote The Princess Bride:

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Chuckle! He is worse than "militant"!

He is "conversationally dismissive" (or something like that). He dismisses all sorts of myths as he leads the reader towards reality. And, worst of all, he doesn't single out "Judeo-Christian beliefs". He simply includes them along with all the other myths.

Not being singled out by Richard Dawkins must be a terrible fate for a religion!

Thu, 29 Sep 2011 17:50:25 UTC | #876382

Go to: Muslim peace conference condemns terrorism

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by Barry Pearson

Note that the people organising this are Sufis.

Unfortunately, they are not representative of Islam as a whole. If they had enough influence, Islam would be a significantly different religion. They are even persecuted in some places.

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 07:50:55 UTC | #874916

Go to: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins (illustrated by Dave McKean)

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 80 by Barry Pearson

To investigate further, I Googled for: "Colin Tudge" religion

One result was The Pari Dialogues: Essays in Science, Religion, Society and the Arts - Google Books Result

In the chapter "Science, Religion, and Me Personally" by Colin Tudge, we see:

"I don't want to define religion in the usual ways. I don't want to say as many do that religion is inveterately concerned with the "supernatural". I certainly don't want to say that it necessarily involves any particular God who can be named and who must be worshipped via particular rituals and ceremonies." .....

"But if you take the view, as I do, that religion is and aspires to be the all-embracing narrative, the complete account of all that is and could and should be, then none of these common positions will do. Religion, the way I see it, embraces all formal disciplines, including science".

If this is the same Colin Tudge, perhaps his review of a book about science, which also mentions religion in the context of supernatural myths, would be expected to be incomprehensible to most of us.

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 21:40:19 UTC | #874596

Go to: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins (illustrated by Dave McKean)

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 68 by Barry Pearson

Comment 46 by Paula Kirby :

I am genuinely baffled by the tendency displayed by so many people to read 'some' as 'all' - the wild exaggeration of an originally nuanced or specific point into some gross generalisation. In some cases it's pretty clearly wilful misrepresentation ... and very often it's used as a way of creating a strawman ... but I see it happen so often that I am beginning to think there's something in the human brain that keeps tripping us up here.... But I see it in other contexts too: it's not just a religious thing.

Long ago I was baffled by this, and reacted badly when it was done to me. I think I now understand it better and can handle it:

I had a manager whose reaction against any moderate position he disagreed with would be to exaggerate my position so that he could argue effectively and convincingly against it. It would have been harder for him to argue against the original position, and sometimes even petty. Sometimes I would make the mistake of allowing myself to be pushed towards the position he had chosen for me so that I in turn could argue against him.

I actually practiced in front of a video camera with someone deliberately play-acting in that way with a discussion afterwards so that even under pressure I could resist! It is simple, of course: just patiently stick to and repeat your moderate opinion. (Although that can irritate others who haven't spotted the game being played and think you are just repeating yourself).

What then happened is that my manager, in order to maintain the wide gap he thought necessary to argue against me, exaggerated his own position! He pushed himself towards extremes, while I remained om track! I suspect something like that is happening here.

Some of these people are not simply arguing for their own position. They feel the need to argue against our position, however moderate. They will therefore exaggerate our position, and if we don't allow that, they are likely to adopt a more extreme position themselves.

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 15:01:20 UTC | #874435

Go to: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins (illustrated by Dave McKean)

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by Barry Pearson

Comment 42 by Tiende Landeplage :

It never ends. Here's an article published in Morgenbladet, a highly regarded Norwegian literary weekly paper, a week ago: "Dawkins - a fundamentalist?"

"Worshipping reason without reflection, and criticizing science without nuance — are they not two sides of the same coin?"

Sooner or later, science works. What else does?

Surely that is important?

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 13:08:45 UTC | #874373

Go to: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins (illustrated by Dave McKean)

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Barry Pearson

I thought that silly article needed a comment, so here is what I said at the Independent. Obviously, that was not the place to go into details, and I didn't spend much time thinking it through:

"Speaking as someone who HAS bought this book, I can confirm that it does not have the attitudes and themes asserted by this "review".

"The book makes it clear that science does not YET know everything, but that it is the best method we know of for finding out, for reasons he provides. And that religions (plural, throughout the book) give us contradictory stories that don't have longevity, and sometimes were probably not expected by the originators to be taken literally anyway.

"Expect a lot of attacks on this book! It is subversive; for example, the imagined journey of the time-traveler in chapter 2 shows us evolution in the context of "deep time" in a simple, graphic, way that will surely undermine so many spurious objections to evolution.

"I suspect this book will become a "classic"."

Edit: I think "The Ancestor's Tale" is in the top two or three of Richard's book, and I loved the re-use of the basic idea in chapter 2 in the above manner!

Fri, 23 Sep 2011 08:16:25 UTC | #874236

Go to: Moderate Islam?

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Barry Pearson

Comment 4 by danconquer :

I don't think it's particularly helpful when atheists join in with the likes of the Taliban in denouncing moderate forces as somehow "not proper muslims", just as I wouldn't condemn catholics who use condoms as "not proper christians". Every incident, however small, when people use their intellect to rationally overcome supernaturalist dogma is good and we should always encourage it, not seek to alienate people who, whether we like it or not, are not yet ready to feel as though they are abandoning their religious community.

It is unreasonably judgmental to use the word "denouncing". Saying that "someone who doesn't follow everything in the Koran is not a proper Muslim" isn't a criticism from an atheist's point of view. It is a statement based on the nature of Islam.

If someone doesn't follow everything in the Koran, are they disagreeing with Allah, (Islam says the Koran is a recital via the Angel Gabriel of text created in heaven by Allah), or do they dispute the claim that the words are by Allah? (Or is there something else?)

Islam requires that the Koran is taken literally as the word of Allah in a way that Christianity doesn't claim the Bible is literally the word of God. The Koran (not Mohammad) is the way of accessing the word of Allah in the way that Jesus (not the Bible) was/is the way of accessing the word of God. Disputing the Koran is equivalent to disputing Jesus.

If we can't recognise that those people are not true Muslims according to Islam, we may have trouble seeing why there is a reaction against them, and why they may be afraid of people who do take things more literally.

Tue, 20 Sep 2011 10:20:22 UTC | #873018

Go to: Moderate Islam?

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Barry Pearson

Islam itself is not moderate.

The degree to which it is barbaric is often a matter of interpretation. (For example, there are disputes about how hard a Muslim man can beat his wife; whether he can draw blood, etc).

"Muslims" can be moderate according to how much of the fundamental texts of Islam they ignore, and how much of moderate external values they absorb. Although, strictly speaking, if they ignore any of the Koran they are not actually Muslims. How can they be when it is the true and eternal word of Allah?

Mon, 19 Sep 2011 13:34:19 UTC | #872603

Go to: Atheists are as big a threat as climate change deniers

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by Barry Pearson

Comment 3 by StephenH :

It's a stage-play, and like all stage-play's, the final curtain has to be brought down.. when all of the audience has left the building.

Religions are hobbies.

We don't need to bring the final curtain down. It would be sufficient to ensure that all concerned treated them like hobbies. (That will be hard!)

Sun, 18 Sep 2011 07:41:38 UTC | #872175

Go to: IQ2 debate on "Atheists are wrong" - the results (Lions defeat Christians)

Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by Barry Pearson

Comment 7 by Steve Zara :

I do feel I have to defend the "no gods exist" position! I know it is not widespread, but I also know I'm not alone in having that hard atheist position. Whether or not gods can exist depends on the definitions of the term, and I think it's not unreasonable to insist that the supernatural avatars of aspects of Nature (which includes the Abrahamic God) are truly impossible beings, even if only because their invention was at a time when Nature was thought to be very different from what we understand it to be today. Such gods are not just beyond evidence, but beyond reason and beyond possibility.

For those reasons, I adopt a more positive position which pretty well leaves gods out of the equation, as being irrelevant once their obvious idiocies are filtered out:

  • I believe that the universe operates solely via unintelligent forces and processes.

  • I believe that religions are man-made, without divine input.

  • I believe that when you pray, you are talking to yourself; that miracles don't happen; and that when our brains die, we will never experience anything again.

  • It enables me to side-step futile diversions about the nature of any particular god.

    Fri, 16 Sep 2011 07:44:28 UTC | #871430

    Go to: The Unaffiliated Unite

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 14 by Nunbeliever :

    .... The future is not looking bright. Yes, we have superior cognitive and intellectual skills compared to all other animals on this planet. But when it comes to wisdom and self-awareness we are no better than any random baboon .... Imagine a married man with two kids an enormous mortage and a wife who stays home with the kids who is on a business trip and meets a gorgeous woman in the hotel lobby bar. He knows it's a really bad idea to follow the woman to her room. He repeats the words "don't do it, don't do it, don't do it" like a mantra in his head, but to no success. Eventually he gives in to his emotions...

    There is a contrast between the potential of collective wisdom and the strength of biological urges!

    Science is now the product of collective wisdom, and demonstrates our incredible potential. Education, and open discussion (for example on the web), can give each generation more access to all sorts of collective wisdom. That is something that random baboons can't match.

    The above article is precisely about doing this for the next generation. If we can survive for a few more generations, I think the future is looking bright.

    Fri, 16 Sep 2011 07:34:22 UTC | #871429

    Go to: The Unaffiliated Unite

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 12 by drumdaddy :

    The kids are getting smarter. I forecast majority atheism in the USA by the year 2025.

    We are engaged in a war for enlightenment, being fought over generations. See "The war for enlightenment".

    I predict that atheism will become widespread in the USA not so much by de-conversion of adults, but because each generation will be less religious than the previous one.

    It will be years before even a particular new generation by itself is majority atheist. (Perhaps 2025, who knows?) Then it will be generations before the older generations where atheists are a minority die out.

    We are engaged in a war for enlightenment, being fought over generations. And we are winning some battles! See "We are winning some battles in the “war for enlightenment”".

    Fri, 16 Sep 2011 07:21:41 UTC | #871426

    Go to: Disbelief is not a choice

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 1 by ShadowMind :

    I see it more as dis-belief is the default state, and people only choose to believe, ie: choose to leave the default state. So atheism isn't a choice; it's where we all start.

    I would use different words.

    "Non-belief" is the default state; that is how we are born with respect to religions and specific gods. That is less positive than "dis-belief".

    And typically people don't "choose" in a useful sense to leave the default state. They are indoctrinated to do so, at an age where they don't know enough to make an informed choice. (Some stay in the state of non-belief, of course, and this may become the more positive dis-belief or self-identifying atheism).

    For those who were indoctrinated, continued belief in the face of alternative perspectives such as science, vocal non-belief, or other religions, needs continual reinforcement. The trend in "western" societies has 2 components that are regretted/resented by those who favour their particular religions. The alternative perspectives are becoming more widespread and more vocal and harder to resist; and the continual reinforcement is weakening.

    Tue, 13 Sep 2011 07:21:13 UTC | #870166

    Go to: Defending science authors online

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 2 by danconquer :

    This is a serious problem with the internet generally and one that is principally caused by the unprecedented level of anonymity that the medium affords humans whilst participating in what remains, essentially, a social activity....

    .... Widespread anonymity also encourages the sort of bad manners and anti-social behaviour which can thrive only because people are not identifiable. While forcing people to identify themselves online is probably too authoritarian, maybe there should be a system whereby people are able to somehow vouch for their internet persona being a bona fide individual (rather than a shill, sock puppet or habitual troll) with the greater authoritative weight that this would bring with it to all their contributions online.

    I agree.

    But I think there can sometimes be good reasons for pseudonyms. I posted for years on one particular topic using the name "John Ward" to separate my views from any implication that they were the views of the company I worked for. I was even concerned that some might think I was leaking sensitive information. (I got into the habit of quoting publicly-available sources as a defence). And worse fates await some people in less tolerant societies.

    Is it that anonymity encourages bad behaviour, or that knowing what you say will be linked to us for ever inhibits our natural behaviour? My first drafts typically have undue sarcasm, inappropriate humour, and sloppy grammar and logic.

    Sun, 11 Sep 2011 14:00:54 UTC | #869371

    Go to: Is weak atheism too weak?

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by Barry Pearson

    I believe that the universe operates solely via unintelligent forces and processes.

    I believe that religions are man-made, without divine input.

    I believe that when you pray, you are talking to yourself; that miracles don't happen; and that when our brains die, we will never experience anything again.

    In over 20 years, I have not become aware of any reason to doubt these beliefs.

    I leave "gods" out of those primary statements to avoid futile arguments about what "god" means. But ... I couldn't expect to justify those beliefs to the satisfaction of someone who believes the opposite.

    Why use the word "belief"? Doesn't that make me a "believer" too? I am using it in this manner:

    "When driving, I believe that if I press the brake pedal the car will slow down and if necessary come to a halt. Sometimes this may be a matter of life and death - my belief is that strong. Belief is what I have confidence to act upon".

    Fri, 09 Sep 2011 10:02:32 UTC | #868829

    Go to: State schools 'not providing group worship'

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 8 by Mrkimbo :

    Unbelievable that a period of collective child-brainwashing is actually required under British law. I mean, what the hell - is this 1870? Sounds like it.

    That was long after the Age of Enlightenment!

    Did you mean to say "what the hell - is this 1670?"

    Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:23:56 UTC | #867827

    Go to: Leading bishop hits out at Dawkins for reducing ‘faith into ignorance’

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Barry Pearson

    "And on the seventh day the Lord rested his chariot on a double yellow line".

    Cue the old jokes:

    What do God and Jesus drive?

    (Remember: Jesus was a car painter).

    God drove a Plymouth: "And He drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in His Fury."

    Moses liked British cars (or bikes?): "The roar of Moses' Triumph was heard throughout the hills." Joshua did likewise: "Joshua's Triumph was heard throughout the land."

    Jesus drove a Honda but didn't brag about it, because in his own words: "I did not speak of my own Accord."

    Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:32:02 UTC | #866904

    Go to: ‘Children are indoctrinated. I want to open their minds'

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 3 by mjs31 :

    One reason [the United States is] such a religious culture is precisely because of the separation of Church and State, meaning that religion has become a free enterprise, big business, employing all the tricks of advertising.

    I think this is the worst argument I've ever heard Dawkins make.

    What is wrong with it? I wrote a letter to my MP about removing religious bias.

    The reply included the statement "It is also interesting that in the United States, where there is a strict separation of the secular state system from religious education, church attendance and levels of faith and Christian commitment are actual [sic] higher. You should perhaps be careful what you wish for!"

    Perhaps this view is wrong, but it isn't only Richard that holds it. So what is wrong with it?

    Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:25:26 UTC | #866901

    Go to: Clergy told to take on the 'new atheists'

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 6 by Steve Zara :

    A successful fightback is unlikely. The reason is simple. Their position is based on lies, whereas the position of Richard and others is based on truth, truth which is now accepted by an increasing majority of people in the UK.

    There is a reason behind that reason. Religions really have 2 processes (or sets of techniques):

    1. There is a process sufficient to convert a child, although typically not an aware adult, to believe. It probably works best for the under 10s.

    2. There is a process (or set of them) to periodically reinforce belief "1". Daily prayers, weekly services, annual holidays, etc.

    What they don't have are processes sufficient to convert a typical adult. They need to start with bums on school seats, then ensure that even after school society continues the reinforcement.

    That is where your point comes into play: "2" is not being sustained. The process of secularisation is hard to reverse when there aren't sufficient people to continue periodic reinforcement. I don't actually think it even needs people like Richard anymore - a population of apatheists would also fail to continue the reinforcement.

    I suspect they are deluded about the nature of the problem. Secularistion was in progress last century. It has been estimated that the degree of religiosity was halving every 2 generations: Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory; Steve Bruce

    Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:11:04 UTC | #866891

    Go to: Clergy told to take on the 'new atheists'

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Barry Pearson


    Religions are hobbies

    They should have no more, and no fewer, privileges than other hobbies. And they don't like that!

    Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:53:30 UTC | #866882

    Go to: Evolution threatens Christianity

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 126 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 120 by Paula Kirby :

    I see my piece has been commented on - approvingly - by the * Discovery Institute*, no less!

    And by me! But with a rather different perspective:

    The war for enlightenment

    Fri, 26 Aug 2011 18:12:04 UTC | #864505

    Go to: 20 Christian Academics Speaking About God

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by Barry Pearson

    Comment 44 by quarecuss :

    Quite painful watching Alistair McGrath squirm.

    I attended a talk by Alistair McGrath called "Twilight of Atheism" years ago. I assume it was part of a book tour. (It is the only time I've attended an event with "atheism" in the title!)

    I thought he might be identifying evidence for the existence of gods, which would surely lead to some sort of twilight. But it was "simply" about his opinion that atheism was in decline and had little to offer. In fact, it was really about his wishful-thinking.

    I don't think he is capable of consistent coherent rational thought on this topic, and his statements match his thoughts. I suspect he is sometimes embarrassed when he hears what he is saying. (I think I'm describing most or all of the 20 speakers! They mostly appear to be aware that they don't make sense. So why don't they do something about it?)

    Thu, 11 Aug 2011 07:35:46 UTC | #859975

    Go to: 20 Christian Academics Speaking About God

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Barry Pearson

    The universe we experience daily is compatible with a universe operated solely by unintelligent forces and processes. Each of those people appears to be fully aware of that.

    Yet, instead of making the obvious default assumption, (at least until contrary evidence becomes available), each of them tries to explain why a universe operated by a loving god would appear exactly like an unintelligent universe.

    It looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, so it must be an elephant pretending to be a duck.

    Suddenly, it all makes sense. Thank you, 20 speakers, for clarifying things so magnificently. I now realise how important it is to have people investigate and explain how a loving-god universe should look exactly like an unintelligent universe. Isn't it great to be alive at this time when human intellectual endeavor has reached such a peak?

    Wed, 10 Aug 2011 21:21:07 UTC | #859859

    Go to: Assisted dying and ‘morality’

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Barry Pearson

    I am a paid-up member of "Dignity in Dying", so I obviously favour the availability of assisted dying / assisted suicide. According to a survey, over 80% of people in the UK (over 70% of religious people and over 90% of non-religious people) favour a change to the law to permit assisted dying.

    "Care not killing" is an organisation that lobbies to prevent any change to the law. Their membership are: Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain & Ireland, British Council of Disabled People, Christian Medical Fellowship, The Church of England, RADAR (The Disability Network)

    The interesting members are the disability groups. Disabled people often oppose assisted dying. (Remember the discussion that followed Terry Pratchett’s valuable programme on the BBC: Debbie Purdy was in favour of change, while another disabled person was opposed).

    Their logic appears strange: they claim it devalues the life of disabled people, and some see it as a slippery slope. In fact, it is perhaps the one case in UK law where it is illegal to help a disabled person to achieve what an able person could achieve; normally the law expects that disabled people are helped to achieve what able people can achieve!

    But currently the law says that, (in spite of suicide being legal for the last 50 years), except where you "do it yourself", the state controls your life. It isn't yours to fully control. But permitting assisted dying says "it is up to the person living the life to determine its value, not anyone else". After all, in effect, not wanting assisted dying can and typically should be interpreted by default as "I want to live". This doesn't devalue life; it just says who is the arbiter of the value of life: the person living it.

    Debbie Purdy is a hero in this discussion. She wants to have the option for the future; then she can stop worrying, and live life as well as possible now. The option in future gives peace of mind now. It can typically delay death, because it doesn't have to be done while the person is capable of "do it yourself". Most people with the option never take it up.

    At the moment, people go to Dignitas to die, and then relatives are questioned. After the death! Wouldn't it be better to use UK laws, and have the appropriate checks done before death?

    Mon, 01 Aug 2011 12:09:39 UTC | #856533

    Go to: A Current Scientific Thought Repository

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Barry Pearson

    A useful source is Talk Origins.

    Mon, 11 Jul 2011 14:16:30 UTC | #848590

    Go to: Islam and "Islamophobia" - a little manifesto

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Barry Pearson

    The examples above of the attitude of Islam towards women suggests one way to criticise Islam while hopefully avoiding a spurious charge of racism (etc) towards Muslims.

    After all, criticising Sura 4:34 (wife-beating) doesn't logically imply hatred or fear of all Muslims! It should lead to sympathy towards half the Muslims on the planet, Muslim women. It is worth emphasising this while criticising this aspect of Islam.

    In fact, I believe most of the victims of Islam are Muslims. I suggest that most Muslims are victims of Islam, for example women, or people in countries where Islam is inhibiting R&D to the disadvantage of the inhabitants of those countries.

    Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:34:14 UTC | #845174

    Go to: Lesley Hazleton on Islam and "New" Atheists

    Barry Pearson's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Barry Pearson

    Gosh! What highly selective reading of the Koran!

    Unlike ZR1, I have read an English translation of the Koran in full. I have also read specific passages many times in other translations. (I have 5 different translations on my PC and 2 on my Kindle). For contentious passages, I have sometimes used other translations (modern Arabic, Indonesian, Spanish, German, French, etc) and then either used my basic French or used Google translator to end up with English.

    Some of the Koran could be considered to be hate-literature, especially towards Jews and "pagans". But its attitude towards women is perhaps the best known unenlightened topic in the Koran.

    The passage validating (perhaps even advocating) beating your wife (Sura 4:34) still reads the same whatever route is used to get it to something I can understand. Beat (or smite in Spanish). (Later analysis by scholars points out that this should use a light stick, not a heavy one, and the action shouldn't break bones. And scholars point out how good it is that the wife gets 2 chances to become respectful towards her husband before she is beaten - beating is stage 3). Other parts of Sura 4 relegate women to be 2nd class people, with half the inheritance of brothers, etc.

    Unlike the Bible, (Christianity is a religion about Jesus, not a religion taught by Jesus), the Koran was intended to be the final eternal word of Allah via the last prophet. It is supposed to be taken seriously, and indeed if you don't take it seriously you are not strictly a Muslim. It should be criticised accordingly. (Some of the mysterious nature of the Koran is caused by the fact that it is clearly incomplete, presumably because parts were lost before it was collected together years after Muhammad died).

    Tue, 28 Jun 2011 16:55:30 UTC | #843937