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cushioncrawler
11-17-2012, 08:25 PM
A PRAYER FOR OUR DAUGHTERS: ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS AND HUMANS

Outspoken atheists are often criticised for being too brash, or too blunt in their arguments. The charge that atheists, such as the late, remarkably eloquent Christopher Hitchens or the effervescently vigorous Richard Dawkins, are as fundamental as their religious counterparts is often heard and is as ridiculous a claim as any other made by the more reactionary members of society. Firstly, the burden of proof is not on the non-believers: demanding evidence of gods and demons and reacting incredulously when nothing is given is not being a fundamentalist; it is simply being rational. Atheists are open to have their minds being changed, it is just that there is no evidence presented by the religious to consider.

Secondly, the Enlightenment has already happened. For the uninitiated, this period in history, commencing in the 18th century, was primarily designed to elevate science and reason over religious superstition and dogmatic belief in Western societies. About three hundred years later, we still nod along when people tell us about healing energies, aligning star signs, crystal auras and other pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo. These people are either merely self-deluding, and thus robbing themselves of the beauty of reality itself, or are at worst charlatans, exploiting gullible people’s minds and wallets.

The topic of religion is one that has been discussed and debated in immense detail, especially recently, and in my opinion, most spectacularly by the aforementioned intellectuals. However, the violence that is currently flaring across Israel and the Palestinian Territories has provoked me to highlight a point that Richard Dawkins made which at the time caused many people to raise an eyebrow, even some atheists.

Dawkins has opined that labelling a child with any sort of religion is a form of child abuse. Now, this seems to many people a little far fetched, but upon ruminating over it, I am willing to say that this outspoken remark is actually not going far enough.

The point is sound: labelling any child with anything before they are old enough to think for themselves is immoral. You wouldn’t call a child a Marxist child or a racist child just because their parents happen to be Marxists or racists. So why apply a religious label to them before they have had the chance to make up their own minds?

cushioncrawler
11-19-2012, 02:39 PM
By DALE MILLER
Published on Saturday 3 November 2012 01:09

RENOWNED atheist Professor Richard Dawkins received a surprise standing ovation in the traditionally Christian community of Stornoway last night, following a two-hour speech in which he said there was probably no God.

The 71-year-old described Islam as “one of the great evils of the world” in his lecture, The God Delusion, as part of a rare visit to the Western Isles.

The talk delivered on Lewis during the Hebrides Book Festival proved a major hit among the 220-strong crowd. There was a waiting list of 60 people for tickets, after the event sold out within 40 minutes.

Members of the audience cheered loudly as Prof Dawkins used the appearance to attack Islam, while stressing that the “vast majority of
Muslims” were not evil, only their religion was.

Prof Dawkins said: “We are terrified of being called ‘Islamophobic’. It is a disgrace a religion prescribes death for leaving it. The vast majority of Muslims would not dream of doing that, but they are taught it in their madrassas… and it only takes a minority to put that into practice. And, as 
we have seen, terrible things happen.”

A group of Christians from the Free Church handed out leaflets outside the book festival venue during the lecture “to give the other side”.

The Rev Iver Martin, minister at Stornoway Free Church – the biggest single church in the
Outer Hebrides – said before the meeting: “A boycott to me is counterproductive. It will achieve nothing.

“I would hope there will be no form of protest. It would send out the wrong type of message.”