Writing for New Humanist, Brian Whitaker writes about the rise of atheism in the Arab world. The differences between atheism in Christian societies and Arab ones include political considerations, how science is viewed, and how scripture is interpreted.
While there’s little doubt that an Islamic reformation would benefit the Middle East socially and politically, atheists cannot advocate this without sacrificing their principles. Progressive versions of Islam generally view the Qur’an in its historical context, arguing that rules which applied in the time of the Prophet can be reinterpreted today in the light of changing circumstances — but that involves accepting the Qur’an as the supreme scriptural authority.
The status of the Qur’an is a particularly important issue for both followers and opponents of Islam. Whereas Christians usually consider the Bible as divinely inspired but written by humans, the Qur’an is claimed to be the actual words of God, as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel (Jibril in Arabic).
Interviewed by Gay Byrne for a program called The Meaning of Life, Stephen Fry shared what he would say to God if Fry met him at the gates of heaven.
Bryne: Suppose it’s all true, and you walk up to the pearly gates, and are confronted by God. What will Stephen Fry say to him, her, or it?
Fry: I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I would say.
Byrne: And you think you are going to get in, like that?
Fry: But I wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms. They are wrong.
A quote attributed to Ricky Gervais about his atheism.
It annoys me that the burden of proof is on us. It should be: you came up with the idea. Why do you believe it?
Gary Wolf talks to three prominent atheists (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett) and concludes that “the irony of the New Atheism — this prophetic attack on prophecy, this extremism in opposition to extremism — is too much for me”.
Interview with writer Sam Harris on “why religion must end”. “People have morally identified with a subset of humanity rather than with humanity as a whole.”
Sociology study indicates that atheists are the least trusted group of people in America. “Researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, homosexuals and other groups as ‘sharing their vision of American society.’ Americans are also least willing to let their children marry atheists.” Also, “those surveyed tended to view people who don’t believe in a god as the ‘ultimate self-interested actor who doesn’t care about anyone but themselves.’” (via dg)