In a public interview for Al Jazeera TV, Mehdi Hasan, political director of The Huffington Post UK, talked with Professor Richard Dawkins about religion and non-belief.
A segment of the interview produced some controversy. Dawkins was surprised and visibly baffled by Hasan’s admission that he believed that Mohammed flew to Heaven on a winged Horse. Literally, not as a metaphor. To Dawkins, who treasures hard truth over pleasant fiction, this is incongruous with the idea of being a rational journalist. He voiced that opinion, and on a related incident a few month later, even tweeted it. That kicked off the controversy
For example, The Guardian’s Andrew Brown took issue with Dawkin’s tweet, calling him an ill accomplished clown and bigot.
But why do so many people react harshly to Dawkin’s comment?
Because he is spot-on.
Many people feel caught in their own intellectual dishonesty, and are afraid that they, too, might become exposed to ridicule. Brown, for example, makes money writing religious books. He has a lot to lose if he admitted that he wasn’t believing stupid things.
A believes in fairies. B believes in winged horses. Criticize A and you’re rational. Criticize B and you’re a bigoted racist Islamophobe.
Indeed. If your personal brand of insanity has the majority, it’s safe to label the sane minority ‘bigots’.
An article in Pakistan Today reports that
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) concluded their 192nd meeting on Thursday with the ruling that women are un-Islamic and that their mere existence contradicted Sharia and the will of Allah. As the meeting concluded CII Chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani noted that women by existing defied the laws of nature, and to protect Islam and the Sharia women should be forced to stop existing as soon as possible.
Luckily this is satire – unfortunately only few people clued in to that fact. The problem is not that too few people understand satire. The real problem is that too many people know that Islamists really think that way. The article hits too close to truth for comfort.
Martin Luther, reverend über-father of all Protestants had a sharp wit, and an even sharper pen. He knew that for the church to rule supreme, there was but one enemy.
He wrote 1546 in his last sermon in Wittenberg:
Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but–more frequently than not–struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.
Up to here, every atheist in the world nod in agreement. Except for his conclusion:
Reason […] is the devil’s greatest whore.
It’s obvious that Luther wanted – needed – people to remain stupid in order to fill churches.
With supporters like these, faith doesn’t need enemies.