“Those fanatical atheists”

Dan Gardner, who writes for the Ottawa Citizen, frames the atheism debate nicely in an article from last Saturday.

Those making this case [for atheism lately] have been dubbed the “new atheists.” They have also been called fanatics who are dogmatic, zealous and intolerant of other views — the mirror image of religious extremists. As one English university dean said in the Guardian, Richard Dawkins is “just as fundamentalist as the people setting off bombs in the Tube.”

Less Olympian thinkers have portrayed strident atheists as hacking away at the bonds of morality, which must inevitably lead to various forms of depravity ranging from the sexual to the genocidal.

Don’t you know Stalin was an atheist? That’s the way it goes. First you read Richard Dawkins. Then you have an abortion. Then you’re putting a fresh coat of paint on the Gulag.

This frames the debate in a pleasingly symmetrical way. Over on that side are the insane religious fanatics who fly jets into skyscrapers and march around with signs saying “God Hates Fags.” Over there are fanatical atheists. Between the two extremes are sensible moderates who take the Goldilocks approach to faith and reason.

He goes on to sum up the famous atheist Richard Dawkins’ message:

If you claim that something is true, I will examine the evidence which supports your claim; if you have no evidence, I will not accept that what you say is true and I will think you a foolish and gullible person for believing it so.

That’s it. That’s the whole, crazy, fanatical package.

Well worth a full read.


Legacy of Agent Orange

From Slate:

During the Vietnam War, millions of gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed across regions of the country to destroy forest cover used by guerillas. It contained the dangerous dioxin TCCD. On this day in 1984, a $180 million out-of-court settlement was announced in the Agent Orange class-action suit brought by Vietnam veterans, who argued that exposure to AO had caused various cancers, birth defects, and other chronic diseases. The settlement came to government benefits of about $1,500 a month until 1997. Yet many Vietnamese victims who also suffer greatly have received nothing from the United States since the end of the war. Magnum and Slate present images of Vietnam’s victims of Agent Orange.

View the photo gallery (contains disturbing – more accurately, sad and tragic – images).

To think that Iraqis will have to endure a similar legacy from the depleted uranium munitions, chemical weapons, destruction of medical facilities and all the associated environmental costs of war…it’s absolutely infuriating.

These are war crimes, plain and simple. And so the three step process for ending the war in Iraq ought to be:

  1. Withdraw
  2. Pay massive reparations
  3. Bring those responsible – Bush, Cheney, and all the others on down – to justice, which, since I oppose capital punishment even when it is well-deserved, means life imprisonment.

Even that would salve only a tiny portion of all this pain and suffering.

Life, politics, code and current events from a Canadian perspective.

Adrian Duyzer
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