Here’s a nice video where Lisa Bu describes the importance of books in her development.
She talks about her cross-cultural experience and how books have helped here understand both her original culture and her new culture.
Her talk reminded me of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s experience. She describes in her book Infidel how growing up in Somalia she managed to read some English books. Although these were basically crappy novels they did open her mind to another culture.
Even within a country and a culture books can do a lot to open children’s minds up to the possibilities of their future life. It is really sad that many homes do little to provide reading material for children. But even disadvantaged children can get access to books through their schools, library and helpful adults outside the family.
Books are important for kids.
Lisa Bu: How books can open your mind | Video on TED.com.
Well, that’s how someone described them.
But I have generally found the discussions between Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins stimulating. I first commented on these almost 5 years ago (see Lawrence Krauss – Richard Dawkins discussion).
They have had a number of discussions recently, in a range of countries. Someone has now put these together in a single movie. Here’s the movie trailer. Looks interesting
THE UNBELIEVERS (2013) – Official Movie Trailer
Thanks to: Dawkins & Krauss making kick-ass new atheism doc
By the way, the movie includes discussions with others too. here’s a description from the YouTube site:
‘The Unbelievers’ follows renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss across the globe as they speak publicly about the importance of science and reason in the modern world – encouraging others to cast off antiquated religious and politically motivated approaches toward important current issues.
The film includes interviews with celebrities and other influential people who support the work of these controversial speakers, including:
Posted in atheism, belief, creationism, Darwin, Dawkins, religion, SciBlogs, science, Science and Society
Tagged Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, Lawrence Krauss, Lawrence M. Krauss, Paul Provenza, Richard Dawkins, SciBlogs, Unbelievers
I wasn’t going to write a eulogy to Christopher Hitchens, and I still won’t. After all there are some excellent eulogies on the internet by far better writers than me. But I am intrigued at the world-wide reaction to his death. So, in instead of a respectful eulogy here’s my thoughts on those reactions.
Hitchens’ death was expected. However, when it came I certainly experienced a shock. A strong feeling of disappointment and loss. And I think that must have been a common reaction judging from the widespread and immediate reactions on social networking sites.
There seem to be four common reactions to that sad news:
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, book review, Christianity, Dawkins, diversity, god, philosophy, politics, religion, SciBlogs, science, Science and Society
Tagged 2003 invasion of Iraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christopher Hitchens, hypocrisy, Missionary Position, Mother Teresa, Salman Rushdie, SciBlogs
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, Science and Society, Uncategorized
Tagged 2010 Global Atheist Convention, atheism, Atheist Alliance International, Australia, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dan Barker, Dawkins, Dennett, Eugenie Scott, Hitchens, Krauss, Melbourne, Peter Singer, PZ Myers, Sam Harris
Book Review: Against All Gods: What’s Right and Wrong About the New Atheism by Phillip Johnson and John Mark Reynolds
Price: US$10.20; NZ$29.97
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Intervarsity Press (May 2, 2010)
This book’s subtitle intrigued me – “What’s right and wrong about the new atheism.” Has Phillip Johnson, the “Godfather” of “intelligent design” and harsh critic of evolutionary science and “scientific materialism” got something positive to say about “new atheism?” Does he think people like his arch-enemy Richard Dawkins have something right?
Johnson claims in the book’s introduction: “our intention is not to attack the atheists but to explore the case they are making.” And: “the arguments for atheism should be taken seriously and considered both respectfully and critically.”
Now that would be a change, wouldn’t it? Many religious authors jumped on the bandwagon of analysing and criticising “new atheism’ after publication of the best-selling books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger and Ayaan Hirsi Ali in recent years. But their bias, personal attacks, straw clutching and straw mannery make most of them useless. Perhaps Phillip Johnson will break ranks and honestly elaborate on his philosophical differences with science and atheism instead? Perhaps he will admit the popularity of these books may be because they have identified some real problems?
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, book review, Christianity, creationism, diversity, faith, god, intelligent design, philosophy, religion
Tagged Ayaan Hirsi Ali, book review, Daniel Dennett, intelligent design, new atheism, Phillip E. Johnson, Religion and Spirituality, Richard Dawkins, Wedge strategy
Today is the 5th anniversary of the death of Theo van Gogh. He was a Dutch film director who worked with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the film Submission.
The short film investigates violence against women in some Muslim societies. The script was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who was involved in social work amongst abused Muslim women in Europe.
After the film’s screening van Gogh and Hirsi Ali received death threats. On November 2, 2004, Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri shot him eight times, cut his throat, nearly decapitating him, and stabbed him in the chest. A five-page note threatening Western governments, Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali was attached to Van Gogh’s chest with a knife.
Since that time Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been under constant guard, and moved to the USA for some time. Bouyeri is currently serving a life sentence.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote the book Infidel – I can highly recommend it. Brought up a Muslim she is now an atheist. Currently she is writing a fictional book where Mohamed is confronted by some well known Western enlightenment intellectuals. Should be good.
See also: Submission video
Posted in atheism, belief, human rights, Islam, religion, supernatural, superstition
Tagged assasination, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Film director, Infidel, Islam, Mohammed Bouyeri, Muslim, terrorism, Theo Van Gogh, United States
Book Review: The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason by Victor Stenger
Paperback: 282 pages
Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 22, 2009)
This book is timely. The “New Atheism” hit our awareness in the mid-part of the decade when Sam Harris’s book “The End of Faith” became a best-seller. This was quickly followed by more best-sellers from the authors Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Victor Stenger (the author of this book). And then there was the response. Many books have been written, mostly be theists, attacking the “New Atheists.” Although none of the later was a best-seller they did suggest that a new stage in the religion-atheism debate was underway.
Stenger’s new book is also useful because it helps put this whole debate in context. He summarises that nature of the “New Atheism movement” (although it is hardly a movement as there was no coordination in publishing these books). He briefly summarises the arguments of the “New Atheism” and the arguments employed by those attacking “New Atheism.” Then he shows the fallacies in the arguments employed by the “New Christians.” In some cases he reveals the way many of the “New Atheist” positions have been distorted and misrepresented. In others he deals with the substance of these arguments – particularly those dealing with scientific issues.
As an Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Stenger is an ideal person to write on this subject
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, Bible, book review, creationism, Darwin, Dawkins, Dennett, evolution, faith, god, Hitchens, intelligent design, religion, Science and Society, supernatural, superstition
Tagged atheism, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, End of Faith, religion, Religion and Spirituality, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris
Posted in atheism, belief, faith, god, interfaith, Islam, Jewish, religion, slavery, supernatural, superstition, terrorism, tradition
Tagged American Jewish Council, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, video
Scientific research is a very creative and personally satisfying process. However, researchers often find that the inevitable specialisation and concentration on limited aspects of reality can lead to a lack of understanding and appreciation of discoveries in other fields.
Since retirement I’ve appreciated the opportunity to read more widely. I find myself returning to subjects I haven’t considered for decades, or have neglected. I’m learning about the amazing discoveries humanity has made (behind my back) in the meantime.
I was encouraged to check out, and summarise, what I have been reading by the reading lists blogged by Damian and others. The number of books I have got through (in four years) shocked me – perhaps I’m a bit obsessive, or maybe its just the freedom retirement has given me.
I can recommend most books on the list – but definitely not every one (guess which).
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, Behe, belief, book review, Christianity, creationism, culture, Darwin, Dawkins, Dennett, diversity, evolution, faith, god, Harris, intelligent design, Krauss, religion, science, Shermer
Tagged Atkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Barbara Forrest, Begley, Behe, Blakeslee, Books, Brian Greene, Brockman, Brookmyre, Carrol, Dacey, Doidge, Ellerbe, Goleman, Goodenough, Gould, Gross, Hitchens, Jared Diamond, Kandel, Lawrence Wright, Matt Ridley, Mayr, Miller, Norris, Ofray, Pascal Boyer, Peter Ward, Petto, reading list, Rees, retirement, Ridley, Sacks, Sagan, Smolin, Sobel, Stenger, Tyson, Wallace, Wilson, Wolpert, Zimmer
One of the most important human rights is the freedom of expression. Not just because this is vital to human creativity. But because it is the only way we have of protecting our other rights – by identifying and exposing violations of human rights.
It is no accident that freedom of expression is one of the first things restricted by oppressive regimes – and even democratic governments when their leaders are criticised.
This is why the current clamour to limit the freedom of expression in the interests of “religious tolerance,” “multiculturalism” and “respect” is so insidious.
It’s not a matter of balancing the creative and artistic rights of Danish cartoonists, authors like Salmon Rushdie or Dutch film makers against the need for religious tolerance and respect. It’s a matter of sacrificing the human rights of women, gays and the non-religious which are regularly violated in the name of religion.
Requiring us to ignore persecution of fellow humans so that we don’t offend somebody’s religious feelings.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, Christianity, human rights, interfaith, Islam, religion
Tagged Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Fitna, Geert Wilders, Salmon Rushdie, Submission, Theo Van Gogh