This video was taken in the Syrian city of Raqqa – the Daesh (ISIS) capital and stronghold in Syria. It portrays the life for ordinary women under the tyranny of these Islamic terrorists.
Fortunately, this situation may soon be reversed. Armed forces of Syria and its allies are currently massing to retake the historic city of Palmyra.
The ruins at Palmyra are shown here in 2009. Source: PETER RAYNER/AXIOM/ZUMA
Battles are also occurring around Deir ez-Zur. The capture of these cities well enable liberation of Raqqa.
In my debates with some theists over the nature of human morality I am sometimes accused of being utopian. Of only seeing a good side to human nature. Ignoring the history of violence and persecution.
Maybe it’s just a matter of my critics finding a balanced view of human nature impossible. However, I reject their criticism because I have in fact written about the human nature and intuitions, such as the “then vs us” intuition, which have motivated negative examples of human activity.
Still, these critiques have put me in admirable company – Steven Pinker has received similar unwarranted criticism. Particularly in the publicity surrounding his new book: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
I have a copy and look forward to reading it. His earlier books are impressive and this has certainly had excellent reviews.
Pinker argues, and provides evidence for his argument, that human violence has declined. He is not claiming this trend is inevitable or that it cannot be reversed. Just that it is a fact of recent history.
The Guardian recently published an interview with Pinker about his findings. You can read it at Steven Pinker: fighting talk from the prophet of peace. This included a table from the book that impressed me. it was a list of the 21 worst atrocities (conflicts or tyrannies) in human history. Pinker recalibrated these, to express the number of victims in terms of an equivalent 20th Century population.
I have listed the data below in order of the recalibrated death tolls. It certainly provides some food for thought. (And, incidentally put’s paid to the simplistic ideologies which blame all wars and atrocities on either religion or atheism).
||Death toll (20C equivalent)**
||An Lushan revolt
||Middle East slave trade
||Fall of the Ming dynasty
||Fall of Rome
||Annihilation of the American Indians
||Atlantic slave trade
||Second world war
||Mao Zedong (mostly government-caused famine)
||British India (mostly preventable famine)
||Thirty years’ war
||Russia’s “time of troubles”
||First world war
||French wars of religion
||Congo Free State
||Russian civil war
||Chinese civil war
*Median/mode of figures cited in encyclopaedias or histories. Includes battlefield and civilian deaths
**Deaths were calculated against global population at time, then scaled up to mid-20th century level
One of the figures from Pinker’s new book also illustrates his main point. This is his Figure 5.3: 100 worst wars and atrocities in human history.
Perhaps we are getting better?
Posted in atheism, belief, philosophy, politics, religion, SciBlogs, science, Science and Society
Tagged American Native Indians. slavery, Congo Free State, History, India, Mao Zedong, Middle East, Pinker, SciBlogs, Steven Pinker, Timur
A remarkably similar title to Darwin's classic
These sometimes get linked because they both have their deniers. I am ignoring those silly people who actually blame the holocaust on Darwin. Here I want to compare them as phenomena supported by immense amounts of converging evidence.
In “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution”, Richard Dawkins compared the denial of evolution to the denial of the history of the Roman civilisation. There is good evidence for both and yet some people seem to think it is OK to deny evolutionary science while accepting the existence of the Roman civilisation.
Same with the Holocaust. As Dawkins pointed out the evidence for evolution is as good as, if not better, than that for the holocaust. But there are still people who accept the Holocaust as a fact while denying evolution. ( actually I did come across someone the other day who disagreed with Dawkins because while he found the evidence for evolution convincing nhe denied the evidence for the Holocaust. Almost a mirror image).
Posted in creationism, Dawkins, diversity, evolution, intelligent design, New Zealand, religion, SciBlogs, science, Science and Society
Tagged evolution, History, holocaust, Holocaust denial
These videos are very interesting. They are the Darwin Special edition of Newsnight Review on BBC 2. It discusses the cultural and philosophical legacy of the seminal work On the Origin of Species.
But they have gone wider than science to include the arts, film, theatre and literature. The panel inclusive scientist Richard Dawkins, Man Booker prize-winning author Margaret Atwood, Reverend Richard Coles, and poet and descendant of Charles Darwin Ruth Padel.
Richard Dawkins explains his need to make the case for Darwinian theories in his new book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Margaret Atwood talks about on her new novel The Year of the Flood which meshes together evolutionary and religious ideas about the foundations of the natural world. And Ruth Padel describes some of the family stories of Charles Darwin and his wife.
Posted in creationism, Darwin, Dawkins, diversity, evolution, intelligent design, religion, science, tradition
Tagged biology, Charles Darwin, History, Margaret Atwood, Natural History Museum, Origin of Species, Richard Dawkins, Ruth Padel