I did a chat to flog my book and my thesis (God is a con job) to the BC Humanists. I think It went fairly well. It seemed to be reasonably well received. I fear I did not manage my time as well as I could, nor did I get to closing arguments in a clearer sort of way. But that is normal post-talk regrets.
I was asked one question that, at first, I did not understand. Basically, it was “What do you think of people who call others ‘Islamaphobes’.”
First, a phobia is an irrational fear of something. If a fear is rational, it is not a phobia. If someone has a real phobia, they should see a shrink.
In my book, I discuss just how many Muslims could be called Islamists. It is a lot. And religious fundamentalists (aka: nut-bars) of every stripe are well known to do extreme things. The number of terrorist attacks in the last two decades is certainly large enough to cause concern for any sane person.
Second, another question that needs to be answered is how bad the risk really is. Once we know that there is a risk, we should also evaluate how that risk relates to other risks we take on every day. We do not lose a lot of sleep over fundamentalist Christians attacking civilians. They tend to attack single targets, like abortion doctors. But Islamists are indiscriminant and attack civilians as a matter of course.
If you meet an Islamist, you definitely have a reason to be concerned, and so the “Islamaphobe” label is wrong. In fact, I would go further and say that many Muslims and Muslim supporters use the phrase to simply shut up their critics. Don’t let them.
Muslims cannot cherry-pick their religion any more than Christians can. And yet most of them do. The Koran is not nice to infidels. If a Muslims rejects these aspects of Islam, then I suggest that: a) They are not true Muslims; and b) they can probably be trusted to not try to lop your head off over the smallest religious slight.
Another attendee asked me about the Unitarian church. Frankly, I do not get these guys. If you have a religion, then you are duty bound to spread the word (see The God Con for a discussion of this). Thus, I do not get how people who have religion would want to simply socialize with people of a different religious stripe. The “church” seems to want to have their cake and eat it too. The social aspects of the Unitarian church are laudable and should be provided by other state-sanctioned means such as community centers and such.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.