Thursday, July 31, 2014

Atheists, Israel, and ID

David Klinghoffer at Evolution News and Views has a fine column praising, of all people, militant Darwinian atheist Sam Harris. Harris has written an essay titled "Why I Don't Condemn Israel," a column he felt constrained to write because so many of his fellow materialist atheists are criticizing him for supporting Israel's campaign to defeat Hamas.

Setting aside Harris' hostility to orthodox religious beliefs his column is an excellent read for those who find themselves ambivalent on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Klinghoffer interestingly ties Harris' column to the theme to which ENV is committed which is Intelligent Design. Both posts are very much worth reading.

In the course of his ENV piece Klinghoffer makes an interesting and important point:
If Israel today put down its arms, the country's Palestinian Muslim neighbors who support Hamas would immediately seek to commit genocide against Israel's Jewish citizens. So says the Hamas charter. If the Palestinians put down their arms, Israel would immediately seek to do business with them, forming a relationship like America has with Canada and Mexico.

Turn your neighbors into corpses or turn them into trading partners. That's the yawning moral difference between the ultimate goals of Hamas and the ultimate hopes of Israel.

The interesting thing about this is that almost everyone knows it to be true and yet some still seek to convince us that there's some moral equivalence between the two sides.

In further discussing the hostility of atheists like Harris to Christianity and the hostility of a number of atheistic biologists toward Israel Klinghoffer poses a thought experiment:
You're transported back in time to Poland seventy years ago where you are a Jew on the run from the Nazis. In a Warsaw street, two doors lie ahead of you. You have just enough time to knock on one, seeking aid, as the scuff of pursuing boots draws closer. One door belongs to a Catholic priest or nun. The other to a biologist -- better yet, an atheist evolutionary biologist. On whose door do you knock?

You've got 5 seconds to decide. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Go.

After noting the bizarre indecision among Darwinian atheist bloggers like P.Z. Myers who seem to be confused as to whether they should sympathize with a Muslim terrorist movement devoted to murdering every man, woman and child in Israel, he restates the experiment:

Say you're a Jew today in a European city, on the run from an anti-Semitic mob that is marching to support Hamas. Two doors lie ahead of you. Seeking safety, you can knock on one and only one. One belongs to a biologist inclined to doubt Darwinism in favor of intelligent design. The other to a New Atheist acolyte and Darwin supremacist.

Which door do you choose? You have 5 seconds to decide. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Go.
Read the whole thing, but if you can only read one, read Harris'. His antipathy for Christianity is off-putting, but his defense of Israel in the current conflict is very compelling.