A New History Undermines Atheists’ Pretense of Rationality

Nov. 12 2019

Today’s atheists and agnostics, like many of their precursors, usually claim that their unbelief flows from logic and science, whereas the religious worldview is based on blind or benighted faith. Arguments in favor of religion, they assert, are merely cases of subordinating reason to emotion. In Unbelievers, a history of atheism that focuses on Europe around the time of the Reformation, Alec Ryrie paints a very different picture. Nick Spencer writes in his review:

In reality, as Alec Ryrie shows in this short but beautifully crafted history of early doubt, unbelief was (and is) chosen for “instinctive, inarticulate, and intuitive” reasons just as much as is belief. [He argues] persuasively that unbelief was as much, if not more, about what people felt as about what they thought: in particular, a confluence of moral outrage and personal anxiety.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, termed an “age of suspicion” rather than of faith, Ryrie describes medieval skeptics as being like contemporary flat-earthers. They had no evidence to support their position, but practiced “a stubborn refusal to be hoodwinked by the intellectual consensus of their age.” . . . It wasn’t that philosophical ideas were altogether irrelevant. . . . It was that such thinking tacked with the wind, rather than made it. . . . As Ryrie writes: “Intellectuals and philosophers may think they make the weather, but they are more often driven by it.”

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Read more at Spectator

More about: Atheism, Reason, Religion

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia