Pharyngula

Last day of the Dublin conference

Since I’m lazy and occupied, I’ll just link to Rorshach’s account of the last day of the event.

I’ll just say…Maryam Namazie was awesome. I am so glad she was the last speaker of the weekend, because if she’d gone first, the rest of us would have had to sit quietly and simply refer everyone to her. She made a fierce, impassioned, reasoned criticism of Islamism and it’s degradation of humanity — she was wonderfully clear and humane.

I also got into a brief argument with Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, the Muslim creationist. Picture the unholy progeny of a union between Ken Ham and William Lane Craig, brought up in a Muslim household, and you’ve got this guy: he simultaneously pushes a reactionary creationism that is as stupid and shallow as the worst of the Biblical literalists, and he sprinkles it all with longwinded philosophical bafflegab every time he gets confronted with a challenge. His main theme (besides engaging in a remarkably evasive gish gallop) was a rejection of empiricism — every time I asked him for evidence…bleeargh, philosophical boilerplate vomited all over the place.

And of course, in complete contradiction of his emphasis on why my empirical evidence was irrelevant, he kept insisting that he had evidence from the precision and accuracy of the Quran that Mohammed (pbuh) must have had a divine revelation to know all these amazing scientific phenomena, like detailed knowledge of embryology, which was bunk. I tried to explain that the ‘science’ in the Quran was nothing but warmed over rehashes of dimly understood Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Galen, and Tzortzis and his claque took an astonishing tack to address that: they repeatedly and with great hyperbole emphasized that Mohammed was abysmally ignorant and entirely isolated from the entirety of Western culture, having no encounters via trade or with doctors who might have given him hints of the common understanding of science of the time.

They put me in the uncomfortable position of having to argue that the Arabian culture of Mohammed’s time could not possibly be as troglodytic and benighted as they wanted it to be. There was no point, of course: they’d already declared that evidence didn’t matter.