Re: [asa] Worthy of response?

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Aug 31 2007 - 12:05:43 EDT

> It is an old and tired argument Harris makes, and has been made better by
> others.

Actually, Harris makes numerous rotten arguments; the above excerpt is
but one of them. Perhaps even more egregious is the claim that the
recent incidents of attempted terrorism by a few Muslim doctors is
what Islamic science really is about, and there is scientific
dishonesty is his berating Catholicism for opposing condom use against
AIDS while failing to note that the chastity that it advocates would
be even more effective. (Condoms are less than 100% effective in
preventing transmission of sexually transmitted disease, whereas not
having sex with someone who is infected is 100% effective. Of course,
neither addresses non-sexual transmission. One can legitimately argue
about the real-world success rate of implementation of either method,
the possibilities of a combined approach, what to do in cases where
one spouse has been infected, etc.-the error is in misrepresenting the
Catholic position as purely obstructionist.) His comments on stem
cell research are the standard lies that it's a guarenteed panacea
opposed only by religious numbskulls, when in reality there are only
certain conditions likely to benefit, the possibility of undesirable
side effects, and the real ethical question of the moral standing of
the embryos destroyed in the process.

The letter was ostensibly responding to an extended letter by a Muslim
seeking to present a call for a revival of science in the Muslim
world. He contrasted the academic situation several centuries ago
with the present. There was another letter in the same number of
Nature as Harris' that provided legitimate critique of some of the
historical premises in the Muslim letter (particularly the attempt to
lay most of the blame for the change on colonialism). The second
letter provides clear contrast with Harris' ranting.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Fri Aug 31 12:06:32 2007

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