June 02, 2008

Islamic Science Vs Jewish Science

The claim is often made that the world owes Islam, And Muslims, For many of the scientific innovations we take advantage of and that, Without Islam, We would still be in the dark ages regarding our understanding of the world around us.

I thought it would be interesting to have a comparitive look at Islamic science and to spice things up a bit i thought the comparitive look should involve Jews. So, In reality (a word not liked by the religious) exactly how "scientific" is Islam and what do we really owe them?

For our data set we will be using the number of Nobel prizes awarded. Nobel prizes are awarded for outstanding contributions in Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace, and Medicine.

Global Population

Muslims - 1,200,000,000 - 20% of worlds population.

Jewish - 14,000,000 - 0.02% of worlds population.

Nobel prize For Literature

1988 - Najib Mafooz

1910 - Paul Heyse
1927 - heri Bergson
1958 - Boris Pasternak
1966 - Shmuel Yusef Agnon
1966 - Nell Sachs
1976 - Saul Bellow
1978 - Isaac Bashevis Singer
1981 - Elias Canetti
1987 - Joseph Brodski
1991 - Nadine Gordimer World

Nobel Prize For Peace

1978 - Anwar Sadat
1990 - Elias James Corey
1994 - Yaser Arafat (seriously, He got a Nobel peace prize)
1999 - Ahmed zewai

1911 - Alfred fried
1911 - Tobias Michael Carel Asser
1968 - Rene Cassin
1973 - Henry Kissinger
1978 - Menachen begin
1986 - Elie Wiesel
1994 - Shimon Peres
1994 - Yitzhak Rabin

Nobel prize For Economics


1970 - Paul Anthony Samuelson
1971 - Simon Kuznets
1972 - Kenneth Joseph Arrow
1973 - Wassily Leontief
1975 - Leonid Kantorovich
1976 - Milton Friedman
1978 - Herbert A. Simon
1980 - Lawrence Robert Klein
1985 - Franco Modigliani
1987 - Robert M. Solow
1990 - Harry Markowitz
1990 - Merton Miller
1992 - Gary Becker
1993 - Rober Fogel
1994 - John Harsanyi
1994 - Reinhard Selten
1997 - Robert Merton
1997 - Myron Scholes
2001 - George Akerlof
2001 - Joseph Stiglitz
2002 - Daniel Kahneman
2005 - Robert Aumann

Nobel prize For Physics


1907 - Albert Abraham Michelson
1908 - Gabriel Lippmann
1921 - Albert Einstein
1922 - Niels Bohr
1925 - James Franck
1925 - Gustav Hertz
1943 - Gustav Stern
1944 - Isidor Issac Rabi
1945 - Wolfgang Pauli
1952 - Felix Bloch
1954 - Max Born
1958 - Igor Tamm
1958 - Il'ja Mikhailovich
1958 - Igor Yevgenyevich
1959 - Emilio Segre
1960 - Donald A. Glaser
1961 - Robert Hofstadter
1962 - Lev Davidovich Landau
1963 - Eugene P. Wigner
1965 - Richard Phillips Feynman
1965 - Julian Schwinger
1967 - Hans Albrecht Bethe
1969 - Murray Gell-Mann
1971 - Dennis Gabor
1972 - Leon N. Cooper
1973 - Brian David Josephson
1975 - Benjamin Mottleson
1976 - Burton Richter
1978 - Arno Allan Penzias
1978 - Peter L Kapitza
1979 - Stephen Weinberg
1979 - Sheldon Glashow
1988 - Leon Lederman
1988 - Melvin Schwartz
1988 - Jack Steinberger
1990 - Jerome Friedman
1992 - Georges Charpak
1995 - Martin Perl
1995 - Frederick Reines
1996 - David M. Lee
1996 - Douglas D. Osheroff
1997 - Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
2000 - Zhores I. Alferov
2003 - Vitaly Ginsburg
2003 - Alexei Abrikosov

Nobel Prize For Medicine

1960 - Peter Brian Medawar
1998 - Ferid Mourad

1908 - Elie Metchnikoff
1908 - Paul Erlich
1914 - Robert Barany
1922 - Otto Meyerhof
1930 - Karl Landsteiner
1931 - Otto Warburg
1936 - Otto Loewi
1944 - Joseph Erlanger
1944 - Herbert Spencer Gasser
1945 - Ernst Boris Chain
1946 - Hermann Joseph Muller
1950 - Tadeus Reichstein
1952 - Selman Abraham Waksman
1953 - Hans Krebs
1953 - Fritz Albert Lipmann
1958 - Joshua Lederberg
1959 - Arthur Kornberg
1964 - Konrad Bloch
1965 - Francois Jacob
1965 - Andre Lwoff
1967 - George Wald
1968 - Marshall W. Nirenberg
1969 - Salvador Luria
1970 - Julius Axelrod
1970 - Sir Bernard Katz
1972 - Gerald Maurice Edelman
1975 - David Baltimore
1975 - Howard Martin Temin
1976 - Baruch S. Blumberg
1977 - Rosalyn Sussman Yalow
1977 - Andrew V. Schally
1978 - Daniel Nathans
1980 - Baruj Benacerraf
1984 - Cesar Milstein
1985 - Michael Stuart Brown
1985 - Joseph L. Goldstein
1986 - Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]
1988 - Gertrude Elion
1989 - Harold Varmus
1991 - Erwin Neher
1991 - Bert Sakmann
1993 - Richard J. Roberts
1993 - Phillip Sharp
1994 - Alfred Gilman
1994 - Martin Rodbell
1995 - Edward B. Lewis
1997 - Stanley B. Prusiner
1998 - Robert F. Furchgott
2000 - Eric R. Kandel
2002 - Sydney Brenner
2002 - Robert H. Horvitz

Nobel prize For Chemistry

1999 - Ahmed Zewail

1905 - Adolph Von Baeyer
1906 - Henri Moissan
1910 - Otto Wallach
1915 - Richard Willstaetter
1918 - Fritz Haber
1943 - George Charles de Hevesy
1961 - Melvin Calvin
1962 - Max Ferdinand Perutz
1972 - William Howard Stein
1972 - C.B. Anfinsen
1977 - Ilya Prigogine
1979 - Herbert Charles Brown
1980 - Paul Berg
1980 - Walter Gilbert
1981 - Ronald Hoffmann
1982 - Aaron Klug
1985 - Herbert A. Hauptman
1985 - Jerome Karle
1986 - Dudley R. Herschbach
1988 - Robert Huber
1989 - Sidney Altman
1992 - Rudolph Marcus
1998 - Walter Kohn
2000 - Alan J. Heeger
2004 - Irwin Rose
2004 - Avram Hershko
2004 - Aaron Ciechanover

Total Nobel Przes

Muslim - 8

Jewish - 163

So even though there are nearly 100 times more Muslims than there are Jews, The Jews outweigh Islamic nobel prize winners by a factor of 20/1. so much for islam being the cornerstone of scientific understanding.


  1. Well apart from your obvious bias against Islam and your strange comparison of two peoples on the basis of religion, I think looking at science since 1905 does bias your strange comparison. I mean did the ancient Greeks or cavemen win nobel prizes no as the prize did not start until the late 1800's. I suggest you read with an open mind Islamic history and perhaps about the golden age of Islam before you rise islam up for ridicule. here is a starting point:
    I am not sure what your article was about but it seems prejudice abounds even in the supposed enlightened atheist.
    What you have shown is ignorance and stupidity is alive in all faiths at this time including yours.

  2. And what's the ratio of Jewish Nobel Prize Winners to Atheist Nobel Prize Winners?

  3. I don't know anonymous... Why don't you go find out and tell us.

    Warren, Firstly the Jewish people listed aren't necessarily of the Jewish faith (so you get no points there). It's a comparative look at what two different groups of people have given humanity, and as the Muslims like to bash Jews on an almost constant basis i thought it would be fitting to compare their contribution to that of the Jews.

  4. you mean given humanity since the late 1800's? So where is the basis of your comparison? So you are comparing anyone born jewish but not nescessarily religious to a group of religious people (presumably as they are muslim they are religious). Would it not have been better to compare arab to israeli or sunni to hasidic jew.
    But what are you trying to say? you hate muslims? or arabs, muslims, indonesians they're all the same aren't they? or you're a zionist? or just fighting muslims ignorant prejudice with your own ignorant prejudice.
    I am not sure muslims bash jews all of the time I think perhaps in the middle east they do and I think the Israeli's give as good as they get. I am still not sure what you were trying to say with this. Atheists wonder why they are blamed for Hitler.

  5. Warren have another go at attempting to read simple words written in plain English. The comparison of two groups was because there needs to be a reflection. it's no good trying to determine how well muslims do if we have nothing to compare it to. jews were chosen as the comparison group because muslims have a problem with them. The comparison was to show that, Contrary to what muslims tell us, They aren't particularly scientific.

    if you still don't understand, let me and i'll draw you a picture in thick red crayon.

  6. According to this site, some of the people in your list aren't muslim.

  7. Well no I am quite able to understand your misinterpretation of statistics so no need for thick crayons. Yes indeed you do need to compare it to another similar group. I was saying why have you chosen an ethnic group to compare them, not another religious group. You should have perhaps compared only to those jews that are religious otherwise your interpretation has no meaning. You may as well have compared it to the rest of the nobel prize winners of the world as it would make as much sense.
    Also Islam is credited with many things some even say the scientific method. So at some point Islam was a very enlightened body as apparently it isn't now from what you are trying to assert. Is this Islam's problem or just the followers of modern Islam's problem. maybe you could compare Muslims with Phoenicians I am not sure they have won any nobel prizes? So you could say Muslims have contributed to science more than the phoenicians. But wait that would be stupid as science did not start in the late 19th century. So it comes back to - what are you trying to say? maybe Islam is stupid but Jews aren't? Maybe you should consider muslims are people first and contributers to MODERN science second. Maybe you should look into the groups of people with the most prejudice I am sure Atheists would be up there if what you are saying is anything to go by.

  8. "I was saying why have you chosen an ethnic group to compare them, not another religious group."

    Well actually warren if you look at your first post you assumed i WAS comparing two religious groups, And criticised me for it. That was until it was pointed out that jews aren't a faith group, They are a race.

    "what are you trying to say? maybe Islam is stupid but Jews aren't?"

    Warren i'm getting tired of repeating myself. read what i'm saying, read it slowly and try to understand it.
    Contrary to what muslims tell us, They aren't particularly scientific, Understand now? Or are you going to ask the exact same question again?

  9. I beleive he is trying to say that muslims mean in terms of the history of the world, not since the 19th century. They were very scientific during their golden age, however, now they are not on the leading edge of science. I think you were misunderstanding what warren was saying, matt.

  10. Matt I get what your stupid post was TRYING to say muslims are not scientific. I said on the basis of religion in my first post as I didn't understand your spurious comparison either it is on the basis of religion or the basis of race either way you are treading over dodgy ground. In my first post I was giving you the benefit of the doubt but your subsequent posts confirmed your ignorance. However, to reiterate in plain English.
    follower of Islam - a religion
    Jew: a person belonging to an ethnic group (not necessarily religious)

    These are not a proper comparison. Either you compare arabs to jews or followers of Islam to followers of Judaism to get a proper comparison. To get to my point again the survey you have put up is ignorant and prejudicial. Just like the the Muslims who attack Jews.
    Your statistic is like which is the better swimmer cod or Amphibians it is not a proper comparison.
    To say muslims are not particularly scientific is one thing maybe they aren't but proving it by comparing a religion to a race of people is not scientific either.

  11. I hate to say it, but I do rather tend to agree with Warren on this one. [matt], the problem with your assertion is twofold. Firstly, you're assuming that Nobel Prize acquisition in the 20th century can be equated to scientific achievement by a group of people over more than ten centuries of existence. It's a moderately good measure by which to assess the contribution of Islamic scientists over the last hundred years or so, but even then has its flaws. Islam, however, has been around for a hell of a long time, and by comparison with the scientific progress being made in Europe in, say, the thirteenth century, contemporary Muslims were streets ahead.

    The second error, as has already been pointed out, lies in equating ethnicity with religion - as heathen dan points out, this is not only applicable to your Jewish examples.

    I'm sorry my first comment on your (generally excellent and entertaining) site has to be a criticism, and I like what you're trying to do, but your methodology may need a little more rigour.

  12. "you're assuming that Nobel Prize acquisition in the 20th century can be equated to scientific achievement by a group of people over more than ten centuries of existence."

    No i'm not, I'm saying the people who keep telling us how scientific they are, well, They aren't that scientific after all.

    "These are not a proper comparison. Either you compare arabs to Jews or followers of Islam to followers of Judaism to get a proper comparison."

    That's funny, Because in your first post, When you thought it WAS a comparison based on religion, it was a "strange" comparison. Now, when you find it it's not a comparison based on religion, you say it should be.

    Your need to disagree is letting you down. First you disagree with what you thought i had done, then when you fond out i actually done the opposite you disagree with that and claim i should be doing what you originally thought i was doing, Something which you disagreed with.

  13. Matt your last statement makes no sense whatsoever, Yes I did assume that your comparison was based on religion and I was saying that this was not a fair way of looking at Islam's achievements, by looking at them since the late 19th century, which it isn't. I didn't relise at the time you had biased your comparison by including non-religious Jews. I mean why else would someone of supposedly sound reasoning as you, compare two groups such as these? In order to compare two things they have to be comparable don't they? sorry my mistake I was assuming you had more than a tenuous grasp of statistics - I was giving you credit where obviously credit wasn't due. However, you went on to say that 'firstly the Jewish people aren't necessarily of the Jewish faith' so making your comparison even more ridiculous see above.
    It was a 'Strange' comparison because it pits two kinds of people against each other to point out how less scientific one is. It doesn't matter if they are religious or not the motivation behind such a comparison belies more than the comparison. Similar statistics were used in North America to show how stupid black people where compared to white people which also was shown to be biased and the futility of comparing disparate groups. In the end your comparison showed nothing except your ignorance of both statistics and Islam.

  14. When people speak of all that we gained from Muslim scientists, they are speaking Middle Age developments. Such as Algebra.

  15. Warren, you are in a debate you cannot win. Matt hardly every admits he is wrong, and he often debates in circles, misunderstanding (maybe on purpose) people's statements.

    Also, matt, you are misunderstanding what warren is saying, for a short simple post explaining your mistake, see illnoise.

  16. D, Warren had already decided he disagreed and then set out to fabricate a reason for his disagreement. That's why we ended up with a conversation like the following;

    Warren; You can't do a comparison based on religion!
    Me; I'm not, Jews are a race, Not a religion.
    Warren; "oh, right.. ok, Then. If you are going to do a comparison you DO have to base it on religion!
    Me; Isn't that contradictory to your first post?
    Warren; Sorry, I can't hear you anymore, I have my fingers in my ears and im singing the "i can't hear you" song.

  17. I would have to say that reading this controversy in full over a month later is quite amusing. Why So many people wants to immediately pin the word "ignorant" on people that show their prejudice. This is the infraction that Warren is guilty of. Matt is not ignorant, he is prejudice, and everyone is to a certain extent. How many comments did Warren leave revealing his prejudice against atheists? "atheists have more gods than brains"
    "Atheists wonder why they are blamed for Hitler"
    "Maybe you should look into the groups of people with the most prejudice I am sure Atheists would be up there"
    There is a certain tingle of ignorance in prejudice, but it is accusational to call someone ignorant for letting their prejudice show. Matt got defensive about being called ignorant, this would be Matt's infraction.

    In as non-biased of a way that I can see it, Islamic people have given us scientific discoveries hundreds of years ago, but it has mostly stopped since the 13th century AD. This does not mean that all Islamic people are stupid in math/science, there were eight people brilliant enough to get a esteemed Nobel Prize (something that no one involved in this argument will probably ever have, including me). Technological discoveries are preternatural, it takes the right kind of mind (genetics) as well as the right kind of environment. As the nations of Islam are typically tyrannical over religion in their governmental and societal structure, it has inhibited the potential of this group in the areas of science. They put so much weight upon their ideas beyond reality and not enough weight on exploring reality, which is what happened to the Caucasians/catholics during the Dark Ages. The statistics intentionally looked recently to show the current state of Islam not the full history of Islam. As for using Jews as the control group for comparison was done so ascetically, it was for irony. Stereotypically, Muslims detest Jews and they quarrel frequently; so choosing their enemy as a control group is ironic.

    Advice for Warren: Next time you are going to criticize someone for being prejudice, try harder to hide your own prejudice. Learn to appreciate irony; some of the most entertaining things are very controversial, like Stand-Up Comedy.

    Advice for Matt: If you are going to make comparisons of groups to show a point, remember that is definitively generalizing. Generalizing is showing a prejudice. You will get bitched at by someone when you show your prejudice. The more you carry on without admitting that you are either prejudice or you take these statistics with a grain of salt, the more ignorant you are going to appear to the naysayer. Don't let your ego get in the way from reaching a wide audience. You put this online because you have something to say and you want people to hear it. Critics are the opportunity to show that you are magnanimous and not just insightful, so try harder to not get defensive. Atheism is about skepticism and we atheists sometimes need to be more skeptical of ourselves otherwise we sound like the presumptuous religious leaders telling fairy tales with overtones of certainty.

  18. I am sorry Joshua again just seen your reply I wish there was some way you can get notified maybe there is and I don't know about it

    Atheist have more hair than brains
    Jees atheists (on this site I mean see not being prejudiced) are touchy I thought it was funny anyway, a bit cheap maybe.

    "Atheists wonder why they are blamed for Hitler"
    is this prejudice against atheism I don't think so. I was trying to point out some atheist do not carry their ill-conceived ideas (not saying they are all ill conceived) through to their logical conclusion. If Matt was a Nazi and was saying hey what are we going to do with all of this Jewish scum (a word he likes to use) - at that moment in time he may not be thinking 'concentration camp' but it is sort of where that thinking is going.
    This is not because Matt is an atheist that make his arguments prejudice it is because he is prejudice.

    "Maybe you should look into the groups of people with the most prejudice I am sure Atheists would be up there"
    So I am prejudiced against atheists here am I? so I have jumped to the conclusion that atheism is prejudice when in fact its not? oh I am with you now, so all of those blogs are just being satirical now I am with you. (I am using Irony or is it satire I can never tell the difference).

    I would say that Islamic science has been inhibited by poverty and underdevelopment not by religion. Many Islamic nations are making significant advances in science as befits their level of development nobody is going to get a nobel prize for re-inventing the wheel they are trying to lay down modern infastructure not discovering a new form of genetic inheritance. I could spend days picking through the ignorance and prejudice in your above statement but I don't have enough time. Why are the dark ages called the dark ages? I doubt many modern historians would consider them dark save only that we have little record of the period. Many of the now antiquated ideas about the dark ages being a brutal, savage, superstitious age have long been refuted. You seem to equate religion and ignorance of science. Most of the west scientific achievements are as a result of christian scientist who had both faith and scientific integrity for their time anyway. I believe that to attend oxford university you had to be a priest until Newton. Science and religion is only a battle in the minds of those of us who want to control knowledge and as far as I can see both atheists and religionist are the guilty parties here. I mean even the great Newton was an alchemist something seen as weird long before his day.

    My advice for both you and especially Matt is that there are very good reasons to be atheists if that is what you feel. But do not let your blind ignorance get in the way of your search for the truth you will find that accepting other peoples viewpoints a lot easier. Islam, Christianity etc are not by definition antiscience and the enlightenment may not have been as enlightened as we are led to believe. Also my personal favourite - question everything

  19. Firstly the assessment is not completely accurate, as many Muslims nowadays are South East Asians, African American's etc, whereas the lists definition of Jewish is ethnic rather than religious. A more accurate assessment would be a comparison of Jew to Arabs. The facts remain that scientific output from the Arab world has been low in past decades, despite the fact that a few hundred years ago they were the at the top of enlightenment. For me at least this makes the current situation all the more tragic, as it shows that rather than build upon their forefathers knowledge, Arab leaders have squandered their inheritance, allowing themselves to stagnate into religious fundamentalism. Still the fact that there are some Arabs on the list should give us hope that this stagnation will not last, and they will return to becoming leaders in scientific advances for the benefit of all.

  20. My blind ignorance? It seems like you fail to understand that generalizing is generalizing whether it is Islam, Jews, Atheist, et cetera. When you imply a lack of brains, lack of morality, and an indulgence of prejudice as atheistic traits, you are guilty of generalizing just as the author of this blog has done. Where is my blind ignorance, how am I implicated as someone who is ignorantly generalizing large groups of people? Warren, I think you are just hanging around this site because you like conflict, it makes you feel intelligent to talk down to people. What other point does an agnostic have to pick fights with atheists he doesn't know over the Internet? I want to do is make sure you understand that not all atheists fall into your generalizations and that you (as well as Matt) are myopic (not ignorant) for being closed minded to outsider groups.

    If you really have the confidence to debate directly, Warren, leave an email address, mine is josh at mythosimage.com

  21. Joshua you are getting too touchy you made generalisations about me saying I am an atheist and I should embrace it. It seems that atheists cannot understand if you are not atheist or theist is it because it seems illogical? I have no doubt you are not as ignorant as the author of this blog. Someone, on retrospect I think is being more satirical and is possibly trying to offend to see the reaction than ignorant and cleverer than I gave him credit for. My implication of a lack of brains was a joke, as I said I was being satirical I have again no doubt you are not brainless and am sure you are a very intelligent human being. However, perhaps a little too defensive. My generalisations of atheism are the same ones that atheists (when I say atheists I should clarify the Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens variety but not so much the Pinker, Dennett variety) do all of the time like agnostics are cowardly fencesitters they are this that and the other - religious people are against science etc. This is something that those 3 people are very fond of saying. I can't believe I am basically having to justify myself to an atheist. Joshua take a look around at the atheist sites online this is the public face of atheism to people who aren't atheists. The insults, the arrogance, the outright hatred in some cases gives me cause for concern and also the reason why it will never be taken seriously. Yet if I dare say something disparaging about them its all high horses. Atheists should be less anti-religious and more lead by example for intelligent people to take the movement seriously.

    As far as generalisations go You said in the other post, religious leaders around the world are trying to suppress science when this is so blatantly not the case. Maybe the fanatics are but the fanatics are not significant - nothing suppresses science not in England and Europe anyway, and I doubt they are in the US either it is a storm in a teacup. if anything science is being suppressed by big tobacco companies, agro industrys, big pharma etc as these poeple are more often than not in control of the purse strings. I found this blog quite by accident and have on occasion read it I find most of it most amusing I don't hang around on atheist websites at all and don't get a kick out of talking down to people at all but you should read your posts you assumed I am some lost little agnostic waiting atheisms guiding light- I do get a kick out of burning straw men hence why I joined the debate in the first place. I am also sure Matt can stand up for himself otherwise why would he continuously publish such outrageous posts. I know all atheists do not fall into my generalisations but as I say as an agnostic in science I am constantly having to defend myself and am constantly under all the old anti-agnostic generalisations. As I said it is heresy to be an agnostic. As far as not knowing people over the internet is this not what blogging is about - saying what you feel in anonymity? Joshua you have taken too much too heart for which I apologise if I have offended you but I would say if you air your opinions on the internet then be prepared to have them challenged. I am not myopic I can't speak for Matt but for me atheism, forgive me the sweeping generalisation, is up there with creationism when it comes to being closed minded about outsider groups - come on read a little go to Dawkins website it is so obnoxious to any dissent its nauseating. Dawkins' religious battles are myopic and they affect all aspects of society this I am not in favour of. Dawkins agenda is materialist and the twentieth century saw too many materialist agendas fail at the detriment of lives. At the moment materialism and myopic thinking is bringing the worlds financial markets to its knees. If atheists want atheism taught in schools this is fine then it should be under the humanitys along with all the other beliefs. Science should be kept free of religion and atheism in schools- science is agnostic it never claims to know but seeks knowledge. But spare me the anti-religious nonsense if people want to believe in horoscopes or fairies or gods or whatever then it is supposedly a free country. ATheists seems so blinded by atheism that they cannot concieve that anyone would not share the same feeling if they only understood and we would all be liberated and free. Well Joshua atheism works for you but doesn't for me or for anyone who isn't an atheist. I tell Jehovahs witnesses to P*** off when they knock on my door and I will tell atheists the same. Thank you for the offer of a personal debate I think we would end up running around in circles. Although I am sure I have the confidence but am unwilling to enter in an debate as I am not that passionate about it. If you start a blog let me know and I will contribute but personal emails I am not sure of and don't have the time.

  22. Typically the term generalization is used in a group setting. It is an assertion that something is true either of all members of a certain class or of an indefinite part of that class. Thus making an independent assertion about you being an atheist is hardly consideration of generalizing on my part.

    The reason for such an assertion is that you seem to have this idea that there is a structure of belief or even unity behind atheism. Its not as if we congregate weekly and have different dominations and varieties. I do feel that you have misconceptions about atheism and that you and I view agnosticism differently. In my purview, atheism is just a disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings. Agnosticism is defined as a religious orientation of doubt. Either option is centered upon skepticism. By the way you speak, you are obviously not a fence-sitter, you are not a person oriented in doubt. By my assertion of you being an atheist (despite one that dislikes the word atheist), it was meant as a compliment to you stability in viewpoint.

    Allow me to draw a parallel in the principles of astrology. There are those that read their horoscope daily and alter their plans and lives to accommodate its recommendations; those are the theist of astrology. There are those that read it anecdotally, to see if there's reason to buy into it or not; those are the agnostics of astrology. There are those that refuse to read the horoscopes at all because the core belief is flawed; those are the atheists of astrology. There are those that ridicule and persecute those that believe in astrology; those are the antitheists of astrology. While there is a multitude of gray area in between, these are key intervals of belief.

    If the agnostic doesn't read religious material or attend religious congregations at least anecdotally, then essentially they are not looking to religion as a possibility for the answers to the ultimate questions and should consider themselves atheist. Now there are many that have taken a disbelief in religion to the level of hatred and ridicule to those that advocate religion. That is what the term antitheist has been recently coined for. Antitheists are still atheist, as they disbelieve the existence of a supreme being, but not all atheist are antitheists.

    You may have a different impression of what agnostic and atheist means, and it that instance, it is careless on both our parts to assume magnanimity in our assertions. I mean no insult to you. When I read all that had been written originally, it looked like a petty squabbling between two people blind of their own flaws. Acting as a mediator, I was merely trying to allow a bit on magnanimity to shine through. As you replied, I did bring things into a personal light and responded defensively. This is where the chance of common ground was fractured. Hopefully in this reply, you see that I am not out to attack you, and I apologize for the harshness of my preceding contexts.

  23. OK, about generalisations Joshua- but as you go on to say if I don't go to church or don't read religious material then I should consider myself an atheist. So this is what makes a religious person does it? Ok I rarely go to church maybe midnight mass as I rather like christmas (I believe even Dawkins attends church occasionally) and I rarely read anything religious although am very interested in mythology and psychology. I do however, try and do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I also don't kill, steal, commit adultery, I try to honour my mother and father, I try not covet my neighbours possesions or his wife, I celebrate Christmas, Easter, I take all the religious holidays my country affords me because I happen to believe in all of those and, like Dawkins, culturally I am a Christian. People who do not believe in god are atheists everyone else is not. As I have said I am an agnostic I don't believe or disbelieve in god or if you prefer I do not believe in atheism as I don't see the point of it for me it has nothing to offer. To say agnostics are atheist because they don't go to church or read religious material is a generalisation my grandmother was very religious but did not go to church or read any religious material was she an atheist?

    Atheists always (sorry for the generalisation but I read this argument a lot) fall back on the 'there's no structure of belief or unity in atheism' argument but I am inclined to disagree with this. It may have been true once upon a time but the 'new atheists', as they have been termed, have changed all of this. You may not attend church or disbelieve there are variety's of atheists, but this is not what I see online did you know there are churches of atheism in the states there are those who dislike agnostics, pantheists (despite it being sexed up atheism), and hate the term agnostic atheist so there are definite groups and I meet all sorts I class them into two variety's you have your shrill, arrogant, antitheist atheists who have read the god delusion and nothing else and see it as the fount of all knowledge and there are the amiable atheists who disbelieve in god and don't care what others believe and don't allow beliefs to get in the way.

    Your horoscope story is almost a case in point. You obviously don't believe in horoscopes why? Do you truly understand astrology? You believe it is all hocus pocus I doubt there is an atheist in the world who does not hold the same opinion as you but I doubt many have looked into the ancient thinking behind horoscopes or indeed the origins of any of things so glibly brushed off as superstitious. Albeit seemingly very misguided, astrology was an attempt to relate the inner world of the ancient, some thing we now call psychology, to the outer world not the other way around as is commonly believed to day. It, among other ideas such as alchemy (not really about turning base metals into gold in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense) were the foundations of science just because it has turned into some superstitious mumbo jumbo doesn't mean it is rubbish. Newton was an avid alchemist - with all his knowledge of science did he really believe he could turn base metals into gold? So whether you believe in astrology or not does your skepticism get in the way of understanding the things you do not believe in.
    I would prefer to classify horoscopists along the lines of – Those that believe in horoscopes are the theists , those that are indifferent to horoscopes are the agnostics, those that disbelieve are the theists, those that oppose horoscopes and ridicule it are the antitheists and those that believe they are the absolute truth these are the fundamentalists those last two are in my mind the same if you have such a strong reaction to something then basically you are scared of it.
    If not all atheists are antitheists this is fine, but then surely on the same token is it not shrill to blame moderate islam for the fundamentalists something that could be levelled at some of the leaders of the 'new atheist' movements.

    Don't worry about the apology Joshua I am very thick skinned