Leading figures in the new atheist movement are heirs to the disreputable scientific racists of the past, argues author.

Scientific racism is a term seldom used today but which has a long and ignoble history in the modern world. In the late 18th century, the renowned scientist and philosopher Christoph Meiners published his famous treatise The Outline and History of Mankind. Central to his analysis was a qualitative comparison of peoples by race - a comparison which his own popularly-accepted findings claimed revealed a clear hierarchy.

Drawing in large part on the now-discredited science of Phrenology (the measurement of human skulls), Meiners described whites as being endowed with clear superiority to all races in both their intellectual as well as moral faculties.

About blacks, his scientific analysis was far less generous - finding them not only to be inferior to whites in every mental capacity but in fact "incapable of any mental feeling or emotion at all", as well as "unable to feel physical pain".

As influential as it was, Meiners' work was par for the course in the institutionalised science of racism of the age. Famous philosopher Voltaire - whose works were among the most significant of the French Enlightenment - wrote of his empirical research on those humans who possessed dark skin:

"They are not men, except in their stature, with the faculty of speech and thought at a degree far distant to ours. Such are the ones that I have seen and examined."

While they wore a veneer of disinterested scientific analysis in their conclusions, in the context of their times it can be seen that such proponents of scientific racism had the specific goal of legitimating certain policies. With regard to those of African descent, the intention of then-contemporary scientists was often - implicitly or explicitly - to report findings which could be used to justify the socio-political institutions of slavery and colonialism against African societies.......(continued)



Tags: atheism, darwinism, islam, prejudice, racism

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Good article.  I hate people like that who are constantly trying to link everything back to race.  He whines about how he thinks atheists hate Muslims.  Then he points out that Islam is actually not representative of any particular race, and then in the same breath, he calls the known atheists he pointed out "racist" anyway.  Well is Islam a race or not, buddy?  When he failed to make a decent point, I got distracted by the link to the Parisian Human Zoo article and forgot about that idiot.  When someone doesn't like you, at least consider the possibility that you're an a**hole before dubbing them racist.

The author is a muslim who believes mohammed ascended to heaven in horse and chariot. He is deranged. 'Scientific Racism' is a term which belongs to the 19th century and the attitudes of the time. The author is being absurd in using the term to describe Sam Harris in his criticism of Islam. His argument is spurious in attempting to link historical racism with the so-called New Atheists.


The accusation of "racism" is a way to try to neutralize any conversation on the topic.  Yes there is racism.  Yes I'm sure there are racist atheists.  Even if race itself is a social construct.  But if we can't criticize behaviors that are done in the name of Islam, or christianity, or catholicism, or shamanism, or hindu religion, then we can't claim a humanist agenda.  

As for "new atheists" I think for myself.  I can take or leave some of them.


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