http://nymag.com/: In the recent culture-war flare-ups over Islam, the side arguing that the religion is inherently dangerous and violent has tended to be overrepresented in the media, pulling together an unlikely coalition of right-wingers and otherwise-liberal pundits like Bill Maher, as well as New Atheists such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.
There aren’t a lot of well-known figures on the other side of the debate, but Reza Aslan seems particularly comfortable in the role. The University of California, Riverside professor has carved out a niche as a particularly vocal opposition figure calling for a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between faith and behavior, and last week, he penned a New York Timesop-ed in response to a highly watched Real Time With Bill Maher segment in which Ben Affleck confronted Maher and Harris over what he saw as Islamophobic rhetoric.
Science of Us recently spoke with Aslan about what he sees as profound weaknesses in the New Atheist worldview, the rise of ISIS, and why it’s important to understand the differences between various Islam-influenced terror groups.
So let’s say you had Bill Maher and Sam Harris as a sort of captive audience in a lecture hall for a half hour, and only a half hour. What would you focus on? What do you want them to hear that you don’t think they’re hearing?