How to rationally criticize a religion: the origin of misogyny

I recently bumped into this picture and find it perfectly illustrates an ideological and irrational criticism of religions found everywhere in the Western world.



The first obvious mistake in this image is the same type of shameless overgeneralization I exposed in A perfect example of ANTI-theistic irrationality. The fact that you can find demonstrably odious verses in the Bible is no evidence that the whole Bible (who was written by many conflicting authors) is a wicked book.

The second mistake consists of judging the morality of ancient authors according to our advanced and enlightened Western standards. It would certainly be silly to mock Greek philosophers (or other writers in the antiquity) due to some of their extremely erroneous scientific beliefs. Likewise we should also evaluate the moral (and theological) strength of a historical character according to his cultural background and the Zeitgeist back then.

If this principle is followed, we will find that Paul’s treatment of women was quite progressive for his time (even if it would be pretty reactionary today) and that Jesus view of them was truly revolutionary.

All of this raises the following questions: were men in the past misogynists owing to their religious beliefs?

Or did they develop misogynists religious beliefs due to their desire to subjugate and exploit women and dominate over them?


While always boasting about their alleged rational superiority, anti-theists are not trying to scientifically answer all these questions.

Instead they are picking and choosing whichever facts suit them for drawing extremely sweeping conclusions, like far right ideologists do all the time.


I think that such kinds of arguments are only valid against fundamentalists and Conservative believers who consider their holy writings as being utterly devoid of errors.

They lamentably fail to show that the entire religion or sacred book is evil or that its past members did not imperfectly experience a perfect God.

19 thoughts on “How to rationally criticize a religion: the origin of misogyny

  1. like far right ideologists do all the time.

    Why is this always the qualification?

    ‘They’re lying… like the far right does!’
    ‘The New Atheists are extremists… like far-right hate groups!’
    ‘They’re very similar to those conservatives!’

    It’s at if left-wing extremists are either non-existent or are, in fact, quite nice.

    • They are obviously existent and quite harmful, often as much as the extreme right.

      However (according to the numerous forums, blogs and websites I have read) English Speaking anti-theists have much more similarities with right extremists than with leftists.

      They might of course be some exceptions.

      • However (according to the numerous forums, blogs and websites I have read) English Speaking anti-theists have much more similarities with right extremists than with leftists.

        How? Especially considering, with the possible exception (and even then, conditionally and only on certain subjects) of Sam Harris and Hitchens, the New Atheists have tremendous representation among the left wing?

        See PZ Myers, self-described Godless liberal. See Atheism+, which was a left-wing (and anti-misogynist!) movement.

      • Yup, Hitchens was indeed a Marxist, and even though he stopped buying into it fully IIRC, continued to praise the Bolsheviks for having crushed the Church. His “right-wing” tendencies, as far as I can tell, consist entirely of hating Allah as much as Yahweh. Actually, that’s about as far as it goes for Sam Harris too.

    • Very good question. The only way I know how to do it is compare the fruits of various beliefs. What happens when people act out their beliefs? This is the only sure way to judge beliefs, and even then it’s iffy, because people don’t often believe what they say they do, and you don’t always understand them properly when you hear what they say they believe.

      • Here’s a fun one to consider.

        Take the stock left-wing view of the fetus as part of a woman’s body.

        Which part of the political spectrum, with that in mind, repeatedly advocates and defends women engaging in self-mutilation and killing part of their body? And can encouragement and defense of such a practice be considered misogyny?

        • As you know, I view abortion (except for preserving the health of the woman) as a great failure (perhaps even The greatest failure) of the Western world).

          In Continental Europe there is no longer any difference between mainline right and left parties about “pregnancy cessation” which is viewed as the fundamental right of a female to dispose of her own body.

          The only people who disagree with this are actually some sections of far right parties.
          Interestingly enough, many of them are not Christians and have quite a secular (agnostic or atheist) worldview.
          But they believe in the worth of culture, traditions, ethnicities and families and see abortion as unnatural and conducting indigeneous Europeans to a demographic decline since Muslims immigrants have much more children.
          In that specific point they are not wrong at all, though their sweeping generalizations about ALL Muslims being blood-thirsty barbarians are immoral, shabby and heinous.

      • In Continental Europe there is no longer any difference between mainline right and left parties about “pregnancy cessation” which is viewed as the fundamental right of a female to dispose of her own body.

        Yeah, but Continental Europe also has, according to what I read, loads of built-in restrictions on abortion. The US is far, far more liberal in that regard.

  2. LOL.
    You think Hitchens, Coyne, Harris, (pick just about any New Athiest type you wish) are right wingers, really?
    You statement in exactly backwards…if I were to be generous I would say you are confusing the European right with the American right.
    Maybe “English speaking” skews this…but if you are talking about America, buzzt, wrong.
    “Exit polls suggest that white Americans without religion vote Democratic at roughly the same rates that white Americans with religion vote Republican. According to exit polls in the 2008 presidential election, 71% of non-religious whites voted for Democratic candidate Barack Obama while 74% of white Evangelical Christians voted for Republican candidate John McCain. This can be compared with the 43–55% share of white votes overall.[30] More than six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%). They are about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives, and solid majorities support legal abortion (72%) and same-sex marriage (73%). In the last five years, the unaffiliated have risen from 17% to 24% of all registered voters who are Democrats or lean Democratic.[31] According to a Pew Research exist poll 70% of those who were religiously unaffiliated voted for Barack Obama.”

    • Yeah!
      Judging the texts as not being compatible with the actions of a perfectly just and loving being is entirely legitimate.

      But viewing the authors as terribly wicked is extremely problematic if no attention is paid to their own cultural assumption.

      You are warmly encouraged to give related links to your blog as I constantly (and shamelessly) do on yours 🙂

  3. I’m not entirely sure how the criticism of religious misogyny squares with the atheist movement’s record on such matters. Wasn’t the whole Atheism + movement started because a load of people felt that the atheist community was stuffed with misogynists?

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