Newspapers

  • "Who Cares?" (Sunday Star Times, 08/01/2012). Our ability to feel compassion is tightly linked to our ability to imagine ourselves in their shoes. However, actually doing so takes courage, as feeling for others links our own emotions to the highs and lows of other people's lives. 
  • "The Many Faces of the Burqa" (Sunday Star Times, 25/09/2011). Reza Aslan has argued that as a religious symbol, the burqa/niqāb has no meaning beyond what we choose to assign to it. the piece argues on the basis of considerations from psychology that the burqa is not merely a symbol of female oppression, it is an instrument of it. Unfortunate though it is, I caution against banning it. 
 

Magazines

 
  • "Maajid Nawaz and the Reform of Islam" (The Humanist, 20/11/2015). In a book coauthored with Sam Harris, Maajid Nawaz argues that the reform of Islam depends upon succeeding with two ideas: a) that many different interpretations of the Quran's meaning are possible, and b) that no single interpretation of the Quran's meaning is correct where more than one is possible. I argue that Nawaz is mistaken about the second claim, and that he attributes too much significance to the first. Although relevant, it's not the mere possibility of interpreting the Quran in peaceful, tolerant, and humane ways that matters most, but the plausibility of those alternative interpretations.
  • "Is Islam Violent? The Answer Isn't as Simple as Many Think" (The Humanist, 17/02/2015). This article argues that the role of Islam in causing violence and terrorism can be best understood as analogous to a dangerous corner on a road. While many who travel upon that road will make their way safely around the corner, not everyone will, and there can be a variety of contributing causes to any crash that takes place on it. 
  • "Reza Aslan, Religion, and Moral Influence" (The Humanist, 23/10/2014). Reza Aslan has stated that religion plays no role in shaping people’s moral views, for people interpret their religions to be consistent with whatever moral beliefs and values they already hold. I argue that his reasoning contains a logical error, and that there is excellent reason (from social psychology and ordinary observations of religious behavior) to think that religion really does exert influence on people's moral views.
 
 

Websites

  • "In Their Rush to Blame Religion, New Atheists Overlook Evil" (Quillette, 27/04/2016) Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg once said "with or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion." Many new atheists, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, and Lawrence Krauss, have praised this comment. The problem is that it isn't true—religion is far from the only thing in the world that can bring otherwise good people to do bad or "evil" things. Saying otherwise is unfortunate, and generates a problem for new atheism. 
  • "What is the Meaning of Life?" (ExcellenceReporter, 10/02/2016). What is the meaning of life? According to Christianity and Islam, it is to believe in God, to worship him, and to seek forgiveness for sin. I argue that something else is far more plausible, should indeed God exist: that the purpose or point of life, spiritually speaking, is to seek an understanding of truths that, in virtue of knowing them, enable us to develop and grow in terms of who we are. 
  • "Quantifying the Terrorist Threat" (CentreThought, 01/02/2016). Did you know that despite widespread fears connecting Islam with terrorism, less than 2 percent of all terrorist attacks in Europe between 2009 and 2013 were carried out by religious extremists? Statistics like this have been used to argue that much of the threat relating to religion and terrorism is illusory. However, I argue that there is a need to think critically about such numbers, for several of them risk being irrelevant and misleading.
  • "To Ban or Not to Ban? The Burqa, Religious Identity, and Politics" (Butterflies and Wheels, 31/08/2010). A longer and more detailed look at the issue of the burqa and women's rights. The conclusion is the same as the newspaper opinion piece: the burqa/niqāb is more than just a symbol of female oppression—it is an instrument of it. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it should be banned.