Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Atheist Looks at the Neo-Atheists

Theodore Dalrymple, an atheist, critiques the neo-atheists in an essay titled, 'What the New Atheists Don’t See', 'To regret religion is to regret Western civilization' in City Journal.
[...]The philosophers Daniel Dennett, A. C. Grayling, Michel Onfray, and Sam Harris, biologist Richard Dawkins, and journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens have all written books roundly condemning religion and its works.[...]
[...]The thinness of the new atheism is evident in its approach to our civilization, which until recently was religious to its core. To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy. And in my own view, the absence of religious faith, provided that such faith is not murderously intolerant, can have a deleterious effect upon human character and personality. If you empty the world of purpose, make it one of brute fact alone, you empty it (for many people, at any rate) of reasons for gratitude, and a sense of gratitude is necessary for both happiness and decency. For what can soon, and all too easily, replace gratitude is a sense of entitlement. Without gratitude, it is hard to appreciate, or be satisfied with, what you have: and life will become an existential shopping spree that no product satisfies.[...]
[...]Harris tells us, for example, that “we must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it. Given the present state of the world, there appears to be no other future worth wanting.”[...]

It becomes even more sinister when considered in conjunction with the following sentences, quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist: “The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live.”[...]
For those with no vision for eternity it used to be, 'Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.' 'Christians, stop shoving your 'gospel' down our throats.'

Now, however, it is increasingly likely to be, 'Eat, drink, and don't allow anyone to be merry outside of the approved parameters or tomorrow they'll die.' 'Citizens, we'll judicially legislate our gospel throughout your lives.'
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. Psalm 37:12,13 ESV


Wonder Woman said...

"Christians, stop shoving your 'gospel' down our throats."

Firstly - Passing forward, sharing, inspiring others, educating the mass IS NOT SHOVING ANYTHING, it's simply enlightening.

Secondly - What do they want down their throats? *smirk*

Thirdly - *swoosh* I'm outta here!

Steve Burri said...

That woman never stays around long enough for us to thank her.

Todd said...

Has anybody else noticed that you never see Steve and WW at the same time?

Steve Burri said...

Don't be silly, Todd. I'm just a mild mannered blogger here at Grandpa John's Daily Planet.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

"To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy."

That's an interesting way to look at it. We've progressed a long way over the years, but at every turn, religion has stood in the way of progress. It's not like we never would have built skyscrapers, developed the artificial heart and established democratic rule without religion. We would have done those things sooooner. And better. Western civilization is great, but it's great in spite of religion, not because of it. And it could be greater.

Steve Burri said...

Howdy, JIAWM,

Been a long time. I've seen some of your comments on other blogs, but you haven't put your two cents in here for a long time.

I will claim that your comment above is a statement of faith. What is your evidence? Democratic Greece? Republican Rome? What happened to them?

The artificial heart and skyscrapers? They aren't monkeys flying out of someone's butt. They didn't evolve by chance. The science upon which they were built was established by scientists who were Christians or otherwise believers in the existence of God; Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Bacon, Pascal, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin, Boyle, Harvey, Leibnitz, Pasteur, Marconi, Einstein, Planck, Schrodinger, Heisenberg,... (and I can't resist Antony Flew)

So, get with it. How would American civilization be be better, greater sooner without religion?

I only speak with a leap of blind faith. You, on the other hand, surely have all the facts and the ironclad unified worldview with which to draw scientific conclusions from those facts.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Are you suggesting that the church worked alongside Galileo? You are aware that his major scientific accomplishments ran counter to church canon at the time, right? Or Einstein? Really. It's well known that Einstein did not believe in a god in anything close to the Christian sense. Sure, some of these guys were real Christians (Newton, for example. He was also an alchemist. So what?), but most of them were just exceptionally smart guys that lived in a time where they basically had to act Christian to some degree. But they weren't writing down equations and pulling pi = 3 out of the bible to reach their results. The were scientists. They used reason. And reason is the antithesis of faith. And yes, I am theorizing based on the data that we have, which is far different from faith.