Thursday, March 20, 2008

John Gray on militant atheism

In an opinion piece in The Guardian (UK), John Gray, the political thinker, has superbly articulated the reservations that I (and some other nontheists) have about the current wave of militant atheists. The piece is a preview of a forthcoming book, which promises to be a definitive statement on the issue.

Here is one of the key paragraphs (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan):

"Zealous atheism renews some of the worst features of Christianity and Islam. Just as much as these religions, it is a project of universal conversion. Evangelical atheists never doubt that human life can be transformed if everyone accepts their view of things, and they are certain that one way of living - their own, suitably embellished - is right for everybody. To be sure, atheism need not be a missionary creed of this kind. It is entirely reasonable to have no religious beliefs, and yet be friendly to religion. It is a funny sort of humanism that condemns an impulse that is peculiarly human. Yet that is what evangelical atheists do when they demonise religion."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
To the best of my knowledge no atheist writer has said that. Even the most extreme elements simply want to people to think about what they believe and apply logic, reason and evidence to it and since these are universal people are expected to get the same result. This isn't like optomist vs pessimist; this is like gravity vs divine falling- the argument is about wheter god exists or not.

Also, militant is a misnomer. SO far there have been no bombings, hijackings, beatings in the strret, threat of revolt or other violence that generally characterize militant.

Basically the argument is a strawman that people fall for because they feel uncomfortable when people start questioning faith.

8:10 AM  

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