Article below by Carl Olson.
The New York Times has a piece (ht: Amy Welborn) about how enlightened, sensitive, and caring atheists are calling for the extermination of religion. Reporting on "a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif," the article opens thus:
Maybe the pivotal moment came when Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, warned that “the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief,” or when a Nobelist in chemistry, Sir Harold Kroto, called for the John Templeton Foundation to give its next $1.5 million prize for “progress in spiritual discoveries” to an atheist — Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist whose book “The God Delusion” is a national best-seller. ...
Dr. Weinberg, who famously wrote toward the end of his 1977 book on cosmology, “The First Three Minutes,” that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” went a step further: “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.”
Apparently love (meaningless, of course), joy (random, as it were) and intellectual vigor (determined by biological accidents, as we all "know"), were available in over-flowing abundance:
By the third day, the arguments had become so heated that Dr. Konner was reminded of “a den of vipers.”
“With a few notable exceptions,” he said, “the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?”
His response to Mr. Harris and Dr. Dawkins was scathing. “I think that you and Richard are remarkably apt mirror images of the extremists on the other side,” he said, “and that you generate more fear and hatred of science.”
The silly and not-so-impressive thinking of folks such as Dawkins (older, seething atheist) and Harris (younger, snippy atheist) has been addressed here and elsewhere. One comment in the Times piece that caught my attention had a familar ring to it:
Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., called, half in jest, for the establishment of an alternative church, with Dr. Tyson, whose powerful celebration of scientific discovery had the force and cadence of a good sermon, as its first minister.
She was not entirely kidding. “We should let the success of the religious formula guide us,” Dr. Porco said. “Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome — and even comforting — than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.”
Once again we are left pondering the paucity of philosophical (as in, not necessarily religious) basics. Or just the lack of basic logic. So, let's teach our children "the story of the universe"? What story? Written/created by whom? Does anyone know of any stories—especially ones involving things of "incredible richness and beauty"—that come into being by pure chance and without an author/creator? And what of this poetic, non-scientific language: richness, beauty, glorious, awesome? If there are no transcendent meanings to such words, then they are not only completely subjective, they are ultimately completely nonsensical. "Hey, the universe may be 'glorious' to you, but to me it's simply a bunch of dirt, dust, and other matter floating around in space with no purpose or meaning behind it." So who is really brainwashed? And who is really living according to faith? Reason?
Anyhow, the comments by Dr. Porco sounded very much like those articulated by atheist Ronald Aronson in an article titled, "Thank You Very Much?," (The Philosopher's Magazine), which I commented upon back in August by asking: "Can atheists be grateful?" The question is completely serious. Now, I do believe atheists can be grateful for the universe/world/cosmos, but in doing so I don't think they can remain fully faithful (if at all) to their guiding principles of materialism, scientism, determinism, and so forth.
Here is what ultimately makes no sense: the anger of atheists. If I were an atheist, I would take this simply approach to life: leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. If you want to believe in God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, the Easter Bunny, Santa (yeah, you know the rhetoric) — fine. Go for it. After all, I could see that Christianity and Judaism have been responsible to some degree for many good things (Western civilization, unversities, law, etc.), and I would recognize, hopefully, that all people are messed up to some degree or another. So as long as you aren't shoving tracts down my throat or hauling me off to a mega-church, I don't care if you are Christian.
I've met a few people who essentially adhere to this approach to life. Sure, I think they are avoiding some significant issues and questions, but I think they are far more reasonable and consistent in their thinking than are folks such as Dawkins, Harris, and Co. After all, if the essence of nasty religious fundamentalism is a rigid, dogmatic, strident, angry, and condemning belief system and attitude, they fit the bill just as well as many of those they regularly lambast.
Richard Dawkins is a complete idiot who has no understanding of theology. All of his arguments are sophomoric straw-men nonsense. The fact that he is respected by anyone claiming to be an intellectual... shows how little they know. Their rage blinds them. And we have to ask, why are they raging against a belief in something they do not believe exists?
If I were to meet an ancient Greek today, I wouldn't be angry at him for believing in Zeus and Hera....
I truly fear a future world where secular humanism becomes a state religion, and all "heretics" (me) are persecuted. Frankly, I believe it is already starting in America and some of Europe. Already it is illegal to say certain things in churches. (see Romans 1:27 - banned in Finland)