Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Atheist Delusion?

The attempt to eradicate religion, however, only leads to it reappearing in grotesque and degraded forms. A credulous belief in world revolution, universal democracy or the occult powers of mobile phones is more offensive to reason than the mysteries of religion, and less likely to survive in years to come. Victorian poet Matthew Arnold wrote of believers being left bereft as the tide of faith ebbs away. Today secular faith
is ebbing, and it is the apostles of unbelief who are left stranded on the beach.

That from a recent article in London's Guardian by John Gray which is sure to be of interest to readers of this blog. Gray argues in some detail for a point I tried to make here in Is Religious Identity the Enemy of Global Harmony? He takes on Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens and the religious despisers of our day and shows pretty convincingly how they both live off the capital of religious history and embody some of the worst
features of fundamentalist forms of Christianity and Islam, in particular. My favorite lines from the article are these:

Religion has not gone away. Repressing it is like repressing sex, a self-defeating enterprise.

Definitely worth a read. And I'd be interested to know what you make of it.


Scott Lenger said...

A while back I made a similar post arguing that the (American) idea of a sterile, objective 'secular' is a false idea based out of a competing religious position.

Regarding atheism, I think Gray's article does an excellent job of revealing the unspoken religious zeal that is behind much of contemporary atheism and makes me question whether the Flying Spaghetti Monster could be something more than a simple parody? At the same time it also leads me to wonder if this view of atheism reflects nothing more than a pop-cultural understanding, sort of like atheism's answer to Joel Osteen!

Rachel said...

This article hit the nail on the head, I thought. I read stories from de-converts over at de-conversion.com, and it strikes that much as they try to completely reject the idea of God, they can't seem do away with many of the concepts introduced to them by Christianity. One guy recently wrote things like, "Relationships are Holy," and "God or no God, life has value. Life is an intrinsic good." Huh? I have a hard time seeing how relationships can be "holy" according to a naturalistic worldview. I guess this sort of optimistic existentialism works for a while, but it quickly flops when you throw the likes of Hitler into the mix. Oh, what to do? Blame religion, of course!