Theo Hobson in The Spectator has written Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists whose arguments will not be too new for those familiar with this blog. That Dawkins is crude (see Mein Kampf/Boteach blogs), creating caricatures of religion rather than looking at the religious experience that a believer has.
Hobson holds up a different sort of atheist thinker from those that brought you the literary success of The God Delusion and God is not Great. That of Alain de Botton who stresses the religious roots of secular humanism, and the human condition that benefits from rituals and community.
Thing is these ideas already existed before that – Sea of Faith stresses the human creation of religion but welcomes people of all faiths that value the practise and heritage in the 1980s. It started from a book, TV programmes to gathering of like minded thinkers.
No doubt we could go back even further. The thinking is not new nor is it a generational thing either as Hobson suggests which looks for complexity and nuance. Anyone that read Dawkins before The God Delusion knew this book was in him waiting to come out. It’s success blazed a trail for others to follow, and detractors a set of coat tails to cling on to.
Now the gravy train is looking for something new, a halfway house, and the spotlight has come onto others. I also think the death of Christopher Hitchens left a void that opponents are trying to fill. However, there is a new horseman in the form of Lawrence Krauss, appearing in a film with Dawkins out soon. The box office will tell us if there is still life in the old Darwin Rottweiler.
Thing is we atheists have never been a homogenous bunch. The herding cats metaphor exists for a reason regarding organising atheists. No one wants to be a follower or disciple of anyone. We have a non belief in the existence of god having been proved by theism – that is as much as can be said of knowing someone is an atheist. The sliding scale Dawkins uses of 1-6, and the humanist percentage quiz, simplifies a wide range of views on religion, the nature of a secular state, religious freedom, whether utopian or realist regarding the end of faith.
The biggest problem is often a lack of understanding of religions and what makes people religious (beyond parents’ faith and geography). An impartial examination is in order to fully understand these things. That was what made it surprising that Dawkins had not read the Koran. If Islam really is a threat beyond Christianity to enlightenment values, then it pays to study, weigh and consider. To be as informed as you can be on the issue without necessarily setting yourself up as an authority.
As my blog states very clearly – condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog