Madeleine Bunting "No wonder atheists are angry"

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Richard Dawkins' two-part television program "The Root of All Evil?" is reviewed in The Guardian by Madeleine Bunting. Her description of Dawkins' work as "unsubstantiated assertions, sweeping generalisations and random anecdotal evidence" with a "whiff of panic" is better suited for American fundamentalists and their perseuction complex than their critics, Dawkins included.

"The Root of All Evil?" may well be "a piece of intellectually lazy polemic which is not worthy of a great scientist," but I will avoid commenting until I can see it for myself. Dawkins' description of faith as a "process of non-thinking" is quite on target, despite Bunting's assertion that "For thousands of years, religious belief has been accompanied by thought and intellectual discovery." Bunting manages to ignore the fact that much of that thought inspired by religious belief has been dedicated to rationalization rather than rationality. (Need I even mention the many genuine intellectual discoveries that were opposed by religion?) That all those minds over all those centuries wasted so much time and effort devising all those useless ideas, from original sin to purgatory, to buttress the existing system of dogma is perhaps the greatest tragedy of humanity's history. Many efforts to such ends are better described as intellectual masturbation than intellectual discovery.

It is a difficult matter for atheists to strike out from family and culture in order to think deeply about the most important issues of existence rather than merely regurgitating the unexamined beliefs of our ancestors. Increasing numbers of us, though, consider it the only intellectually responsible option. Bunting's eagerness to parrot GK Chesterton's statement that we "believe anything" is a perfect example of how intellectual discovery is misrepresented and demonized when it is deemed religiously incorrect. Perhaps this is the real reason why we atheists are "angry."

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 11, 2006 8:50 PM.

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