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Andrew O'Hehir's "Atheism, Islam, and Liberalism" observes--correctly--that "talk-show hosts and movie stars (just for instance) aren't necessarily the best people to bring nuance or thoughtfulness or clarity to these conversations" about atheism and religion. He goes on to remark that "despite President Obama's claim that the Islamic State is neither Islamic nor a state, the group's extreme version of religious orthodoxy is clearly an important part of its allure:"

But when a radical militia group waving a flaming ideological sword has successfully lured the major Western powers into yet another self-destructive Middle East war, it's legitimate to wonder who is behaving rationally and who has lost their minds. Religion is driving us crazy, and the disorder is by no means limited to believers.

He continues:

One side insists that the only important question is whether the truth-claims of religion are actually true; the other side says that question doesn't even matter, and then wonders what "truth" is, anyway. It's the overly literal-minded versus the hopelessly vague.

What we see in discussions about religion in general and Islam in particular is a version of the same problem: People who barely speak the same language talking past each other, either making grand claims that refute themselves or raising legitimate questions that the other side ducks. [...]

At this point, Harris and Maher have become war trolls and fellow travelers of Dick Cheney, without even realizing it. [...] He and Maher have provided covert aid and comfort to bigots who firebomb mosques or beat up "Muslim-looking" people at the mall, while officially being horrified by such hateful actions. They're analogous to polite Southern whites of 1955, who did not personally use the N-word and found the Klan distasteful, but who never questioned the fundamental rightness of white supremacy.

The Atlantic's Crispin Sartwell comments on irrational atheism, and asserts that "The aging 'new atheists'--Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, for example--pit reason against faith, science against superstition, and declare for reason and science:"

It pictures the universe as a natural system, a system not guided by intelligent design and not traversed by spirits; a universe that can be explained by science, because it consists of material objects operating according to physical laws. In this sense, atheism embodies a whole picture of the world, offering explanations about its most general organization to the character of individual events.

Ironically, this is similar to the totalizing worldview of religion--neither can be shown to be true or false by science, or indeed by any rational technique. Whether theistic or atheistic, they are all matters of faith...

"I have taken a leap of atheist faith," he writes, standing rather close to religionists and claiming that "the atheist too, is deciding to believe in conditions of irremediable uncertainty, not merely following out a proof:"

Religious people have often offloaded the burden of their choices on institutions and relied on the Church's authorities and dogmas. But some atheists are equally willing to offload their beliefs on "reason" or "science" without acknowledging that they are making a bold intellectual commitment about the nature of the universe, and making it with utterly insufficient data. Religion at its best treats belief as a resolution in the face of doubt. I want an atheism that does the same, that displays epistemological courage.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on October 11, 2014 6:21 PM.

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