Friday, September 2, 2011

Agreeing with Dawkins and Hitch

So often when I've been in the middle of an intense discussion, otherwise known as an argument, I've known the frustration that goes with not being able to make the other person see where I'm coming from, or to hear them admit that maybe, just maybe, I might have a point too.  So, in the true Christian spirit of treating others the way I would want to be treated I sincerely ask the question, where are the new atheists coming from, what is their point? I have enough of a background in the humanities to have observed that often artistic or intellectual movements are a reaction or response to other ideas or conditions that have gone before. This is also true of atheism historically, that it has often been an intellectual or emotional response to a failed, corrupt, or inadequate religious response. Certainly institutional religion has made plenty of mistakes historically, Christianity included.  I think a lot of people out there need to hear that admission.  I know growing up in the Catholic church, I felt like I was talking to a wall, in a protestant youth group, I felt like I was being suffocated.  There is much in my own background that might have left me running for the religious door. A lot of people have been hurt by institutionalized religion, and there is no failure as a Christian in admitting that Christians are people too, often prone to the same blind spots as everyone else. Blind, unthinking, religion has had and has the potential for much harm.  This is where I agree with the new atheists, that blind unquestioned ideas can and often do have the potential for harm in society.  We need to be free to ask questions and weigh evidences.  We need to be free as individuals to disagree without fear of being persecuted.  The new atheists have much to offer in this reminder. Where I would disagree with Dawkins and Hitchens, is their assumption that they know the answers before they really bother to ask the question, or bother to investigate the claims, where they lump all religious ideas into one caricature stew and where they fail to question their own assumptions.  This is where theirs becomes a blind unthinking atheism, and of this we need to be wary as well, because any idea can become dogmatic, and any ideology can become a corrupt power structure, as atheism has historically been as well.  They refuse to see this, calling the example of modern China or the Soviet Union "state religions," refusing to acknowledge that it was the policy of these "state religions" to eradicate religion, resulting in unspeakable unparallelled bloodshed.  Why, why asks Dawkins, "would an atheist do such a thing," why indeed Richard, because they saw religion as a problem, as do you. If only it were that simple.

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