New Atheism and Democracy

Civil Rights MovementI’m not sure what to think about the comparison the “New Atheists” are making between themselves and the civil rights movements of the twentieth century. In general, I think back on the footage of peaceful blacks being horribly mistreated by police officers and wonder why we’d cheapen that movement by suggesting that it is anything like the bombastic and sanctimonious whining of the New Atheist writers in the face of – well, snippy words, perhaps, but nothing at all like what the blacks faced.

New Athiest ProtestI’ve already questioned the logic of complaints about the nature of elections in my last post, but, it seems to me, that there is nothing else for New Atheists to mention that might constitute legal discrimination. Surely, there are churches who are trying to remove all mention of Darwin from public schools, but if these ill-conceived campaigns are an affront to anything, it is science – not atheism.

ScientismOf course, many of the New Atheists seem to have trouble distinguishing between atheism and science. This, I do not hesitate to say, is as detrimental to promoting real science as anything the creationists have brought about.

If there is discrimination against atheists, by all means, let us oppose it. Let us not, however, get into hysterics over the religious right (about which I have my own objections) or insinuate that religion is somehow the cause of most of the world’s problems. Somehow, I doubt that the blacks who followed Dr. King, the Indians who followed Gandhi, the Christians who followed Bonhoeffer, or the Buddhists during China’s cultural revolution would agree.

Let us not simply paint the word “reason” on our flag. Let us use reason. Let us see that thought means rejecting Professor Dawkins’ claim that ridicule, jokes, and other emotional appeals are the best way to promote reason and science in culture. Let us realize that the greatest enemy of reason and peace in society is not religion, but blind tribalism. It seems to make no difference whether one calls one’s tribe “white”, “black”, “Christian”, “atheist”, or “Bright”.

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