I’ve written several comments on the modern popular movement of atheists, which, if it is not running out of steam, is at least in need of new leadership. Christopher Hitchens has died. Richard Dawkins refuses to debate his primary challenger, as well as (I assume) anyone described by the reasons he gave for his refusal. Dennet and Harris seem also to be waning in their public exposure.
I do hope that this will herald a return to thoughtfulness and courtesy on the part of the majority of atheists (special thanks to those of you who never left). But it does seem to be the case that, whenever it is that the energy of this movement is spent, religion will still be here. Christianity (like any major religion) has faced many beatings over many generations, and shows no signs of a mortal wound.
My hope is, then, that the (very necessary) criticism the church receives will, likewise, herald a growth in reflection and empathy. I’m starting to see a movement in the church which promotes the serious study of logic and apologetics – that recognizes that our intellectual sloth has been far too great.
I don’t think it is too unrealistic to hope that the silent middle is beginning to reassert itself, letting militant religious groups and militant atheist groups alike know that we are not interested in labeling either side as villains. Rather, we believe that learning to live together with respect and love is paramount.
I should hope that we take this to heart. I’m sure that fundamentalism of all kinds will be forever with us, but I do hope we find a way to make their voice relative to their actual population. To that end, I would definitely be pleased to see a compassionate and reflective voice begin to overshadow the emotive sound-byte debates I’ve seen across the internet.