The new religion: Atheism

And the blind shall lead the blind.
I’m being metaphorical even if I have lived the experience of being lead down a pitch black portage trail by a blind man who could feel the path with his feet.
But no I’m speaking of this new atheism that seems to have suddenly popped up semi-formed from nothingness. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and a host of bloggers who like to yell have all seen the light… or is the dark? Is nothing dark or light?
This was what I pictured in my head when Karen showed me some writing by Charles Lewis today. His article entitled “Dear atheists: most of us don’t care what you think” for the National Post was a short and enjoyable read. In it he says:

most atheists do not have a clue what religion is about.

And there it is. Mr. Lewis spells out the crux of the problem with New Atheists right there. Normally I wouldn’t be caught dead reading The Post but I’m glad Karen recommended this. Here are expressed some thoughts that mirror mine about these blind atheists out there and their new religion.
Terry Eagleton, who recently wrote “Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate”, eloquently says something similiar in his critique of Dawkins:

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.

Of course Dawkins counters that he doesn’t need to read a book on Fairy-logy to hold forth on the subject of Fairies. An extraordinary thing for a University professor to say, don’t you think? Smacks of hypocrisy. It is clear why Dawkins doesn’t dare debate religion with anyone who really knows their religion. He, and others like him, start off with the belief that anyone religious is an idiot and so it is easy to debate them. So when they come up against someone who knows his topic he shies away.
So Mr. Lewis, I salute you, sir. Why should I care about what atheists think? You’re right: I don’t have to. Those tendencies within me that make me a practicing Catholic encourage me to care for the person but not necessarily for what they think.
For me faith has always been a struggle and, I think, it’s the same for anyone who takes it seriously. It’s a process oriented toward something greather than myself and never involves just settling for anything. Personally, giving up on faith would be the easy way out. But I won’t try to stop an atheist from fighting whatever it is they believe (?) they’re fighting for.


3 thoughts on “The new religion: Atheism”


    I’m not going to tell you why I’m an atheist because I have no interest in trying to persuade you away from your beliefs, I’m just going to start this off by letting you know that I am an atheist, but that I was raised as a strict Catholic, I’ve taken many classes on religion in University, and I have spent much free time researching many of the world’s religions (from both sides). The thing is… I don’t need a book to tell me how to be a good person. I’m a good person and do good things because it’s the right thing to do, not because “god will punish me” or because of an eternal reward. I never force my beliefs on other people and generally keep my beliefs to myself (most people don’t know what my beliefs are unless they know me very well), and any other atheist I know is the same. In contrast, my family members are the most discriminating people I know (I was prohibited from associated from non-Catholics as a child, younger cousins are not allowed to associate with me because I am a “bad role model”, a gay relative is constantly belittled and emotionally abused by her own dad because of her beliefs, etc).

    I promise not to make fun of your beliefs so long as people will just let me be an atheist (and even if people won’t I still won’t make fun of your beliefs, it’s just the right thing to do).

    As for this comment “Personally, giving up on faith would be the easy way out”… nothing could be further from the truth. Everyday I think about how much easier my life would be if I believed. My family would respect me and love me, and my life would stop being an eternal battle of doing what I in my heart believe to be right versus making my family happy (nothing is worse than breaking your mother’s heart). But I can’t make myself believe in god any more than you could make yourself an Atheist.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about how you are tormented by your family for your personal decisions. That sucks. I would be disappointed, to be frank, if my children decided not to practice Catholicism but I hope that I would never shun or hate them for their choice. It’s their choice to make. Any life choice that isn’t ‘conventional’ can be difficult. I’ve always been unconventional and many who really know me get me but many don’t. Although I was raised in the same faith as you I have certainly rebelled against what friends and family and clergy thought this religion should be. But the very word ‘catholic’ emcompasses a lot of breadth and room to grow into the Christian a believer wishes to be. Like you I want to live my beliefs in peace and won’t try to convert anyone who isn’t willing. My faith doesn’t revolve around punishment avoidance (I’m not there for the insurance policy) but a constant struggle toward understanding, forgiveness and love. It shouldn’t and can’t be forced on anyone.

  2. “The thing is… I don’t need a book to tell me how to be a good person. I’m a good person and do good things because it’s the right thing to do…”

    This is nonsense. YOU do good things and are a “good” person because you are at the end of a singular chain connected to other chains going back to a book that defines good and what is right and wrong. While any individual’s single chain may have missing links, the other chains make up for it.

    People of today, including atheists, have their ethics due to standing on the backs of religion before them.

    When atheists decide to break away from the chain and stand on their own two feet, it resulted in The Cult of Reason during the French Revolution, Plutarco Elías Calles’ Mexico, Gosateizm, The Cultural Revolution of China, Enver Hoxha’s Albania, Khmer Rouge, North Korea, etc.

    IOW, despite the rejections of militant atheists, it’s a good thing that the West had a Judeo-Christian foundation and for the most part has rejected and resisted Atheism. The belief in God resulted in Science, Freedom and prosperity. The United States of America being the Pièce de résistance.

    Sadly, Order from chaos shows that what can be built can also be blown up. This consequence being evident in the decline of the West in so many areas.

    I’m not saying that Atheism is the cause but rather a result that becomes a contributing factor.

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