Alternet to the rescue! (We didn’t know it was this bad, by the way):
We Can Save Atheism From the New Atheists Like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris
There must be another way for nonbelievers than to transform into toxic know-it-alls.
As a philosophical tendency, the New Atheists were popularisers rather than innovators, using advances in biology and neuroscience to illustrate pretty well-worn arguments against religion. Indeed, in some crucial ways, they represent an intellectual step backward from a left that had recognised atheism as necessary but scarcely sufficient.
As early as 1842, Marx dismissed those who trumpeted their disbelief to children as “assuring everyone who is ready to listen to them that they are not afraid of the bogeyman”. For him, intellectual disproofs of God were trivial; what mattered was building a world that didn’t give rise to mystification of any kind.
That is, if you investigate the material basis of religious belief, you immediately confront a phenomenon that operates on many different levels. In particular circumstances and particular settings a faith may function as a guide to morality, or an aesthetic, or a social network, or a collection of cultural practices, or a political identity, or a historical tradition, or some combination of any or all of those things.
You don’t have to be a believer to see that religion genuinely offers something to its adherents (often when nothing else is available) and that what it provides is neither inconsequential nor silly.
By contrast, the New Atheists engage with religion purely as a set of ideas, a kind of cosmic rulebook for believers. … More.
Long may they rant. It gets better all the time. There is no message except that there is no message.
And in practice, people whose behaviour is not governed by religion increasingly find their behaviour governed by…government. Well, in most cases they chose it and voted for it, right? Pity only those who didn’t.
See also: Why Dawkins should have listened to the philosophers. Who often know something about logical reasoning
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