As so often, we close our religion desk coverage for the week with the new atheists kindly supplying the entertainment, today via a polite atheist at Salon:
Richard Dawkins’ moralizing atheism: Science, self-righteousness and militant belief – and disbelief
Books by Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens as well as Dawkins (they have been dubbed the ‘four horsemen of the non-apocalypse’) argued that religious faith could or should be brought to an end. Dawkins made himself the cheerleader of the ‘new atheists’ when he set up the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science to hasten the day. His book The God Delusion makes the argument at length, but it is his frequent sulphurous outbursts on Twitter that better illustrate the furious tenor to which the spat (at this level it certainly cannot be called a debate) between religion and science has risen.
Sample Tweet: ‘If one person claimed that a wafer was literally the body of a 1st century Jew,you’d certify him.That’s what Catholics officially believe.’ First of all, if a person claimed this, you wouldn’t actually certify him (or her) for this harmless delusion under any reasonable mental health legislation; which means this is a gratuitous insult. Second, it’s not quite what Catholics believe in any case: the bread and wine remain bread and wine (if one were rude enough to interpose a chemical analysis, say), but in the act of consecration their substance is changed into the substance of the body of Christ; according to the Catechism, it is a mode of His presence. Scientists may well have trouble with this, but semioticians will have less. Third, if it is what Catholics believe, then it is what they truly believe, not what they ‘officially believe’, a phrase that unreasonably projects Dawkins’s own distrust into the minds of these believers.
Because of his combative language, and because his religiose scientism is so curiously like the fundamentalism he is attacking, Dawkins himself has become a target for abuse, although his supporters claim this is only because the believers can find no answer to his logic. Dawkins’s bracing asperities are now routinely met in kind: ‘Puffed up, self-regarding, vain, prickly and militant’ was one columnist’s string of adjectives for him. More.
Yes, Dawkins has been one of our better performing investments, especially after we set him up with a Twitter account. 😉 If his fellow new atheists persuade him to retire, we’ll have a hard time replacing him.
Also: Missing: One messiah-like portrait of Richard Dawkins
Help wanted ad: Monitor circuit between Dawkins’ Send button and Twitter (Hey, not a chance, kiddo. Dawkins is our click bait. We’d like to place him on reality TV, maybe with Duck Dynasty.)
Richard Dawkins: One-man circular firing squad (We always give him blanks, and he doesn’t notice, thank goodness.)
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