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A law expert’s thoughts on new atheism as a religion


Here’s an interesting older article on that subject, Michael Blank; Disestablishing Deism: Advocating Free Exercise Challenges to State-induced Invocations of God; 31 WAUJLP 157, Washington University Journal of Law and Policy (2009). Blank is quite sympathetic to atheism and his point is that atheists cannot really use the Establishment clause in the American constitution as a weapon because many atheist enterprises sound like religions themselves; he recommends using the Free Exercise clause:

Many Atheists subscribe to “religious” schemas such as Secular Humanism, which provide a discrete statement of beliefs and values. Secular Humanism has been described as an “ethical, scientific, and philosophical outlook that has changed the world.” Paul Kurtz, Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism (2000) … . Its tenets include a disbelief in god, a rejection of organized religion, a reliance on scientific naturalism, and a commitment to provide all people on Earth with basic human rights. Its goals and dogma are found in the Humanist Manifesto 2000. See id. In this Note, Atheism refers to the affirmative belief that there is no god, and that ultimate questions of morality and purpose can be answered using the scientific method.

Essentially, atheist sects, like the gnu atheists (vs. the New Atheists) successfully challenging any traditional arrangement on the basis of the establishment of religion would amount to establishing their religion.

Which is exactly what they want, of course, and it won’t be their fault if they fail to get it. Some of us wish people would be more aware of the inherent conflict between liberal democracy and claims that “ultimate questions of morality and purpose can be answered using the scientific method,” imposed, of course, on others.

Note: The most recent Uncommon Descent contest April 21-28, to give Darwinist Jerry Coyne’s new atheist crusade/jihad a name, is being judged. Results probably this evening.


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