Monday, May 07, 2007

Fanatical Atheists: A defence. In The Ottawa Citizen.

Wow. The same paper that runs David Warren's risible column ran this column (Those fanatical atheists) in defence of the new(ish) trend of forthright questioning of religion in the media area. You have to like an opening paragraph like this:

Yesterday was one major religion's holy day. Today is another's.
Tomorrow is a third's. So I thought this is an opportune moment to say
I think all three of these faiths -- these mighty institutions, these
esteemed philosophies, these ancient and honoured traditions -- are
ridiculous quackery.

We're with you. Dawkins, Harris, et. al. have a point when they say we should hold religion to the same standards we expect from other areas of life. The ongoing deference to religion as if someone believing something without evidence makes it beyond questioning should end.

Private, quiet faith is one thing. But when the guy holding the launch
codes believes the end of the world could come any day and that's a
good thing, those who believe lives are limited to one per customer
have a problem.

Hear, hear.

Have you had this experience? I made a quip for a corporate newsletter profile about my goals in life: 'I want to live forever. So far, so good.' It's a cute comment, a throwaway really. A co-worker dropped by to let me know there was a way to live forever through 'accepting Christ as your personal...'

'Trainer? Cause I could use to boost my cardio.' That didn't end the conversation; mission unaccomplished.

Until I left, there were the occasional, awkward conversations where I would more or less joke about being a heathen and she would let me know that the Kingdom Halls everywhere are open to everyone.

I'd like private faith to remain private, especially in the workplace.

Anyway, on believing without evidence:

This is completely contrary to how we live the rest of our lives. We
demand proof of even trivial claims ("John was the main creative force
behind Sergeant Pepper") and we dismiss those who make such claims
without proof. We are still more demanding when claims are made on
matters that are at least temporarily important ("Saddam Hussein has
weapons of mass destruction" being a notorious example).

So isn't
it odd that when claims are made about matters as important as the
nature of existence and our place in it we suddenly drop all
expectation of proof and we respect those who make and believe claims
without the slightest evidence? Why is it perfectly reasonable to roll
my eyes when someone makes the bald assertion that Ringo was the
greatest Beatle but it is "fundamentalist" and "fanatical" to say that,
absent evidence, it is absurd to believe Muhammad was not lying or
hallucinating when he claimed to have long chats with God?

Go for it. Start asking people to back up their claims. Tell me how I'm going to live forever through Jesus, but don't mention the Bible when you formulate your proof.

Crickets chirping.

Cool. Go away and start looking stuff up.

Powered by ScribeFire.

1 comment:

David Warren said...