Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The New Atheism and Their Agenda

I read with interest about Robert Wright in this month's Foreign Policy magazine. Wright is an agnostic and the author of The Evolution of God. His main idea is that as civilizations get prosperous, they become more open-minded about things like God, I assume. Well, he's right on that score.

But Wright is not to be confused with that group of New Atheist promoters like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Instead Wright proposes that religion is indeed a force, but a force for ill. He predicts that ultimately religion will settle down and marry "modernity" based on the fact that us believers will come to our senses eventually given what is happening in the world, and we'll ignore messages that come from on high, that is, God.

But Wright has a very insightful take on the actual New Atheist group. He shared it in Foreign Policy, Special 2009 Issue. Here's what I gleaned from what he wrote:

1. New Atheism was launched as a "crusade against belief" started by Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris (Hitchens joined them later).
2. Their main short-goal (aimed at intellectuals) was not to turn believers into atheists. Instead, now get this, it was, according to Wright to "turn atheists into New Atheists -- fellow fire-breathing preachers of the anti-gospel. The point was to make it not just uncool to believe, but cool to ridicule believers."

That's startling news, perhaps equivalent to the fact that scientists plan and actually manipulate data to prove their theory. [In fact, I've written elsewhere that Dawkins does just that -- ridicules unbelievers. I said he has the audacity to say evolution is a fact; his book proves it; no respectable scientist will deny it; and no one reading his book can close it without believing in evolution. Not so, Mr. Dawkins. But let's see how well the New Atheists' main short-term goal is really doing.

According to Wright, intellectuals who aren't religious or conservative, and some among the secular left, are starting to doubt the real goal of the New Atheists. They're seeing there's a difference between being "a progressive force" and ending up abetting fundamentalists and reactionaries here at home and around the world. How's that you say?

Well, Wright suggests, if you're pushing evolution in the public school, you try to appease conservative Christians by convincing them that their children won't be turned into atheists when they sit under such teaching (yeah right). A zealous promoter of Atheism who ridicules believers, like Dawkins, doesn't help the cause at all.

On the global stage, Wright argues that the idea of anything "Western" being linked to "aggressive atheism" [remember that's where Allah is cherished] doesn't go over too well in enticing the radical Islamists to buy in to our peace efforts.

Wright believes that the New Atheism also proposes that "religion is not just factually wrong, but the root of evil." Wow, you didn't know that did you? By association, it is Believers in the world who are the source of evil according to the New Atheists. That thinking, Wright suggests, would imply that if we could somehow remove the religious factor from the Israeli/Palestinian situation, we would soon be able to settle the differences involving the land involved in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute with perhaps a really good mediator. As long as religion plays a part, peace will be elusive according to the New Atheists, especially the likes of Sam Harris.

According to Robert Wright, all the great religions "have shown time and again that they're capable of tolerance and civility..." when their believers are not threatened or disrespected. He seems to imply that first comes the non-threatening and respect of a religion's adherents and they in turn become tolerant and civil. Think of that with respect to Christianity. The secular world today shows very little respect for Christianity and its believers. In many parts of the world, their lives are being threatened. In North America, our freedoms are evaporating. Yet, are true Christ-like, non-fanatical or dogmatic Christians intolerant or uncivil? I think not.

Yet, if Wright is correct, and certainly many would support him, it is possible that we're treated the way we are because the main picture that the world has of us is being delivered to them via the likes of the Crusaders of old, the Residential School masters, the fallen priests, and more consistently the radical fanatics that don't know when to stop.

And if that's the case, what can Christ-like Christians do? Wright started his piece in Foreign Policy by saying the New Atheist crusade is in trouble but not "because the citadels of faith are rolling back the tide of unbelief." But we should be. We should be showing the world that 'believing' makes sense. And we should be doing it with how we treat each other, how we treat those that are not in agreement with us, and how well we know our 'stuff'. At the same time, we need to know our rights and to pursue them legitimately.

Yes, the New Atheist movement may have a faulty goal, but make no mistake about it, while the intellectuals may have some problem with it, the majority of the rank and file in this world do not. They see it as a great opportunity to knock the holy people. In fact, I just realized that a major conservative national paper in Canada just started an on-line section called "Holy Post" to address religious issues. How sweet. Thanks but no thanks, for the sarcasm.

-- Ken B. Godevenos, Presentalogist (bringing you today's news that may well impact your tomorrow). Check us out at and . You can sign up for this blog elsewhere on this site.

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