I’ve just spent weeks immersed in Sam Harris’s rants against “religion” and against “faith,” as I’ve been preparing to do some writing on him. I’ve been working with others who are writing on Dawkins’ diatribes against “religion” and “faith.” The late Christopher Hitchens has been on my mind recently; he says “religion” poisons everything.
These authors and others treat “religion” and “faith” as if it were the same thing everywhere, a homogeneous global agreement to reject reason and good sense.
So with that as recent background, it was with great amazement that I read this in a comment on this blog today.
I’m wondering if you can expand on this statement. How exactly do you connect “millions of bodies” to atheism? Atheism is simply the lack of belief in God. Being an Atheist does not mean that you are a murderer, thief, rapist, devil worshiper, or anything else. It simply means that you don’t believe in God.
Look, if “atheism” is just the lack of belief in God, then “religion” is the lack of non-belief in God. Being “religious” doesn’t mean you are poisonous or against reason or anything else. It simply means that you don’t non-believe in God.
Ridiculous? Of course. But if the New Atheists can lump all “religion” into one blobulous category and treat it all as if it were one thing, why can’t we do that with atheism?
Still ridiculous? Of course. At least partially so. The tu quoque form of argument is fallacious in most circumstances, except when it’s used to show the absurdity of the other’s position. I could use it that way to show how absurd it is to treat “religion” as the same thing in all its manifestations everywhere, but there’s no need for that. It’s idiotic enough on the face of it, without needing arguments in Latin and with italic font.
So why bring it up if it’s all so ridiculous? Because it’s so ridiculous. Specifically, it’s ridiculous for atheists to claim that atheism is nothing but a lack of belief in God. It’s also (in its most common naturalist/materialist form) a lack of belief in:
- Transcendent moral values and duties
- Ultimate accountability
- Knowledge of what is really good and really evil
- An explanation for the real, ontological worth and dignity of human beings
Or, atheism in that form entails the belief that
- There are no transcendent moral values or duties
- There is no ultimate accountability
- There is no knowing what is really good and really evil
- There is no explanation for the real, ontological worth and dignity of human beings, so it’s quite possible that human beings don’t have any special worth or dignity
These beliefs have consequences.
So I say to you who would try to posture your atheistic ways out of all this, forget it. Why make yourself look ridiculous?
(There’s more here.)