Sometimes I read an article and just end up sitting there with my mouth hanging open wondering to myself how I'm supposed to react to it, what does it mean, do the tubes is my brainbox have enough capacity to process it?
It’s no good, Dawkins. No one’s going to abandon religion because some atheist is banging on at them about science
There’s a religious slot broadcast every morning on the radio, called Thought for the Day, and it’s marvellous. Because it usually involves some bishop telling you what he did the day before, and shovelling Jesus into it somehow. So it will go: “Last night I was watching an episode of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, in which a poor hapless restaurateur once again found himself on the wrong end of Gordon’s somewhat ribald invective. And I began to think to myself ‘Isn’t this a bit like Jesus’? Because Jesus too went out for supper one night, and that turned into a bit of a nightmare. Good morning.”
The fact that this quaint tradition endures with few complaints, despite a campaign led by the National Secular Society, suggests that the modern atheists are losing. So does the popularity of The Book of Mormon, the gloriously blasphemous musical I’ve finally seen, which, despite a swearing, camp Jesus and a plot revolving around religion being made-up nonsense, is strangely affectionate towards religion. You’re invited to judge the evangelists on what they do, rather than on what they believe, and that may be a vital part of its success, compared with the modern atheists whose attitude is: “Of COURSE Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, you idiots.”So religion, the once all-pervading ruler of kings, emperors and countries has been reduced to a morning radio segment about how Jesus helped the line cook get through Gordon Ramsay's potty mouth. This is somehow a sign that religion's still doing just fine? Checkmate, atheists!
The broadway musical Book of Mormon, written by two atheists and sure to have been banned only a century ago and to have led to the burning of said atheists a couple of centuries before; how is this not a sign of religion losing its relevance and grip on our culture? A song and dance routine that affectionately undermines the primary claim of religion by pointing out it is merely a made up human artifice is not indicative of a weakening of the religious resolve? Really?
What could author Mark Steel be talking about? It's hard to say because then he goes on a well-worn attack against those nasty New Atheists who dare to question, ridicule or mock those who believe myths for which there is no credible evidence.
Richard Dawkins, for example, complained that a Muslim political writer wasn’t a “serious journalist” because he “believes Mohamed flew to heaven on a winged horse”. I suppose if Dawkins had been in Washington when Martin Luther King made his famous speech, he’d have shouted: “Never mind your dream, how can Jonah have lived in a whale, you silly Christian knob?”I still don't see what the big fuss is with Richard Dawkins' comment. For me, the job of a serious journalist is to be skeptical and to dig for the facts. They should be as close to reality as possible. A journalist who seriously believes someone flew into heaven on a winged horse doesn't strike me as someone who has done all of his homework. In principle it's no different from a journalist who believes Obama is a shape-shifting lizard; John Smith found gold tablets in his backyard and translated them with a magical hat; or Thetans are the ghostly remains of a civilization that was blown to smithereens inside of a volcano with nukes billions of years ago.
Of course, this is all technical. I'm absolutely certain one could be a Muslim in name but not believe such fairy stories - a secular Muslim. And even if this were not the case, humans are gifted with a well-developed ability to compartmentalize competing beliefs. So the same mind could hold everything else up to a strong and rational critical eye and still believe in the most insane mythologies simultaneously. The journalist could be an excellent one, just don't trust him with any stories about religion that intersect this compartmentalized woo. Dawkins has every right to call him out on the Pegasus myth.
As for the comparison between Martin Luther King and journalist Mehdi Hasan, it is a false equivalence. It's Hasan's job to report on facts and communicate them to his readers. It was King's 'job' to stir the hearts and inspire America to rise up and fight for civil rights. Steele should be aware that facts are seldom required to arouse the passions of one's readership.
Steele seems to go on to say that folks like Dawkins are vile for judging the religious based on what they believe.
It’s almost as if the modern atheist is in agreement with the religious fundamentalist that a person’s attitude towards God is the most important aspect of their character.As a modern atheist, I cannot help but feel rather sorry for those who believe in God, but this is their right. However, the real problem is those who let their religious beliefs affect their actions in ways that affect others in negative ways. Do not limit my rights based off some bronze age myth that would fail any modern day ethical sniff test.
I too am happy to judge anyone based on their actions but I'm also aware that one's beliefs inform their actions and that ridiculous beliefs are not above ridicule.
And when it comes to banging on about science: It has been an effective approach. Scientists and science popularizers have been doing this for years. Carl Sagan's Cosmos had a profound effect on me and many others and no doubt the modern Fox reboot will too. The only way to convince others their points of view are delusional is to expose them to as much reality as possible.
Okay, this is getting rambly. There seem to be four points here, I think.
First, religion is doing just fine thanks regardless of what the atheists are doing.
Religion is certainly losing a grip on power and influence in our society but I suppose many people still have warm fuzzy spiritual feelings? It remains to be seen whether this is directly due to the atheists, I would suspect it's a combination of things. I know I get warm and fuzzy spiritual-like feelings while watching Cosmos. I wonder if that's the direction things will go?
Second, mean atheists like Dawkins aren't helping to convert people to atheists:
Certainly, when I was on the fence atheist, The God Delusion helped push me over the edge and gave me the courage to tell myself for the first time that I was atheist. I would imagine it had the same affect on others.
Third, pushing science (e.g. reality) onto deluded religious folk is just not going to work.
People leave religion for different reasons. However, from my personal experience at least, an increase in scientific literacy did weaken my belief in religious fairy tales.
Fourth, one should not judge people based on their religion but on their actions.
The modern atheist often points to atrocities carried out by religious institutions, such as the tyranny of the Taliban or the child abuse of the Catholic Church, but isn’t it the actions of these people that are vile, not the religion itself?I've never been able to grasp this logic and this is why I cannot imagine how decent people can keep calling themselves Catholic and keep paying lip service to the Pope.
If mail carriers were found to quite frequently rob homeowners while delivering the mail, one would blame the postal service and demand a criminal investigation. The executives at the top would be severely punished if it was shown they knew this was going on. Well, the Catholic Church claims that the being ultimately at the top is God and God Knows.
I wonder if Steele has ever actually picked up a Bible or a Koran and read it. I would say that it's often the actions of the religious that are good in spite of their religions either being seriously flawed or vile - or at least large parts of their holy books. This is why the really nasty pieces of work are often the most religiously literate when it comes to knowing - nay, memorizing - the holy books upon which the religions are supposed to be based.
There is so much here to address that I hardly believe I was even able to begin.