Are “Evangelical Atheists” Too Outspoken?

Paul Kurtz has an editorial in the latest issue of Free Inquiry that is worth reading.

He’s talking about the slew of attention and controversy brought about by the release of atheist-themed books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. Kurtz argues that this should not be surprising:

We dissenters now comprise some 14 to 16 percent of the population. Why should religion be held immune from criticism, and why should the admission that one is a disbeliever be considered so disturbing? The Bush administration has supported faith-based charities—though their efficacy has not been adequately tested; it has prohibited federal funding for stem cell research; it has denied global warming; and it has imposed abstinence programs instead of promoting condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. Much of this mischief is religiously inspired. How can we remain mute while Islam and the West are poised for a possible protracted world conflagration in the name of God?

There’s also a harsh rebuke against those who label outspoken atheists as “evangelical”:

What is often overlooked by the critics of “evangelical atheism” is that skepticism about the existence of God does not by itself define who and what we are. For there is a commitment to the realization of human freedom and happiness in this life here and now and to a life of excellence, creativity, and fulfillment. Life is meaningful without the illusion of immortality. There is also the recognition that the cultivation of the common moral decencies—caring, empathy, and altruism—is an essential part of our relating to other human beings in our communities of interaction. Humanists have always been concerned with achieving justice in society. Many of the heroes and heroines in human history were freethinkers who contributed significantly to democratic progress and a defense of human rights. Indeed, the agenda of secular humanism is twofold: first is the quest for truth, a critical examination of the assumptions of supernatural religion in the light of science; second is the development of affirmative ethical alternatives for the individual, the society in which he or she lives, and also the planetary community at large. To label us “evangelical atheists” without recognizing our affirmative commitment to secular humanist morality is an egregious error.

There’s a lot more about politics and the religious conflicts in Islam, if you’re interested in reading the whole thing.

Which you should.

Because it’s good stuff.

(via Daniel Morgan)

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