A couple months ago, I wrote about The Clinton School of Public Service (at the University of Arkansas) and its new publication Frank. In the first issue, Joseph Ballard interviewed Richard Dawkins. That interview is now available on the magazine’s website.
Patel speaks of the two sides of the faith divide.
Not faithless versus faithful, though.
Rather, it’s the totalitarians versus the pluralists:
On one side of the faith line are the religious totalitarians. Their conviction is that only one interpretation of one religion is a legitimate way of being, believing and belonging on Earth. Everyone else needs to be cowed, converted, condemned or killed. Religious totalitarians are not marked by conservative, traditionalist or orthodox religious beliefs. Rather, they are defined by their behavior, driven by the goal of having their group dominate while everyone else suffocates.
On the other side of the faith line are the religious pluralists. Pluralists hold that people believing in different creeds and belonging to different communities need to learn to live together in equal dignity and mutual loyalty. Religious pluralism is neither mere coexistence nor forced consensus. It is a form of proactive cooperation that affirms the identity of the constituent communities, while emphasizing that the well-being of each and all depends on the health of the whole. It is the belief that the common good is best served when each community has a chance to make its own unique contribution.
But where would atheists stand on this issue?
Do we really want the “well-being” of all different faiths? We’d rather people see reason and drop their religious faith altogether. We’re not going to use violence to make that happen, but we don’t really want to see any religion — much less all of them — thriving.
We all know atheists who would fit the totalitarian category a little better. These are the people who are “driven by the goal of having their group dominate while everyone else suffocates.”
But there’s a difference between “militant atheists,” Islamic Jihadists, and Fundamentalist Christians.
A few questions to think about:
Is there an alternative category (or more) that Patel left out?
Where do you fall on the spectrum (if, indeed, we just stick with Patel’s two sides)?
Where should atheists be on the spectrum?