Roger Scruton of The American Spectator says his atheist parents would have been appalled by the “New Humanism”:
But the vision is not that of my parents. The new humanism spends little time exalting man as an ideal. It says nothing, or next to nothing, about faith, hope, and charity; is scathing about patriotism; and is dismissive of those rearguard actions in defense of the family, public spirit, and sexual restraint that animated my parents. Instead of idealizing man, the new humanism denigrates God and attacks the belief in God as a human weakness. My parents too thought belief in God to be a weakness. But they were reluctant to deprive other human beings of a moral prop that they seemed to need.
Observing the new humanism from my old perspective I am struck not only by its lack of positive belief, but also by its need to compensate for this lack by antagonism toward an imagined enemy.
In London, the atheist bus ads seem to be affirming a way of thinking that is becoming popular.
In America, though, we do have “an enemy” (to use Scruton’s word) — we have plenty of people who seek to convert everyone and will stop at nothing to make their religious views into law.
Those bus ads — which are not antagonistic at all to me — are a way of letting other atheists know they are not alone. It’s a “bat signal” of sorts, calling out to other non-theists. It says there is nothing to be ashamed of and we ought to be proud of our lack of religious beliefs.
Once we are confident that we won’t be condemned for our atheism, we can focus on how to make our lives even better. But it’s hard to be optimistic and cheerful when so many of us can’t be honest about who we are.
Furthermore, we don’t want our children to go through what Scruton went through — we don’t want to send our children to religious schools, force them to worship some deity, and go to Sunday School. Those are not harmless activities, as Scruton seems to imply.
We need to stop being silent. We’ve done that for too long. Now, it’s time to speak up.
Some people, like Scruton, will automatically see that as aggressive. I don’t. I find it refreshing and welcome.
(via The Daily Dish — Thanks to Yohan for the link!)