S.E. Cupp [an atheist blogger] is a peculiar creature: she insists that she is an atheist, but I’ve never actually seen her defend or promote or even accept the idea of atheism. Instead, all she ever does is carp at atheists for being arrogant or smug or militant or whatever the current term of opprobrium might be. I don’t really understand her game, but then, I also don’t really care — she never says anything interesting, either.
But reading her latest column, I suddenly realized what she is: she’s the Good Atheist the believers want us all to be like. Good Atheists don’t criticize religion; they praise it and make excuses for it and pine away, wishin’ they had the faith themselves. Good Atheists do criticize atheism and atheists. They work hard to tell the Bad Atheists to shut up and stop making it hard for believers to be comfortable with their superstitions. Good Atheists love C.S. Lewis, and read theologians in their spare time, and marvel at their wonderful insights.
Many religious believers are intent on getting atheists’ approval for their beliefs. If you’re hoping for that — don’t hold your breath.
“But surely you don’t mean my religion!”
If you hang around the online atheist world long enough, you’ll notice an interesting pattern. Many religious and spiritual believers who engage with atheists seem very intent on getting atheists’ approval for their beliefs.
Typically, these believers acknowledge that many religions are profoundly troubling. They share atheists’ revulsion against religious hatreds and sectarian wars. They share our repugnance with religious fraud, the charlatans who abuse people’s trust to swindle them out of money and sex and more. They share our disgust with willful religious ignorance, the flat denials of overwhelming scientific evidence that contradicts people’s beliefs. They can totally see why many atheists are so incredulous, even outraged, about the world of religion.
But they think their religion is an exception. They think their religion is harmless, a kinder, gentler faith. They think their religion is philosophically consistent, supported by reason and evidence — or at least, not flatly contradicted by it.
And they want atheists to agree.