Aggressive British Atheism

The Telegraph of London gives space to secularist A.C.Grayling, who argues that religious believers are dangerous kooks.

Grayling dishes out the weary old argument that all religion is dangerous because of the atrocities committed in it’s name. What I can never quite grasp is that these arguments come from guys who, on paper, seem to be quite intelligent.

OK, atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, but you have to set against the atrocities all the good things done in the name of religion. What do these guys do with all the schools, hospitals, clinics, hospices and orphanages set up by religious people? What do they do with all the advances in medicine, health, welfare, human rights and the liberal arts motivated by religion? What do they do with all the great art, music, architecture and culture inspired by religion?

On the other side of the equation, why are they so ominously silent about the atrocities committed by atheist regimes? The Gulag wasn’t run by the Russian Orthodox Church. Auschwitz wasn’t a Lutheran detention center, Mussolini wasn’t a Catholic cardinal. The French revolution wasn’t set up by a Catholic social agency. The Chinese cultural revolution wasn’t a Buddhist outfit, the killing fields of Cambodia were not run by Buddhist monks, the Japanese dictatorship wasn’t run by Shinto priests.

These guys are getting tough against religious believers because they say we’re aggressive. It feels to me like it is Dawkins and Grayling and Philip Pullman and the rest of the British atheistic intelligentsia who are getting stroppy.

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  • I’ve read Sam Harris, Dawkins et al, and agree, what they leave out counts for more than what they include.I get the feeling that they’re getting a bit shrill, sensing that atheism has lost the initiative.In a broader, longer-term view, I sense that the whole Enlightenment/ Rationalism/ Atheism worldview is dying, right here in our little lifetimes.

  • I agree. Dying belief systems tend to produce a particularly nasty sort of fanatics. The most interesting thing about the current crop is the fact that all of their arguments are cases of the pot calling the kettle black. “You’re intolerant, so I’m not going to tolerate you.” ( Don’t laugh, I once saw an online group of neo-pagans, whose motto was “we tolerate everything but intolerance have a massive attack of confusion when someone told them they had to tolerate Christians. ) Every one of their arguments is more applicable to themselves than to anyone else. I suspect the gargoyles have a part in it.

  • “The Gulag wasn’t run by the Russian Orthodox Church…”GREAT quote, Father! I’m going to have to memorize that whole paragraph and spit it out as a single explosive tirade when someone uses the old saw about “evil religion.”I just read it through again–love it!