Monday, January 17, 2011
Are the New Atheists Arrogant?
After reading S.E. Cupp's article "The arrogance of the atheists: They batter believers in religion with smug certainty" (she's subtle isn't she) I can't disagree with her. Cupp, an atheist herself, is a little upset with the new atheists approach in dealing with the ultimate question: Is there more to life than this? Here's what she says about her father becoming a theist:
"As a longtime atheist, I was a little surprised. But eventually I came to be relieved by this development. While my friends' fathers were buying flashy sports cars and exchanging their wives for models, my own father was turning inward and asking: Is there more to life than this?
I was also proud of him for becoming a student again. As I watched him pore over C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel and even neoatheist thinkers such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, I thought it amazing that he still wanted to learn something new.
It was a revelation I'd experience over and over again - meeting faithful believers and discovering that, no matter how long they'd been in the fold, many were still on a dogged quest for spiritual knowledge."
Cupp realizes that the serious Christian thinker is always learning and not static in his pursuit of God and truth. Many do not know this, but it's something that is slowly coming to public knowledge thanks to the efforts of men like Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, and many other Christian thinkers. As an atheist, Cupp was proud of her father for dealing with the tough questions that Christians face.
How does Cupp feel about the attitudes of the new atheists? Does she think that they are seriously trying engage theism and learn about it? Or does she realize that they are trying to belittle theism and trash it?
"Which brings me to the problem with modern atheism, embodied by the likes of Harris and Hitchens, authors of "The End of Faith" and "God Is Not Great," respectively. So often it seems like a conversation ender, not a conversation starter. And the loudest voices of today's militant atheism, for all their talk of rational thought, don't seem to want to do too much thinking at all. As James Wood wrote in The New Yorker, "The new atheists do not speak to the millions of people whose form of religion is far from the embodied certainties of contemporary literalism. Indeed, it is a settled assumption of this kind of atheism that there are no intelligent religious believers."
What spiritual quest are they on, except to put an abrupt end to those like my father's? For them, the science is settled, the data are conclusive and the book (no, not the Good Book) has been written. Time for everyone else to pack up and move on to other business, like, presumably, accumulating wealth and fulminating at the sight of the nearest Christmas tree.
The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer's spiritual journey. That's both meanspirited and radically unenlightened.
Though more than 95% of the world finds some meaning in faith, God-hating comic Bill Maher shrugs this off as a "neurological disorder." His version of a quest for knowledge was a series of scathing jokes at the faithfuls' expense in the documentary "Religulous."
The latest incarnation of the thought-eschewing secularist is American Atheists spokesman Dave Silverman, who sums up the argument this way on atheistnexus.org: "Religion is my b****." He has also tweeted, "Yes it is a myth. Deal with it. All delusions are myths."
It's these snarky and condescending rejections, not of faith itself but of those who profess it, that reflect a total unwillingness to learn something new about human nature, the world around us and even of science itself. While the neoatheists pay only cursory attention to dismantling arguments for God, they spend most of their time painting his followers as uncultured rubes. The fact that religion has inexplicably persisted, even despite Copernicus, Darwin and the Enlightenment, doesn't seem to have much sociological meaning for them.
The truth is, folks like Maher and Silverman don't want to know about actual belief - in fact, they are much more certain about the nature of the world than most actual believers, who understand that a measure of doubt is necessary for faith. They want to focus on the downfall of a gay pastor or the Nativity scene at a mall."
I can't add anything to Cupp's correct understanding of the new atheists' material. They don't seem to want to meet and discuss the important questions in life, but they do seem intent on destroying faith with sophomoric jokes and ad hominem fallacies. You can read S.E. Cupp's full article by clicking here. If Cupp keeps an open mind and continues on her quest she'll more than likely find what she is looking for.