Mindless argument found in godless books [Essay subtitle]
..."the new atheism" is not particularly new. It belongs to an intellectual genealogy stretching back hundreds of years ... [It is]driven by a visceral contempt for the personal faith of others....
... In describing their atheism as illiberal, I do not mean to imply that the new atheists are closet totalitarians. On the contrary ... Yet the fact remains that the atheism of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens is a brutally intolerant, proselytizing faith, out to rack up conversions.
... the tone of today's atheist tracts is so unremittingly hostile that one wonders if their authors really mean it when they express the hope, as Dawkins does in a representative passage, that "religious readers who open ['The God Delusion'] will be atheists when they put it down."
... It is with this enmity, this furious certainty, that our ideological atheists lapse most fully into illiberalism.
... To be liberal in the classical sense is to accept intellectual variety--and the social complexity that goes with it--as the ineradicable condition of a free society.
Liberal atheists accept this situation; ideological atheists do not.
Monday, January 7, 2008
The (not so) “new atheism”
Having recently read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion I very much appreciated the insights offered in this essay by Damon Linker (published in today’s National Post). Linker provides an excellent overview of the history of atheistic thought and puts into context the nasty, ideological "new atheism" espoused by Dawkins, Hitchens and others: