The Dawkins/Dennet/Harris/Myers kraken called what it really is. March 22, 2007Posted by Administrator in atheism, Idiots, Smart People.
Dumb, by George Weigel.
But as Sam Schulman recently pointed out in a perceptive Wall Street Journal essay, what’s really striking about the new atheism is its tone. In a word, it’s angry; or, as Schulman writes, “Belief, in their eyes, is not just misguided but contemptible…Today’s atheists are particularly disgusted by the religious training of young people — which Dr. Dawkins calls ‘a form of child abuse.'” This is, in part, the aforementioned snobbery; as Schulman nicely puts it, the new atheists imagine that “believing in God is a form of stupidity, which sets off their own intelligence.” But the anger is such that it warps whatever cleverness might be at work in the likes of Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris. The agnostic H.L. Mencken (a vociferous critic of what he regarded as the absurdities of popular religiosity during the Roaring Twenties) was one of the few commentators who could do brilliant social satire while writing “at the top of his voice,” as one biographer put it. The angers of Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris render their writing merely shrill.
And dumb. Read the atheist trinity, and you’ll be amazed at their self-regard — which is based, in part, on a Captain Reynaud-like wonder (“I’m shocked, shocked…”) at discovering the obvious: that the Bible is neither geology text nor critical biography; that, over the centuries, Christian hagiographers have embellished the stories they tell about saintly people; that some uncritically examined beliefs are, in fact, superstitious. Oh, really?
Which is to say, again, they’re dumber as well as angrier. Indeed, were I back teaching and a graduate student handed me an ill-informed screed like Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation, I’d gently inform the aspiring scholar that there were two options available: an “F,” or a return to the drawing board for some serious thought — the kind of thought that begins with empathetic curiosity and an open mind, not with contempt and intellectual rigidity.
Oh, go read it all. Niftiness.
HT: Mark Shea