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Ed Morrisey on the faith of the atheists April 6, 2007

Posted by Administrator in atheism, Cultural Pessimism, Smart People.

via Anchoress:


In the short period of time of human history when atheistic systems that force an end to religious activity have been allowed to rule, the results have been horrific and immensely bloody. And yet the neo-atheists insist that religion is the primary cause of human suffering. Hmmm.

This doesn’t mean that atheists are genocidists, any more than ugly examples like the Spanish Inquisition mean that Catholics are torturers. The fundamental flaw of the neo-atheist argument is that faith inherently creates Inquisitions, which is ridiculous. It is the accumulation of unrestrained power — and the fear of its loss — that creates both the Inquisition and the Cambodian killing fields. Power corrupts, and it corrupts the secular and the religious alike.

That is why the best forms of government keep power in the hands of the governed and set checks and balances against the abuse of power. They also allow for the free expression of religion for two reasons. First, faith is a personal choice, and any government that forbids or significantly restricts that choice will not stop its thought police at just religious choices for long. Second, societies with free access to religious faith do not create the impulse for religious totalitarianism.

The plan that neo-atheists want would impose a new belief system on people in an oppressive way that rivals any that they claim religions cause. Dionne chooses in his column to struggle through his own questions and doubts to continue to believe in God and retain his faith. As I would keep my freedom, so do I.



1. brian t - April 7, 2007

I bet your preacher has brought out the Communist Russia card, or soon will. What happened in Russia was a valuable lesson to all; there is no point in attacking religion if you are just going to replace it with something else, whether Stalin, or “the State as the Church”, and tell people to worship it. If you’re in the USA, ask: why did your Founding Fathers mandate the separation of Church and State, long before Communism? They knew what they were doing.

Can I suggest you actually go and read some of what e.g. Dawkins & Harris say? At no point do they EVER suggest imposing a belief (or lack of ) on anyone, or any form of coercion of people. Why does this “straw man” keep popping up? It’s just rhetoric from “shepherds” trying to stop their “sheep” from thinking for themselves. 8)

2. demolition65 - April 7, 2007

At no point? Nonsense. Dawkins is on record as having an aggressive form of anti-theism, even to the point of at one point signing a petition that stated the following:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make it illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16.
In order to encourage free thinking, children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching or be allowed to be defined as belonging to a particular religious group based on the views of their parents or guardians.

In fairness, Dawkins later repudiated his signature. . .but it nevertheless illustrates the level of antipathy the man feels towards religion, and his level of sympathy to coercion in diminishing religion. I often suspected that he withdrew it not because he disagreed with it, but rather he found himself running afoul of civil libertarians who were -rightfully- appalled at such a coercive policy.

So, this really is not a straw-man.

AS for what I have read, I have read Dawkins, and Harris, and Victor Stenger. Their science is fine, their philosophy and logic badly flawed. They are in the end making a faith-based, emotional appeal for the supremacy of atheism.

3. Simen - April 7, 2007

There’s a difference between saying that religion has led to harm and that religion necessarily leads to harm. Dawkins et al say the former, but often sound like they mean the latter.

The analogy isn’t really valid, either. Atheism isn’t analogous to a religion, because it doesn’t have any doctrine, or core beliefs, or ethics, or organization. Atheism is analogous to theism, which like atheism doesn’t have any doctrine, or core beliefs (except belief in a god, of course), or ethics, or organization. Dawkins & co aren’t claiming theism leads to harm, but that organized religion does. The closest thing you can come to religion is probably secular humanism, but I can’t really remember any atrocities done in the name of secular humanism.

4. demolition65 - April 7, 2007

Folks, READ THE POST!! Morrissey is saying that POWER leads to corruption, not religion, or secular humanism, or atheism.

Tho you may have a point about atheism being more like theism. Global warming is more of a religion.

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