The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Atheism – Some Assembly Required

According to Richard Dawkins, everything in the world is reducible to reason except, apparently, his beliefs. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he fails to see that religion has ever had any positive affect on humanity at any time in history. Then he starts going a bit frothy and saying things like “Religion is Evil”, over and over again, just to show how rational all us atheists are.

I’m sorry: “Religion is Evil”? Which one? All of them? And is it exclusively evil that is practised by all these religions, or are they occasionally known to indulge in the odd good deed? And while we’re at it, are we talking absolutely and including past and future times, or am I to take the statement as representing a contemporary snapshot of the entirety of Earth’s religions? Aren’t we atheists supposed to be the sane and thoughtful ones?

And then it occurs to me that all these questions are irrelevant. There is no point asking them as there is next to no likelihood that they will be satisfactorily answered. It isn’t a considered, rationally derived statement of position. “Religion is Evil” is simply a declaration of the Secular Humanist Creed, recited faithfully from the Gospel according to Richard Dawkins. This is totally fine. Everyone has to believe in something, so why not Rationalist Secular Humanism? There are worse things to believe in. Mosaic law, for instance. Or anything said by Cory Bernardi.

Where this simple, uncomplicated kind of belief becomes problematic, however, is when it is applied in public religious and political debate. In the never-ending argument between the faithful and the unbelieving, there is a depressing tendency for each side to appear as wacky as the other.

Unfortunately, one rational decision (atheism) a philosopher doth not make. Logic and the rules of evidence are not innate – they must be painstakingly learned. Attacks on the Church, to stand any chance of being taken seriously, require equal or greater levels of scholarship to that commonly possessed by priests and theologians. This requires serious and lengthy study in several diverse academic fields. Just conducting a considered evaluation of the Bible, OT and NT, represents years of careful study.

So, a mind that has vacated God is not a mind that can automatically be considered enlightened by reason or illuminated by the pure light of science. Nor is it a mind that has necessarily been equipped to do effective combat in the atheist cause. It’s very much the same mind that was recently capable of believing in the resurrection of some bloke called Christ. The same mind, no smarter or dimmer, no more or less ignorant, just changed.

Atheism is not a free pass into intellectualism. Atheism does not make anyone an automatic expert on history or comparative theology. An atheist who doesn’t know what he’s talking about is just as wrong as a believer who is equally ignorant.

But it is only the religious who have an excuse for talking nonsense. The atheist is supposed to know better.

Category: Religion

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