November 25, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Anti-Religious Sentiment Increases in Intensity

The two poles could hardly be farther apart.  In the East, a hundred million radical Muslims swear death to all Americans and Jews and work themselves into frenzies of jihad for the worldwide triumph of Islam.  In the West, radical atheists are determined to eradicate religion from the Earth.  Somewhere in between, millions of Christians practice their faith in peace, serve their fellow man, study science and other academic subjects at the university, and wonder why they are labeled with the same word fundamentalist the atheists use to describe Islamic radicals.
    The rhetoric against religion from certain scientific quarters has reached almost evangelistic zeal.  In an article for the New York Times, George Johnson surveyed a cross-section of leading atheists who agree that religion is bad, but differ only on how best to eradicate it.  Opinions expressed at a Salk Institute Forum this month varied from appeals for rational dialogue (Joan Roughgarden and Lawrence Krauss) to stringent opposition and condemnation (Richard Dawkins).  None were pleased at the Templeton Foundation’s muddying of the waters by rewarding leaders who try to bridge science and religion.  Carolyn Porco even suggested atheists start an alternative religion based on science, with Neil deGrasse Tyson as minister.  In a similar vein, Wired Magazine had a cover story on “the new atheism” this month, and US News and World Report discussed “the new unbelievers.”  What’s new about it?

Well, extremism, for one thing.  Not only do the new atheists find religion intellectually irredeemable, morally dubious, and socially unnecessary, they judge it a clear and present danger, maybe even the greatest threat to the survival of the species.  If Voltaire wanted to “wipe out the infamy” of religion, he really meant that he—like Thomas Jefferson and a number of America’s founders—wanted a more reasonable deism, a philosophical religion that acknowledged an original designer but got rid of all the supernatural stuff, including revealed truths and moral dictates that ran counter to reason.  But religion made reasonable or understood symbolically will not do for Dawkins or Harris (though the latter sees some Eastern spiritual disciplines as acceptable, and possibly even helpful to the moral life).  Both are intent to show, as Dawkins puts it, “that moderate religion makes the world safe for fundamentalism.”

What inflames the evangelistic zeal from atheist quarters?  Logan Gage, writing for Discovery Institute, thinks it stems from uneasiness over what science is finding both in physics and biology.  The cosmos is showing more evidence of fine tuning, and the smallest units of life are showing unimagined complexity.  A thorn in their side is that the prominent British former atheist Antony Flew has now admitted that “the findings of more than 50 years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”
Update 11/27/2006:  In an op-ed piece for the New York Times Nov. 27, Richard Schweder commented on the “Atheists Agonistes” who are “so conspicuously up in arms these days.”  He attributes the reaction not so much to being provoked by religious zealots, but to anxiety over the collapse of the “illusory” concept of the Enlightenment which, “a theory of history, … has had a predictive utility of approximately zero.”  The 20th century was the worst one yet, he said, and the dance on the fallen Berlin wall was not the “the apotheosis of the Enlightenment.”

Richard Dawkins’ hatred for religion is so extreme, even some of his fellow atheists feel he goes too far.  Where did this passion come from?  Did he have a bad experience in his youth?  If he really believes all things are evolutionary products, then the vast majority of people who believe in a supreme being and true spiritual life must be in the evolutionary mainstream.  Why, then, is he opposing it?  Is it because he assumes his rationality stems from an external Truth independent of his own brain cells?  How could that be, if they have evolved by natural selection under the control of selfish genes and memes?  If the memes are directing mankind’s evolution toward religion, then it is irrational to resist it.
    Dawkins and his atheist church may soon wish for the friendship of Christians and Jews.  Anyone who has been watching the rapid growth of radical Islamic fascism must be extremely worried.  The producers of the documentary Obsession, who recorded Muslim imams chanting hate to throngs of passionate disciples, and showed Muslim students being taught hate and being trained for jihad from earliest childhood, said their jolting film represents the tip of the iceberg.  Such teaching is daily fare in Muslim countries.  Islamic-controlled states are educating children to venerate hate and death, to believe Jews came from pigs and monkeys, and to believe the greatest thing in life is to commit suicide while killing as many Jews, Christians and non-Muslims as possible.  What’s most alarming is that they are gaining the power, technology and numbers to actually carry out their dream of world conquest.
    Atheists are in the cross-hairs, too.  What must Dawkins feel when he sees huge crowds of passionate Muslims chanting death to the Western world?  What passes through his mind when Muslim dictators are on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons, and have the full intent to use them?  What does he think at the alarming birth rate disparity between Muslim immigrants and Europeans?  He must realize there is no use talking science or reason with these people.  There aren’t enough atheists to stand against this growing threat, even if they would listen.   Is this a time to hold book-signing parties for The God Delusion in America and Britain, when jihadists are openly threatening his homeland on the streets of London?
    Dawkins and his fellow atheists had better wake up.  It’s the Judeo-Christian West that has granted them the freedom of speech and tolerance for their views.  Dawkins has thanked his patrons by wandering all over the West with his hate-religion message.  This is cowardly.  If he really believed it, and if had the courage of his convictions, he would use his reason to target the biggest problem first.  He would take his message in person to Gaza, Tehran, Beirut and Damascus.  He would use his influence to stop the lies and hate being perpetrated to children and the ignorant poor.  Christians and Jews are too easy a target.  Let’s see how his message of reason and science holds up in the face of Islam.
    For their own survival, for the survival of the science and reason they love, the atheists need to drop the moral-equivalency rhetoric and understand who their allies are.  Because of their numbers and values, Christians and Jews are their best allies in the looming war to save Western civilization.  It’s not helping for the atheists to lump Christians and Jews in the same category with the jihadists.  Any day, any time now, there could well be a huge attack that will make 9-11 look like a picnic.  Scientists, academics and secular humanists lack the will and the numbers to stop this threat.  It is looking increasingly hopeless that any Western political leader will be able to overcome the inertia of political correctness that stifles effective resistance against the extreme fanaticism of Islam, the most backward, reactionary and irrational religion of all.  Some pundits are already writing off Europe and expecting it to fall under Muslim control – a comeback from the Battle of Tours (732 A.D.).
    Fast-forward a few years.  Picture Dawkins and other scientific elitists under Sharia law.  Imagine them forced to convert to Islam or die.  Will they have the moral fiber to resist when a sword is at their necks?  It’s been too easy till now to rant against the easy religious targets: Christians and Jews.  Let them watch Oxford and its libraries burn as a nuclear bomb from Iran hits London, destroying priceless history as hordes of Muslims cheer and scream for more.  Foxhole conversion or no, the companionship of a compassionate Christian who can give reasons why this is happening and why he believes the Prince of Peace will ultimately prevail, may be too precious a thing to criticize any longer.  Come now, and let us reason together.

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Categories: Politics and Ethics

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