Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Evolution of Religion

Charles Mathewes in American Interest:

It’s been an interesting decade for thinking about religion. After 9/11 it finally dawned on people that religion wasn’t going away and that ignorance about it might well be debilitating. Many did not cotton to this news; the “New Atheists” represented not so much an intellectual challenge to religious belief, but rather an adolescent cri de coeur from those who felt their fervent unbelief beleaguered by reality and their Voltairean pieties insulted by the course of history. Cornered smugness is never pretty.
 Soon several counter-thinkers came forward to return the compliment, abusing the abusers with contempt for their mistakes and scorn for their intellectual fantasies. More recently still, a wave of “New New Atheists” has emerged, exemplified by thinkers such as Alain de Botton and the team of Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly. They grant the value of some facets of religion, such as transcendence (what Kelly and Dreyfus call the “whoosh”) and, echoing antecedents like Auguste Comte, social ordering, but they affirm the generic idea of religion as at best a human-only institution so that they may dump all the awkward bits, like theology, metaphysics and that sort of thing. The superficial understanding and charity they offer to religion is a dodge, of course, but at least they’re polite about it.

 Read more here.....

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