Atheist books need not be dogmatic, simplistic…
Posted: 10 December 2006 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]
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[b:d6426deeb3]Here is a good essay by Ronald Aronson about "The New Atheists."  He compares the intellegent, almost humanistic approach to writing a book about religion from the atheistic point of view… books like Erik J. Wielenberg’s [i:d6426deeb3]Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe[/i:d6426deeb3] and Julian Baggini’s [i:d6426deeb3]Atheism: A Very Short Introduction[/i:d6426deeb3], with the angry-atheist books of Sam Harris (and he could have included Richard Dawkin’s The [i:d6426deeb3]God Delusion[/i:d6426deeb3] here, but he is concerned with other books). 

Overall, he sees the lot of these books to be making a good stab at reframing the atheist position, but sees the need to move much futher along than advocating for mere atheism.  Perhaps he understands religion to be more than about God and supernaturalism? Surely he seems to be advocating for a humanist response to religion (and a humanist embracing of naturalism, as well as one of its resulting isms—atheism), and speaking out against the Harris/Dawkins approach. 

On Harris, he writes:[/b:d6426deeb3]

"Harris has raised eyebrows ... (because of) his ... hostility to Islam, approval of nuclear war and torture, dismissal of pacifism as "flagrantly immoral," and his slap at the "leftist unreason" of Noam Chomsky. Harris’s key political sources and positions clearly lean to the Right. For our purposes, however, what matters most is what the book tells us about some of atheism’s continuing problems today ... Harris has kept alive (atheism’s) image as dogmatic, fanatically rationalistic, and at war (with) religion.

"What is most striking ... is Harris’s own zealotry. Harris makes no effort to understand believers, be they moderate or fundamentalist; most serious in a book claiming a practical political mission of uniting "us" against "them" is his total lack of interest in any historical understanding. Why is it that Islamist movements have emerged with such ferocity? Why is it that suicide bombers have become widespread? And what explains the revival of religion in the United States? For Harris what matters is what people believe and whether it is verifiable█not when, how, and under what conditions they came to believe it. In his dogmatic view, beliefs motivate people█not circumstances, events, or history."

[b:d6426deeb3]This is why I have called the Harris/Dawkins approach both counter-productive and, over all, simplistic.[/b:d6426deeb3]

http://www.bookforum.com/archive/fall_05/aronson.html


[i:d6426deeb3]From another forum:

What makes Sam Harris’ "End of Faith" book so disturbing (besides his call for torture) is not his simplistic and counterproductive attack on religion and religionists (the angry atheist, rather than the humanistic approach), but his Islamiphobia.. as I have said elsewhere.

I saw a 2 by 4 truck today where on its rear it read:

[size=18:d6426deeb3]Remember 9/11: It’s time to play Cowboys and Muslims! [/size:d6426deeb3]

One could not tell simply by looking if the owner of the truck got this sentiment from a Neo-con, a Christian fascist, or Islamiphobic atheist….[/i:d6426deeb3]

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Posted: 11 December 2006 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Islamiphobia would imply that what Sam Harris thinks about the religion of Islam is irrational.


I would be interested in seeing if you can demonstrate this to me…

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Posted: 11 December 2006 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Islam or Political Islam

Islamiphobia would imply that what Sam Harris thinks about the religion of Islam is irrational.

No, that’s not what it implies.

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