Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reinforcing Taboos Worries Me

What makes "New Atheism" novel is not its atheism but its desire to hold religious truth assertions up to the same method of higher criticism we hold other truth assertions.

Sam Harris makes mention of this when he says,
"It is taboo in our society to criticize a persons religious faith... these taboos are offensive, deeply unreasonable, but worse than that, they are getting people killed. This is really my concern. My concern is that our religions, the diversity of our religious doctrines, is going to get us killed. I'm worried that our religious discourse- our religious beliefs are ultimately incompatible with civilization."
It is the willingness to address taboo due to founded worry in the actions of believers that is "new" in "New Atheism". When I investigated Harris's arguments I recognized I agreed with this and wondered why I called myself religious.

He seems to only reinforce the deep entrenchment of the taboo against religious criticism. The article seems to suggest that there is a form of bullying even in the most mild form of suggesting that non-belief in one's childhood religion is in reality non-belief. It isn't. It is an invitation to honesty and fact.

The fact that an atheist journalist would dismiss the distinction seems very much evidence of a need to reinforce taboos and It is worrying.

Not criticizing privileged myth encourages ignorance and pretending that religion and faith are somehow distinct is dishonest.

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