While the media still milks the chattering and snarling between theists and atheists, most people are bored by this show, and many have quietly moved into a more productive position. Growing numbers of people don’t particularly care whether or not there are gods since, even if there are, they don’t seem able to do anything in our world. If they’re omnipotent, they appear to be indifferent to the small and large-scale wars, tragedies, and slaughters around us. If they’re impotent, who needs them?
Editor’s note: Religion is among the most volatile and divisive issues in the world today. Yet there’s little serious investigation into why people believe, or why some will kill and die for their faith. Larry Beinhart, in his new novel, Salvation Boulevard — and this series of articles — is hoping to start a conversation about these issues. This is the second in the series…
Theologian John Haught explains why science and God are not at odds, why Mike Huckabee worries him, and why Richard Dawkins and other “new atheists” are ignorant about religion.
…My chief objection to the new atheists is that they are almost completely ignorant of what’s going on in the world of theology. They talk about the most fundamentalist and extremist versions of faith, and they hold these up as though they’re the normative, central core of faith. And they miss so many things. They miss the moral core of Judaism and Christianity — the theme of social justice, which takes those who are marginalized and brings them to the center of society. They give us an extreme caricature of faith and religion.
You’re saying older atheists like Nietzsche and Camus had a more sophisticated critique of religion?
Yes. They wanted us to think out completely and thoroughly, and with unrelenting logic, what the world would look like if the transcendent is wiped away from the horizon. Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus would have cringed at “the new atheism” because they would see it as dropping God like Santa Claus, and going on with the same old values. The new atheists don’t want to think out the implications of a complete absence of deity. Nietzsche, as well as Sartre and Camus, all expressed it quite correctly. The implications should be nihilism. …
John Haught theology | Salon Books
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My only real issue with Religion (and ultimately, it’s a fairly small issue) is that it teaches people to be good for all the wrong reasons. Whether it’s the fear of a vengeful God and eternal life spent in the flames of Hell or the possibility of winning a ticket into Heaven accompanied by a boat load of virgins, people are still behaving well to escape punishment or to win everlasting life.
Ideally, people would be good because it’s the right thing to do.
Topic: People like Richard Dawkins and his compatriots, who actively preach the gospel of Atheism, are as controlled by religion as those whose beliefs they would “debunk.”