[E]ntertainment value aside it is surely false, as well as politically unwise and, well, pretty impolite, to say that “all theology” is irrelevant (some of it is moral reasoning, isn’t it?), still worse to say that “religion poisons everything”, or that without religion there would be no war, or that bringing a child up within a faith is tantamount to child abuse, or that moderate religious believers are worse than fundamentalists because they prepare the ground for extremism, or that “all” religion is this, or that, or “all” faith is misguided, or to suggest that those who believe in God are basically stupid, or that science, and only science, can answer our questions.
The picture of religion that emerges from New Atheism is a caricature and both misrepresents and underestimates its real character. “Religion,” Richard Norman writes “is a human creation … a mirror which humanity holds up to itself and in which it sees itself reflected. Human beings attribute to their gods all their own human qualities – cruelty revenge and hatred, but also love and compassion and mercy. That’s why you can find a justification for anything, good or bad, in religion.”
This may be less fun than denouncing the pope and all his works, but it’s closer to reality. For Norman, as a humanist, the requirement is to be less strident so as to create alliances with moderate religionists on specific topics – faith schools, fundamentalism, terrorism – of concern to all. I second that, but I have a more base reason for wanting to move beyond New Atheism. I’m bored, and I fear my readers are becoming so too.
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/21/beyond-new-atheism
Richard Dawkins replies:
What is encouraging about this article is the dusty response it is getting from commenters on the Guardian website. Great numbers of them, it seems, are as bored with “I’m an atheist buttery” as I am. I think we are starting to see a genuine change. A year ago, a piece like Caspar’s would have been followed by a baying chorus of but-heads in full cry. I think a tide is turning and significant numbers of people are seeing through the ill-informed “New atheists are shrill meanies” mantra.