New web address for this blog!

There are no more updates to this site - please continue to follow us at our new address: http://www.prayct.org

Friday, January 05, 2007

Without God

What should we think about the rise of what's being called the New Atheism? A particularly in-your-face repackaging of the old atheism, the New Atheism is getting lots of airplay and print media attention through the writings of people like Dr. Richard Dawkins. In today's Wall Street Journal, Sam Schulman insightfully summarizes why the new atheists are not as engaging as the older crop:

For the new atheists, believing in God is a form of stupidity, which sets off their own intelligence. They write as if they were the first to discover that biblical miracles are improbable, that Parson Weems was a fabulist, that religion is full of superstition. They write as if great minds had never before wrestled with the big questions of creation, moral law and the contending versions of revealed truth. They argue as if these questions are easily answered by their own blunt materialism. Most of all, they assume that no intelligent, reflective person could ever defend religion rather than dismiss it. The reviewer of Dr. Dawkins's volume in a recent New York Review of Books noted his unwillingness to take theology seriously, a starting point for any considered debate over religion.

The faith that the new atheists describe is a simple-minded parody. It is impossible to see within it what might have preoccupied great artists and thinkers like Homer, Milton, Michelangelo, Newton and Spinoza--let alone Aquinas, Dr. Johnson, Kierkegaard, Goya, Cardinal Newman, Reinhold Niebuhr or, for that matter, Albert Einstein. But to pass over this deeper faith--the kind that engaged the great minds of Western history--is to diminish the loss of faith too. The new atheists are separated from the old by their shallowness.

To read the accounts of the first generation of atheists is profoundly moving. Matthew Arnold wrote of the "eternal note of sadness" sounded when the "Sea of Faith" receded from human life. In one testament after another--George Eliot, Carlyle, Hardy, Darwin himself--the Victorians described the sense of grief they felt when religion goes--and the keen, often pathetic attempts to replace it by love, by art, by good works, by risk-seeking and--fatally--by politics.

Read it all here.

Tags: , , , , ,

No comments: