Saturday, January 18, 2014

To Call for Hands of Above to Lean On Wouldn't be Good Enough for Me, No

Jerry Coyne:

The most common critique leveled at New Atheists is that we attack only puerile, fundamentalist forms of religion, and never engage with the “best” arguments of the faithful: those adumbrated by Sophisticated Theologians™. Never mind that most believers accept a view of God far more anthropomorphic than a simple “ground of being” or a deistic entity that made the world and then refused to engage with it further. If you want data to support this, at least for U.S. Christians, go here. Polls consistently show that around 70-80% of Americans believe in the existence of Heaven, Hell, Satan, and angels. And let’s not even discuss whether the majority of Muslims think of Allah as a “ground of being” rather than as a disembodied ruler who tells them how to behave. Anyone who claims that regular monotheists view God like Karen Armstrong’s Apophatic Entity or Tillich’s Ground of Being simply hasn’t gotten out enough.

Wow, this takes me back. Less than four years ago! Amazing how perspectives change in such a short time.

I do think this is a worthwhile point to hammer on, though — atheists, hell; why don't common believers come in for similar criticism from the bafflegabbers for perpetuating such crude caricatures of faith? I don't even mean reactionary fundamentalists; I mean, why don't they ever condescendingly lecture benevolent, good-deed-doing Christians on how they really can't claim to have had any meaningful experience of God until they've read this or that author or contemplated this or that concept? That's a rhetorical question, of course, but illuminating all the same.