Wednesday, January 11, 2006

“Intellectually Lazy Polemic”

Religionists’ Favourite Whipping Boy’s Latest Lashing. But this time, a convincing one. Madeleine Bunting is at her best in attacking Prof. Dawkins’s lack of empathy. She is vehemently critical of the Prof.’s linking faith with “a process of non-thinking”:

For thousands of years, religious belief has been accompanied by thought and intellectual discovery, whether Islamic astronomy or the Renaissance. But his contempt is so profound that he can't be bothered to even find out (in an interview he dismissed Christian theology in exactly these terms). If this isn't the "hidebound certainty" of which he accuses believers, I'm not sure what is.

I blogged about the interview she cites here.

A gravidly pertinent point about the power of faith to inculcate values and ethics in children.

Religion can also provide children with a deep sense of confidence from the teaching that they are each precious in the eyes of God, of reverence for their gift of life and of ethical bearings.

And yes, she points to Rwanda, the Holocaust and also surprisingly Islamic fundamentalism to bolster her argument that religion is not the root of all modern evil.

Human beings develop collective identities - ethnic, nationalist, religious or political - and find in them a sense of belonging, of personal identity and solidarity; the problem is how, at points of competition and threat, those identities flare up into horrible violence. Pinning all the blame on religion blindly ignores the evidence; the Rwandan tragedy was about ethnicity, the Holocaust about a racist political ideology. Crucially it fails to grasp the modern phenomenon of fundamentalism and how religious identity is being mobilised in an attempt to carve out positions of power within a rapidly globalising world; this kind of violent religion is a political product of rapid social and economic change.

Good one on “an underlying anxiety that atheist humanism has failed” and (LOL) “There's an aggrieved frustration that they've been short-changed by history; we were supposed to be all atheist rationalists by now”.

The Selfish Gene, where art thou?


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