Oh, no one, it’s just God
There’s some funny stuff in this piece by Anthony Gottlieb on the new atheist books.
In some religious research, it is not necessarily the respondents who are credulous. Harris has made much of a survey that suggests that forty-four per cent of Americans believe that Jesus will return to judge mankind within the next fifty years. But, in 1998, a fifth of non-Christians in America told a poll for Newsweek that they, too, expected Jesus to return. What does Harris make of that? Any excuse for a party, perhaps…Harris takes at face value a Gallup poll suggesting that eighty-three per cent of Americans regard it as the Word of God, and he, like Dawkins and Hitchens, uses up plenty of ink establishing the wickedness of many tales in the Old Testament. Critics of the Bible should find consolation in the fact that many people do not have a clue what is in it. Surveys by the Barna Research Group, a Christian organization, have found that most Christians don’t know who preached the Sermon on the Mount.
Cool. Bible is Word of God, but who cares what’s in it? That’s the spirit! So if God actually dropped in for a beer and a handful of Doritos, nobody would look up from Maximum Exposure to say ‘how do’ and ask what the divine plan actually is? If God parted the heavens and announced in a loud voice that it was time to listen up and take heed, everybody would just say ‘yeah, yeah’ and take no further notice? If there were a CD with what eighty-three per cent of Americans regarded as the actual voice of God singing ‘It Had to Be You,’ would they not bother to listen? What a very pleasing thought.
And there’s a dreamy incoherence in their conviction that moderate forms of religion somehow enable fundamentalist zeal and violence to survive. Are we really going to tame the fervor of an extremist imam’s mosque in Waziristan by weakening the plush-toy creed of a nondenominational church in Chappaqua?
Well if you put it that way…