For the record

It gets more and more tedious, but it can’t be helped – or it can be helped but it shouldn’t be. The relentless brainless dishonest denigration of “New” atheists has to be shown up for what it is every damn time it happens. It may be futile to say “That’s a lie, and that is, and that is, and that’s another”; it may just entrench the lies even deeper (depressingly, there is research that indicates this is what happens); but it has to be done, if only for the record. (What record? Oh shut up.)

Michael McGhee, Comment is Free (sugar and tea, rainbows at sea, la de da dee).

I am not a believer. I incline towards a secular humanism that leaves space for “spirituality” – conceived as the disciplined search for self-knowledge – and recognises that we can sometimes and beyond the exercise of our will transcend the narrow perspective of ego-centric self-enclosure.

That sets the scene. He’s not a believer, yet he chooses to call something entirely this-worldly and secular by the means-everything-and-nothing word “spirituality,” thus establishing himself as better and wiser than people who don’t call their thoughts by that elevated name. Then having done that, he moves right into the “New” atheist-bashing.

But my wariness of “belief” is matched by an equal wariness of the new atheists’ rejection of belief. It is not just that their popular polemic shows a juvenile comprehension of religion as altogether “a bad thing”, nor that they are silent about self-knowledge and transcendence.

There: that’s for the record. A stupidly sweeping and false generalization, closely followed by a stupidly sweeping and false generalization.

After that there’s a lot of guff which boils down to some this-world morality bolted clumsily onto hand-waving about spiritual transcendence and transcendent spirituality for the sake of…I don’t know, separating himself from the “New” atheists or something.

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