Hardly a disaster

So now poor Michael Ruse has to write a petulant article (for Comment is Free this time? we don’t want to get out of sequence) saying that that horrid new atheist David Barash is mad at him, that he doesn’t care a bit, that he’s a brave contrarian who pisses off campus feminists and other bores who believe in equal rights, that he likes a good dust up, that he was in Arkansas testifying when everyone else was in nursery school, and that new atheists are a danger to the wellbeing of America comparable to the al Qaeda and the Westboro Baptist Church combined. That should take him at least ten minutes.

Barash was gobsmacked by Ruse’s

assertion that the New Atheists constitute a “disaster comparable to the Tea Party.”

So was I. I always am surprised by how malicious and mendacious some atheists allow themselves to be about the Gnu variety.

Barash pointed out what the Tea Party is actually about, and then pointed out that the new atheists are not about the same things.

The New Atheists, with whom I cheerfully and gratefully align myself, have no specific public-policy goals, except perhaps the will-o’the-wisp of delegitimizing the typically unspoken assumption—especially in the United States—that religion must never be questioned, not only as a public good but something that is necessarily true and to which all good people must necessarily subscribe. Theirs is an intellectual struggle, an effort to provide a voice to the large number of previously closeted nonbelievers who felt isolated in their atheism.

Exactly. And we really are allowed to do that. We really are not doing any harm to Michael Ruse by doing that. We really are not doing anything that justifies the relentless campaign of vituperation that is being directed at us. There really is no good reason to preserve and protect the assumption that religion must never be questioned.

If the New Atheists succeed, unbelief will be increasingly legitimate and willing to speak its name. Minds will be opened, and many will find themselves liberated to express views previously forbidden. Hardly a disaster … unless you believe, Michael, that people are unable or unwilling to do the right thing in the absence of religious belief.

I can’t improve on that.

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