Atheists on a Crusade
A NEW group of atheists has arisen in society. Called the new atheists, they are not content to keep their views to themselves. Rather, they are on a crusade, “actively, angrily, passionately trying to persuade the religious to their point of view,” wrote columnist Richard Bernstein. Even agnostics are in their sights, for these new atheists allow no room for doubt. To them, there simply is no God. End of story.
“The world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief,” said Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg. “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.” One tool aimed at weakening that hold is the written word, which seems to be stirring up considerable interest, for some of the new atheists’ books have become best sellers.
Religion has aided the cause of the new atheists, as people have become fed up with the religious extremism, terrorism, and conflict plaguing the world. “Religion poisons everything,” says one leading atheist. Moreover, that ‘poison’ is said to include religious beliefs in general, not just extremist views. Core dogmas, say the new atheists, must be exposed, abandoned, and replaced by rationality and reason. People must be unafraid to speak frankly about the “mountains of life-destroying gibberish” found in the Bible and the Koran, writes atheist Sam Harris. “We can no longer afford the luxury of . . . political correctness.”
While the new atheists reproach religion, they revere science, some even claiming that it disproves the existence of God. But does it? In fact, can it? “In the fullness of time,” says Harris, “one side is really going to win this argument, and the other side is really going to lose.”
Which side do you think time will vindicate? While considering the matter, ask yourself: ‘Is belief in a Creator intrinsically harmful? Would universal atheism make for a better world?’ Let us consider what some respected scientists and philosophers have said about atheism, religion, and science.