Saturday, December 15, 2007

Theodore Dalrymple on What the New Atheists Don't See

I have just run across a very thoughtful article in the City Journal on the topic of the various vituperations and imprecations cast a believers of all sorts by the newest crop of atheist authors (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris).
Written as it is by a man of letters who is not himself a believer, I found it to be especially credible, reasoned and thoughtful.

Dalrymple addresses some of the more strident and shocking claims of this group of authors. The most shocking idea I met with in the review, having not--I will admit--read the book in question was Harriss' idea that one must consider the wisdom of killing people because they entertain a certain belief. I mean here that he feels, owing to "the link between faith and behavior" that such an idea might be a good one. Gee, and we thought Diocletian was long dead.

We are accustomed, in the United States and the rest of the Western World, to say that whatever we have to suffer in the cause of our faith is of the "mere inconvenience" category of things. Or at least is confined to subtle job discrimination and family insults. I believe that most sane persons of any philosophical bent or belief system would still decry the idea of genocide --but maybe a day will come when that is no longer true, and even we in the West will be able to earn the crown of a "red martyrdom" rather than a "white" one. To say I rather hope not certainly doesn't capture the sick, sinking feeling I had when reading that the idea had been offered forth in End of Faith.

Anyhow, go and read the Dalrymple Article. There's a lot more to it than that bit of sickening info (I guess I've got to start reading these vituperative books, just to know what's up) and I found the article so well written, that I expect to be looking back for more of his thought and reviews.

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