Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"The True History of Atheism"

    Once upon a time, people lived in ignorant superstition, offering sacrifices to monsters in the sky. Then some clever folks used special weapons called “science” and “reason” to show that the monsters had never really existed in the first place. Some of these clever folks were killed for daring to say this, but they persevered, and now only really stupid people believe in the monsters.
The "Fairy tale" with which "Nick Spencer begins his spirited history of atheism," whose, "point, of course, is that this received wisdom is naive nonsense—it gets the history of science and the nature of religious belief wrong, setting up an opposition between reason and faith that the church fathers would have found rather puzzling," we learn in Michael Robbins's Slate review — Know Nothing.

"Few historians take this myth seriously," reminds Robbins, "but it retains its hold on the vulgar atheist imagination. To believe it requires the misconception that religion exists primarily to provide explanations of natural phenomena."

Of local interest, news from the town the provoked a "U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May that allowed prayer before public meetings" — Atheist gives 'historic' invocation in Greece.

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Blogger laBiscuitnapper said...

Being part of Futurist groups and Social Justice movements, one sees this a lot; it'd almost be amusing if it weren't so boring. I understand that Religion is one of those topics which inspire a lot of passion but what frustrates me is how such passion seems to pretty consistently override any necessity to maintain a coherent and consistently framed discussion.

It's especially ironic when it comes from groups who aim to improve the human lot, either through technology or activism etc. I'm not sure how you can help something if you don't really understand it. Sometimes I think this lack of understanding does betray an overall lack of empathy with what it means to be human. Other times I just wish they'd read more history!

August 31, 2014 at 6:36 PM  

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