Miltant atheists attacked for generalisations

Theo HobsonTho Hobson writes in the Guardian that God knocking is on the increase but the criticisms levelled at religion by militant atheists are often crude and short-sighted.  Hobson lays into the likes of Christopher Hitchens arguing that:

the critic of religious abuses must be specific, particular. He must focus on particular practices, particular institutions, and explain why they have a detrimental effect on society….But the militant atheist….has to insist that religion in general is harmful, all of it, always….Never mind that plenty of manifestations of religion are simply not guilty of these charges.”

The attacks from atheists have been coming thick and fast from aatheists both on the Guardian website and Richard Dawkin’s website where the article was reposted.

These reflect a certain protectiveness about atheisms big guns that are doing so much to make the non-religious heard but we mustn’t be afraid of self criticism. If we think religion needs to go then we’re in for a long and bloody fight and in some ways no different from those who want the whole world to be X religion, except of course the desired outcomes are different. There will be no winners. But Hobson is saying that perhaps we need to strive for a world in which both religion and atheism can co-exist, a goal that we can share with many religious folk.

That’s not the same as rollling over and being soft. As Hobson says: “The critic of religious abuses must be specific, particular. He must focus on particular practices, particular institutions, and explain why they have a detrimental effect on society.” Homophobia. Mysogynism. Discrimination. Anti-science. All bad all to be fought without compromise but all things some/many religious progressives will join us in.

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4 responses to “Miltant atheists attacked for generalisations

  1. Each to their own.

  2. ‘”The critic of religious abuses must be specific, particular. He must focus on particular practices, particular institutions, and explain why they have a detrimental effect on society.” Homophobia. Mysogynism. Discrimination. Anti-science’

    Why is a belief in a god the one aspect of religion that cannot be criticised?

  3. Belief in a God can be criticised but in itself it is not something that harms other people in the same way that homophobia, mysogynism, discrimination etc. do.

    People have all sorts of strange beliefs religious or otherwise. Unless they clearly harm or disadvantage others I have better things to do with my time than try and show how stupid they are!

  4. The author Sam Harris takes a slightly dfferent line to that, and I must say I have a great deal of sympathy with him.

    However, I am also very wary of an occasional arrogance and patronising bloody mindedness that I have come across in some humanist group meetings, which does neither us, nor anybody else any favour. I’d therefore be inclined to err on the side of caution and agree with you.

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