Speaking of the dopy endlessly-recycled vendetta against gnu atheism, John Gray obliges with another iteration of his version, via a perfunctory review of some book or other which he barely notices.
It is only the illiteracy of the current generation of atheists that leads them to think religious practitioners must be stupid or thoughtless. Were Augustine, Maimonides and al-Ghazali – to mention only religious thinkers in monotheist traditions – lacking in intellectual vitality? The question is absurd but the fact it can be asked at all might be thought to pose a difficulty for de Botton. His spirited and refreshingly humane book aims to show that religion serves needs that an entirely secular life cannot satisfy. He will not persuade those for whom atheism is a militant creed. Such people are best left with their certainties, however childish.
I can do that. It is only the thoughtless stupidity of the current generation of John Grays that leads them to think atheists must be illiterate. See? It’s easy! Shall I try another? He will not persuade those for whom hatred of atheism is a militant creed. Such people are best left with their certainties, however childish.
I can haz New Statesman gig now?
[De Botton] shows how much in our way of life comes from and still depends on religion – communities, education, art and architecture and certain kinds of kindness, among other things. I would add the practice of toleration, the origins of which lie in dissenting religion, and sceptical doubt, which very often coexists with faith.
Depends on? Communities, education, art, and architecture depend on religion? No they don’t. (The “certain kinds of kindness” can be made true just by definition – religious kinds, for instance.) And toleration has other sources than dissenting religion, and very often coexisting hardly amounts to depending on. Skeptical doubt can coexist with “faith” (though not really with faith, which is its opposite), but coexisting with is much more minimal and undemanding than depending on.
Today’s atheists will insist that these goods can be achieved without religion. In many instances this may be so but it is a question that cannot be answered by fulminating about religion as if it were intrinsically evil. Religion has caused a lot of harm but so has science. Practically everything of value in human life can be harmful. To insist that religion is peculiarly malignant is fanaticism, or mere stupidity.
He says, insisting and fulminating, either fanatically or stupidly.
The church of humanity is a prototypical modern example of atheism turned into a cult of collective self-worship.
Oh look, it’s narcissism again!
It’s good that John Gray is so thoughtful and careful and non-self-worshipping.