Frequent commenter Sigmund alerted me to another entity crying out for scrutiny and derision: the Iona Institute, an Irish “institute” (can any old thing call itself an institute? The Faraday Institute, the Tobacco Institute, the Iona Institute – are there any gates, any gatekeepers? is it just anarchy around here?) dedicated to saying how great the Catholic church is.
The amusing thing (amusing in a rebarbative kind of way) is that the Iona Institute invited dear auld Brendan O’Neill to give a talk, and he obliged. From Trotskyist splinter group to libertarian “contrarian” faitheist pope-cheering what-the-hell-is-that – that’s Spiked and its editor Brendan O’Neill. So the Trotskyist libertarian pope-fan told the Iona Institute…you’ll never guess what. That’s it’s all the fault of The New Atheism.
O’Neill, who also writes for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph among other publications, said [there] was widespread antagonism “towards strong belief or solid faith”.
He said: “In our relativistic era of ‘anything goes’, when we are expected to respect all cultures as equally valid, a religion that considers itself the ‘one, true faith’ and as ‘universal’, is looked upon as dictatorial if not fascistic.”
Yes that’s right. A religion that considers itself the ‘one, true faith’ and ‘universal’ is bound to consider itself entitled – indeed mandated – to impose that ‘one, true, universal faith’ on everyone. Since Catholicism is not “true” in any sense that matters, that imposition is as dictatorial as it gets.
Speaking about the New Atheism, he said: “The New Atheism regards not only religious faith but any view which considers mankind as more than a monkey as suspect, strange, deluded.”
Well that’s just a stupid falsehood.
He continued: “New Atheists’ real problem with religion is its treatment of mankind as special and distinctive, as the governor of the Earth, as having ‘dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and every other living thing that moves on the Earth’.
No it isn’t. That’s one problem, especially when it’s the kind of “dominion” that entails treating all other living things as human property to do with as it likes, but it’s not “the real problem” – there are lots of real problems, many of them worse (at least from the human point of view) than that one.
“At a time when we are increasingly seen as mere bundles of genes, little more than DNA, sharing 90 per cent of our genes with bananas, religion’s sanctification of man is seen as perverse.”
Religion’s what?! Religion doesn’t “sanctify” humans – religion scolds atheists and humanists for focusing on human beings instead of imaginary gods; religion tells human beings they can’t understand god’s ways and reasons so they just have to obey; religions tells human beings they are nothing compared to god.
Concluding, he said: “The end result of the crashing together of these trends is a creeping and sometimes shrieking intolerance of Catholicism in particular, and religion in general. This has led even me – a lapsed Catholic and immoveable atheist – to worry about the illiberal streak to modern-day atheism, and to want to stand up for the absolute freedom of religion.
Funny that he decides to worry about the putative “illiberal streak to modern-day atheism” and not the well-known and very obvious illiberal streak in Catholicism. Chump.