What were they thinking?

Oh, no. Atheists are the arrogant ones, so how can this Irish Catholic write such pretentious nonsense?

Religion unleashes a boundless curiosity in us that elsewhere is afraid to reveal itself for fear of appearing naive.

Yeah, tell that to Galileo, Simplicio.

I guess freethinkers must lack that boundless curiosity — no godless questioners at the forefront of science, then. It’s also a strange sentiment to express in an article by a writer attending a Catholic meeting who asks no questions, reports no answers, and has nothing to offer except to cavil against all those non-believers who fail to see the world as awe-inspiring and mysterious. Oh, and that the answer to that feeling is to just “follow Christ”.

He also cites Flannery O’Connor:

Flannery O’Connor once said that if she had not been a Catholic, she would have had “no reason to write, no reason to see, no reason ever to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything”.

While she was a fascinating writer, I’d never hold up the fragile, sheltered, conservative O’Connor as an example of the liberating power of religion. And that quote, which is often made about her, is absurd — it’s the narrow-mindedness of a faith that can imagine no other, that shows a complete lack of empathy, which is peculiar in such a writer. Perhaps she’s personally limited, but I see no obstacle to non-Catholics having a reason to live.

This is another example of religious asymmetry. Atheists recognize intelligence, curiosity, generosity, charity, kindness, etc., as human traits, and find nothing odd in the fact that people everywhere, no matter what their faith, can express them. Far too many believers, however, ascribe virtues to their particular faith rather than to any universally human properties, which means they rather too easily manage to mentally strip people of other faiths or no faith at all of those virtues. We’re seeing it in action right now here in the US where teabagger-incited mobs are busily pretending that Muslims are all slavering hateful monsters who dream of killing their neighbors.