Friday, February 13, 2015

The Same Dismissive Intolerance

We have no idea what actually happened re: those horrific shootings in Chapel Hill (the victim's family has behaved inspiringly; this is how to be outraged without being strident, to be conciliatory without being weak, and to react to extremism with enlightened moderation rather than with reciprocal extremism. They're heroes). The perpetrator seems to be a pugnacious atheist, but nobody imagines militant atheists taking out people of faith (at least not yet). And the notion that this was a parking dispute seems similarly baffling. Either way, we don't know the whole deal yet.

But lots of people are talking about atheism right now - particularly the brasher sort of atheism which has cooked up over the past decade. Nothing, in my opinion, has explained the dynamics more elegantly than this letter (which I first referenced here) to the editors of WIRED Magazine in response to their article about the neo-Atheist movement:
Gary Wolf describes the disdain that the New Atheists have for believers. One could argue that religious fervor has caused more grief than any other motivator (see the Crusades, the Inquisition, ongoing Middle East unrest). But the root cause of such strife is not belief in God – it’s intolerance of the beliefs of others. The conviction that one’s chosen religion is the only path to salvation and that other religions are populated with infidels deserving of conversion or slaughter is at the crux of almost every struggle on the planet today. Sadly, since atheists exhibit the same dismissive intolerance, they are no different from or better than any of these groups. -- Phil Hegedusich (Clarence, New York)

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