Skip to comments.Is God dead? Atheism finds a market in U.S
Posted on 10/18/2006 5:25:05 PM PDT by wagglebee
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A fresh wave of atheistic books has hit the market this autumn, some climbing onto best-seller lists in what proponents see as a backlash against the way religion is entwined in politics.
"Religion is fragmenting the human community," said Sam Harris, author of "Letter to a Christian Nation," No. 11 on the New York Times nonfiction list on October 15.
There is a "huge visibility and political empowerment of religion. President George W. Bush uses his first veto to deny funding for stem cell research and scientists everywhere are horrified," he said in an interview.
Religious polarization is part of many world conflicts, he said, including those involving Israel and Iran, "but it's never discussed. I consider it the story of our time, what religion is doing to us. But there are very few people calling a spade a spade."
His "Letter," a blunt 96-page pocket-sized book condensing arguments against belief in quick-fire volleys, appeared on the Times list just ahead of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, a scientist at Oxford University and long-time atheist.
In addition, Harris' "The End of Faith," a 2004 work which prompted his "Letter" as a response to critics, is holding the No. 13 Times spot among nonfiction paperbacks.
Publishers Weekly said the business has seen "a striking number of impassioned critiques of religion -- any religion, but Christianity in particular," a probably inevitable development given "the super-soaking of American politics and culture with religion in recent years."
Paul Kurtz, founder of the Council for Secular Humanism and publisher of Free Inquiry magazine, said, "The American public is really disturbed about the role of religion in U.S. government policy, particularly with the Bush administration and the breakdown of church-state separation, and secondly with the conflict in the Mideast."
They are turning to free thought and secular humanism and publishers have recognized a taste for that, he added.
"I've published 45 books, many critical of religion," Kurtz said. "I think in America we have this notion of tolerance ... it was considered bad taste to criticize religion. But I think now there are profound questions about age-old hatreds."
The Rev. James Halstead, chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at Chicago's DePaul University, says the phenomenon is really "a ripple caused by the book publishing industry."
"These books cause no new thought or moral commitment. The arguments are centuries old," he told Reuters. Some believers, he added, "are no better. Their conception of God, the Divine-Human-World relationship are much too simplistic and materialistic."
Too often, he said, the concept "God" is misused "to legitimate the self and to beat up other people ... to rehash that same old theistic and atheistic arguments is a waste of time, energy and paper."
Dr. Timothy Larsen, professor of theology at Wheaton College in Illinois, says any growth in interest in atheism is a reflection of the strength of religion -- the former being a parasite that feeds off the latter.
That happened late in the 19th century America when an era of intense religious conviction gave rise to voices like famed agnostic Robert Ingersoll, he said.
For Christianity, he said, "It's very important for people of faith to realize how unsettling and threatening their posture and rhetoric and practice can feel to others. So it's an opportunity for the church to look at itself and say 'we have done things ... that make other people uncomfortable.' It is an opportunity for dialogue."
Larsen, author of the soon-to-be-published "Crisis of Doubt," added that in some sense atheism is "a disappointment with God and with the church. Some of these are people we wounded that we should be handling pastorally rather than with aggressive knockdown debate."
These are also probably some of the same people Harris says he's hearing from after his two books.
"Many, many readers feel utterly isolated in their communities," he said. "They are surrounded by cult members, from their point of view, and are unable to disclose their feelings."
"I get a lot of e-mail just expressing incredible relief that they are not alone ... relieved that I'm writing something that couldn't be said," Harris added.
But the very core of conservatism is that the Constitution was created to protect us from the tryanny of the majority.
Which version of God do you think the government should teach in school? Yours, or someone else's?
And your point is what?
Should public schools allot time for prayers for the Messiah and Returning Lord, the Rev. Moon? What exactly would you want taught in schools?
History would be nice.
I had history in high school. Among other documents, we were required to read The Age of Reason.
That one that endows US with the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, after all He did create every soul. Seems the least we as the most blessed nation in all of history could do is to acknowledge His existence.
This logical law is not violated in Jesus Christ, because he has two natures, Divine and human.
A reasonable analogy would be, say, that a virus can be alive and not-alive: not-alive because it has no cytoplasm, cell menbrane, mitochondia or organelles, it has no power of respiration, no way to absorb nutrition, and it does not grow; yet it is in another sense alive because it can use the DNA of another cell to replicate itself.
In the Incarnation of Christ, you have two different natures in one person: natures which are not confused and do not mix. So in one sense He is divine, omniscient, without beginning or end, and outside of time and space; and in another sense He is human, a learner like we are, came into being at conception, and subject to the plodding and confining limitations of time and space.
This is unprecendented; this is astonishing; but this does not violate the laws of reason.
As for "postmodernism" --- ha. Far from it. You are apparently unfamiliar with the way that wrestling with the concept of Christ's person and natures, played a seminal role in the development of Western Civilizations's concept of personhood.
Your verbal scorn makes it difficult to engage in an exchange of information. If you would be so reasonable as to look into the actual doctrine, you would not be so contemptuous.
True. I think that a lot of people make the mistake of believing that there must be a one-to-one correspondence between personhood and nature. "Nature" simply means what a thing is. So billions of different people can share the same (human) nature.
It does not necessarily follow though that one person cannot have two natures. We may not see any examples in nature, aside from Christ, but we cannot conclude that this is necessarily impossible.
God is pure spirit (purely non-material) and pure actuality. He sustains all creatures in existence. It is certainly within his power to take on the nature of an infinitely inferior creature in addition to his own nature. Whether this has happened in history would only be knowable to us through divine revelation, as is in fact the case with Christ.
I was reading that Western Civilization's concept of personhood developed directly from the debates on Christ's person and nature. It's hard to wrap one's head around this, for instance that Taoist and Vedic thought, though they produced great civilizations, never produced the concept of the person which includes bodily integrity, psychological continuity and moral imputability.
It seems that they tend to shade off personhood into human collectivity on the one hand, and serial reincarnations on the other, concepts which inevitably result in an attenuated sense of individual human dignity and the rational soul.
I's like to look into this more, since I'm at the learning-the-alphabet level, just catching a limpse of it. It seems to impinge on the West's "Dialog of Civilizations" with, for instance, Islam --- too bad if we've shrugged off the truths of our own civilization!
See Matthew 7:6.
It falls to you to name any other religious belief system which espouses the doctrines of Liberty and Justice for All which are upheld by the Judeo-Christian ethic. Name for us if you can any other way Individual Egalitarian Freedom (democracy itself a political framework for this) can be defended as sacrosanct other than as given by God the Creator, as revealed by His Word.
Without Christianity there could be no America and no Constitution: In the Bible alone we find the standard of the sacredness of ALL human life - each person made in the very image of God the Creator, and life a gift from Him alone; here also exclusively do we find the logical reasoning for the protection of every citizen's privacy and property, and thus the only rational argument for both self-defense and a system of justice that is actually just.
Without belief in an absolute moral law as given by an Absolute Moral Law Giver, the founders of this nation had no cause to rebel against a tyrant. What is tyranny if there is no good and evil? If we humans are mere accidents of Nature's undirected course what is Justice? Likewise without this Absolute Standard - There is a Creator and He has revealed His Purposes in Creation - there is no rationale for even attempting a system of government the likes of which this world had never seen. It was with "a firm reliance on Divine Providence" that the attempt was made, and guided by the principles found solely in the Scriptures this small band of men sought not another earthly throne upon which they themselves would sit as kings, but sought under The Divine Rulership to ensure that all who followed them would enjoy the equal benefits of His Granted Liberty, by a system of justice based upon His Law. These founders did not seek to establish Liberty, but to 1) remove themselves from the oppressor of this their sacred freedom, and 2) to organize a new system of human government that would uphold it, thus establishing justice on the earth - as seen through Scripture alone as already operating from eternity past into eternity future in the Kingdom of Heaven. Tell me another set of men, or another earthly kingdom that has, apart from Christ Jesus, even wanted to attempt such a noble mission.
Pledging their very lives - counting the foundation of this grand experiment worthy of such sacrifice - and what they themselves referred to as their "sacred honor," (regard due not to kings but to God) these believers in a Higher Law prevailed by faith in what was as yet unseen, in hope not found elsewhere.
I repeat, the onus is upon you to explain how America could have been established any other way but in The Way.
>>Then what proof do you have that random events caused the order that we see all about us?
Please reference some of these physical processes,
1. Gravitational coupling constant: If larger, then short stellar lifespans, if smaller, then no heavy element production.
2. Strong nuclear force coupling constant: if larger, nuclei essential for life are unstable, if smaller, no elements other than hydrogen.
. . .
7. Expansion rate of the universe: if larger, no galaxy formation, if smaller, universe collapses prior to star formation.
. . .
25. Parent star color: if redder, photosynthetic response would be insufficient, if bluer, photosynthetic response would be insufficient.
. . .
30. Orbital eccentricity: if too great, seasonal temperatures would be too extreme.
. . .
In the history of mankind, the benefits that religion has brought to society in shaping behavior and moral choice are overwhelming in comparison to the negatives, which anyone can list -- like religious wars and bigotry. Without religion, we'd have anarchy.
"Secular atheism" only works in very wise, intelligent and humble hands, in the sense of being aware that the interplay of religious faith and the public square has at once great benefits in some contexts, and great negativity in others. There is no grand unified theory readily at hand. If you combine "secular atheism" with hubris, you get negative results. One size does not fit all things. The planet is a complex place. JMO.
Really, based on what? You're evolution from random slime?
Rights are simply a product of reason and flow from the universal "Golden Rule."
Be really careful where you are going with this.
With no belief in God, someone can come up with a few reasons to practice genocide. Can't you? Its been done before.
Explain please. Read my tagline.
Read post #478
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