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May 23, 2005

Salman Rushdie on Atheism

The Toronto Star has an editorial by Salman Rushdie about a proposal by Dylan Evans for a new atheism which "values religion, treats science as simply a means to an end and finds the meaning of life in art." The gist of Evans' proposal, apparently, is to basically "live and let live", that atheists should in effect declare a cease fire. However, here's an excerpt from Rushdie's response:

No such reciprocal arrangement exists, however, nor is there the slightest chance that such an accommodation could ever be reached.

It is among the truths believed to be self-evident by the followers of all religions that godlessness is equivalent to amorality and that ethics requires the underpinning presence of some sort of ultimate arbiter, some sort of supernatural absolute, without which secularism, humanism, relativism, hedonism, liberalism and all manner of permissive improprieties will inevitably seduce the unbeliever down immoral ways.

To those of us who are perfectly prepared to indulge in the above vices but still believe ourselves to be ethical beings, the godlessness-equals-morality position is pretty hard to swallow.

Nor does the current behaviour of organized religion breed confidence in the Evans/Ruse laissez-faire attitude. Education everywhere is seriously imperilled by religious attacks.

I find myself worrying more these days than I did in the past that the U.S. appears to be moving ever closer to a defacto pseudo-theocracy. Nothing like Iran, mind you, but with far more of a tendency to have a government that is closely aligned with a fairly specific brand of Christianity.

In addition to concerns about what that might mean for the lives of atheists in this country, I also am worried about what impact such an alignment would have on the actions of our government in the rest of the world. A country that is convinced that God is on its side is one that is less likely to consider whether it is, just perhaps, doing something wrong.

Link: Just give me that old-time atheism!.

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May 23, 2005 in Religions, Cults, and Miracles | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack