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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


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Tracked on May 25, 2005 12:05:00 AM


I thought we do have a Theocracy. The only thing missing is an inquisition.

Posted by: Jimmi | Jun 1, 2005 12:35:38 AM

I would call it an Idiotocracy. And I think Ashcroft's new job is setting up the infrastructure for an inquisition.

"No one expects the Ashcroft Inquisition!"

Posted by: marc | Jun 2, 2005 1:10:56 PM

I think the Evangelical media machine got so big her in America that the politicos feel they have to pander to them.

Posted by: jr | Jun 17, 2005 9:03:18 PM

Problem is that we've got zealots on both ends who adamantly believe their own views whether theist or atheist. I'm not an expert, but I don't think I have yet heard a good argument debunking theism, just as I haven't yet heard a good argument debunking atheism.

I personally chose theism, but I like to hear the arguments on both sides and discuss with them the counter points for their particular views.

Posted by: SumYungGuy | Jul 23, 2005 2:39:04 AM

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