Sunday, September 30, 2012

What The Hell Is He Talking About?

The October/November 2012 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, which I read last week, contains an article by an R. Georges Delamontagne titled "Overgeneralization: The Achilles Heel of Apocalyptic Atheism?"

Unfortunately, while portions of the issue are accessible on the Free Inquiry website, Delamontagne's article is not one of them, so I can't provide a link to the article itself.

In summary, Delamontagne takes atheist luminaries such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris to task for making claims about religion that "are not substantiated by findings deriving from research applying appropriate social scientific methodology and, thus, are prone to serious errors, the most common and flagrant being that of overgeneralization."

Though I believe Delamontagne makes some valid criticisms in his article, in the penultimate paragraph he proceeds to drop this turd bomb:

"The direct, confrontational, no-holds-barred assault upon organized religion by contemporary atheists is misguided - a terrible waste of time, precious talent, intelligence, and energy that has little chance to help bring about the realization of a life for humankind guided by humanist ideals."

All I could think was "What no-holds-barred assault on organized religion is he talking about?"  To the best of my knowledge, no prominent atheist figure has beat up a priest or a rabbi, torched a church or a mosque or disrupted Bible study classes.  We're not forming human chains around houses of worship to keep people from attending religious services. 

Or does Delamontagne consider public criticism the equivalent of a "no-holds-barred assault" of religion?

Based on my recent observations, it is the actions of people who identify with one religion towards peoples of other religions that has reached the level of assault.  It isn't atheists who threaten to publicly burn the Quran like Pastor Terry Jones.  It wasn't atheists who attacked Christians and Ahmadiyas in Indonesia or Shia Muslims in Pakistan.  Atheists had nothing to do with the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in India.  I could go on an on (seriously, I could!) but I think I made my point.

Do some atheists overgeneralize or behave immaturely with regard to religion sometimes?  Sure, most of us have been guilty of it at times.  But does such rhetoric or behavior constitute an assault on organized religion?  I would reply with an emphatic no.  It seems to me that in criticizing atheists for overreaching sometimes, Delamontagne commits the same error himself.

3 comments:

MKL said...

Great commentary, I completely agree with you.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Come to think of it, where the hell are all these "Militant Lesbians" I keep hearing the Right complain about so much?

Funny is all the banter about how divisive and aggressive Obama is in his speaking. Funny, can't seem to find any examples of that either.

Tommykey said...

@ MKL: Thanks.

@ Robert: Obama would be divisive even if he spoke in pantomime.