Thursday, January 25, 2007

"The new intolerance"

Christianity Today:
You can ... tell that atheism is in trouble because it is becoming increasingly intolerant. In the past, atheists (or secular humanists or freethinkers) were often condescendingly tolerant of their less-enlightened fellow citizens. While they disdained religion, they treated their religious neighbors as good-hearted, if misguided.

But now key activists are urging a less civil approach. At a recent forum sponsored by the Science Network at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, the tone of intolerance reached such a peak that anthropologist Melvin J. Konner commented: "The viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?"

This newly aggressive mood (Dawkins calls religious education "brainwashing" and "child abuse") is in danger of undermining civil society.

CT columnist David Aikman recently sounded a warning in a commentary for the Trinity Forum. Sam Harris, he noted, not only advocates a shift from viewing religion as harmless to treating it as dangerous, but he also wants to suppress religion. Aikman evoked images of Mao's China and Stalin's Russia as the future of America - if liberals ever abandon true liberalism. ....

Christians have long disdained what Eagleton calls the "mealy-mouthed liberalism which believes that one has to respect other people's silly or obnoxious ideas just because they are other people's." But we have also understood it to be a safeguard in civil society. Despite its vapid quality, such liberalism has been a blessing. The antitheistic rhetoric that erodes the ethos of respect is a clear and present danger. ....
Source: The New Intolerance | Christianity Today

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