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While theism continues to unite the vast majority of the world’s population, westerners of a certain age have never before accepted atheism with such enthusiasm. Buttressed by popular figures like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens–who were in equal measures outspoken and entertaining–today’s atheists paint an easy target, portraying religion a system that competes with science to explain the existence of natural phenomena. The problem, says Nick Spencer, author of the new book Atheists: The Origin of the Species, is that religious figures do not view religion this way. Indeed serious religious thinkers have never treated religion as an explanatory device akin to science but as a way to understand human existence more broadly.
What’s the Big Idea?
Perhaps you know a proud atheist; perhaps you are a proud atheist. Perhaps you also enjoy reading Nietzsche and revel in his brilliance and enthusiasm for a God-less world. The problem, says Terry Eagleton, is that Nietzsche is stark in his description of such a world. “Nietzsche realized that the Enlightenment project to reconstruct morality from rational principles simply retained the character of Christian ethics without providing the foundational authority of the latter…and no amount of Dawkins-style hand-waving about altruistic genes will make the problem go away. (Indeed, the ridiculous belief that our genes determine everything about human behavior and culture is a symptom of this very problem.)”
Read more at Slate
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