Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Marginal Utility: The Dreadful Dick Dawkins Part I

Drek of Marginal Utility has an interesting take on a Dawkins book review found in the New York Times.

Yet, in saying all that, I think I can still object to the recent book review on Dawkins' work published in the New York Times. This review, written by Jim Holt,** is quite frankly negative. Okay, that's an understatement: it's actually rather vicious. In the viciousness, however, it's fairly clear that the reviewer simply doesn't like Dawkins' message and wishes he'd just keep his atheism to himself. This, and this alone, is really what I have a problem with. Religious persons of all stripes are permitted, and often expected, to try and convert their friends and neighbors. Often they are rewarded for conspicuous displays of piety and religion acts as a sort of human capital. So, I consider it a bit absurd for someone to be condemned not merely for taking pride in their own religious views, but for simply doing what everyone else does already: doubting the gods of others, and giving voice to that doubt.
Source: Marginal Utility: The Dreadful Dick Dawkins Part I

I am always interested in finding a new atheist (Drek was unknown to me), and then reading and processing what he or she has to say. In this case, the dissection of Jim Holt's book review was fun to read, informative, and insightful. But it also troubled me...

This morning I spent a great deal of time with my son driving to and from, and to and from, his school. He forgot an important assignment, so we repeated our drive twice. During the drive he talked about two friends who don't celibate Halloween for religious reasons. Apparently, his friends don't believe in a god that prohibits fun things like Halloween or video games, which places them in conflict with their parents. We talked about god again. He was concerned that his belief in god in some way offended me. He asked about what it would be like if the tables were turned. If I were a Christian and he an atheist. Would I still be as tolerant of his beliefs. I answered that self-determination is an important concept and that I hoped that I would stick to it. Only... In retrospect, I understand that to be a Christian comes with the obligation of spreading the word, and therein lies the problem. I don't feel the obligation to spread the word as an Atheist, but I would as a Christian. Perhaps spreading the word is the right thing to do?

Technorati tags: ,


Tozé said...

Atheism is not a belief system, but there are belief systems which are atheistic. Some of them are based on rationality and others are as dogmatic as any religion.

I think what you should ask yourself is if your belief system is one which has an intrinsic feeling of evangelism to it. If you feel that you should "spread the word" and that by doing so you'll make the world a better place, then by all means do it.

Lexcen said...

I've never met a self-proclaimed Christian who wasn't a blatant hypocrite.

LC said...

>>>Perhaps spreading the word is the right thing to do?

It depends how strongly you feel about the direction the world is taking. I've always been an atheist, but until recently I didn't think it was worth making a big deal about it. More recently however, as I've seen religious fundamentalism increasing its stranglehold on the world I've found myself wanting to speak out against religion. I don't just want to lie back and let religious people take control of the world and impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

Mojoey said...

Lex - really? I’ve had a different experience. While I meet self-proclaimed Christians who are hypocrites, I also meet many who are not. In fact, I would say that the less politically minded the person is, the less likely they are to be hypocrites. Also, many people I know, well most in fact, will say the are Christians when what they mean is that they believe in god. Being a Christian is something they wear because of social imprinting. It does not mean the same thing as when an evangelical “true believer” claims Christianity. Many of these people are normal Joes, with normal problems. It would be easy for my to paint them all as hypocrites, but in reality they are not the problem.