Oct. 5th, 2009

smackshack: a crude digital self-portrait (Default)
Normally I'm "rah rah rah" for atheism, but today I think I'll post links to a pair of thoughtful essays that look critically at the state of atheist culture.

First is "You Don't Have to Be a Skeptic to be an Atheist" by Amy at the blog Skepchick.  Amy reports on her experience at the recent Atheist Alliance International convention, where she's surprised by the number of people so committed to railing against religion that they're unaware of a broader skeptical movement.

Second is "Culture and Barbarism: Metaphysics in a Time of Terrorism", by Terry Eagleton.  This is an essay that feels a bit quaint in its willingness to indulge in sweeping generalizations about the nature of civilization and culture.  I think Eagleton makes a mistake in equating what he calls liberal humanism with something that would better be called technocratic utopianism, and I think he's also mistaken in thinking that people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are the standard-bearers for that utopianism -- they both strike me as people resigned to an understanding that human nature is far too intrinsically shifty to be the object of mass scientific reformation.  (They just don't think this is an excuse for excusing superstition.)

I'm going to want to think about the second essay some more.  I can feel myself reacting defensively to it, and that would be contrary to the spirit of skepticism, after all.



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