Author: Timothy Rowe

In Their Rush To Blame Religion, New Atheists Overlook Evil

Two schools of thought exist on the question of how best to criticize religion if you’re a nontheist. The first belongs to rationalists who believe in the value of strongly criticizing religion, even if that means upsetting or offending religious believers. By being open and honest about the severity of the problems that religion faces, rationalists aim to jar believers free from its grip. This doesn’t tend to make rationalists very popular with believers, of course, but rationalists see virtue in accepting the truth even when it is unpleasant or ugly. To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, it is better to throw open the shutters to the cold light of day, even if the fresh air makes us shiver at first, than to dwell in the warm but false confines of humanizing mythologies. Pragmatists differ from rationalists by viewing unfiltered criticism of religion as a painfully counterproductive way to proceed. As they may note, people do not merely believe in religions — they are personally invested in their truth and anchor large parts of their identities around …