Monthly Archives: October 2014

Gentler Atheism

“In his new book Waking Up, neuroscientist and popular atheist Sam Harris recounts that ‘a feeling of peace came over me’ as he followed in Jesus’ footsteps on a hill by the Sea of Galilee, and it ‘soon grew to a blissful stillness that silenced my thoughts. In an instant, the sense of being a separate self—an ‘I’ or a ‘me’—vanished.’” David Skeel

A New Kinder, Gentler Atheism

Searching for the meaning and consolation offered by religion—but without bringing God into it.

David Skeel, The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2014, p. A 11

In his new book “Waking Up,” neuroscientist and popular atheist Sam Harris recounts that “a feeling of peace came over me” as he followed in Jesus’ footsteps on a hill by the Sea of Galilee, and it “soon grew to a blissful stillness that silenced my thoughts. In an instant, the sense of being a separate self—an ‘I’ or a ‘me’—vanished.”

Mr. Harris doesn’t use religious terms, but his musings about meditating on a mountaintop have left some fans wondering what happened to the pugilistic author of “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation,” which declared that “faith is nothing more than the license religious people give to one another to keep believing when reasons fail.”

Mr. Harris isn’t the only one who has changed his tone. The atheist Richard Dawkins recently devoted an entire book, “The Magic of Reality,” to showing how scientific inquiry has made sense of the seemingly miraculous—from rainbows to the origins of the universe. The discoveries of science, Mr. Dawkins writes, offer as much wonder and life satisfaction as religious belief. The evolutionary biologist and atheist Olivia Judson calls “the knowledge that we evolved a source of solace and hope.”

Since when are these well-known atheists so concerned with consolation and connection, with solace and hope? Mr. Dawkins and his fellow atheists were famous for their zingers dismissing religion. The title of the late journalist and outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens ’s 2007 book sums it up: “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” Continue reading

Crutch for the Crazy

“On every measurable scale, religious Americans are more generous, more altruistic and more involved in civic life than their secular counterparts.” Seiwyn Duke

“Religious people make better citizens and neighbors.” Ibid

“Regular attendance at religious services is linked to healthy, stable family life, strong marriages and well-behaved children. The practice of Religion also leads to a reduction in the incidence of domestic abuse, crime, substance abuse, and addiction. In addition, religious practice leads to an increase in physical and mental health, longevity, and education attainment.” Ibid

Religion: Crutch for the Crazy or Panacea for Peon and Prince?

By: The New American, September 22, 2014, p. 24f

Religion: Crutch for the Crazy or Panacea for Peon and Prince?

“Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers,” said then-Minnesota governor and ex-professional wrestler Jesse Ventura in 1999. It’s a common idea. Atheism’s point man Richard Dawkins has called even disorganized religion a crutch, author Robert Heinlein expressed this secular tenet through one of his characters, and heavy metal band Iced Earth screamed the thought in a song. In fact, the notion is expressed so much, it could occur to one that the idea religion is a crutch is a crutch.

Now, you could think the world’s Dawkinses should be taken just as seriously as the late Robin Williams was when, expressing a sentiment Iced Earth might agree with, he quipped, “Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs.” But since the issue here is no laughing matter, let us start with a very serious acknowledgment about religion being a crutch: It certainly can be.

Not true, however, is what the religion-as-crutch theory invariably implies and is commonly taken to mean: Since faith’s supposed crutch status would indicate it is embraced out of convenience, religion must be false and destructive and God must not exist. Playwright Tom Stoppard could be correct in saying, “Atheism is a crutch for those who cannot bear the reality of God,” but I doubt this would make unbelievers question the reality of atheism. A young child may instinctively use his father as a crutch — deriving a feeling of security and stability from him — but that is not why he believes his father exists; it just gives him another good reason to be happy his father does. Nothing is a truer crutch than an actual crutch, and it not only exists but is the most necessary thing when needed temporarily to buttress a broken bone. And the same can be said of faith, that it is needed for a broken race and is required only temporarily, during that transitional phase between birth and death.

The point is this: That something is sometimes used as a crutch, or even is always thus employed, tells us nothing about its reality or value. There are good crutches and bad crutches, and good crutches used gratuitously. As for those used and grown and sown to the point of destructiveness, the irreligious crutch-kvetchers never point out that government can be a crutch. And what of faith? Responding to Ventura’s earlier quoted attack on religion, Carlsbad First Church of the Nazarene pastor Rev. Dean Coonradt was quoted in the October 17, 1999 edition of the Los Angeles Times as saying, “If a crutch represents something helpful[,] then religion is a crutch. We admit we need help to get to heaven. We need God’s help, God’s saving grace. We also need the help and encouragement of other people.” And, yes, we all need help sometimes. Why, it’s even possible that at some point in his I-am-an-island life of self-sufficiency, sure-footedness, and sagacity, Jesse Ventura needed help from someone.

Crippled by Christianity?

Continue reading

Secular Humanism: Our Established Religion

“Secular Humanism became, through Supreme Court edict, our established religion in the United States.” Patrick J. Buchanan

Editor’s Note: Your editor has been saying this very thing for decades. Background reading would certain include Clergy in the Classroom: The Religion of Secular Humanism. It is available via Summit Ministries, P. O. Box 207, Manitou Springs, CO 80829… 719-685-9103 …

Our Judicial Dictatorship

Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage?

Supreme_Court_US_2010Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes.

Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress or elected state legislatures.

But today rogue judges and justices, appointed for life, answerable to no one, instruct a once-democratic republic on what laws we may and may not enact.

Last week, the Supreme Court refused to stop federal judges from overturning laws banning same-sex marriage. We are now told to expect the Supreme Court itself to discover in the Constitution a right of men to marry men and of women to marry women.

How, in little more than half a century, did the American people fall under the rule of a judicial dictatorship where judges and justices twist phrases in the Constitution to impose their alien ideology on this once-free people?

What brings the issue up is both the Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the death of my friend, Professor William J. Quirk, of the South Carolina University School of Law.

In “Judicial Dictatorship” (1995), Bill wrote of the revolution that had been imposed against the will of the majority, and of how Congress and the people might rout that revolution. Continue reading