Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
“Accordingly, the only kind of atheism that counts in the US is that which calls into question the proposition that everyone has a right to life, liberty, and happiness.” – How real is America’s faith? | Stanley Hauerwas: Face to Faith | Comment is free | The Guardian.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG! From start to finish the article goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. I don’t think the writer has either read a single reliable American article or spoken to a single American, let alone an American atheist. The America he describes exists only in the dreams of fanatics and fools. The first blunder comes in the fourth line of the first paragraph. There ARE states which prohibit atheists and non-theists from running for public office. In the Preface of ‘The God Delusion’, professor Dawkins noted that the Lawyer Wendy Kaminer was not wholly exaggerating when she said that making fun of religion in America is as risky as burning an American flag in a Legion Hall. The status of the Atheist in the united states is almost on a par with that of homosexuals fifty years ago. After the third paragraph, the article ceases to make any sense at all. What the writer is inferring is that the majority are not ‘real’ Christians and what is needed is a return to a strict adherence.
“This is why atheists were never allowed to testify in court: oaths were sacred, witnessing to the authority of God. How could an atheist take an oath? For an atheist, every man is his own god. Secular Humanism says “Man is the measure of all things.” He never prays, “So help me, God.” As a result, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story observed, “infidels and pagans were banished from the halls of justice as unworthy of credit.!”
The trend is towards groundless bad press against atheists which cannot be helping to encourage non-theists to ‘come-out’ and admit it to their friends and family. Who can blame them when you consider the attitude expressed toward those even suspected of being non-believers (or even non-Christians)? Atheism is nothing to be ashamed of and the sooner the silent, non-vocal, and mostly non-violent atheists speak up against the collective character defamation and stop hanging their heads as though they are somehow lacking in more than just belief, the better. The ever-present ‘belief in belief‘ is a cowardly get out excuse to evade criticism from those who do believe. It goes hand in hand with the equally condescending excuse that ‘some people need religion‘. It needn’t be necessary to explain why I find these patronising non-arguments so aggravating, but for the sake of argument I shall. They imply that while we are intelligent and educated enough to be ‘above’ the need for the comfort-blanket and sucking-thumb that religious belief ‘offers’, but for the rest of the Orwellian Proles or Huxlian Epsilon and Delta semi-morons, the belief in an imagined deity and the overly invasive and restrictive rules are a necessary requirement: a tool of control with which to brow-beat those less enlightened individuals into line.
“Americans do not have to believe in God, because they believe that it is a good thing simply to believe: all they need is a general belief in belief. That is why we have never been able to produce interesting atheists in the US”
I think Sam Harris, Dan Dennet and James Randi would have something to say about the above comment. Who is Mr Hauerwas to decide who or what is interesting for others? Of course if he has never read or heard them speak then he could be forgiven if he had really lacked the opportunity for some reason. The god of the Bible is an imagined explanation of the world from before we had the means to do so accurately and modern morality bears no resemblance to the rules lad down in their bronze aged texts. It is people who stubbornly cling to their personal belief, and without thought or consideration, have arbitrarily decided that their god has specifically entitled them to live in a country where people have the right to believe in the god of their choosing. What a coincidence that their god just happens to agree with all of their rhetoric!?
A people so constituted will ask questions such as “Why does a good god let bad things happen to good people?” It is as if the Psalms never existed.
The above quote is no argument. He assumes that the Bible is the unerring word of god regardless of all evidence to the contrary. The next time somebody tries to use the Bible to prove the truth of the Bible, don’t let them ramble on but make them provide a reliable source. America is not promised land but stolen land and the justification used for that theft was Christianity. The logical conclusion is that those seeking to ‘return to an America that the founding fathers intended’ are not only ignoring historical facts but deliberately ignoring their first amendment responsibilities of not forcing their own religious beliefs on to the rest of society. I do not doubt the sincerity of their ‘faith’, but seek to draw attention to the danger of that same sincerity and refusal to question their own ideas. George W. may have been a sincere Christian, but it bore no impact on his ability as a president and very probably was what detracted from it. Personally, I find him to be an ill-informed and intolerant buffoon especially in the case of advances in science against the ridiculous notion of the sanctity of life. Life is indeed precious as we only have one each, and every day we waste is a tragedy of our own making but that does not imply that it is in any way sanctified by some intangible and absentee authority.
“The members of Generation Y (those born after 1980) in Britain have had less contact with the Church than any previous generation in living memory. So what interest do young people have in Christianity? Does belief in God make any difference to them?…Using both sociological and theological approaches, the authors shed light on these questions by drawing on the views of over 300 young people who have participated in Christian youth and community outreach projects around England over the last five years.” – The Faith of Generation Y –
Another article, worth noting for comparison, entitled ‘Is God Disappearing?’, deals briefly with the recent report published by the Church of England that looks into the view of Christianity held by young Britons. 12% of those interviewed claimed atheism, while 43% claimed that they ‘didn’t know what to think’. I am quite concerned that they believed that they should have a prescribed ‘set’ of beliefs but it is a step in the right direction. Does this mean that our youngsters are freeing themselves from the leaden, self-inflicted and artificial mental shackles that religious belief imposes? One can only hope but I fear that this wish is slightly optimistic. I more strongly suspect that this is due to the level of suspended disbelief required in order to honestly hold Christianity as credible in any way. The quality of the Church’s sampling also leaves a lot to be desired as it seems that they attempted to bend results by asking only those who have participated in certain projects. They were very clearly expecting a quite different result.
“Other evidence points to a number of outlooks that might be mistakenly understood as a lack of interest. The issue might be, for example, that a person is struggling to articulate their outlook,”
Education is NOT the only issue. It might not have occurred to the church but ‘I don’t know what to think‘ may as easily be translated into a taken for granted dis-belief rather than plain indifference. In Britain, we do not have the career limiting taboos against active atheism or non-belief. Judges and lawyers do not have to be religious, and nor do politicians. Therefore it is fair to say that it is perhaps easier to accept the sincerity of British faith over that in America but that does not honestly cover the issue of why religious faith should be a requirement at all. All it shows is that for in order for people to embark on certain careers they may be required to either suspend disbelief and/or sacrifice integrity (lie) to get to do what they want with their lives. We have our friends, families, and ourselves to have faith in. Belief in real life and real beings can quite easily supplant that of a non-scientific sky-bully and so it should. If an adult had a belief in an imaginary friend, we would question their sanity. The only differences are the name of the friend and their apparent popularity.
- http://vftonline.org/TestOath/21atheists.htm (A pro-Christian-law site. It is one of those sites which also disbelieve the fact that America was founded as a secular nation.)
- The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins.