So what is to be done? McElwee trots out the idea of a truce – “one originally proposed by the Catholic church and promoted by the eminent Stephen J. Gould,” that “Science, the study of the natural world, and religion, the inquiry into the meaning of life (or metaphysics, more broadly) constitute non-overlapping magisteria.” One straightaway must regard as suspect a “truce” advocated by an organization guilty of repressing scientists and opposing the scientific Weltanschauung. And one would be right to be suspicious, according to McElwee’s proposition: “Neither [science nor religion] can invalidate the theories of the other, if such theories are properly within their realm.” Just what the boundaries of those realms are and who decides them have been matters of contention since time immemorial. Just ask Galileo.
McElwee next concludes that “religion (either secular or theological) does not poison all of society and science should not be feared, but rather embraced.”
No one is waiting for McElwee’s green light to “embrace” science, which holds its place among us by virtue of its proven utility, its lab-tested veracity. At this point, McElwee’s second citation of Martin Luther King cannot avail him. “Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.” Dr. King’s saying this does not make it so. Faith and reason are fighting for supremacy the world over, and rationalists must make their case with ardor, shying away from no battle. Atheists who wobble in defense of nonbelief would do well to recall 9/11, Baruch Goldstein’s Hebron massacre of Palestinians, the Salem witch trials and violence meted out in the name of religion to “unchaste” women throughout the ages. This is, of course, an incomplete list of atrocities motivated by religion.
The sooner we accord priests, rabbis and imams the same respect we owe fabulists and self-help gurus, the faster we will progress toward a more just, more humane future. Enlightenment must be our goal, and that was what Hitchens advocated above all. (“The real NewAthiesm: Rejecting religion for a just world,” Jeffrey Tayler, Salon.com)
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Hitchens did enjoying shaming people too much.
I've got a bunch of people on my twitter feed who are uncomfortable with how loudly Dawkins is pointing out how moronic and cruel Islam is. I think they think they're completely right because to them what Dawkins is doing interferes with a civil society, that though of course some cultures have practices that are hardly liberal, if they can be counted as a benign or even worthy cultural practice — or even just somehow, looked past — they might somehow be tempered if they can at least be fit into some liberal-sanctioned societal grid.
Dawkins reply would be that they're afraid to confront, too afraid that control will be lost to hate-mongerers — like what's behind the imposition of civic society over religious practice in Quebec. Or worse, they don't let themselves fully feel the oppressions in other cultures because they're enjoying warring against the pleb idiots in their own country, and as well, feeling like enfranchised internationalists with a sophisticated appreciation of the character of other nations — it dresses them better to be mild and tolerant.
I myself find Dawkins exhilarating, and that as much as he might seem like Hitchens there's less that's suspect about his motivations. He sees people in pain, and he is going to end it, damn it! The guy stepping into the schoolyard to stop the bullying. But it is still about blaming people — assigning people as worthy of hate. And this gets in the way of our getting ahead. So too many who'd prefer objections be tempered down, like the mild man who's the subject of this article, because many of these like where society is and want to freeze it, even as their categories do cage some genuinely unprogressive practices that every day add pain to our world.
(Emporium / Patrick McEvoy-Halston_