Letter: Troubles with new, new atheism

Brandon Beasley’s column on “The poverty of New Atheism” [Sept. 30] slammed us for not coming up with a “viable, fulfilling worldview.” Of course we haven’t! Atheism just means you do not believe in a god or gods. Period, end of sentence. Secular Humanists, devout Jains and even some Hindus can all call themselves atheist. If you want a viable worldview from a simple label, you likely expect your toaster to drive you to work.

In the second half of his article, he dishes out stock apologetics. He states religious beliefs are special, because he says they are. He points to them being deeply important in how you live your life, yet ignores that only 14 per cent of all Americans can name the Ten Commandments, despite 82 per cent confessing to be Christian. When the key moral teachings of Judaism and Christianity are so casually tossed aside, it makes you wonder how important they really are in day-to-day life. He complains that atheists don’t understand religion, yet that week a [Pew Research Centre] poll was released that showed atheists know more about religion than Christians, on average. That is no surprise, since the vast majority of North American atheists were Christian at some point in their lives. If anything, their understanding of religion and religious believers is what made them atheists in the first place!

He states the god debate is unimportant, which is true, at least until you’re forced to confront someone who is acting in the name of god. Suddenly, it becomes a bit of a deal, and sadly, it’s an all too common event. Searching for common ground, holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” together won’t help you then.

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