Insulting & Taking Offence

October 19, 2010

There is a difference and it really shouldn’t be too difficult to grasp.

Salman Rushdie did not insult millions of muslims with The Satanic Verses. Millions of muslims took offence.

Likewise, the “New Atheists” are not “insulting individuals who find individuals who find value in religion”; they are criticizing religion and faith. Frans de Waal should know better than to add his own turd to the already huge pile of bullshit piled on “New Atheism”, especially considering how much there is of value in his latest essay in NYT’s Opinionator.

De Waal writes very well on the natural origins of morality and quotes Darwin (from The Descent of Man) to good effect:-

“Any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts … would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well developed … as in man.”

But it’s shockingly lazy to use that hackneyed epithet strident to refer to present-day atheism and intellectually disgraceful to write, “new atheists call themselves brights” when that preposterous term, having been coined by somebody and proposed by Dawkins as an alternative to atheist, was lambasted by other (new) atheists precisely because it was so silly and moreover patently false (though, at the same time, there’s no denying that there are atheists who do think of themselves as brighter by virtue of their atheism). Few deny the intellectual prowess of sophisticated theologians. What’s denied is the power their arguments have to convince anyone heretofore unconvinced.

Update: de Waal has received various types of support from the Templeton Foundation. Most atheist snipers at “new atheism” have, it seems.


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