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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Without God, gall is permitted?

Thanks to a friend for this link:
To read the accounts of the first generation of atheists is profoundly moving. Matthew Arnold wrote of the "eternal note of sadness" sounded when the "Sea of Faith" receded from human life. In one testament after another--George Eliot, Carlyle, Hardy, Darwin himself--the Victorians described the sense of grief they felt when religion goes--and the keen, often pathetic attempts to replace it by love, by art, by good works, by risk-seeking and--fatally--by politics.

There is no such sympathy among the new apostles of atheism--to find it, one has to look to believers. Anyone who has actually taught young people and listened to them knows that it is often the students who come from a trained sectarian background--Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, Mormon--who are best at grasping different systems of belief and unbelief. Such students know, at least, what it feels like to have such a system, and can understand those who have very different ones. The new atheists remind me of other students from more "open-minded" homes--rigid, indifferent, puzzled by thought and incapable of sympathy.
Yes, that’s precisely the part I have found most remarkable - the contented ignorance of most of the current atheist flock. Mario and I discuss that in The Spiritual Brain.

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