New Brit: Welcome to a world where flip-flopping is the only respectable answer to atheism
|September 4, 2011||Posted by News under Religion, Culture, Atheism|
In “The New Atheism” (The Guardian, 26 August 2011), James Wood advises “Writers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens tend to equate religion with fundamentalism. A more nuanced examination of religious belief can be found in modern fiction.” Wood exemplifies the utter bankruptcy of those who would sniffily defend “religion” by holding up as the virtuous examples – who rescue religion from “fundamentalism” the people who didn’t just make the right choices:
Part of the weakness of current theological warfare is that it is premised on stable, lifelong belief – each side congealed into its rival (but weirdly symmetrical) creeds. Likewise, in contemporary politics, the worst crime you can apparently commit is to change your mind. Yet people’s beliefs are often not stable, and are fluctuating. We are all flip-floppers. Our “ideas” may be rather as Woolf imagined consciousness, a flicker of different and self-annulling impressions and convictions.
What if you were a strong Christian believer, and you woke one night, terrified by the sudden awareness that God does not exist? Hours pass in this unillusioned crisis, and then blessed sleep finally returns. The next day, you wake up and the awful doubt – a thing of the night – has mysteriously disappeared. You continue to “believe in God”. But what does such belief now mean? If it has not been annulled by the doubt of the night, does it now contain the memory of its inversion, as a room might trap a bad smell?
It starts worse and gets worse than this sample.
Faith, in Wood’s world, is not about holding on to ultimate reality and making right choices despite temptations to do otherwise; it’s about endlessly attenuating nuances and complexities, secure in the knowledge that one is at least better than those narrow fundamentalists who just stay the course.
Wood provides some perspective on the Brit riots, doesn’t he? Just think: His type of people have been the Brit moral guides for over a century. And what do you see? The evangelical and Muslim youth, who are not nuanced, stayed home from the riots. How backward, how narrow of them.
And over-educated Brit toffs, how utterly morally bankrupt of you.. You’ve succeeded in being worse than the rioters. They are the harvest you sowed.
See also: The Brit riots: “When churches disappear, the vacuum is filled by gangs or tribes.”
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