I have been embattled my whole life between my Christian faith and the reasonable world around me. Faith is not “reasonable” as such, or else it wouldn’t be faith. Implicit in the very concept of the word “faith” is that you believe something you have no way to prove. You might have reasons why you believe what you do (certainly I do), but faith is not something that can be demonstrated in the context of repeatable experiments performed as scientific constructs.
I have been an observer of strident atheism for about 20 years now, as the thoughtfulness behind it appeals to my intellect. Atheism has picked up steam in recent years, as the atheist remonstrance against religion has become militant in tone. The Reason Rally recently caught my attention because it was trending on Twitter, at least with some people that I follow. As I scrolled down the list of Reason Rally speakers, I noted that one of them just wrote a book, the title of which grabbed my attention: “Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off The Godless” by Greta Christina. So – I picked it up. $8 for the Kindle edition seems like short money for a book that I’m reading as a sort of a “state of the union” address for mainstream atheism.
I’ve started consuming the book, and it’s easy reading so far. No new ground broken at this point. It’s what I consider to be a normative atheist approach to why religion is bad, which I can summarize as follows.
- People are moronic, i.e. incapable of satisfactorily debating matters of faith or lacking knowledge about the faith they claim to adhere to.
- People are hypocrites.
- People have done and continue to do horrible things to each other in the name of their religion.
- People cling to faith despite incontrovertible facts.
- People believe in things that can’t be proven, which is patently silly.
The opening chapter, which is about all I’ve gotten through so far, is a list of the “99 things,” mostly provided with at least a little context so that you know what’s she’s on about. Greta’s logic is sound, thoughtful, and doesn’t come across nearly as angry as the book title might lead you to believe. The book is far from an irrational rant, although it is fair to categorize what I’ve read so far as passionate. Although Greta’s worldview is burdened with the same challenge my own is burdened with (that of built-in assumptions), for the most part, I found what’s she upset about to be things that all people should be upset about. That said, it’s more a condemnation of bad religion, human rights abuses, and manipulation of the legal system than of “God” as such. At least so far…I presume that, as an atheist, Greta will take God to task explicitly rather than implicitly before the end.
I’ll finish reading in the next couple of weeks or so, and post some more specific comments.