The contempt that atheists have for religion is well know. The Dictionary of Contemporary Mythology (DCM) contains a typical quip:
- The difference between faith and insanity is that faith is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence, whereas insanity is the ability to hold firmly to a conclusion that is incompatible with the evidence. (Quoted from Pique: Newsletter of the Secular Humanist Society of New York, Sept 2012. All other quotes are taken from this newsletter.)
In other words, faith is insanity! Likewise, atheist Walter Balcerak writes, “As a secular humanist, I believe religions are mainly harmful delusions.” Surprisingly, he acknowledges that some good comes out of religion. Balcerak quotes the atheist professor of psychology, Jonathan Haidt:
- According to Haidt, religion does more than unite people. He says studies indicate that religiously observant Americans “are more generous with their time and money, especially in helping the needy, and they are more active in community life.”
- Research on 19th century communes demonstrates the cohesiveness of religious groups, he asserts, because they were much more likely to survive than secular ones. Of the 400 communes studied, 20 years after their founding only 6 percent of secular groups had survived, compared to 39 percent of religious groups.
The difference between the experience of the Secular and the Christian (I’m assuming that almost all of what are called “religious” are Christian) groups is profound. However, Balcerak and other atheists believe that secularism can merely borrow certain techniques from these Christian groups, like brushing your hair to the left instead of the right side. The secularist can easily implement this change, but it’s doubtful if this will favorably impact secular communities.
Atheist Sara Robinson goes even further:
- There is simply no other organizational form that encourages people to share their time, energy, and resources so quickly, completely, or enduringly; or aligns so much conviction toward the same goal.
Most atheists seem to think that all they merely need to change the “organizational form” – a mere superficiality – and they will experience the same benefits. However, Robinson acknowledges that change will require more than a mere face-lift:
- If you want to change the world, this is the kind of group – deeply bound by faith, trust, love, history, and a commitment to each other and to the world they envision that transcends life and death – that’s most likely to get it done. Religion is the best way going to get people to consecrate themselves, body and soul, to a larger cause; and to take on the kind of all-or-nothing risks that are often required to really change the world.
This is where Robinson parts company from the New Atheists. Consequently, the editor of Pique appends the article with a “solicitation”:
- Okay, readers, now that you’re outraged, send your rebuttals – approvals? – to email@example.com.
Nevertheless, Robinson regards religion as a matter of “superstition,” and superstition is a matter of delusion, even “insanity,” according to DCM. We are therefore left to wonder how being insane and the deluded:
- Is the best way going to get people to consecrate themselves, body and soul, to a larger cause; and to take on the kind of all-or-nothing risks that are often required to really change the world.
I hope you are able to see the disconnect.