Sunday, November 28, 2010


In his latest contribution to the Huffington Post, entitled How Should Religion Behave in Public? Amarnath Amarasingam takes the obligatory swipe at the "New Atheists" (I still don't know what's new about them except that several authors of pro-atheism books are making the bestseller lists at once) as follows:

"While the writings of the New Atheists are a natural evolution of a cultural struggle, from the perspective of the scholarly study of religion and theology, their collective studies disappoint. They typically look at the most common examples of religious belief and practice provided by organized religion and conservative Christians, and then reduce a highly complex phenomenon -- religion -- into jejune explanations and conclusions. It's evident in the very titles of their books that the New Atheists overreach: Religion poisons everything (Christopher Hitchens); religion is a delusion (Richard Dawkins); religion is a spell that must be broken (Daniel Dennett) and needs to be ended (Sam Harris). Again, theirs is a natural reaction to the past and current abuses of organized religion, but not surprisingly, just like other cultural pendulum swings, it too is an overreaction both emotionally and scholarly."

While Amarasingam does not refute any of these atheist theses -- saying "Nuh-UH!" and calling someone's work jejune does not constitute a refutation. Not in my book, Sparky -- he at least lists a few of them accurately. This puts him way ahead of most of his theist colleagues posting in the Religion section at Huffington Post, even if all he did was look at a few book titles. This is progress.

And my attempt to pay him this backhanded compliment was not posted in HP's reader's comments, which leads me to think that young Mr Amarasingam may already be a Templeton fellow. Good for him!

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