An Agnostic’s Assessment Of New Atheist Attitudes by Matt Nelson
BBC Radio personality, John Humphrys, an agnostic ... responds to seven common New Atheist attitudes in his book, In God We Doubt (I have reconfigured the statement/response format for easier reading):
1. Believers are mostly naive or stupid. Or, at least, they’re not as clever as atheists.
To which Humphreys responds: “This is so clearly untrue it’s barely worth bothering with. Richard Dawkins, in his best selling The God Delusion, was reduced to producing a “study” by Mensa that purported to show an inverse relationship between intelligence and belief. He also claimed that only a very few members of the Royal Society believe in a personal god. So what? Some believers are undoubtedly stupid (witness the creationists) but I’ve met one or two atheists I wouldn’t trust to change a light-bulb.”
2. The few clever ones are pathetic because they need a crutch to get them through life.
To which Humphrys responds: “Don’t we all? Some use booze rather than the Bible. It doesn’t prove anything about either.”
3. They are also pathetic because they can’t accept the finality of death.
To which Humphrys responds: “Maybe, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Count the number of atheists in the foxholes or the cancer wards.”
4. They have been brainwashed into believing. There is no such thing as a “Christian child”, for instance—just a child whose parents have had her baptised.
To which Humphrys responds: “True, and many children reject it when they get older. But many others stay with it.”
5. They have been bullied into believing.
To which Humphrys responds: “This is also true in many cases but you can’t actually bully someone into believing—just into pretending to believe.”
6. If we don’t wipe out religious belief by next Thursday week, civilisation as we know it is doomed.
To which Humphrys responds: “Of course the mad mullahs are dangerous and extreme Islamism is a threat to be taken seriously. But we’ve survived monotheist religion for 4, 000 years or so, and I can think of one or two other things that are a greater threat to civilisation.”
7. Trust me: I’m an atheist.
To which Humphrys responds: “Why?” He adds: “I make no apology if I have oversimplified their views with a little list: it’s what they do to believers all the time.”