A weird Plate o' shrimp moment.  It seems a lot of people are thinking about Atheism today.

Scott Rosenberg has a pointer in one of his posts to a Gary Wolf article in Wired
Wolf concludes that, although atheism is the logical and philosophically sound stance for a scientific person, there's something off-puttingly evangelical about its most fervent advocates, and that's why the great bulk of us non-believers tend to identify as agnostics instead.

I think Scott's painting atheists with an overly broad brush.  To get a view that more lines up with my view on atheism, Jon Carroll has a great column that puts a more tolerant, less fundamental, evangelical spin on atheism.
I don't believe that it's religion's fault. I believe that human nature is
responsible for war and torture and intolerance. I believe that we are beasts,
and that every institution we set up reflects our bestial nature. If we drag
God into it, it's because we feel shame for our actions. "Sure, seems bad to
kill babies, but God told me to do it, so it must be OK."

But we are also more than beasts. At the core of every religion are notions of peace and grace and understanding. Is there hypocrisy? Sure -- hypocrisy is as human as love or murder. But hypocrisy is not all there is. There are good works, plenty of them -- selfless behavior, charity, devotion. Of course you don't need to believe in God to have those virtues, but religion can serve as an organizing principle to make these virtues manifest on Earth.


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16 November 2006