Thursday, October 02, 2008

Arguing Against the Atheists - Lisa Miller

Belief Watch: Arguing Against the Atheists | Newsweek BeliefWatch: Lisa Miller | "Sometimes I argue in my mind against the new generation of professional atheists, and the arguments go something like this. First, if 90-odd percent of Americans say they believe in God, it's unhelpful to dismiss them as silly. Second, when they check that 'believe in God' box, a great many people are not talking about the God the atheists rail against—a supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs, who lays down inexplicable laws about sex and diet, punishes violators with the stinking fires of hell and raises the fleshly bodies of the dead. It is impossible to measure what people do mean when they talk about God—to tease their individual experiences of transcendence apart from what culture and catechism teaches them—but according to a new survey by Baylor University, just about half of Americans believe that God intervenes in worldly affairs. Less than half characterize God as 'punishing.' What's more, even some of those who do envisage the God described above also believe all kinds of other stuff. They chant mantras in yoga class. They believe in eternal salvation for people from faith traditions other than theirs. The problem with religion is not belief itself, which even in the most orthodox believers is inconsistent, but the (violent or oppressive) enforcing of one truth over another."


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