Celebrity atheists expose their hypocrisy
By DVIR ABRAMOVICH, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Added: Sat, 24 Oct 2009 23:00:00 UTC
A flurry of books bashing religion are making best-seller lists and grabbing a lot of attention — so much so that anti-religion publications seem to have become a lucrative genre all their own.
Works such as Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Sam Harris' End of Faith, Michel Onfray's The Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and Daniel Dennet's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon are bare-knuckled, no-holds barred tracts that sometimes resemble the declarations of fundamentalists who are absolutely convinced of their truth.
Hitchens and Dawkins, who are the leaders of the New Atheism movement, have received the most media spotlight and are driving the growth of this industry. Hitchens presented recently at Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas and appeared on ABC TV's Q & A program. And Dawkins will headline next year's Atheist Convention in Melbourne.
These atheists are angry that religion has not gone away and is thriving in various parts of the world. After all, calling other peoples' belief a delusion is not exactly respectful. Indeed, distinguished doctor and broadcaster Lord Winston found Dawkins' attitude to religious faith patronising, insulting and counterproductive, noting that it "portrays science in a bad light".
Hitchens and Dawkins build a straw man — they select the worst offences that have been done in the name of religion to prove that religion is a dangerous force and a kind of virus that infects the mind. At one point Hitchens writes, "Religious belief is not merely false but also actually harmful. But I think it is a mistake to condescend to those who claim 'faith'."
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