From John Ray's shorter notes

September 06, 2007

Dogmatic atheists

There is an interesting short article here which points out how dogmatic many atheists are -- probably more dogmatic than most Christians.

I myself have always wondered at that strange tendency among atheists. Many atheists sound very much like the fieriest of evangelical preachers. So rather than opposing dogma they are just putting up one dogma against another -- something religious people have been doing for centuries, of course.

I myself am as thoroughgoing an atheist as you will find but I have never seen any need to condemn religion or religious people. Most religions (though not all: Islam comes to mind) seem to be of great help to their believers and I am delighted that that is so. I just don't seem to have in me the hate that clearly drives many outspoken atheists to their paroxysms of abuse.

One small point that I would make about the article I have referenced concerns the idea that atheists characteristically subscribe to moral relativism. I think that is broadly true and it does make nonsense of the condemnations uttered by such atheists. How can they say religion is wrong while at the same time saying that there is no such thing as right and wrong?

I would stress, however, that there is no NECESSARY relationship between atheism and one's metaethics. I myself have set out at some length an account of right and wrong which rejects both mystical views of right and wrong and moral relativism. And I doubt that I am the only atheist who thinks that right and wrong exists and is important. Though you certainly don't hear much of such atheists -- which is why I am writing this. Someone has to speak up.

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