How to Make the "Neo-Atheist Cabal" Move On

Posted by Valerie Tarico

Can we find a way to move beyond tribalism and superstition in our quest for meaning? Can we build spiritual communities that are morally and intellectually accountable, rooted in what we know about ourselves and the world around us? Even moderate people of faith seem to defend their religious texts and traditions as packages. And interfaith work that seeks to transcend tribal boundaries says blythely that "it's all good." Nick, a commenter at Radio Open Source suggests a first step toward something truly different. It's definitely what I want!

Here's his article:

How to make Chris Hitchens and his 'neo-atheist cabal' lose interest in their current anti-religion activism.

Imagine a new global, ecumenical convocation of the three Abrahamic faiths. All of them, from Branch Davidians to Greek Orthodoxy, from Hassidim to Islamists. And they end their massive convention by issuing the following statement:

We are appalled by the violence and intolerance our beliefs and faith-institutions have engendered, enabled, and otherwise promoted throughout the history of monotheism. We not only regret this, we seek, now, and admittedly belatedly, to atone. We recognize that the harm rises plainly from our claims to certain knowledge of the deity we purport to speak for—and we now candidly admit the implicit and explicit conceit of these claims. We have long claimed humility – but falsely – for surely mere humans cannot humbly claim to know the mind of the universe’s creator.

We therefore renounce our claims to certainty.

Instead of conviction we offer hope: hope that our belief in an immortal soul is neither vain nor mere vanity masquerading as religiosity. Hope that the God we have long believed listens to our self-obsessed entreaties might actually exist in the cosmos beyond our minds’ capacity for imagination and outside of our hearts’ yearnings for the comforts of parental love and approval.

But we no longer promise this to the young we hope to influence. We will instead become, for the first time in monotheism’s troubled and troubling existence, authentically humble.

We confess our abject ignorance.

We confess our dismay that so many more prayers prove futile than those that seem to have been postively answered as articulated. We admit that double-blind prayer experiments yield not a whit of difference in the lives of those prayed for.We will no longer pretend that our child recovered from a sickness because a Deity favored us and our prayer while apparently ignoring the even more devoutly offered prayers of parents and children living in dire poverty and in barbaric, hostile circumstances.

We admit that such beliefs are unconscionable conceits. And we apologize.

We hope for something more, though: we hope to inspire greater love within the hearts of our co-religionists: not for themselves but for all others – even those others who do not share our beliefs and our hopes. We will no longer demand that human love be personified in our venerated mythological figures, but will hereafter allow and encourage love to be venerated as a good in and of itself.

We will remodel our temples, churches, and mosques to reflect this – and will then invite non-believing others to share their stories of the profoundly transforming power of unpersonified love. Because, in our new and earnest humility, we confess that those outside our faith traditions might have profoundly valuable lessons of love to share with us.

And we will edit and revise our sacred texts to reflect this historical reformation from insufferable arrogance and the cocksure certainty of faith to genuine humility and plainly confessed hope.

Any religion or sect that cannot or will not make such a concession to reason, to humankind, and to its own parishioners fully deserves the scorn of Hitchens, Dawkins and the rest of us non-believers too. And why must it fall to plebeian skeptics like me to have to point this out?



Anonymous said...

Who ever wrote this nailed it. It should be chiseled on to stone tablets, or at least printed on good paper and framed, and be on display in every public place,
Dan, Agnostic

boomSLANG said...

In a word---"Awesome".

Anonymous said...

Spiritual evolution,.....not needing to be special in the eyes of a deity or fellow humans.


Bill B said...

Just when you think you've read every great angle dealing with religion, someone comes up with something like this.


I agree with the Danster. These words should be chiseled on stone tablets and force fed to the minds of all God's children.


Anonymous said...

When I made my comment above, I didn't know you were the author.
This makes it even better, knowing it was you.

Like I said, Frame it, and sell it, and I'll buy one.
Dan, Agnostic

Anonymous said...

As usual, a great post,Valerie!

I noticed that you asked, why are plebeian skeptics such as yourself the only ones to point out these fallacies? Good Question, and while I think it was likely rhetorical, I also believe it is because you, as well as many others, are outside the “Business of Religion” or, if you will, the “Bureaucracy”.

As you have stated (in principle) before, true understanding and tolerance will never be achieved without removing the “Mission” to “Save” (and control) the world by conforming it to a particular belief system.

We need a very simple “Live and let Live” approach. But what bureaucracy would absolve itself of its Purpose and Power and just walk away from it? It’s a grand hope, however, we must realize that what you are purposing will lead to the dismantlement of the World’s Religious Orders, and THIS is the real sticking point, methinks.

Without these additional and specific concessions, I fear even the most contrite of promulgations would not suffice.

Bravo to you, Valerie and all others who have the guts to speak out! We need a congress full of your tribe who, by their very nature, are anti-tribal.

Anonymous said...

What a crock of shit.

boomSLANG said...

Gosh, such an intelligent rebuttal:

"What a crock of shit"

Did you learn that in home-school? lol

Valerie Tarico said...

Hi all -

I can't take credit for anything but running across it and loving it! A guy named Nick is the author. Somehow the formatting messed up so you couldn't tell my little intro from his fantastic statement.

So . . . I get to agree with you. I haven't reposted other people's articles before but I think this one should be shouted from the mountaintops!

Aspentroll said...

I wonder what planet she's talking about. The fundies on this planet can't even agree on which church has the right dogma to become delusional about.

Anonymous said...

All I can say to Valerie’s questions are, “When pigs evolve wings and take to the air!”. And maybe not even then!

Foreseeing a bright future as Nick suggests in his commentary is wishful thinking at best. A respectable goal that offers no mechanism to a solution. But it sounds nice! Three thousand years, or more, of history is more revealing of the actual truth. He can spearhead a campaign whereby he crosses our nation asking religious fundies to renounce their claims to certainty or confess their abject ignorance. I will wait for him at the end of the trail and ask him how well it went!

All earthbound species share a common factor that if they don’t recognize, acknowledge, and adapt to their ever-changing environment or situations............they will parish. As homosapiens, we possess adaptability, yet we never seem to be able to employ it with any success.

We humans, as social groups or individuals lack the simple ability to learn from our mistakes. We can see example after example of this throughout history right up to modern times. We can’t change. It’s our nature. Some have predicted that we may actually follow our predecessors down the path of eventual extinction.

However, some of us do learn! Yet as single individuals, or as small groups, we can never effect change on a scale that might actually benefit our overall situation in the larger scheme of existence unless we are willing to undertake the task of initiating positive changes from what is otherwise a destructive practice.

Nick’s scenario will never come to fruition without serious intervention and hard work. All structured world religions will maintain their hold on humanity forever unless a better societal model is discovered and implemented, with strong conviction, that will grow and push religion to the very thin edges of actuality.

Our best hope is that non-theist numbers are growing tremendously. The question is, can they adapt faster than the religions? The historic cyclic nature of this ongoing battle has always leaned towards the irrational side. Our work is cut out for us. It may not be the best, but at least we have some representation on the worlds stage, even if he is a little neo-athiest.


Richard M said...

Apropos the above, here is my favorite quote from Douglas Adams:

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

Anonymous said...

I think that global warming or one of the other possibly catastrophic events, that could conceivably wipe out the majority of us, will make the question of whether we can give up our belief in imaginary beings practically irrelevant, or a moot point, so to say.

Just like the big question that Tyrannosaurus Rex had, about whether he was indeed the king of all living things, and whamo!!
Dan, Agnostic

Anonymous said...

Dan, I almost agree with you but not quite! I believe it is inevitable. A global catastrophe that reduces humanity to a minimal existence would only serve as a temporary treatment for the religious disease and not a cure. Survivors, being prone to repeat mistakes, would only reinvent their superstitious ways and new religions would be born. The problem of religion is in the propagation. If we can find a way to stop the early indoctrination of young minds before they develope, we might actually dent the surface.


Anonymous said...

As the old saying goes, "hope springs eternal". However in this case, I wouldn't hold my breath. For religious zealots to make such statements, they would first have to become unzealous. Fat chance. In a world of uncertainty and constant change, the lure of fundamental belief will rope in a certain segment of the populace (mostly those who are prone to fear of uncertainty) for the future of the race. That is, unless we mutate out of our current brain configuration!


Anonymous said...

Anonymous Brian wrote:
"As the old saying goes, "hope springs eternal". However in this case, I wouldn't hold my breath. For religious zealots to make such statements, they would first have to become unzealous. Fat chance. In a world of uncertainty and constant change, the lure of fundamental belief will rope in a certain segment of the populace (mostly those who are prone to fear of uncertainty) for the future of the race. That is, unless we mutate out of our current brain configuration!
Brian "

I consider myself a mutant then, because since i was a child the outragous irrationality of the Bible, has seemed to me, to be just too silly to be taken seriously.
Dan, Agnostic

Anonymous said...

No, it's not all good. Much of it is crap. What a wonderful fantasy that the religious would admit that it's crap or at least that they could be wrong and it might be crap.

Chucky Jesus

Lance said...

OK, so I believe evolution does a pretty good job of explaining most things in biology as well as society. This post puts forth some fantastic ideas, but all it takes is for one fundy to take this guy out and we are back to square one.

I think religion has such a hold on the human race is because people with certainty in their religious beliefs tend to kill heretics. Whereas people like this tend to get wiped out.

Put this guy in a cage match with a fundy of any religion and see who comes out alive.

Great ideas, but I don't hold much hope for human kind in this regard.

I personally think this is the best argument to show that atheists are more peaceful and tolerant than theists. Evolution shows that if atheists were as murderous as theists, they would at least be as numerous.

Lance said...

Sorry about my last post. I'm not usually so pessimistic, but I'm feeling a little pissy right now.

webmdave said...

more evidence that monothesism was always progressing toward atheism. the atheists got that part right. i dont share your(or their) optimism about the power of "love" and "tolerance" although. not even slightly.human beings will see to thier self interest first and foremost always,and what then is "love" or "tolerance" except vapid well wishing. we are living on accumulated cultural savings, that will soon run out. the next great global catastrophe will do us in. im hoping that in a post petroleum world, humanity can move back toward an existence more deeply entwined with the natural world we have exiled ourselves from. pre monotheistic art and religious belief were once one in the same thing. we would be happier back there, knowing what we do about the dualism and rationality we've elevated to a hideous, montrous idol that squats astride the entire earth.

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