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Respectful atheists

Respectful atheists

Nicholas Kristoff, writing in the Sunday New York Times Week in Review, notices a new brand of atheist, ones who are skeptical but respect the role and achievement of religion in human culture

The latest wave of respectful atheist writing strikes me as a healthy step toward nuance. I’ve reported on some of the worst of religion — such as smug, sanctimonious indifference among Christian fundamentalists at the toll of AIDS among gay men — yet I’ve also been awed by nuns and priests risking their lives in war zones. And many studies have found that religious people donate more money and volunteer more time to charity than the nonreligious. Let’s not answer religious fundamentalism with secular fundamentalism, religious intolerance with irreligious intolerance.

The new wave is skeptical but acknowledges stunning achievements, from Notre Dame Cathedral to networks of soup kitchens run by houses of worship across America. Maybe this new attitude can eventually be the basis for a truce in our religious wars, for a bridge across the “God gulf.” Let us pray …

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Bill Dilworth

Susan, in the discussions in my parish about attracting more people, the issue came up of whether or not we ought to use our superior music program as a "selling point," rather than making a purely religious approach. I pointed out not everybody who goes to church does so because they love the Baby Jesus, and that it's always been like that. One of the people present later told me that a long-time parishioner, who serves in one if the groups that makes the parish run, "doesn't believe any of it - she thinks it's all hooie." But she's there every Sunday, and is a diligent worker for parish programs. She's one if the atheists in our midst (thank God).

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Bill Dilworth

Susan, in the discussions in my parish about attracting more people, the issue came up of whether or not we ought to use our superior music program as a "selling point," rather than making a purely religious approach. I pointed out not everybody who goes to church does so because they love the Baby Jesus, and that it's always been like that. One of the people present later told me that a long-time parishioner, who serves in one if the groups that makes the parish run, "doesn't believe any of it - she thinks it's all hooie." But she's there every Sunday, and is a diligent worker for parish programs. She's one if the atheists in our midst (thank God).

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IT

I've been addressing this concept over at the Friends of Jake blog for YEARS now, where we've discussed "Gratheism", "Christian Atheists", "respectful nonbelievers" , and "church going atheists" at length. We've also discussed whether the faithful NEED the atheists in their midst. Glad that Kristoff has caught up, but I guess I shoulda written a book! 😉

Susan Forsburg

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Jason Lewis

Alain de Botton gave an excellent TED talk recently on this very topic, called Atheism 2.0. He's a great author, and the talk is funny, humane, and very, very relevant.

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tgflux

See also re Gratheism

JC Fisher

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