James Wood literary critic, exposed some of the main flaws of the new “militant atheism” including its relentless attacks on any kind of belief, its denying that there could ever be any value in personal religious practice, and its considering all Western religions abhorrent. Children, Wood remarked, are sometimes “stuck in a strict literalism, out of which they eventually grow.” However, he noted:
The New Atheism is locked into a similar kind of literalism. It parasitically lives off its enemy. Just as evangelical Christianity is characterized by scriptural literalism and an uncomplicated belief in a “personal God,” so the New Atheism often seems engaged only in doing battle with scriptural literalism. The God of the New Atheism and the God of religious fundamentalism turn out to be remarkably similar entities.
From a lecture entitled The New Atheism given by James Wood at Oxford University.
Reprinted in the British newspaper The Guardian.
Scripture was never meant to be read literally. The original Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament are elegantly poetic. But the aggressive New Atheists tend to take every work literally in ways that no rational reader would ever do…To be sure, the New Atheists were not the first to stick to uncompromisingly and unimaginative literalism. The Catholic Church, for one, historically adopted such literalism and unyieldingly defended it in the face of scientific discoveries and theories about the movement of the Earth, famously persecuting Galileo and many others for maintaining the nonbiblical heliocentric view. One would have hoped that the New Atheists, living in the twenty-first century, would know better.
Why Science Does Not Disprove God
Amir D. Aczel
2 thoughts on “Religious Fundamentalism and the New Atheists”
Great article on the perils of literalism. Too many people lose their common sense when it comes to interpreting these types of issues.
Agreed. We need to use common sense in interpreting these things.