Monday, January 05, 2009
Sue Blackmore wants humanists, agnostics and atheists to be allowed to have a go at Radio 4's Thought for the Day. I don't have any problem with that - though it might get a touch boring - but I do find the atheists' urge to be like a religion a little, well, odd. For that it, in effect, what she is saying, that atheists should have the same voice as Christians, Hindus and so on. This is the correlative of the militant atheist movement which aspires to the condition of a missionary cause, seeking converts. They are all hung up on the idea of belief, which they don't seem to understand. If they want atheism to be a belief system like all others, then, fair enough, they will in time marginalise themselves utterly. The much stronger position would be to advocate an atheist conception of God as the highest and best we can imagine. This is not a paradox, it is merely a way of pointing out that God is not the problem the atheists are trying to solve; perhaps they sense that the one they are trying to solve is insoluble. Meanwhile, read this, a lucid defence of the idea of kindness which includes a neat dismissal of Dawkins' elitism. The modern dismisser of kindness as a form of selfishness is, as Hume foresaw, forgetting 'the movements of his heart'. More exactly, he is abusing language. In whose eyes is kindness 'really' selfishness? Not yours, not mine and, not, dear atheists, God's. To say kindness is not kindness, now that is a paradox worthy of explication on an atheist's Thought for the Day.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:54 am