IF YOU WANT TO BE AN ENLIGHTENED MORAL ATHEIST, LET NOAM CHOMSKY BE YOUR INSPIRATION - NOT RICHARD DAWKINS

Noam Chomsky's atheist morality makes more sense to me than the atheist non-sense of 'Richard Dawkins & his Merrie Men' 

 

http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/07/the-new-atheists-political-narrat... 

 

This article has focused on the New Atheists and the betrayal of the Enlightenment. In part II, we will explore legitimate heirs of the Enlightenment, focusing especially on Noam Chomsky and on how the praiseworthy goals of the Enlightenment can be accomplished in the modern world.

 

The New Atheists and the real faith

Since 2001, a group of scholars and intellectuals (for simplicity, and in line with current labels, we will call them the “New Atheists”) have become college campus celebrities for assailing the “irrationalism” of religious belief; some, like Daniel Dennett,1 Christopher Hitchens,2 and Richard Dawkins,3 already possessed laudable resumes, and some, like Sam Harris,4 rose in fame primarily because of their passionate pleas against faith in the immediate post 9-11 milieu. Although these thinkers differ in their analyses, their main theme is similar: religious faith is irrational and should eventually be discarded like a child’s toy by mature citizens in a modern, secular era. Although their arguments have not gone without criticism (see Atran5,6; also, see Hedges7 ), a healthy number of self-designated “free thinkers” have praised their work and continue to impugn the supposed benefits of belief. At times, this criticism can be healthy and productive; at others, it can be destructive and can devolve into ugly and uninformed attacks against Islamic civilization. At bottom, however, the most egregious problem with such attacks is that they ignore the real veil that distorts most people’s perceptions of reality, diverting attention from real political issues that affect millions of lives and convincing many intelligent college students that the chief problem in the world today is irrational religious conviction.

The New Atheists believe that they are carrying out the once stalled project of the enlightenment (See Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and ScienceMission.8 ), of freeing minds from the shackles of religious fundamentalism and superstition so that they can perceive the unadulterated “scientific” truth about the nature of reality. This is a noble desideratum; the problem is that the real shackles of the mind–at least in the Western world–are not chained to religion but rather to mainstream political narratives. During the enlightenment, thinkers like Jefferson, Diderot, and Voltaire assailed religion and the churches that propagated it precisely because it was a dense and powerful curtain that was drawn over the eyes of humans. In the contemporary United States, however, the church is no longer an inordinately powerful institution and religion, even among believers, is not the most potent mythology. The most potent mythology is neoliberal nationalism9,10 and the most powerful institution is the corporation. In other words, the New Atheists have retained the outdated substance of the enlightenment but have left its vital spirit behind, have, as it were, mistakenly dragged a 200 year old corpse into the modern world. This would not be lamentable were it not for the profound influence that the New Atheists wield among intelligent and open minded students and intellectuals, the very students and intellectuals that progressives require to form a broad and effective coalition that can challenge the unprecedented power of corporations.

In this article, we will argue that that New Atheists are not heirs of the enlightenment and do not fundamentally challenge existing power structures and narratives in modern American society; instead they distract attention from important issues and scurrilously attack narratives that provide meaning for millions of people.11 We will first look at the interaction between human nature and political structures and how that necessitates the development and propagation of political/religious narratives. We will then trace the decline of religious narratives and the rise of secular narratives, focusing on the modern American political narrative. We will end by criticizing the New Atheists–particularly Sam Harris–for contributing to the West’s growing Islamophobia while ignoring issue of much greater political significance. In part II, we will examine the true legacy of the Enlightenment and those who continue its mission.

 

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Replies to This Discussion

That's too long, someone give me the gist of it in a sentence?

That's too long, someone give me the gist of it in a sentence?

No, but here's a more digestible version of what they're saying.

1. The modern world is the well-organized, powerful, international coalitions of super-rich versus the less organized subservient coalitions of the rest of us. They maintain control by convincing us, the rank and file, that our interests are identical to theirs (low or no taxes for them, high taxes on us, etc.) and by sowing strife between different groups (workers v. immigrants, Christian v. Muslim, white v. black, gun control v. gun rights, etc).

2. "Enlightenment" thinkers throughout history have fought them by attempting to demystify the fictional narratives of powerful coalitions of aristocrats, monarchs, and clergymen of their day. The New Atheists (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc.) as Enlightenment thinkers are doing that today by emphasizing religious skepticism.

3. The poor dumb atheist bastards have forgotten the purpose of Enlightenment thinking. They should be attacking the powerful and the false narratives they put forth, but they've betrayed us by playing into their hands. They're just kicking up more clouds of dust and driving wedges between the two sides of the faith divide. All they do is distract attention away from the real problem: the inequities of modern society. Our super-rich masters sit back in their private jets, chuckle, and order more campaign.

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