A Natural Phenomenon
I’ve no particular enthusiasm for the ‘New Atheists’ (they are far too religious for my tastes), but, in its combination of incoherence and hysteria, this attack on them by Bryan Appleyard (H/T Andrew Sullivan) takes some beating.
Here’s an extract (my emphasis added):
Ultimately, the problem with militant neo-atheism is that it represents a profound category error. Explaining religion – or, indeed, the human experience – in scientific terms is futile….The project is also curiously pointless. A couple of years ago I hired a car at Los Angeles Airport. The radio was tuned to a religious station. Too terrified to attempt simultaneously to change the channel and drive on the I-405, the scariest road in the world, in a strange car, I heard to my astonishment that Christopher Hitchens was the next guest on a Christian chat show.
In his finest fruity tones and deploying $100 words, Hitchens took the poor presenter apart. Then he was asked if this would be a better world if we disposed of all religions. “No,” he replied. I almost crashed the car.
The answer demonstrates the futility of the neo-atheist project. Religion is not going to go away. It is a natural and legitimate response to the human condition, to human consciousness and to human ignorance…
Appleyard is right. Religion is not going away, because, it is indeed a “natural” response (its legitimacy is an irrelevance) and, as such, rather well suited to scientific explanation.