What with Dawkin’s and Hitchen’s writing tired tomes on the virtues of Atheisms (I’m neither a theist nor an atheist) other writers are entering the fray (or having their books translated into the lingua de jour). Michel Onfray’s ‘In Defense of Atheism’ is the latest and reviews are mixed. I was, however, quite taken with the review in ‘The New Humanist’ which went on to ask actual philosophers what they thought of the text. Julian Baggini commented thusly:
However, he still neglects the moderate â€œdogma-liteâ€ versions of religion that most people actually follow, claiming that these are no more than pick-and-mix dilutions of the true faith. That is, I think, a weakness he shares with many atheists. In a way, we have a more fundamentalist view of religion than most believers, because we insist to truly be a believer, you have to swallow a whole lot of doctrine, and that anyone who doesnâ€™t is just following a â€œwishy-washyâ€, not entirely bona fide religion.
I think he hits upon a very important point; I’ve yet to meet an evangelical atheist (including converts) who doesn’t engage in the near mischaracterisation ofÂ religious belief as fundamentalism. It’s a very strange move (such evangelists wouldn’t tolerate anti-scientists micharacterising modern physics as being about the pudding bowl model, for example) and its probably why atheism isn’t gaining friends in high places (which it probably should; a great deal of the wrongs in our society are perpetrated in the name of religious belief; rob politicians of that crutch and you can just attack them for being immoral prats).
The other thing of note in the linked review is the solicited comment by a non-philosopher (and blogger) Doug Ireland. I’m hesitant to make this point (I will, though, because I’m amongst friends) but I suspect Doug treats Onfray as an intellectual in the way that ‘Libertarians,’ such as Cresswell and Perigo, treat Ayn Rand as an intellectual.
You all know what I mean.
1. I’m also hesitant to make the point because Onfray is an actual philosopher. It just seems that he’s also a populist who is fond of overly simplifying his philosophy for easy consumption.