Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thanking the Anti-Religious

There is a thought-provoking opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal (link) in which the religious author suggests that he is grateful for the recent wave of vocal atheism:

Why should believers welcome this emergence of unbelief? Why not? We should be glad that there are people, even the devil's disciples, who take religion seriously enough to attack it, especially in these days when God seems to appear only in quarrels over holiday displays, during political campaigns or on the self-help shelves of Barnes & Noble. Should the primary goal of religion really be to fund municipal crèches, allow politicians to end every speech with the tag "And God bless America," or inspire works like "Tea With God: A Divinely Inspired Self-Help Book" and "The Christian Entrepreneur: How to Profit From Your God-Given Idea"?

Click here to read moreIn attacking the cloistered monks and nuns of my Roman Catholic Church, the brilliant, if occasionally logorrheic, John Milton wrote in his defense of free speech, "Areopagitica," that "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed." And what will possibly make us exercise and breathe more fully than challenges by intelligent, thoughtful opponents?
In other words, he has two reasons for praising them:
  • They take religion seriously enough to argue against it, which is unusual in this superficial age.

  • They cause believers like us to rethink and re-energize. Some of the greatest works in Jewish history were written to rebut heretics (e.g. R. Sa'adia Gaon's Emunos Ve-Dei'os which was written in response to Karaites).
However, while all this may be true, something tells me that the parents of someone who is convinced by these atheists to leave religion is not going to be thanking them. So, thanks but no thanks.

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