Re: Spent some time with a Legend of Freethought and a Champion of Reason today...
It is not about seeing Hegel as an authority, rather the point is that his dialectic theory of how a thesis produces its antithesis seems to have provided a simple logical explanation for how ideas naturally evolve.
Cultural debate naturally veers between extremes. Whenever people want to challenge an opinion and convince others to reject it, advocates will emerge who present their opposing view in the strongest possible terms, as a complete refutation or antithesis of the original opinion. So as modern science demonstrated the errors in traditional religion, it was only natural that popular secular movements arose that totally rejected religion, suggesting reason as an antithesis to faith.
But then, as people continue to consider the arguments from both sides of the faith versus reason debate, the observation arose that there is some truth in both perspectives, leading to a natural synthesis integrating the opposing positions.
The synthesis has to reject the definition of faith as intrinsically false, and instead see the social and psychological value in faith traditions.
The point about seeing scientific atheism as the antithesis of religion is that there are science-based ideologies – atheism, materialism and logical positivism – that in their pure form totally reject all religious practice and belief as obsolete and wrong, and call for the abolition of religion. Those views constitute the antithesis, just in terms of their own logic, whereas other views that seek to integrate some respect for religious views cannot be seen as an antithesis.
This process has in fact occurred historically, for example with the Leninist League of the Militant Godless seeking to eliminate religion from the Soviet Union, or the logical positivist philosophy of thinkers such as Rudolph Carnap who held there is no meaning outside science.
Science tends to be wholly descriptive, whereas faith based approaches give higher priority to the normative values of how we connect to nature and culture. You can't say that description is a more advanced mentality than connection.
And that shows that you are seeking a sensible integrating synthesis between the extreme views. Most people engaged in the dialectical conversation of philosophy do try to have respect for opposing views while adopting a critical questioning attitude toward extremes. The extremes tend to be uncritical, which is why they get moderated by exposure to logic.