Haidt on the "new atheists"
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Author:  Dexter [ Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Haidt on the "new atheists"

In Haidt's description of the "new atheists," he says (or at least strongly suggests) that they do not recognize the historical benefits of religion in terms of forming communities, developing moral rules, etc and have a narrow view of religion as only supernatural claims. I could be wrong, but I think they would acknowledge those benefits historically and the role in community building, perhaps arguing that the benefits have been overstated. But they tend to focus their arguments on the falsity of religion claims or on the negative effects of religion.

By the way, I looked it up and his name is pronounced "height." I thought maybe it was pronounced "hate." That would be unfortunate.

Author:  DWill [ Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haidt on the "new atheists"

I haven't got to this section yet, Dexter, but I'd have to largely agree that the new atheists argue along those lines. They often counter advocates for religion by denying that the benefits were positive on balance, after you add in all the wars and killing done in the name of religion; they blame religion for retarding the march of science; they minimize the role of religion in producing the great art and literature of past ages. They're polemical to one degree or another, which is no surprise since they're matching the polemics of the other side. The weakest argument in my view is to assert that humanity would have been better off without religion. What good does it do to say that when you couldn't be talking about the humans that we are. You'd have to be talking about some quite different species. Not only that, but where's the control group that shows the 'better' history without religion? We just don't know if things would have been better or worse, or, as Haidt I think says, whether we would have been able to be where we are at all without religion.

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