More books on how atheists are ‘ignorant’

Normally I don’t pay much attention to those who ceaselessly attack Dawkins and Hitchens, mostly because although I respect and enjoy their books, they are not the definitive works on the subject of atheism. Yes, both The God Delusion and God is Not Great make powerful cases against believing in God, but to say these two tomes somehow embody all of the principles of atheism would be a lie, one that Terry Eagleton seems to have no problem spreading. He’s written a new book called Reason, Faith and Revolution where he accuses both authors of being ignorant on the subject of mainstream Christianity.

The problem, of course, is that Dawkins and Hitchens never deal with mainstream Christianity primarily due to the fact moderate Christians are not truly Christians at all. Sure, they claim to believe in the Bible and its teachings, but in actuality they follow the moral teachings of the age of Enlightenment. Modern Christianity is nothing like its ancient counterpart, but this veneer of modernity can be peeled off, revealing a religion that is still stuck in the Bronze Age.

I’ve lived my whole life in a Christian community, and know full well the kinds of people it develops: close minded bigots, usually. I will not deny there is a great element of fraternity and social commitment that has a long tradition in the religion, but this is often countered with their supreme efforts to convert those they help as well. Food, shelter and clothing are sometimes only offered to those who profess Jesus as their savior.

I’ve never found Dawkins or Hitchens were ignorant of religion. On the contrary; both are highly educated men who have long studied the Bible and the history of Christianity. The irony here is they know more about Christianity than most Christians, who read so little of their own Bible that their morality often comes from other, more secular sources.

It sounds like I’m trying to defend these two men, who obviously don’t need my help, but it really bugs me when authors attack other writers simply because they don’t like what they’ve read. Straw man attacks are pretty common in religious circles, so I’m not usually all that surprised. Still, I’m putting Eagleton’s little book on my list of things to read this year. We’ll see how strong his argument is (considering he calls Dawkins and Hitchens “Ditchkins”, I’m not too hopeful it’ll be a fair critique).

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