Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bruce Sheiman (An Atheist Defends Religion) on why the educated tend to be nonbelievers

Bruce's take on atheism is refreshing, and less aggressive than the so-called
"new atheists." Just because some people lack belief does not mean they must be at odds, unable to civilly engage each other.
As a counter to Richard Dawkins' rather insulting suggestion to relabel atheists as "brights," here is a quote from an interview with Bruce Sheiman:

I have a theory why education is associated with atheism (i.e., that atheists are more likely to have higher educational achievement than believers).
And it is not because religion is associated with ignorance, which is what
sanctimonious atheists would have us believe. Rather, it is because
education’s highest goal is the cultivation of critical reasoning, and too much
critical reasoning serves to undermine any Institution or Ideal. I call this the
“Opening of the American Mind” because it encourages, first, the transition to
relativism (based on the assumption that all cultural truths are equally valid
and that no ideal is better than any other). In time, critical reasoning takes
us a step further, to the view that all beliefs are equally dubious, equally
subject to criticism and skepticism. The result is an inability to see
anything important without great gobs of cynicism. The solution is to take
critical reasoning a step further – to the criticism of critical reasoning.
Whether that will ever take place is open to skepticism… and so it goes.

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