This has been enough to bring the full force of a neo-atheist fatwa crashing down on his head. The temple idea in particular made them reach for their best books of curses.
Oh my! A fatwa you say? I'm waiting with worms on my tongue* for the hideous, violent pronouncements of doom from the New Atheists. Happily, Appleyard gives us an example:
“I am rolling my eyes so hard that it hurts,” wrote the American biologist and neo-atheist blogger P Z Myers. “You may take a moment to retch. I hope you have buckets handy.”
The horror! The violence! Rolling one's eyes is so clearly outside the bounds of civilized speech that Myers should be ashamed of himself.
Appleyard helpfully gives us a definition of neo-atheism:
By “neo-atheism”, I mean a tripartite belief system founded on the conviction that science provides the only road to truth and that all religions are deluded, irrational and destructive.(This first part contains two parts, but I'm not here to critique Appleyard's math.) He's close enough for rock 'n' roll on this point, so let's push on. The second part is
Secularism, the political wing of the movement, is another third. Neo-atheists often assume that the two are the same thing; in fact, atheism is a metaphysical position and secularism is a view of how society should be organised. So a Christian can easily be a secularist – indeed, even Christ was being one when he said, “Render unto Caesar” – and an atheist can be anti-secularist if he happens to believe that religious views should be taken into account. But, in some muddled way, the two ideas have been combined by the cultists.And the stupid meter begins to move into the red. Appleyard does not cite or quote anyone who says that atheism and secularism are identical, or that secularism entails that religious views cannot be "taken into account". (Secularism, of course, entails only that the actions of government should be neutral with regard to religion; per the First Amendment, Congress (and the state legislatures, per the Fourteenth Amendment) cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion nor establish a religion.)
The third leg of neo-atheism is Darwinism, the AK-47 of neo-atheist shock troops. Alone among scientists, and perhaps because of the enormous influence of Richard Dawkins, Darwin has been embraced as the final conclusive proof not only that God does not exist but also that religion as a whole is a uniquely dangerous threat to scientific rationality.And the stupid meter explodes.
As usual, there's a lot more stupid in the article. Some tidbits...
Francis Crick and James Watson conceded that one of their main motivations in unravelling the molecular structure of DNA was to undermine religion.Uh, yeah. The Nobel Prize, the thrill of discovery... piffle. It's all about undermining religion! And even if they were motivated by opposition to religion, so what? DNA really is how genetics work.
[PZ] Myers the provocateur announced that he had no intention of reading [Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini's book, What Darwin Got Wrong] but spent 3,000 words trashing it anyway, a remarkably frank statement of intellectual tyranny.This is why responsible scholars cite and quote. In his article, "Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini get everything wrong," (which took me twelve seconds to find) Myers says, "I haven't read their book, What Darwin Got Wrong, and I don't plan to; they've published a brief summary in New Scientist . . . and that was enough." Apparently it's "intellectual tyranny" to accurately identify the authors' work and criticize what you've accurately identified.
Fundamentally, Appleyard assumes as fact that it is bizarre and pointless to use science to explain religion and "the human experience." In addition to the neo-atheists, I suppose Appleyard will be going after the dogmatic, ideological, and intolerant sociologists, anthropologists, economists, political scientists, psychologists, neuroscientists, etc. leaving only the literary critics... such as Christopher Hitchens.