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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dennett just wants religion is taught as a natural phenomenon similar to language or music

As I've been ranting lately on my blog, there's a spectrum of the New Atheists. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett may have been labeled under the same banner but their views and approaches to religion vary. So to say that the New Atheists are fundamentalists, reductionists and are only talking about the mythic God are naive sweeping generalizations. Case in point: Here's a video of Daniel Dennett explaining his views on religion.
It's very different from Richard Dawkins's (anti-theist) approach and Sam Harris's contemplative science approach. Dennett is a proud and avowed atheist but he doesn't want to exterminate religions. He just wants to have the "toxic" versions expunged via comparative religious education--where religion is taught as a natural phenomenon similar to language or music.
For example, although Dennett might not agree with Michael Dowd's Evolutionary Christianity, the fact that Dowd is teaching the science of evolution to Christians in the Bible Belt, I don't think Dennett would have a big issue with it. It would be cool to hear a dialogue or friendly debate between Dennett and Dowd though. In the meantime, Michael Dowd is raving "Praise God for the New Atheists and Creationists!"
That said, IMHO, a more integral response to the New Atheists is to acknowledge their partial truths, recognize or constructively critique their proposals, set them on an integral framework and talk to them instead of dismissing them as reductionists and "first-tier" food fighters. In short, the New Atheists and Integral Camp should talk.
In the meantime, Michael Dowd seems to be filling in that "integral" dialogue by meeting people where they're at. Check out this quote from Dowd's blog:
"The New Atheists and Young-Earth creationists are both playing vital, necessary roles in furthering the evolution of religious perspectives. The New Atheists are assisting the evolution of religion by ridiculing trivial, uninspiring notions of God; the Young-Earth Creationists are doing their part by ridiculing trivial, uninspiring notions of evolution."
Very skillful and fluffy :) from ~C4Chaos

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