07 December, 2011

The Challenge of Contemporary Atheism: The Vatican's paper sums up today's climate

'What has happened to contemporary atheism? Until a few years ago, atheism resided in a pragmatic space of irreligiousness and indifference, assisted by the modern turn of events which rendered philosophical discourse on the existence of God dogmatically impossible by definition. Today, we are witnessing a double turn.
The first involves a return to theoretical atheism, assisted by references to scientific discourse. After the classic seasons of suspect teachers (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud), today it is the turn of neo-darwinism and neuroscience to furnish arguments for the belief that God does not exist. A God whom some authors prefer to write with a lowercase “g”. The second and more interesting change perhaps, is atheism as a new form of morality. In this case too, historical antecedents can be cited. In the modern age, there is Pascal’s debate with erudite libertinism or Sartre’s celebrated pamphlet on atheism as humanism.
The new apologetics of atheism privileges the reference to empirical science to justify the thesis that without God one can live morally well and even more, one can and must take into one’s own hands the future of an evolution which until now has been blind, so to speak, but can now finally be governed by a human project freed from the tether of ancestral prohibitions formed under a divine authority.'
Read the entire article here.

L'Osservatore Romano, The


  1. What's with this continuous bothering with atheists by theists? What's the problem?

    Atheists don't usually go around "challenging" theism. They usually just want to be left alone. So why not just leave them alone?

  2. Lady Janus, Atheists do bother theists when theists seek to impose their sectarian religious views upon society as a whole. A good example now is gay marriage. No one is forced to accept gay marriages in their church but accept the right of other denominations and those with no religion of accepting it.

    "Today, like never before, the power of man over himself and over reality makes clear the need for ethical criteria that are not purely arbitrary and subjective. Militant atheism would like to place itself on this last horizon of meaning"

    For thousands of years humans have argued over how God wants and doesn't want us to behave. Even today among mainstream Christian denominations there is no agreement on such basic issues from abortion to war.

    Perhaps we should have listened to Protagoras who years ago offered the sage advice that "Man is the measure of all things"


  3. Hi Lady Janus/Michael,

    I think the theists have every reason to be concerned with the "New Atheists". New Atheism is vocal and unapologetic in its crticisms. Ideas matter when you are in the religion game, so the theists have to up their ground game if they have any hope of innoculating believers and fence sitters against those criticisms. New Atheism is definitely corrosive to religious beliefs and institutions.


  4. "Atheists do bother theists when theists seek to impose their sectarian religious views upon society as a whole."

    *ahem* That's like saying that the victim of an assault "bothers" his attacker by fighting back. Does anyone else think this is purely backwards?

    " New Atheism is vocal and unapologetic in its crticisms."

    Just like the evangelical propagandists have done for centuries, eh? The playing field is becoming more level, and I say about time, don't you?


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