The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) has published an article which suggests that the “Four Horsemen” (Hitchens and Harris, Dawkins and Dennett), the “New Atheists”, practise an unacceptable intolerance of their opponents. Having read some fifty published comments on the article, I dared to submit one of my own, reproduced below. The Editor saw fit to reject my objection. I respect his right and understand that the undisguised advertisement for my book and blog may have been asking too much. For what it is worth, here, in summary form, is my Apologia pro Vita Mea :
“One can be a believer without being a Bible-basher. One can be an atheist without being militant about it. If people want to believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God (which victims of catastrophe – may I suggest – should find a contradiction in terms), in Divine Revelation, in miracles and in an after-life (religion’s founding myths), fine. If others prefer to consider all this as blatant nonsense, idem. Live and let live ? Not me.
I used to be a militant Christian, a member of the Franciscan Order and a Catholic priest. I am now a militant atheist dedicated to the proposition of the first of the Four Horsemen that “religion poisons everything”, and to helping people I call Believers on the Brink to see that although they have rejected many of their beliefs, those they hang on to are just as absurd. Why do I bother ? Because I know the harm religion does to people. I cannot be indifferent to the damage done to children by “putting the fear of God into them”, or by blinding them with the wishful thinking on which religious myth is founded. Creating guilt-complexes, inculcating superstition and encouraging credulity are bad enough. But intoxicating the innocent to put their trust in a non-existent Providence, promoting the supposed salvific value of suffering, idealizing the renunciation of pleasure, notably sexual, and holding out the hope of eternal happiness and the threat of eternal punishment are unworthy of human intelligence and dignity. I have chosen to ridicule religion so as to invite believers to recognize the absurdity of their beliefs, rules and rituals. My self-published book, “From Illusions to Illumination. The Itinerary of a Franciscan Priest from Catholicism to Atheism” and my blog (blindfaithblindfolly.wordpress.com) are the means I have chosen.”