Thursday, January 18, 2007

Common Sense: Mainstream?

Richard Dawkins is an atheist. That may not be remarkable. What's remarkable is that he's written a best seller ("The God Delusion") about atheism. Not just about atheism. About how religion is full of nonsense.

At Amazon UK, Dawkins' book is number one. At Amazon US, number two. And then there's Sam Harris who wrote another best seller, "The End of Faith". Read about it at Alternet:

What's going on here?

Call it backlash. That's what happens when reasonable folks declare they've had enough. Not so much that they've had enough of religion, as that they've had enough of the notion that religion cannot be questioned. Enough of hearing that if you question religion, you're "intolerant".

Questioning religion is not the same as finding oneself aghast at the hipocrisy evident when, say, the anti-gay preacher turns out to be gay. That sort of thing is incidental to the enterprise of religion. The real meat of it seems to be: if you, as a religionist, ask that we accept as truth an obviously irrational fantasy (virgin birth, virgins in heaven for bombers); then why do you also expect to be included in rational discussions about how we run our society? You can't cite irrational fantasies as foundational, and at the same time intercede in rational policy for the rest of us.

If best seller lists indicate anything about public sentiment, it may be time to celebrate an awakening. One where common sense people feel free to let the world know they are not buying the hokum. Where they feel free to examine so-called "faith" in the light of day. Where, for instance, they don't have to be labeled intolerant for questioning intolerance.