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At HuffPost, Rabbi Boteach on Evolution and Atheism®


At Huffington Post, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has a pretty strong piece asking "Does Questioning Evolution Make You Anti-Science?" He recalls being the campus rabbi at Oxford University and hosting debates on religion and science pitting, for example, Dawkins against our David Berlinski. Boteach sums up:

What I learned from these debates, as well as reading extensively on evolution, is that evolutionists have a tough time defending the theory when challenged in open dialogue. Indeed, David Berlinski, the author of The Devil's Delusion, was, although an agnostic, on the religion side of one of the debates against Dawkins and tore large holes in evolution that Dawkins and Maynard-Smith struggled to address.
Rabbi Boteach is an interesting person, no doubt about that. He notes in his author's bio that he's got a book coming out titled The Church of Evolution. I had to turn to another publication, L.A.'s Jewish Journal, for his explanation of what that will be about:
[T]he move on the part of atheists to create an official chaplaincy reinforces my firm belief that atheism is becoming its own religion. I will make this point at great length in my upcoming book, "The Church of Evolution," slated to come out, G-d willing, later in the year. But there are many people whose atheism is supported by their own creeds and by the same willful denial of certain facts that has in the past characterized many of the faithful. In addition, the new atheists, like Richard Dawkins, demonstrate an intolerance and condescension to people of faith that is very similar to what one sadly finds among some of the most close-minded of religious people.

So perhaps it is just as well that we formalize the new Church of Atheism by creating a formal military chaplaincy.

I dunno, however. I revert to my previously expressed view that folks who want to go around calling themselves atheists, whether new or old, should be held to the same standard as Realtors®. They should have to pass a qualifying exam to show they know something about the God they think they are rejecting. In fact, most of these ladies and gents are perfect ignoramuses -- Dawkins being a prime example -- knowing only the baby version of a faith they very imperfectly acquired in Sunday School. To say they disbelieve in such a silly, childish construct is almost totally meaningless. So does every remotely thoughtful religious adult also disbelieve in it.

As a sociological reality, the authentic, qualified atheist with a really mature understanding of any religion is a rare person indeed.

So there should be a National Association of Atheists, like there's a National Association of Realtors®, with some kind of quality control and maybe even a trademark on the name and hence the cute little trademark symbol that the National Association of Realtors® insists on. We would be talking not about the New Atheism but rather a properly accredited New Atheism®.

To speak of guys like Coyne or Harris or Dawkins as representative of a Church of anything gives them, I think, far too much credit.