Back to Metroland's Home Page!
 Site Search
   Search Metroland.Net
 Classifieds
   View Classified Ads
   Place a Classified Ad
 Personals
   Online Personals
   Place A Print Ad
 Columns & Opinions
   Comment
   Looking Up
   Reckonings
   Opinion
   Letters
   Rapp On This
 News & Features
   Newsfront
   Features
   What a Week
   Loose Ends
 Lifestyles
   This Week's Review
   The Dining Guide
   Leftovers
   Scenery
   Tech Life
   Profile
   The Over-30 Club
 Cinema & Video
   Weekly Reviews
   The Movie Schedule
 Music
   Listen Here
   Live
   Recordings
   Noteworthy
 Arts
   Theater
   Dance
   Art
   Classical
   Books
   Art Murmur
 Calendar
   Night & Day
   Event Listings
 AccuWeather
 About Metroland
   Where We Are
   Who We Are
   What We Do
   Work For Us
   Place An Ad

Discourse Deferred

To the Editor:

Jo Page’s column, “At Cross Purposes” [Reckonings, Oct. 22], laments the combativeness of some atheists today in arguing for their beliefs and against religion. She calls it mean spirited “God bashing” that “does nothing to advance the much-needed aim of seeking common ground.”

It’s nice to see religious believers advocating mutually respectful dialog. For several millennia their response to atheists was mostly intolerant hate-filled demonization—indeed, burning them alive, literally. And many Christians still say atheists will, and/or should, burn in Hell. Today’s militant atheists do not want to burn anybody, but merely to get a hearing for their ideas, something denied them during all those centuries.

Yes, there’s some extremism and rough language, which doesn’t help. But it doesn’t come close to the deadly extremism of religious persecutions throughout history. And as for this civil dialog that religionists like Ms. Page are quick to accuse atheists of undermining—where is it? I have rarely seen any serious efforts by the religious to reach out, engage with, and understand atheists. Page herself describes an interfaith dialog among Christians, Jews, and Muslims—but, typically, no atheists, who are still widely deemed beyond the pale. (A recent College of St. Rose debate on religion and ethics, in which I participated representing humanism, was an all-too-rare exception.)

I’m all for respectful dialog, seeking common ground, and so forth—it’s long overdue on religion’s side—but religion has a lot to answer for, and its claims to truth must be subject to open public scrutiny and debate. What religion really seems to want is a continued free ride in public discourse—to saturate the air with its sanctimony while being exempt from serious intellectual challenge. We take for granted the cut-and-thrust of feisty political debate, with all its name-calling, but religion is considered a sacred cow we’re not supposed to criticize, and faith a bar to any argument. Religious believers don’t like being challenged in this way and try to delegitimize it. They can dish it out but they can’t take it.

Frank S. Robinson

Author of The Case for Rational Optimism

Albany

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:

Letters, Metroland

419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210

e-mail: metroland@metroland.net

fax: 463-3726


Send A Letter to Our Editor
Back Home
   
 
 
Copyright © 2002 Lou Communications, Inc., 419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210. All rights reserved.