Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pipe dreams of the Kingdom of the God

Check out this article from Alternet on the New Atheists.

I've only read a few pages of Sam Harris, but something struck me -- just within those few pages as he denigrated the idea of nonviolence and the work of Gandhi -- that something was very wrong with his argument. The more I heard arguments borrowed from Harris and company, the more it appeared that something was very wrong. Something was very wrong in the way the authors were defining religion, and something else was wrong there, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

I think this article gets at a lot of what I was feeling to be wrong with Harris's arguments. And has some good points on its own. My one caveat is that I'm not certain the degree to which I want to endorse the rejection of the idea of progressing towards a better future. There's plenty of reason to be skeptical about the idea (as any Russian Studies major can tell you). I'm more inclined to caution against thinking that progress as a society is inevitable -- it must be worked for and carefully guarded through vigilance -- and to firmly reject any utopian ideas that deny the value (and the rights) of the individual. Further, it is an imperative to understand that movement (forwards, backwards, or sideways) creates a shift in perspective, which changes the very vision of the end, the utopia, the kingdom of God. One can have a sense of what utopia should be -- a construction, if you will -- which allows one to analyze and critique the present, but one must not confuse that construction with reality.

testing something...

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