Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Responding to SE Cupp's Blind Spot

Fox News Atheist SE Cupp wrote,
"Back in college, while I was busy pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers made me an intellectual giant, my fiftysomething father, who'd worked so hard to send me there, was quietly being saved. Having long eschewed any ties to his Southern Baptist upbringing, he suddenly found himself born again and on a quest to know God better...
Which brings me to the problem with modern atheism, embodied by the likes of Harris and Hitchens, authors of "The End of Faith" and "God Is Not Great," respectively. So often it seems like a conversation ender, not a conversation starter. And the loudest voices of today's militant atheism, for all their talk of rational thought, don't seem to want to do too much thinking at all."

To start the fact that Cupp thought that a discussion about Nietzsche over beers made you an intellectual giant is troublesome... as troublesome as thinking that bashing Sam Harris and the New Atheists makes you beyond reproach and an enlightened person.

I can appreciate that there are ambiguities but Cupp's delivery can be just as smug as any new atheist she dislikes.

Personally I defend skepticism not atheism. In a world of secular and religious frailty it is good to be a skeptic.

The problem I have with progressives who view the late Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris with disdain and with words like "arrogant and angry" is their huge blind spot that comes from their own experience or lack of experience. There is some truth to their point of view that religion can be more sophisticated and in some areas beneficial to people. But they ignore the fact that many people do take religion as dogmatically true and to claim that religion is simply benign would be intellectually dishonest to history and the present. The blind spot for people like SE Cupp is that she has received a rich education herself but she forgets there are many students who have not been given the opportunity to learn or be inspired by the scientific narrative because of religion dominating their community. It is easy to be benevolent to something that has never bloodied your particular lip. If you use your imagination you will see that others have been harmed by the sting of religion and stunted by its dogma.

For SE Cupp religion did not complicate her education but for many others it does impact their ability to grow in learning. We know that the two things that inspire children when it comes to Science are Dinosaurs and Astronomy. Both of these subjects can be a problem in many religious homes and school districts in America. That is something to be acknowledged.
Now there are other circumstances where a religious community helped in giving a child a better education. For instance let us say a gang member grew up thinking books were boring and for nerds but he became religious and got interested in biblical literature and that led him to learn to read and to even go to a higher learning institution. That happens but so does the fact that some religious influence gets in the way of the advance of knowledge and education. So let us not pretend that there are simple answers to the ills of society either way. With or without religion the opportunity for a rich education is going to be something of a struggle in a culture that prizes identity politics and cheap fame over wisdom. The arrogance of atheists can be bad taste but the arrogance of believers can have a real impact in the quality of education children are getting in this country. The worst arrogance is from solipsism that creates a blind spot and you forget that others do not walk your same path. The world is a spectrum of realities and sometimes what is benevolent to you is an obstacle to others.

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