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Chris Hedges wrote “I don’t believe in Atheists”

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I was just browsing through author essays posted in the Powell Books web site and bumped into an essay by Chris Hedges discussing his thoughts about right wing Christians and New Atheists, like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens.

I have spent a lot of time reading New Atheists and about them and  I have wondered about what I should or can believe. Since Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and spent a lot of time doing war journalism, especially in the Middle East, I feel that he has the mental and emotional wherewithal to say useful things about what’s wrong with belief systems in our Western society. Here is an excerpt from his essay that resonated for me:

These New Atheists and the Christian radicals they so resemble have built squalid little belief systems that are in the service of themselves and their own power. They urge us forward into a non-reality-based world, one where force and violence, where self-exaltation and blind nationalism go unquestioned and are considered good. They seek to make us afraid of what we do not know or understand. They use this fear to justify cruelty and war. They ask us to kneel before little idols that look and act like them, telling us that one day, if we trust enough in God or reason, we will have everything we desire.

I Don’t Believe in Atheists is a call to reject simplistic and utopian visions. It is a call to accept the severe limitations of being human. It is a call to face reality, a reality that in the coming decades is going to be bleak and difficult. Those who are blinded by utopian visions inevitably turn to force to make their impossible dreams and their noble ideals a reality. They believe the ends, no matter how barbaric, justify the means. Utopian ideologues, armed with the technology and mechanisms of industrial slaughter, have killed tens of millions of people over the last century. They ask us to inflict suffering and death in the name of virtue and truth. The New Atheists, in the end, offer us a new version of an old and dangerous faith. It is one we have seen before. It is one we must fight.

I often feel the “severe limitations of being human”. And I often feel the need to work through to a clearer sense of the reality of living and being a moral person versus being a religious person. I often feel that I must fight that “old and dangerous faith” based on dogmatic truths and beliefs about the higher morality of virtue in human affairs.

Chris Hedges
Image via Wikipedia
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