Puritanism

Concern with issues such as social justice and environmental responsibility are not important in the new atheists' critique of Christianity, as they have been for other atheists, Nevertheless, it is still in the name o( morality that our three godless perfectionists send down their most energized bolts of lightning. In fact, from a Christian theological point of view, what Stands out above everything else in the new atheism is its cognitional and ethical puritanism, Its proponents are so confident of having unimpeded access to truth and ethical Tightness that they can now make a complete break from the intellectual and moral impurity of faith-crip pled human beings up to this point. They claim in effect to have finally delivered our native rationality and capacity tor moral discernment from centuries ol thralldorn to the ancient literature and Iron Age lunacy of Abrahamic religions, Intellectually, the new atheistic Puritanism takes the form of an uncompromising scientism that sanitizes our minds by scrubbing off all the grim in ess of faith. Ethically, the same puritanical obsession manifests itself in a promise to ground morality henceforth in a rationality cleansed by science of all tics to religiosity.

Ironically, the promoters of this neo-Puritanism seem to have no awareness that their own perfectiomstic program has hardly purified itselt of ancient dualistic mythic accretions that go back centuries before Christianity. The new atheists are not jealous, angry, violent, legalistic, and jtidgmerttal. (It goes unmentioned that in other moods Yahweh is slow to anger, lenient, loving, caring, and forgiving.) It is disgusting, especially to Dawkins and Hitchens, that biblical faith is so anthropomorphic. Measured by their puritanical standards, the Almighty should be above all such compromising associations with human characteristics. Moreover, if the Bible is supposed to be "written by God, as Harris puts it, why can't its Author come across as intellectually, scientifically morally, and emotionally more respectable? Hitchens is so appalled that the Bible fails to live up to his perfect ionistic portrait of the ideal divinity: rhat he is forced to conclude that, alas, religion is something human beings manufacture/1 The main reason for his writing God Is Not Great appears to be that of letting the rest of us in on his discovery.

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