The Fourtii Evident Truth

The way to eliminate faith, and hence to get rid of suffering, is to follow the hallowed path of the scientific method. Issued by Harris, and endorsed by the other new atheists, this difficult but indispensable route to rrue enlightenment is the new atheists' version of the Eightfold Path as prescribed by the Buddhas Fourth Noble Truth. Following the path of science will give people a new kind of 'right association14—namely, with those who have caught the spirit of science—and "right understanding," an empirical method that will take our minds far beyrond the fantasies and banalities of religious faith. We can find true enlightenment only if we apprentice ourselves to those masters,

Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens among rhem, who have reached enlightenment by way of scientific reason.

This solution is matched in its shallowness only by the religious fundamentalism it mirrors even while opposing it. In a messy and uncertain world the appeal of a single, simple solution can be irresistible. When things ttirn sour it is tempting to dernonize and rip out one of the countless strands in the complex web of human life, blaming everything on it alone. For example, some devout American Christians today locate the single main cause of all the ills of modernity in "Darwinism.' Get rid of Darwinism, as they call it, and everything will get better. Charles Darwin* the modest naturalist from Downe, is now often identified by many Christians as the sole or main cause of our social and ethical misery, Darwin s novel ideas are held to be the ultimate cause of atheism, Nazism, Communism, and the breakdown of religion and family values, Thus, intelligent design proponent Phillip Johnson s solution to these ills is to get Darwinism out of the minds of people, and the way to do that is rt> begin by presenting alternatives to evolutionary theory in the public schools/'

Faith, for the new atheist, is the equivalent of what Darwinism is to the creationist. Get rid of faith and everything will get better For Dawkins, Harris^ and Hitchens, the banishing of faith from our minds and public life is the panacea that will end suffering and evil, at least so far as nature allows it. And the best way to dispose of faith is not by violence or even political action, but by filling minds with science and reason. Our atheist friends firmly believe in the effectiveness of this program. So maybe there will still be at least one instance of faith left on the earth when the Son of Man returns.

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