The New Oxonian

Reprinted from BeliefNet,  (c) 2009  by Michael Ruse

By Michael Ruse.*

In my seventieth year I find myself in a very peculiar position.  Raised a  Quaker, I lost my faith in my early twenties and it has never returned.  I think  of myself as an agnostic on deities and ultimate meanings and that sort of  thing.  With respect to the main claims of Christianity – loving god, fallen  nature, Jesus and atonement and salvation – I am pretty atheistic, although some  doctrines like original sin seem to me to be accurate psychologically.  I often  refer to myself as a very conservative non-believer, meaning that I take  seriously my non-belief and I think others should do (and often don’t).  If  someone goes to the Episcopal Church for social or family reasons, or because  they love the music or ceremonies, I have no trouble with that.  Had I married a  fellow Quaker…

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2 thoughts on “

  1. Ruse. Meh.

    How honest is he in his description of New Atheism? Well, he starts with calling this movement “violently anti-religion”. Is this true in fact? No. This isn’t just a distortion but an outright lie. There is no violence associated or encouraged by New Atheism. At all. Whatsoever, unless you call the written and sometimes spoken criticism of religious privilege violent, which apparently Ruse does.

    “(N)othing incurs their wrath than those who are pro-science but who refuse to agree that all and every kind of religious belief is wrong, pernicious, and socially and personally dangerous.”

    New Atheists show that the method of inquiry that impels religious belief and science are, in fact, contradictory. That Ruse fails to appreciate the importance of people who try to tell us that the square peg of religious belief and the round hole of science are incompatible does not serve the cause of respecting what’s true but privileges faith-based beliefs and its inherent hypocrisy to be exempt from critical review. Get over it, Michael.

    “Recently, it has been the newly appointed director of the NIH, Francis Collins, who has been incurring their hatred.” Again, note he doesn’t quote any of the Four Horsemen (Dennet, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris) because none of them have said any such thing nor expressed any hatred. Harris in particular wrote a very lovely piece about the merits of Collins as an excellent administrator but, like so many scientists, was concerned how much influence Collins’ religious beliefs might hold over project funding and proposals. If that’s hatred, the Ruse is speaking a different language. He’s not, of course; he’s maligning the character of people with lies and deceit and misrepresentations to try to elevate himself and his accommodationist ways by trying to knock down those who maintain their intellectual and professional integrity.

    If one bothers to read Coyne’s review of Ruse’s book, one will find it full of very nice things about it with some well deserved and accurate criticism. Rather than deal with the criticism as a grown-up, Ruse reveals his own character by this kind of tripe response to be that of a lying sack of shit. And you post it, why?

    Ruse argues that New Atheists are doing a disservice to the cause of keeping creationism out of the science class and even “new atheists do the side of science a grave disservice.” To back this up he uses no facts, no figures, no evidence at all for these sweeping criticisms. In response, many New Atheists have produced evidence that the ongoing public challenge to religious privilege is IN FACT doing a better job keeping creationism out the science classroom than any results Ruse pretends his accommodationism is achieving.

    Ruse’s false beliefs aside, the man is not someone who reflects any understanding or appreciation for New Atheism and what it has achieved nor even consider any demonstrably positive effects it continues to produce. He is, however, quite willing to lie and malign and misrepresent to support his beliefs against New Atheists. Are these actions by Ruse what you found attractive about this particular article, Daniel, which helped convince you to post this dribble?

    You seem to have a real problem with upholding the ninth these days. I’m sure you can do better.

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