Silence Resembling Stupidity: Peter Slezak on the New Atheist and Islam

“One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” George Orwell, 1945

Sam Harris, the hero of the New Atheists, suggests that ‘anyone who cares about the fate of civilisation would do well to recognise that the combination of great power and great stupidity is simply terrifying’.

Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens are full of praise for Harris’ sanctimonious rhetoric suggesting that ignorance and religious credulity ‘should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency’. These highbrow thinkers pick, however, an easy, perhaps even irrelevant, target, since the real danger to the world arises more from the secular and educated intellectuals like themselves – a proposition for which there is ample evidence, as we will see. Religious belief that is unfounded is less culpable than belief that is refuted by overwhelming evidence known to the believer. We must ask whether the ‘ancient stupidity’ of religion that Hitchens says ‘poisons everything’ can conceivably compare with the moral lapse of apologists for our own vast crimes. Read Article

by Peter Slezak
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