New York Times best-selling author Frank Schaeffer has strong opinions on religion, writing in the Huffington Post:
The media-labeled “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have put forward what they regard as the answer to religion: grow up, human race, and abandon your myths!
Most Americans, and maybe even most people around the world, have another answer to the extremes of religion that infect people like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who (allegedly) tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit: hunt down and kill the extremists.
I think just about everyone has missed the real point: religion won’t go away because — like it or not — people are spiritual beings.
Telling religious people to be moderate is not going to solve anything once they are convinced everyone not like them is the enemy of “truth.” Killing more people just makes martyrs. That being the case, the way to confront religious poison is to change religion, not try to win by eliminating it. And that change means we have to try and get to the next generation before the fundamentalists do.
The only real solution to religious extremism is to change the conversation about religion altogether.
We urgently need to make that conversation center on embracing paradox rather than seeking — then trying to impose by force and or “reason” — our pet certainties on others.
How do we change the conversation about religion, roll back the violence done in the name of God (be that by gay-hating American “Christian” fundamentalists or world-fearing “Islamic” radicals — and while we’re at it end the culture war here at home that divides us on everything from the existence of God to abortion and gay rights?
How do we live together in a world where some people fervently believe that the earth is 6000 years old, that gay men and women choose to be gay and can “change” if they want to, that Jesus will soon return (and thus that war in the Middle East is a good thing because it is a “sign” of the much-hoped-for “End Times”) while other people just as fervently believe that people who hold such views are dumb, evil and dangerous?
Do the New Atheists really believe that “Reason” (whatever that is) will win the day after people are indoctrinated? Good luck with that! …
[continues in the Huffington Post]