Changing the Conversation on Religion (Before it Kills Us All)

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]

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  • James T.

    “ah…this abortion issue in the States is dividing the country right in half. You know, and even amongst my friends – we're all highly intelligent – they're totally divided on the issue of abortion. Totally divided. Some of my friends think these pro-life people are just annoying idiots. Other of my friends think these pro-life people are evil fucks. How are we gonna have a consensus? I'm torn. I try and take the broad view and think of them as evil, annoying fucks.”

    Bill Hicks

    • nyxynox

      “Yeah, if they are so pro-life why don't they lock arms and block cemetaries?”

    • GoodDoktorBad

      Don't worry, its only a ride…

  • GoodDoktorBad

    All ideas, no matter how misinformed or misguided, are an attempt at reason. Self-granted purpose. Without purpose, we learn the meaning of emptiness.
    Whoa Dude…

  • neuroprogrammer

    There are certain parts of reality which aren't easy to objectively study (ex: collective unconscious), and therefore ignored by most scientists. People who ignore these omissions won't be taken seriously by people who notice them.
    Personally I don't mind this situation since it also means that there are still components of human experience that are immune to big brother-ish regulation & frivolous lawsuits.

  • http://Frankschaeffer.com/ Frank Schaeffer

    Hi All at Disinformation: I like your site and am pleased that you posted my latest on Huffington. Thank you! Best in the New Year,
    Frank Schaeffer

    • imqueenelizabeth

      Frank, I don't know how I stumbled across these video's and interviews, but I can't stop nodding up and down. I' have vacillated between Catholicism and Atheism. I thought I was settled on Atheism, but listening to you, I believe it's more that I'm offended by religious fanatacism, which I find to be the rule rather than the exception.
      The absurdity of the dogma and doctrine, being pushed on us in the political arena has become more and more disturbing. Thanks for the interviews. I read “Misquoting Jesus” and found those ahaa moments, I hope I find those in your book also.

  • gest

    “Who more contemptible than he who scorns a knowledge of himself?” Yes, people do miss the point, to tell religionists to grow up while flying the flag of enlightened atheism just goes to show how little they ACTUALLY understand human nature, and how immature they are if they have to express themselves with these cutsie slogans on billboards over a real, intelligent solution. In this respect there is very little difference between the two camps, it’s little more than schoolyard antics.

  • gest

    “Who more contemptible than he who scorns a knowledge of himself?” Yes, people do miss the point, to tell religionists to grow up while flying the flag of enlightened atheism just goes to show how little they ACTUALLY understand human nature, and how immature they are if they have to express themselves with these cutsie slogans on billboards over a real, intelligent solution. In this respect there is very little difference between the two camps, it's little more than schoolyard antics.

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