S. E. Cupp takes on Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and the group she terms “neoatheists” in an opinion piece in the Daily News. But who the hell is S. E. Cupp and why should we care?
Back in college, while I was busy pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers made me an intellectual giant, my fiftysomething father, who’d worked so hard to send me there, was quietly being saved. Having long eschewed any ties to his Southern Baptist upbringing, he suddenly found himself born again and on a quest to know God better.
As a longtime atheist, I was a little surprised. But eventually I came to be relieved by this development. While my friends’ fathers were buying flashy sports cars and exchanging their wives for models, my own father was turning inward and asking: Is there more to life than this?
I was also proud of him for becoming a student again. As I watched him pore over C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel and even neoatheist thinkers such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, I thought it amazing that he still wanted to learn something new.
It was a revelation I’d experience over and over again – meeting faithful believers and discovering that, no matter how long they’d been in the fold, many were still on a dogged quest for spiritual knowledge.
And it’s why I decided to go back to school as well and study religion in a more meaningful way. It wasn’t necessarily an acknowledgment of a higher power, but a realization that I knew little about the beliefs I had railed so arrogantly against.
Which brings me to the problem with modern atheism, embodied by the likes of Harris and Hitchens, authors of “The End of Faith” and “God Is Not Great,” respectively. So often it seems like a conversation ender, not a conversation starter. And the loudest voices of today’s militant atheism, for all their talk of rational thought, don’t seem to want to do too much thinking at all. As James Wood wrote in The New Yorker, “The new atheists do not speak to the millions of people whose form of religion is far from the embodied certainties of contemporary literalism. Indeed, it is a settled assumption of this kind of atheism that there are no intelligent religious believers.”
What spiritual quest are they on, except to put an abrupt end to those like my father’s? For them, the science is settled, the data are conclusive and the book (no, not the Good Book) has been written. Time for everyone else to pack up and move on to other business, like, presumably, accumulating wealth and fulminating at the sight of the nearest Christmas tree.
The militant atheist wants nothing more than to spoil the believer’s spiritual journey. That’s both meanspirited and radically unenlightened…
[continues in the Daily News]