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|Sat, 02-14-2009 - 11:34am|
Saturday's NY Times had reviews of two "New Atheism" books. One by Ronald Aronson called "Living Without God" and one by Andre Comte-Spoonville called "The Litte Book of Athiest Spirituality."
The idea is to get beyond the religion bashing of Sam Harris. From the article:
"A “new atheism must absorb the experience of the 20th century and the issues of the 21st,” he wrote. “It must answer questions about living without God, face issues concerning forces beyond our control as well as our own responsibility, find a satisfying way of thinking about what we may know and what we cannot know, affirm a secular basis for morality, point to ways of coming to terms with death and explore what hope might mean today...Mr. Aronson makes a good argument that Americans are far more secular — or at least less religious — than is often recognized. But, he says, contemporary secularism has lost the buoyant confidence it once gained from “its essential link to the idea of Progress, which promised so much and came to such grief during the 20th century.”
“To live comfortably without God today,” he says, “means doing what has not yet been done — namely, rethinking the secular worldview after the eclipse of modern optimism.”
Indeed, “religion is not really the issue, but rather the incompleteness or tentativeness, the thinness or emptiness, of today’s atheism, agnosticism and secularism. Living without God means turning toward something.”
For Mr. Aronson, that “something” is not the ideal of an autonomous individual striding confidently into the dawning future but the drama of an interdependent humankind embedded in complex systems of forces, knit into networks of natural environment, historical legacies, social institutions and personal relations.
Sharp-eyed philosophers may locate loose joints in the arguments of these books. Theologians may be more intrigued by how thin a line divides the outlooks of these new new atheists from things many serious believers hold.
Unfortunately, Mr. Aronson’s book, although rich in references to the French left-wing thought in which he has specialized, is devoid of any reference to contemporary theology. Living without God often seems to mean living without evangelical biblical literalism. ”