Letter to the editor
Steven Weinberg began his Oct. 15 “Reevaluating our motives for discrediting other peoples’ faith” article with the example of the “ardent atheist” versus “the ardent religious person.” Somehow, this story’s villain ends up being the one who doesn’t consider life to be nothing more than one long pass/fail exam for eternal judgment. The article then asks “what would happen if a non-believer effectively persuaded the religious person to renounce all of his former beliefs?”
Mr. Weinberg, from personal experience, the answer is that the persuaded becomes much happier. But that doesn’t even matter, if you think about it.
The crux of Weinberg’s argument is that if someone believes it, then it must be okay! Never mind “happiness,” Weinberg arrogantly states that “moral” people should never challenge anyone’s opinions regardless.
Wait, scratch that. Weinberg asserts that calling on someone to challenge her personal beliefs is okay ... if you’re a religious group. He even goes out of his way to advocate religious proselytizing, because it’s “by its very nature more selfless and benevolent” than doing, er, the same thing if you’re an atheist. Didn’t Jesus have something important to say about hypocrites?
What is most infuriating about Weinberg’s bigotry is that it’s cloaked in the guise of defense against perceived “atheist bigotry.” What if I told you that it was okay for atheists to ram their views down your throats (“so long as they don’t do so forcibly or through manipulation,” comes the hollow caveat), but you’d be “immoral” to do likewise to an atheist? Why, non-belief gives them “hope and contentment!”
This silliness climaxes when Weinberg speculates that atheists can’t seriously think they’re doing good by criticizing religion. Steve, I will answer this query as well: Yes, I do. Atheism is the superior worldview. Of course, if you’re religious, you’re allowed to challenge me on that.
Steve: I believe you’re wrong. Religious people: I believe you’re wrong, too. My name is John Ray; I am on Facebook, and I welcome any and all debate on this matter. Unlike Steve Weinberg, I won’t consider you “arrogant,” “smug,” or a bigot simply because you push a contrary view. Welcome to an open society, Mr. Weinberg.