Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Diverse Atheistic Menagerie: Some of these White Guys have Beards

Now, I’m as much of an atheist as the next guy.  And I am skeptical for all the right reasons: a religious lad who went to university, read a lot of Darwin, and was troubled by its implications for belief in an external Deity who supervised the creation of living things and who stands in ultimate judgment of us all.  I amicably parted company with Catholicism at age 18 or so and more than a quarter of a century later I have not reconciled with my religious conviction.  There is more to say about my auto-religio-graphy, and when I can find an interesting way of reviewing it I will write some more on the matter. 

I should be a good candidate for enthusiastic support of the New Atheists (Dawkins, Hitchins, Dennett, Harris and company) and though many of these writers delight me, I am nonetheless suspicious of them.  There is plenty to discuss here, and again this is something I’d like to revisit in the coming weeks, but the thing that’s on my mind right now is the chauvinism of the recommended reading published on Richard Dawkins website.  See here.  Oh there’s some real diversity there: some of these white men have beards, some unfashionably have long hair, a bald man or two graces the list.  But for the most part, the overwhelming part, they are white and male.

Now I certainly get the point that a diversity of styles of writing are represented – novelists, philosophers, linguists, evolutionary biologists and so forth.  And I also recognize that some of these perspectives have historically been male-dominated.  However, for Dawkins neither to have been influenced by, nor to recommend, writing by women and people of color (with very little exception) seems to be, shall we say… unfortunate.  What can possibly go wrong as this new priesthood whittles the old priesthood away?

In the old days we were told that we had a male only priesthood because Jesus had exclusively chosen male disciples and who after all could (or back in the day, dare) possibly assail that logic?  After all, didn't Jesus love the Mammy and He gave women a very special role in his Church?  No doubt Father Richard has his good reasons for choosing his prophets and acolytes in a manner reflected in these recommendations.  I am not sure what those reasons are, nor how to justify them.  Do you? 

For the time being I offer this prayer, paraphrasing St Augustine: Dear Lord, make me a New Atheist, but not yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment