New Atheists and Mormon Moderates

Over at BCC Jacob Baker put up a paper tying New Atheists with the John Dehlin style of Mormon critic. While I’ve not yet read the paper, it seems interesting. I admit up front I’m pretty skeptical of the thesis but want to read it through before commenting.

The basic issue is a quote from notable New Atheist Sam Harris on how religious moderates are unwilling to accept that so much of their religious texts are antithetical to their moral intuitions. That is by simply picking and choosing the passages to follow, they ignore the danger the texts have. The typical counterpoint to this are writers (also atheist I believe) like Robert Wright who think religions modernize when they choose what passages to privilege or ignore.1 To them this is a natural part of religion that the Harris type of critique miss. Wright often directly engages the New Atheists on these issues. Wright often actually sees retrenchment of fundamentalism a backlash to New Atheist like attacks on religion.

Jacob argues, “there are strong parallels between New Atheist expositions of the roles of religion and secularism and those post- Mormons who see religion in general and Mormonism in particular as nonredeemable sites of toxic fundamentalism directly opposed to human flourishing.”

I don’t really want to say much until I finish the article. I’ll probably write up some comments here as perhaps briefer comments over at the BCC post.

  1. Wright’s The Evolution of God in part is an extended argument along these lines. Although Wright’s discussed them in many articles and podcasts.

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