Atheist Authors Speak Out

Excerpts from The Church of the Non-Believers” by Gary Wolf, Wired Magazine, November 2006

I’m quite keen on the politics of persuading people of the virtues of atheism.
–Richard Dawkins

Look at slavery. People used to think that slavery was morally acceptable. The most intelligent, sophisticated people used to accept that you could kidnap whole families, force them to work for you, and sell their children. That looks ridiculous to us today. We’re going to look back and be amazed that we approached this asymptote of destructive capacity while allowing ourselves to be balkanized by fantasy. What seems quixotic is quixotic–on this side of a radical change. From the other side, you can’t believe it didn’t happen earlier. At some point, there is going to be enough pressure that it is just going to be too embarrassing to believe in God.
–Sam Harris

If you have to hoodwink–or blindfold–your children to ensure that they confirm their faith when they are adults, your faith ought to go extinct.
–Daniel C. Dennett

Steven Pinker Objects to “An American Anachronism”

After Harvard administrators proposed a “Reason & Faith” requirement–to force all students to take one such course–evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker asked them to reconsider. In December, the proposal was dropped. Here is an excerpt from Prof. Pinker’s op-ed article, “Less Faith, More Reason”:

. . . the word “faith” in this and many other contexts, is a euphemism for “religion.” An egregious example is the current administration’s “faith-based initiatives,” so-named because it is more palatable than “religion-based initiatives.”

[U]niversities are about reason, pure and simple. Faith–believing something without good reasons to do so–has no place in anything but a religious institution, and our society has no shortage of these. Imagine if we had a requirement for “Astronomy and Astrology” or “Psychology and Parapsychology.”

For us to magnify the significance of religion as a topic equivalent in scope to all of science, all of culture, or all of world history and current affairs, is to give it far too much prominence. It is an American anachronism, I think, in an era in which the rest of the West is moving beyond it.

Steven Pinker
Jonestone professor of psychology

The Harvard Crimson, Oct. 27, 2006

Atheist Scientists Debate Religion & Science

Many eminent scientists attending a forum on science and religion in November at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., agreed it is time for scientists to take their gloves off and start “vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told,” reported George Johnson, The New York Times, Nov. 21, 2006. Below are a few excerpts:

The world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief.
Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.
Steven Weinberg
Nobel laureate in physics

Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance.
Neil Tyson, director
Hayden Planetarium, New York City

I am utterly fed up with the respect that we–all of us, including the secular among us–are brainwashed into bestowing on religion. Children are systematically taught that there is a higher kind of knowledge which comes from faith, which comes from revelation, which comes from scripture, which comes from tradition, and that it is the equal if not the superior of knowledge that comes from real evidence.
Biologist Richard Dawkins
Author, The God Delusion

I don’t know how many more engineers and architects need to fly planes into our buildings before we realize that this is not merely a matter of lack of education or economic despair.
Neuroscientist Sam Harris
Author, The End of Faith

Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome–and even comforting–than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.
Carolyn Porco
Senior research scientist
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

Freedom From Religion Foundation