The Guardian outdoes itself on faith

So apparently the Guardian printed something nutty today. I don’t think anyone’s had the strength to fisk the whole thing – every few paragraphs there’s something jaw-droppingly stupid – but Shuggy, Ophelia and The Labour Humanist have good responses, mainly concentrating on the idea of ‘fundamentalist’ atheists being as bad as ‘fundamentalist’ religious crazies who like blowing things up.

I’m rather tired and shall try to read the article properly tomorrow, but right now I fail to see how this made it past the editor’s desk:

Neuberger is to take on Hitchens, Dawkins and Grayling when she speaks at a debate against the motion We’d Be Better Off Without Religion next month. The debate has been moved to a bigger venue. “What I find really distasteful is not just the tone of their rhetoric, but their lack of doubt,” she says. “No scientific method says that there is no doubt. If you don’t accept there’s doubt in all things, you’re being intellectually dishonest. ”

This is a thought taken up by Azzim Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought. “I refer to secular fundamentalism. The problem is that these people believe that they have the absolute truth. That means you have no room to talk to others so you end up having a physical fight. They want to close the door and ignore religion, but this will provoke a violent religiosity. If someone seeks to deny my existence, I will fight to assert it.”

Tamimi’s words also resonate with what the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said last November: “The aggressive secularists pervert and abuse any notion of diversity for the sake of promoting a narrow agenda.” They also parallel the chilling remarks of Richard Chartres, Bishop of London: “If you exile religious communities to the margins, then they will start to speak the words of fire among consenting adults, and the threat to public order and the public arena, I think, will grow and grow.”

Quote complete crap all you like, but some kind of reasonable response would be nice. There’s no counter-argument pointing out that the whole point of everything Grayling, Dawkins or Hitchens say is that there is doubt. Or even mentioning the tiny bit of irony in the above quotes.

The author starts from an H.L. Mencken quote:

We must accept the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

And comes back to this throughout the article:

The gay adoption issue also outraged many non-believers, among them philosopher AC Grayling, author of Life, Sex and Ideas: The Good Life without God. “These groups are trying to be exempt from the effort to be a fair society, and we are faced with the threat of a possible return to the dark ages. We are trying to keep a pluralistic society, and elements in the Christian church and other religions are trying to destroy it.”

Why this departure from tolerant, if nicely ironic, Menckenism?

Yes, why? How strange that anybody would want to fight against bigotry using strong language. How strange that in a world where people who spout such vile opinions are taken seriously by newspaper columnists we should fight back with everything we have. How strange that we would be considered rude for doing so.

I was doing ok for a while, but this bit of commentary tipped me over the edge:

One example of this growing conscientiousness is a recent paper for the new public theology think-tank Theos, in which Nick Spencer concluded that in the 21st century, liberal humanism would face a challenge from an “old man” – God. “The feeble and slightly embarrassing old man who had been pacing about the house quietly mumbling to himself suddenly wanted to participate in family conversation and, what’s more, to be taken seriously.” Indeed, in Britain’s ethically repellent consumerist society, even some atheists might consider it would be good to hear from the old man again, if only to provide a moral framework beyond shopping.

Oh, grow up. I’m going to bed.