We live in a world full of people who hold different beliefs and convictions. Many of them may even be different from our own. For example John Haught, in his book God and the New Atheism shares his belief that, “Science alone can tell us what religion is really all about, and it can provide better answers than theology to every important question people ask” (x). Berger and Zijderveld, on the other hand, argue in In Praise of Doubt that, “Whether God does or does not exist in cosmic reality is another question. And this question cannot be answered by the empirical sciences: God cannot be the object of an experiment” (1).
Even among religious scholars, ideologies differ. In the following pages I will employ both Haught and Berger/Zijderveld’s works in regards to the question, “how we are to live among individuals who are different from ourselves?” as well as briefly introduce you to my own thoughts and beliefs on this issue. I will employ my own convictions and experiences, and finally offer an informed conclusion which, I believe, adequately answers this question.
EXAMINING HAUGHT AND BERGER/ZIJDERVELD
In his book God and the New Atheism, John Haught examines what he calls the “new atheist” movement in society. New atheists, he explains, “define faith as belief without evidence” (Haught 4). We spoke in class about some of the beliefs of new atheists. For example, new atheists are not conversant with theologians. We discussed the idea that these new atheists are not, largely, biblically literate. However, many believe they do not need to be because, in general, the audience they’re speaking to is not theologically literate either.
In Chapter 3 Haught states, "It is hard to be an informed and consistent atheis...
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...gardless of one’s beliefs. There is great potential for growth in the acknowledgement of religious doubt.
In summation I would say the following: acknowledge the dignity of man – nothing he can do can render him un-worthy of his dignity. Respect his beliefs, even if they differ from yours. Doubt your convictions. Doubt his convictions. Challenge your ideals. If you can hold true to your beliefs even after they’ve been doubted, only then you can grow as an individual.
Berger, Peter L., and Anton C. Zijderveld. In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions without Becoming a Fanatic. New York: HarperOne/HarperCollins, 2009. Print.
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.
Haught, John F. God and the New Atheism: a Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Louisville (Ky.): Westminster John Knox, 2008. Print.
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