Iftikhar U. Hyder
English philosopher the late Antony Flew, who was once called “the world’s most
influential philosophical atheist”, announced his rejection of atheism in 2004,
many atheists — including Richard Dawkins — criticised him for being
response at the time was that Dawkins irrationally believed that there was no
God. He also believed that Dawkins was simply spreading his own convictions and
said that Dawkins had not set out to “discover and spread knowledge of the
existence or nonexistence of God”.
It can be
argued that atheism, in its various manifestations today, has evolved into a
‘religion’. Martin Hägglund, a Swedish-American philosopher at Yale University,
recently published a book in which he offers an alternative to traditional
religion. He calls it “secular faith”. Hägglund says, “what defines secular
faith most fundamentally is that the object of faith is totally dependent on
the practice of faith”. He says that in religious faith “is the additional idea
that there is a special object of faith, like God or eternity or Nirvana,
something that ultimately doesn’t depend on the practise of faith, something
that exists independently and eternally”.
convergence with religion is ironic. To many atheists, a belief in God is
irrational and unsupported by evidence. Yet, many atheists themselves are
irrational in their belief which is also not supported by any evidence.
example of this convergence includes atheists’ support groups similar to those
that are associated with religion. In a 2015 article, journalist Christina
Greta observed, “… in the last few years, secular support systems have been
flowering like ... well, like flowers. Like flowers in a movie about mutant
radioactive flowers, growing at astonishing rates and to colossal size”.
support systems are built around a common system of belief or identity. By
building more and more support systems to fill the emotional and psychological
needs of humans that for millennia have been filled by religion, atheism is
increasingly beginning to resemble a ‘religion’, whose core belief is that
there is no God. Indeed, one of the reasons behind the recent rise in atheism
in the West is “superior secular alternatives to services” that traditionally
houses of worship have provided.
West, some zealous atheist communities have even been attempting to replace
prayers in public places with non-religious prayers (which they like to call
non-religious ‘invocations’) with religious fervour. Even though atheists claim
they do not believe there is a higher power which humans can pray to in times
of need or otherwise, they nonetheless want the ability to ‘pray’ just like
religious people do. It is not clear to whom they want to address their
prayers. Their only purpose appears to be making atheism more palatable to
people who may feel the need to pray.
are apparently also facing issues that emanate from multiple interpretations of
any idea similar to those faced by followers of religions. In a National
Geographic article, journalist Gabe Bullard wrote: “Within the ranks of the
unaffiliated, divisions run deep. Some are avowed atheists. Others are
agnostic. And many more simply don’t care to state a preference ... nones
(people with no religion) as a group are just as internally complex as many
history, science and religion lived in harmony. In fact, during Islam’s golden
age, many Muslim scientists were also religious scholars. Some of the most
renowned European Renaissance scientists including Johannes Kepler, Galileo
Galilei, and Isaac Newton were also quite religious. This was true even until
the mid-20th century.
last few decades, however, atheists in science have sought to assert their
authority by discouraging others from questioning their beliefs, similar to the
ways many religious zealots have done historically. This assertion is likely
both a cause and an effect of the steady decline of religion in the West.
Earlier this year, renowned Yale computer scientist, David Gelernter, announced
that he no longer believed in Darwin’s theory of evolution. He partly
attributed his ‘conversion’ to Stephen Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt.
lamented the lack of “free speech” concerning theories outside of Darwinism,
which has become a ‘religion’ to many academics. In Gelernter’s words, “What
I’ve seen, in their behaviour intellectually and at colleges across the West,
is nothing approaching free speech on this topic”. He went on to say that by
rejecting Darwinism, he was “attacking their religion”. Gelernter says about
some of his fellow academics who were atheists, “As far as they are concerned,
take your life in your hands to challenge it intellectually ... They will
destroy you if you challenge it”. This could also be said of some of the more
ignorant followers of many of the world’s religions.
U. Hyder is a US-based finance professional.
Headline: A new ‘religion’
Source: The Dawn, Pakistan