What today’s shrill opponents of religion, variously described as ‘New Atheists’, ‘Darwin’s pitbulls’ or ‘Dawkinites’, really hate about religion: its humancentricity.

From Brendan O’Neill, some interesting Triduum reading.

This Easter, as an atheistic editor rather than God-fearin’ altar boy, I’ve had to endure something even more bottom-numbingly dull, hectoring and pious than those Stations, and without even the promise of redemption that is contained in the phantom ‘Fifteenth Station of the Cross’ (which is very occasionally included in some Catholic churches’ décor: ‘Jesus rises from the dead’): that is, I watched Religulous. In a cinema in Covent Garden. In my free time. Surrounded by people who, I’m convinced, were not really laughing at the jokes (there weren’t any) but rather were audibly guffawing as a way of sending smug signals to one another: ‘I hate religion, too!’

I felt far more preached at by American comedian Bill Maher’s road movie-style atheistic documentary than I did by that priest who made me follow him around the church like a candle-carrying muppet a quarter of a century ago. Religulous – a hilarious mixture of the words ‘religious’ and ‘ridiculous’! – confirms what today’s shrill opponents of religion, variously described as ‘New Atheists’, ‘Darwin’s pitbulls’ or ‘Dawkinites’, really hate about religion: its humancentricity. Never mind its authoritarianism or obscurantism, it is its treatment of man as special – as more than a biological being; as capable of rapture; as having, in the words of Genesis, ‘dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and every other living thing that moves on the Earth’ – that really gets their goat.

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