I finally got around to watching the Intelligence Squared debate on whether atheism is the new fundamentalism. I was struck when one of the panelists (I think Dawkins, but I don't remember for sure) said that if all religious people were like the two panelists arguing for the motion--moderate, reasonable, opposed to Biblical inerrancy and fundamentalism--then there would have been no need for the new atheism. That got me thinking: I do think that religion is a creation of humanity, and that basing your life on something that's fabricated is an unhealthy way to live, but, isn't categorizing all religion as always bad more or less like saying alcohol is always bad just because there are some who use it irresponsibly?
Alcohol isn't exactly the healthiest substance you can put in your body, but I enjoy a drink every now and then and would say that those who say alcohol is always bad are unreasonable. Alcohol can be bad, contributing to car accidents or domestic violence, and for some people it becomes an addiction that destroys their life. Maybe we would all be better off if no one drank, but we all know that Prohibition didn't work out so well. People are going to drink no matter what, so we've opted to regulate alcohol instead of banning it.
New atheists are not seeking any sort of legal ban on religion, but they are actively trying to dissuade religious people from their beliefs. Is saying all religion must go the best approach? A friend sent me this op-ed on the "Religious Wars" from the New York Times last week. One of the most interesting points to me referred to studies that suggest that a tendency toward religious belief may be hardwired into us, and thus, religion in some form or another will probably be with us for a long time still. In other words, we might not ever be able to completely get rid of religion.
Instead of trying to eradicate all religion, might it be more wise instead to encourage healthier approaches to religion? Thoughts?