Over at the On The Box site, I have been tussling with some heathens in the comments of this post. Their responses to my challenges give me the clear impression they are youngish, naïve, and epistemically out-of-touch.
One of them writes,
Is this where you pretend Atheists have some sacred text that they hold fundamental in order to be insulting without addressing anything of meaning?
Young atheists these days like to pretend they have no allegiance to any philosophical authority. They are “free thinkers” and as “free thinkers” they are beholden to no person or “ism” anywhere in the world.
The reality, however, it that atheists do participate in a complex religious system.
– Charles Darwin is the messiah figure. He is the deliverer who has provided a way to be liberated from the enslavement of “autonomous stifling” religious tyranny.
– Evolution, descent with modification over millions of years, is the religious system.
– Darwin’s On the Origins of the Species is the sacred text. The final “revelation” that provides the foundation for certain belief.
– There is a papacy, a succession of pope figures, the bulk of which are British: Thomas Huxley, Bertrand Russell, and the current head, Richard Dawkins.
– The atheist pope issues decrees, makes dogma, speaks ex cathedra, and pronounces fatwas against the enemies of the true faith.
– Religious orders exist: Punctuated Equilibrium and slow, gradual descent with modification.
– There are well-known evangelists: Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens.
– Para-science ministries: PBS and Discovery Channel.
– Inquisitors: National Center for Science Education.
– Schismatics: Biologos.