Philosopher Stephen Asma, writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, uses the occasion of the publication of Sam Harris’ new book on ethics (The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values) to critically analyze the polemic of “The New Atheists”. While most certainly these atheists are correct about the facts of the matter, says Asma, (there is no God), they are almost just as certainly incorrect in their blanket rejection of religion even if it is just a social or psychological construct. Their wholesale rejection of both God and the worldview belief in him fosters are a product of Western affluenza and if they had taken a more careful global look, they would have seen how important—and rational—theisms (particularly those based on animistic deities) function across the far-less-affluent planet.
Asma says he rejects the distinction made by Gould and others that the truth of religion is distinct from the value it can have in guiding life. But I think his rejection—which is based on the claim that religion isn’t necessary for morality—is beside the point. The fact/value distinction isn’t about the role religion has in proving a value framework (a set of mores) for the person who believes. It’s about whether religious belief can itself provide some value to the person holding it regardless of whether it’s claims about God are true. Certainly this fact is true and Asma’s article really comes down to making that very point.
Full article here.