Interesting thoughts here…
An article by Frans De Waal that seeks to understand why “Militant Atheism Has Become a Religion” seems relevant here. As an Emory psychology professor who conducts research on primate behavior, and an atheist himself, his criticism is directed neither at atheists nor Muslims. Instead he writes, “I consider dogmatism a far greater threat than religion per se.” Dogmatists “are poor listeners” who “pound their drums so hard that they can’t hear one another.”
He surmises that their primary motivation is not to discover the truth but rather to show off, “the way male birds gather… to display splendid plumage for visiting females.” De Waal accuses the new atheists of going after Islam simply because it is “low-hanging fruit” in Western contexts: “Throw in a few pictures of burqas, mention infibulation, and who will argue with your revulsion of religion?” Audience after audience applauds these tired tactics as if they were original, but they are highly unscientific and do little to further understanding.
“…the way male birds gather…to display…” Yes, very interesting psychology going on all the time. And it has nothing to do with atheism or religion. It has to do with fundamentalism. It has to do with a way of viewing the world. It has to do with believing in a narrative that maps the world in an absolute and correct correspondence between my reading (whether a text or the physical world) and what the text or physical world must mean. There is only one meaning. Mine. Says the fundamentalist. And I will say it with the greatest display of “splendid plumage.”
Right, and in my later more mature years I will look back and be embarrassed.