Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Atheism 3.0: Religion Is Good for Individuals and Society

Bruce Sheiman is an atheist who defends religion.

Joel Kontinen

In the past few years, militant atheists have vociferously attacked religion in general and Christianity in particular. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris have hardly admitted seeing anything positive in faith.

However, a new generation of atheists does not take an aggressive approach to religion. Bruce Sheiman, for instance, wrote a book entitled An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off with Religion than Without It (2009).

According to Sheiman,

Faith provides meaning and purpose for millions of believers, inspires people to tend to each other and build communities, gives them a sense of union with a transcendent force, and provides numerous health benefits.

More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision

Sheiman is by no means the last of the Mohicans among his ideological comrades who reject faith in God but espouse the blessings that religion brings.

There are so many atheists who think religion is beneficial for both individuals and society that USA Today coined the expression atheism 3.0.

Greg M. Epstein, a humanist chaplain at Harvard University, and Austin Dacey , a former UN representative, also belong to this new generation of atheists who feel that religion has an important role in society.

This kind of ”evolution” is welcome, especially as we are celebrating the double anniversary of Charles Darwin.


Burke, Daniel. 2009. Atheism 3.0 finds a little more room for religion. USA Today. (19 October)