Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Does Blanchard understand other religions? (4 of 5)

This is the fourth part in a series discussing John Blanchard's book, Does God Believe in Atheists? In this post, I discuss his presentation of religious beliefs which differ from his own. The previous posts are here, here, and here.

This entry in the series is very short. There are two reasons for this. One is that Blanchard himself doesn't spend much time on the topic. The other is that not much needs to be said in response (from the humanist perspective at least - I imagine the Mormons or the Muslims might have more to say).

Blanchard spends very little time outlining the beliefs and practices of a number of non-Christian religions, as well as some Christian sects that he considers "atheistic" (remember his "everyone else" definition of atheism).

On the one hand, I tend to agree with him that there is very little reason to accept any of these religious beliefs as true. On the other hand, from what little I know of Mormonism and Islam (two of the groups on his list that I've had some contact with), he's not terribly careful about presenting the beliefs as the believers understand them. (Sound familiar?)

It is illuminating to see other religions through Blanchard's eyes. To him, their faults can be summed up as "not like what I believe".

Which may illuminate why he defined atheists as "everyone else" to begin with. He's not interested in how I, or my Mormon neighbours, or my Muslim neighbours, see the world. He's interested in reinforcing his us-versus-them idea of Christianity.

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