The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion

But that wasn’t the end of it. In the more than two weeks since the segment aired, Harris has continued his side of the argument on his website; Kristof has penned a Times column developing his own position; and religious studies scholar Reza Aslan has made countless appearances on cable news, published his own Times op-ed, and, most recently, given a free-wheeling interview to New York magazine on the issues surrounding the controversy.

It’s that interview that caught my attention — because of the way Aslan goes about defending Islam: “[T]he principle [sic] fallacy of…the so-called New Atheists…is that they believe that people derive their values, their morals, from their religion. That, as every scholar of religion in the world will tell you, is false. People don’t derive their values from their religion — they bring their values to their religion.”

Now, I’m no fan of the New Atheists. I think their understanding of religion is shallow and their dismissal of it facile. And then there’s their insouciant attitude toward the prospect of godlessness. As I’ve argued before, the New Atheists prefer sentimental, superficial happy talk to sober reflection on the challenge of living a life without God.