Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Count me out of atheism’s creed | spiked

Count me out of atheism’s creed spiked

Good article - highlights the inherent problems in the promotion of the "New Atheism" as a kind of religion substitute. Why define yourself by what you do not believe and resist or oppose, rather than what you do believe and want to encourage and promote? Is it just arising from a need for identity and community - and in which case, why chose non-belief as the criteria around which to base that community?

Encouraging to come across atheists and humanists with a wider view on the world!

In that respect, this article asks (not unreasonably), why should there not be humanist chaplains in hospitals if we are providing Christian, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Wicca chaplains? Although, to be fair, few hospitals really do provide this full range of religious support.

However, I do have two questions. Firstly, many non-religious people do quite readily turn to religious chaplains as they are looking for the spiritual (though not necessarily "religious") resources to deal with their journey through illness (and indeed, for someone who can "accompany" them through their illness in a spiritual sense) - so what would a humanist chaplain offer them that would be different? Likewise, what form would a humanist chaplaincy take that was different from say a counsellor or a psychotherapist? That is not to say that the idea is without merit, but how would most patients (who still associate "spiritual" with "religious") relate to a non-religious chaplain?

It is an issue worthy of wider discussion - and relates closely to the conference in Malta - which will be the theme of my next proper entry.

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