Speaking of Alan Lightman:

Dennett says that I am concerned that Dawkins is “too darned clear, too brutally frank when he articulates his case” against religion. It is not Dawkin’s clarity that concerns me. It is his condescension towards believers and his labeling of this large group of people as non-thinkers.

…Dennett reminds me that Richard Dawkins is deeply appreciative of the art, music, and poetry that religion has engendered, but it is just that Dawkins believes that religion, on balance, has accomplished more harm than good.

I would find it difficult to attempt such a tally. Whatever the results of such a balance, does that mean we, like Dawkins, should throw out religion wholesale, take a condescending attitude toward people of religious beliefs, label people of religious beliefs as non-thinkers imperious to scientific evidence? No. It means that we should continue to oppose those practices of religion that do damage, we should continue to oppose irrational thinking on issues that require rational thinking and evidence. But, at the same time, I would argue that we should allow our existence to encompass some things that we cannot explain by rational argument and proof.

If you read Dennett’s earlier essay, you’ll notice that in the second sentence, he says:

…Alan Lightman joins a long line of atheist apologists who feel compelled to respond negatively to Richard Dawkins’ campaign but find it hard to put forward a crisp, fact-based objection.

So Lightman responds by once again complaining that Dawkins is condescending and rude without ever providing a specific example, such as, say, a quotation where Dawkins attacks believers themselves, as opposed to faith or belief in the abstract, in such personal, denigrating terms. Brilliant.

I like that last sentence too. “We should allow our existence to encompass some things that we cannot explain by rational argument and proof.” Again, who fails to do this, aside from people with burlap bags for heads and straw sticking out from their collars and shirtsleeves? Who demands rationality and proof in art, poetry and music? Ironically enough, it’s people like Lightman who seem inclined toward a strict dichotomy rather than a continuum when it comes to questions of faith; as he says earlier, he thinks that if the existence of an intelligent creator or an objective meaning of life can’t be disproved by science, they are just as valid as any other belief and are required to be taken seriously. But lumping faith in a personal God in with faith in what we understand of scientific laws is disingenuous in the extreme; there are massive degrees of difference between them when it comes to evidence and likelihood.