I agree with that sentiment of new atheism and secular humanism as far as it goes, but I have a beef with those more rational views too, as I try to make clear in such articles as this, this, and this one. The question is whether the ideal of pure or hyperrationality is wise in light of the inhumanity of the natural world which strict objectivity presents us with.

One thing I think I’ve learned from existentialism and cosmicism or pessimistic philosophy that it’s possibly to be too clever for your own good. In particular, we’re liable to sacrifice our chance at happiness if we base all our beliefs strictly on the facts and the evidence at hand. Contentment in life likely depends on deferring to certain mass delusions.

Maybe it’s honourable to forego the bliss that’s sustained by ignorance, gullibility, and incuriosity; I’ve certainly argued as much. But I suspect certain new atheists and secular humanists are too nonchalant about the implications of philosophical naturalism. In that respect, I prefer the atheism of Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, Freud or John Gray to the blithe kind that used to be quite fashionable shortly after 9/11.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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