The September 11 atrocities committed by Muslim extremists have been used by aggressive atheists as an excuse to attack all religions, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has said.
A wave of ‘new atheists’ – writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens – saw the attacks as “illustrations of the evils of religion – all religions”, Lord Carey said during a lecture at the University of Gloucestershire.
Ignoring evidence of the social benefits of religion, particularly Christianity, these atheists seek to “eradicate” all faiths. Their hostility can be traced directly back to the 9/11 attacks, he argued.
He quoted one New York commentator who wrote recently: “We are familiar with religious intolerance; now we have to recognise irreligious intolerance.”
Earlier this month, atheists launched a bus advertising campaign which says: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Referring to the campaign, Lord Carey said: “The inference is that all religions are bad for human flourishing”.
Yet, he pointed out, religion is generally associated with positive outcomes for society. Church-going adults are found to be healthier, and teenagers involved in church activities are less likely to be sexually promiscuous or become involved in drugs.
He added: “To those who believe that religion is regressive, the question has to be put, then why is religion, and particularly Christianity, so active socially in the world, and in society, and why is it that its contribution to social capital is so highly regarded and applauded?
“Those who want to eradicate the world of faiths have to perceive them as they really are and to recognise the tremendous contribution they are making to the world.”