Do you guys like him? His “Why I am not a Christian” resembles if Hitchens had been a philosophy professor writing in the 1920s, and it has often been referenced as an influential speech that turned students of philosophy into atheists. I like that you can read the lecture in an hour, and then reread it to discover more critiques of religion and religious thought within his very few words. Who can guess how many philosophy professors he has deconverted.
The last few pages make a priceless insight when he says, “I think fear is the main reason people are Christians.” And then he offered a humanistic message that will not turn people off from listening to him, because he doesn’t seem as cold or heartless as Dawkins or Hitchens can come across. As a pacifist who was jailed for his beliefs, he is a idealistic role model shining in the darkness that people can look up to when they are trying to replace Jesus with a less mythological figure in their lives.
We ought to talk more about figures like him when dealing with Christians, and less about polarizing figures like Sam Harris or other modern atheists who push objective thought first, and then treat humanism almost as an afterthought. Figures that say Christianity will get in the way of the community driven society that many of you want, speak in rhetoric that appeals to the abused and disenfranchised. They deserve more attention from the atheists of today, because not all Christians are interested in switching to the lolbertarianism which has become prevalent among youtube atheists in recent years. (Though I think the great recession has recently brought many former lolbertarians closer to the center.) Famous atheists of the last century tended to be more humanistic, liberal, or socialist, and atheist platforms should recognize them and have leeway to attract those who have adopted leftist views on politics.
I’m impressed by his history on wikipedia, and I am thinking of reading more work by him – maybe even his “History of Philosophy,” which promises to be an interesting read and even if he misconstrued or misinterpreted a ton of philosophers, it might give me a “work in progress” basis for understanding how it all fits together.