Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A friendly atheists advocate: Stephen Prothero

A friendly atheists advocate: Stephen Prothero

In order to follow this blog well, I'll refer you to Hermant Mehta's blog, Friendly Atheist, where Hermant has written a commentary on Stephen Prothero's Time Magazine article urging atheists to soften their approach for advocating atheist popularity.

First: I will neither agree or disagree with Stephen Prothero and the aims of his article nor will I take any issue with Hermant.  Each has made points well take and I'll leave it at that for now.  My interest is to speak, instead, about Stephen Prothero, writer, religious scholar and historian.

I've recommended Prothero's books on other occasions, merely touching on them by title, and this seems an appropriate time to say a tad more. If there are first things to mention about Prothero, the man, they would have to include words like "intergity" and "fact-minded".  His works could not be better grounded by his dedication to honest analysis and reporting than they appear to be.  Prothero is religious, a Catholic, yet he seems as capable as the best science researcher at compartmentalizing his personal beliefs in order to avoid tarnishing his work - his books.

I was especially impressed by "American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon".  It speaks mountains on the the subject of religious changes of attitude in America over the course of history.  That book is a "must read" for anyone wanting to understand American religious (and, reading between the lines, non-religious) society today.  Atheists ought to find it more than just interesting even though atheism is not its focus.

My bottom line...?  Stephen Prothero may say otherwise, but he writes for the benefit of the atheist movement and advances our interests, knowingly or not - and in a friendly way, of course.

POST SCRIPT: Since writing this, I've heard from Stephen and he thanked me for the post while correcting an error I've made.  He writes "Thanks for your kind words. I am not a Catholic, however. Steve Prothero "

My error... my apology.     


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