Posted by: trev0rclark | May 12, 2009

A Final Call to Compassion

One of the things I’ve noticed that the New Atheists really want to purport (in the extermination of religion) is compassion. Although all of us agree that their methods are extremely misguided, their goal is to eliminate oppressive and hateful groups that perpetuate violence. Like I said, I think that the New Atheists make themselves vulnerable to their own criticism, but their critique is one that is important because we often neglect the gospel messages for the sake of Church politics and maintaining authority. Perhaps it is time we reevaluate our goals.

            I was struck pretty hard with Rachel’s story about the woman who asked how this course on The New Atheism was a specifically “Catholic” class. I share her unease with this type of comment that, at its core, alienates other Christian traditions as having legitimate contributions to discussions of faith. Although I am Catholic, I was raised in the United Church of Christ. I, for one, think I have struck a type of balance between these two faiths, but find that my spirituality grows and flourishes in the Catholic tradition. But, I am incapable of escaping completely some of my protestant sensibilities and, as a result, I tend to side with the UCC on certain issues.

              Because I think this call for compassion and altruism, (which I should throw out there is NOT first put forth by the New Atheists, but finds in these authors a new and somewhat less sophisticated version of altruism), is something to be taken seriously, I think we need to make sure we are examining our own political structures within the Church to see if we are still participating in institutional oppression. I don’t mean to bring us to a heated political debate on the last day of the blog, but I wanted to throw out there that after 4 years of philosophy and theology, I think “love is all you need” could become my new MO. Forget theories of justice and political right. Forget abstract searches for truth and formal causality. Whether you think we are built/created/formed/evolved, the answer for human interaction is always the same: compassion.  


Thanks everyone for a wonderful semester. God bless.



  1. I think you put it really well Trev, short and simple: compassion. After all these years of trying to explain, explore, and challenge, it really does come down to something so simple. Not to say that compassion is necessarily simple but rather one of the greatest gifts one can give or receive. I think compassion plays a huge role in what my project was about this semester on Interreligious education. Really what we need is to be compassionate to one another and try to understand where other people are coming from. If we can start to figure out ways to make that happen, we won’t need these polarized arguments about whether or not there is a God.

  2. Trevor,

    I remember taking particular note of that comment as well. With specific regard to her comment, I would say that our discussions in class mostly focused on Catholic doctrine. However, we did engage books whose authors came from a somewhat varied religious (albeit all Christian) background. For example, Keith Ward and Alister McGrath both belong to the Church of England. However, I think it would have been fruitful to read a Christian fundamentalist’s response to New Atheism (I came across a few in my research) as well as a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist perspective.

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