To the editor:
Detailing his belief in “God,” Leonard Pitts, with his gimlet eye for the bigotry of the religious right, displays the evasive hypocrisy of the religious left. His theology, in brief, is that he “feels” like it’s so, so “deal with it.”
If only that, we could shrug off his faith as a peccadillo, but Pitts has more. Noting the abrasive certainty of some atheists, he makes a facile comparison with overconfident “fundamentalists.” But that isn’t the term needed. To hold firmly to the fundamentals of a world view is not the problem, if those fundamentals are sound and supported by observation. The trouble is dogmatism: stubborn adherence to a prior belief despite contrary argument and evidence. “I believe it, so deal with it” is the voice of the dogmatist.
The trouble with religious fundamentalists is not their focus on fundamentals; it’s that those fundamentals are implausible and ill-supported. Religious liberals commit the same unjustified leap, but with a nicer face.
Pitts mocks those who “know” God’s purposes, always in line with their preferences, but he often does this himself, describing imaginary conversations with his personal deity, reliably a benign, politically liberal, grandfatherly sage, who wouldn’t smite a fly and was framed by the ugly myths of the Bible. Really?
Honest, respectable belief starts with evidence and moves gradually to conviction, regardless of preference and “feeling.” Irrationality begins with emotional intuition, cherry-picking evidence to suit. When Pitts does the latter in public, we’ll call him on it, and he can “deal with” that.