Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Guardian profiles A.C. Grayling

The awesome profile, by Decca Aitkenhead, follows the publication of The Good Book: A Secular Bible which, according to Grayling, is "ambitious and hubristic – a distillation of the best that has been thought and said by people who've really experienced life, and thought about it". Halfway through the profile, Grayling gets a chance to respond to the charge that "the atheist movement has been ... by adopting a tone so militant as to alienate potential supporters, and fortify the religious lobby.":

"Well, firstly, I think the charges of militancy and fundamentalism of course come from our opponents, the theists. My rejoinder is to say when the boot was on their foot they burned us at the stake. All we're doing is speaking very frankly and bluntly and they don't like it," he laughs. "So we speak frankly and bluntly, and the respect agenda is now gone, they can no longer float behind the diaphanous veil – 'Ooh, I have faith so you mustn't offend me'. So they don't like the blunt talking. But we're not burning them at the stake. They've got to remember that when it was the other way around it was a much more serious matter.

"And besides, really," he adds with a withering little laugh, "how can you be a militant atheist? How can you be militant non-stamp collector? This is really what it comes down to. You just don't collect stamps. So how can you be a fundamentalist non-stamp collector? It's like sleeping furiously. It's just wrong."