Atheist Author Thomas Mates Releases MY OWN CHURCH
There's a conversation going on between religious and nonreligious Americans, author Thomas Mates says, and it isn't going very well. Actually a large number of conversations - between the media and politicians, among public intellectuals and pundits, and within millions of families - are embittered, dysfunctional, or failing to take place altogether.
In his new book "My Own Church: A Nonbeliever Looks at Post-Christian America," just released exclusively as an e-book, Mates approaches this impasse differently than New Atheist authors such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Their books, Mates says, have not provoked productive arguments because they have simply answered conservative religion's fire with fire of their own, in the form of logical arguments scathingly delivered - as though believers were previously unaware that God can't be derived on a chalkboard or seen in a petri dish.
Mates takes what he hopes will be a more constructive path in "My Own Church." Instead of pursuing a quixotic goal (the elimination of religion) using arguments that believers find hard to understand and easy to ignore, he pursues a realistic goal (the moderation of politicized religion) using an argument that no believer can refute, namely that religion has no publicly or politically agreed-upon meaning.
Over the past decades conservative believers have voiced much concern over America's liberalizing trends. But these trends were not driven by atheists; there simply have never been enough of them. Mainly they were driven by other believers - believers with whom the conservatives disagree just as profoundly and bitterly as they do with the nonbelieving.
Mates emphasizes this in his book's title. It derives from Tom Paine's famous quote: "...my own mind is my own church." Paine was an anti-Bible deist, and yet Mates shows that his statement could be applied just as accurately to any self-described "fundamentalist."