Father Jonathan Morris has an open letter to Richard Dawkins, whom he recently debated over the role of religion and atheism in society.
He concludes with this:
All this is to say, Richard, that no group, neither religious nor atheist, has a monopoly on fanaticism. It is weak human beings, not religion, per se, that kills in God’s name. It is weak human beings — not atheism, per se, that carried out the atrocities of the 20th century. I think we both agree, but I have only heard you say the latter of the two affirmations.
As human beings, we should ask the question what will cure us of such human weakness. According to Pope Benedict, it is knowledge of God (hope) as a just and merciful Father of us all. That’s an act of faith, of course — and not something I expect you to accept just yet — but I think you and I can surely agree it’s not the kind of religious belief that will lead to the fanaticism we both detest. According to all the statistics I have in front of me, it is, in fact, the kind of faith that brings more happiness to more people and makes us more generous and philanthropic citizens, even to non-religious causes.
Here’s my proposal, Richard. Now that you rightly have earned yourself the title of leader of the neo-atheist, secular activists, I think you would do a great service to humanity to reject, as John Paul II did for Christians, the evil actions of a tiny percentage of atheists who have, in your opinion, acted in a way that poorly represents your belief system, in particular your common denial of the existence of God.
As different as our views on God may be, I think we can — and given the circumstances — must, announce with ever greater vigor that human reason, when properly cultivated, can lead us to peaceful coexistence. And that doesn’t require wiping religion off the face of the earth.