But what, then, are my own limits for religious satire?
I will not provide an exhaustive discussion here.
I will, however, say that I do not believe that religion is either a ‘force for good’ or a ‘force for evil’ in some one-sided sense.
For, superstition and dogmatism are great evils, but I do not think that the history of religion is merely or even primarily a catalogue of backward, primitive errors, as so many of the ‘New Atheists’ seem to imply.
Of course, if it is not the intention of any New Atheists, to imply such, then perhaps there is something very faulty with their rhetorical and communicative strategies. This would not perhaps be so surprising, given that much New Atheist rhetoric is deeply problematic.
For example, I consider the late humanitarian interventionist and former Luxemburgist radical, Christopher Hitchens, to be an intellectual suicide bomber who destroyed himself and the consciences of anyone who stood by and approved of his disingenuous, militaristic sophistries.
But my view, unsurprisingly, is not the view I have associated here with the New Atheists.
Rather, I would say, first of all, that everyone models the world, and that everyone uses language to do so. And in this light, I see religious language as merely a form of modelling the world, or what the scholar and critic Fredric Jameson calls ‘cognitive mapping.’ I do not think religious language has to be viewed as radically defective in this goal; even if, admittedly, religious language is often not easily susceptible to precise confirmation or refutation by credible empirical methods.
In general, I do not see why every form of ‘knowledge’ (however defined) must necessarily have to be subject to strict criteria of verification or falsification.
Hence, to see Professor Richard Dawkins and Mehdi Hasan debating about whether it is possible to fly on a winged horse to Jerusalem was really rather distressing.
You either believe it, or you don’t.
Quite frankly, if someone believes that children must be deprived of blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses), or of all medical care (Christian Scientists), or that women are the property of men, or that gay people are sodomites who are all going to eternal hellfire, or that disabled people are suffering the results of our evil and atrocious deeds in the past…
Then that concerns me very deeply.
But on the other hand, if someone personally believes that Jesus literally turned the water into wine, that Muhammad made the moon split in two, or that Sri Krishna performed many wondrous miracles, then in all seriousness, that does not trouble me in the least. There are more important things in life to worry about.