Jonah, your angry response to Jillette’s piece was, I thought, revealing for what it says about the way in which religion is debated in this country. Yes, his joke about an ‘imaginary friend’ was a little childish, and the way in which he described the inevitable dialogue of the deaf between faith and reason was, perhaps, somewhat clumsy, but they didn’t seem to be hanging offenses. As the wise pastor who wrote in so rightly pointed out, church folk are just as capable of trampling on the sensibilities of non-believers. But so what if they do? Why does does theological debate have to be muffled in cotton wool, euphemism and that feeble contemporary desire not to give “offense”? I’d always hope that people can argue about these matters courteously, but if they think that those who disagree with them are talking drivel, doomed to hellfire or whatever, they should say so – and explain why. That’s what a proper debate is.
As for the substance of Jillette’s piece, it reminded me again how often many atheists are, in their quest for ‘meaning’, just as filled with the spirit of religious enquiry as those that they disdain.