Camille Paglia is an atheist.
The American author, teacher and social critic has been known to take strong stances on many issues, most notably within the territory of feminist academia, often causing controversy. Unlike other famous atheist academics such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who take the anti-theist view that religion and belief generally in a Higher Power should be eradicated, Paglia is pro-religious education. Paglia, argues that the presence of religion in education systems is essential if children are to have a well-rounded learning experience.
I suppose it’s no surprise, since I do believe in God, that I agree wholeheartedly with Paglia on this matter. More than that, I rather detest the condescending way in which Dawkins and others like him have such a dim view of people who believe there is a God.
In his 2006 book ‘The God Delusion’, Dawkins writes: “Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival: the analogue of steering by the moon for a moth. But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses.” This portrayal of religious belief is deeply misleading and gives the reader no opportunity to consider the positive effect that religion has had in the world. I often fear that the seemingly endless barrage of scandals involving the Catholic Church’s attempts to protect paedophile priests and pervert the course of justice both in Ireland and across the world, have made it acceptable to tar all of Christianity with the same brush.
Paglia’s stance is somewhat refreshing in comparison to Dawkins: “As an atheist who respects and studies religion, I believe it is fair to ask what drives obsessive denigrators of religion. Neither extreme rationalism nor elite cynicism are adequate substitutes for faith, which fulfills a basic human need — which is why religion will continue to thrive in our war-torn world.”
Here, Paglia speaks at length of her beliefs and the place that religion has in modern philosophy, education and everyday life: