An interview by Salon of Dr./Rabbi Jonathan Sacks contained the usual religious apologist drivel. Such as this quote:
Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts them together to see what they mean.
I’m a former Christian (of the Presbyterian variety) and reasonably well educated about religion in general since I became an atheist via a rational exploration of religion. In fact, my deconversion was triggered by reading Bertrand Russell in my early twenties. Religion provides meaning only in the most superficial sense. Specifically, by arbitrary decree. Notice how different religions disagree on what things mean with very little possibility of reconciling those differences. Neither is religion converging on a commonly agreed upon set of interpretations (i.e., meanings) of “things”. This is the polar opposite of science.
Then we have this gem:
I think it’s probably no accident that science grew up in cultures that were essentially Judeo-Christian.
Presumably he doesn’t include Islam in that milieu. Which is absurd given the contributions of Muslim Arabs to mathematics and science in the medieval world.
Warning, straw man alert:
I mean, somebody with a little intellectual humility does not say, “Anyone who disagrees with me is stupid.” That is fundamentalism.
I challenge Mr. Sacks to provide a single citation (twitter does not count) of a notable atheist making such a statement. You can easily find atheists like myself who have said something that stupid in the heat of the moment. But you’ll have a hard time finding such a statement by any atheist, let alone Richard Dawkins, in their writings or an interview. What we do say is that very few theists even make an attempt at providing a compelling argument that would convince a non-believer. And those that do make the attempt fall short.
Religion creates communities, and communities are essential for the moral life.
I agree that religion creates communities. Religion is especially good at creating in-groups that place every non-believer in an out-group deserving of condemnation. I disagree that communities are essential for “the moral life”. I’m a member of many communities yet base my morality on non of them.