So, my inclination is to regard the attempt by folks like Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennett to get atheists rebranded as “brights” as kind of silly. Nevertheless, I cracked a smile at Dennett’s response to Dinesh D’Souza’s equally ridiculous Wall Street Journal op-ed on the phenomenon. Folks on the right have a gift for making a shallow argument seem profound by name-dropping dead theorists whose work they only halfway understand, and it’s always fun to see the gimmick exploded.
Even if we go with the Kantian premise Dennett dismisses, I’ve always found it strange that people think an argument from the limits of knowledge is a good one in this context. Actually, I’m not even sure exactly how the argument is supposed to go. I think it’s something like: “We finite beings are incapable of discovering all that there possibly is to know through reason. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with holding an elaborate set of beliefs for no good reason whatever.” Which is sort of odd, since these guys seem unwilling to apply that lunatic standard when it isn’t their pet beliefs at issue.