I am confident that those who believe in belief are wrong. That is, we no more need to preserve the myth of God in order to preserve a just and stable society than we needed to cling to the Gold Standard to keep our currency sound. It was a useful crutch, but we've outgrown it. Denmark, according to a recent study, is the sanest, healthiest, happiest, most crime-free nation in the world, and by and large the Danes simply ignore the God issue. We should certainly hope that those who believe in belief are wrong, because belief is waning fast, and the props are beginning to buckle.And why can't we translate that first sentence:
I am confident that those who believe in belief are wrong.Into:
I believe that those who believe in belief are wrong?That would better capture the internally inconsistent nature of many of the New Atheists' arguments.
Dennett here is articulating the argument (which most of the atheist existentialists, like Nietzsche, have seen through for a long time) that the denial of the existence of God has no implications for one's belief in morality. He argues that because things are not rotten in Denmark, that the values people are practicing there must not be based on the belief in the Christian God.
Well, for one thing, where did the Danish get the values they do practice in the first place? If you are operating in a historical vacuum like Dennett, you don't notice that they came from the Christian culture that informed the history of that country. Furthermore, just because things are fine now, when the Danish are living off of their Christian cultural capital, doesn't mean things won't change when that cultural capital is used up.
To say that because non-Christians practice Christian values means they're not Christian values makes no more sense than saying that Christians practicing non-Christian values (which has also been true quite frequently over history) means that non-Christian values are Christian values.
Once again a New Atheist has shown why practicing philosophy without a license can be dangerous.