As is to be expected, there are far more differences than similarities between the new atheist philosophies and the Bahá’í Writings—though the extent of the similarities and their foundational nature is surprising.
The question remains, however, “Are these similarities enough to allow a meaningful dialogue between the two?”
Can the differences between the new atheists and the Bahá’í Writings be bridged? In other words, is there anything the two can build on together?
On the foundational issues there is no common ground: they cannot agree on
- the existence or non-existence of super-natural or super-sensible beings (God) or realities (Abha Kingdom, Holy Spirit). [ontology]
- the adequacy or inadequacy of the scientific method and reason as the sole determinants of what constitutes genuine knowledge. [epistemology]
- the new atheist belief that religion is inherently pathological and no longer has a part in humankind’s future evolution.
Change on any of these issues would require a reassessment of core identities.
On the accidental or non-foundational level, there are several bases for dialogue and building together.
- the evolutionary outlook on religion: the Bahá’í doctrine of progressive revelation, which can help the new atheists sharpen their analysis to avoid the problem of presentism
- the need to eliminate religious prejudice and a frank recognition of the crimes committed in the name of religion.
- respect for science and reason and a continued dialogue about their nature.
- the independent investigation of truth.
- ethical realism, ontological realism and correspondence epistemology—i.e. the new atheist and the Bahá’í opposition to various forms of contemporary philosophy which reject realism in these areas.
Whether or not such a dialogue can take place depends entirely, of course, on the willingness of the participants. The floor is open.