There has been lots of press over the past three years about the Four Atheist Horsemen (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens). I find it both compelling and ridiculous the self-styling of themselves as the bringers of destruction to theistic thinking. Definitely a creative bit of imagery but criticizing monotheism or religious thought is not the same thing as endorsing the plagues and destruction that the mythical horsemen represent. In this way it is misdirected, self-aggrandizing, and reeks of pontification.
I have not read much by them, with the exception of some editorials and a few blog posts by Sam Harris (who appears to be the most thoughtful). I am not an atheist since I do believe that there is a possibility for god(s) to exist, but definitely do not pray to any. I instead believe that each of us alone is master of our destiny, are responsible for discovering what our life’s purpose is, and to understand our authentic selves. I am a spiritual person and do find it unfortunate that the atheists are missing the boat.
In the same way that we do not see light, but see by it, it is possible that just because something cannot be touched or measured does not mean it should be ignored. I may not have ever been to Antarctica but have seen documentaries of people who have been. The same thing with spiritual experiences. People who have adopted certain world views do see the world differently and like being in a place I have never been, can tell us what it was like. I also believe that in following the examples of these people, it too is possible to see the world differently, once again no different than following a guide to the Antarctica.
What the atheists do provide to all us is a stark reminder to not take anything that anybody says as the gospel truth. We should test everything for ourselves. Of course, this can be turned around to them as well: Just because they say it, does not make it so. Sam Harris tends to take the most conciliatory approach by trying to engage Christians and other theists in a discussion.
Albert Einstein who was both a great scientist and thinker reminds us: “Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.” The Four Horsemen would do well to remember this.