Mos Def, Cornel West, and the Religiophobia of Secularism

This exchange, from a few years back, yields some interesting insights about religion, secularism, and the so-called "New Atheists." Bill Maher, as usual, preaches his message about how religion is the root of all evil, how all religions are irrational etc. However, Mos Def and Cornel West are, in my mind, able to press and challenge Maher's secular impulse to dismiss and condemn all things religious. In doing so, I believe that they help to uncover a pathology at work within the so-called "New Atheism" and other fundamentalist forms of secularism...a pathology that, at its heart, is concerned with the civilization of peoples that are apparently inferior (intellectually, technologically) and barbaric. Could it be that ideologies of hate that perpetuate injustice can, and historically have, operated within science and explicitly non-religious groups? Is religion really the root of all evil? Has not religion also functioned to help people's resistance to evil? Doesn't a blanket dismissal of religion lead one, even if its indirectly, to condemn and devalue peoples whose cultural and intellectual developments and contributions have arisen from and are inextricably tied to the "religious"...to a way of knowing and a fount of experience that escapes the limits of a reductionistic "scientific" worldview? These are some of the issues at play.  The video is quite choppy. Mos Def, the great Brooklyn rapper, articulates some good points in spite of sometimes being sporadic (but his comments need to be taken into context considering his background and area of work). Cornel West's commentary is what you would expect; he unleashes a pretty sharp critique of secularist complicity. The conversation in the video really picks up after about 4:50. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9jXGWkkarc]