A lot of people are commenting on our back and forth, and I’m particularly pleased that it has been getting outside of the standard science blogosphere. See, for example, Hullabaloo, where Barbara Forrest gets a righteous defense from Tristero.
Less helpful is this post by David Klinghoffer, a Discovery Institute denizen who characterizes the discussion along these inflammatory lines: “Are Religious Liberals Useful Idiots or Just Idiots? Darwinists Debate.” Sadly, I do suspect that at least some atheists view the religious as “just idiots.” Certainly some of the rhetoric one sees from blog commenters suggests as much. Take for instance a comment on Coyne’s blog: “Faith is dishonest and stupid.” Well, that’s helpful, isn’t it?
For my part, I certainly don’t see religious moderates/liberals as “useful idiots.” I have great respect for the intellects of a Ken Miller, or a John Haught; just as I have respect for the intellects of many of the New Atheists, like Coyne or Dawkins or Harris. Frankly, I don’t really consider anyone an idiot, not even ID supporters, who also have perfectly good brains–they’re just misusing them.
I pretty much think “idiot” is a word we ought to banish from our vocabulary.
Then there have been lots of link-ins from atheism oriented bloggers. Jason Rosenhouse disappoints me: He continues to perpetuate the “shut up” canard. Look: If any strategic discussion amounts to telling one party to shut up, then we can never have any strategic discussion without a kind of censorship coming into existence. Glenn Davidson got this just right over at Coyne’s blog:
Oh come on, if Mooney was telling Coyne to shut up, fine, but then we’re all being told to shut up countless times during the course of a month.
Indeed, wasn’t Coyne telling Forrest and the NCSE to “shut up,” if we’re using this particular (loose) standard? Not altogether, of course, but to shut up about religion. Which is the closest Mooney came to telling anyone to “shut up.”
Or one could understand Coyne and Mooney to be making statements about what is preferable to say, and how to say it. This is done all of the time as well.
I will add that out of all the strategic discussions I’ve been a party to, on a host of issues, only on science/religion have I seen this charge made. For instance, when I have suggested in the past that perhaps a fact-intensive mode of communication is not the best way to get the public to grasp the global warming issue, nobody has turned around and said that I’m trying to censor the IPCC.
As for Larry Moran–well, I rarely share his point of view, and this post is no exception. “Chris supports the accommodationist position, which means that even if you think science and religion are incompatible you should not voice that opinion in public.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. If I don’t think the incompatibilist view should be voiced in public then why do I want to publicly debate Coyne about it?
A nice contribution comes from Greg Laden, who basically agrees with Barbara Forrest about civil discourse, about being nice. I am eternally surprised that this could be controversial. I’m glad Laden is too.