We’re getting more and more media attention to the goings on at the Council for Secular Humanism meeting of the weekend before last. Here’s Sharon Smickle of MinnPost.com:
We often wink, nod and speak in code — noting, for example, that Delaware’s GOP-endorsed senate candidate Christine O’Donnell has said she believes evolution is a myth. But few would stand up publicly to oppose the religious teachings that instruct a vast segment of America to agree with her.
And increasingly we are segmented into news and information pods where we can shut out any voices that threaten our views.
Myers and his New Atheist crowd would like their voices to penetrate your pods and rattle your beliefs. In a sense, they are political movement pushing to fill what they see as a vacuum in America.
Fat chance of that movement going very far in this country.
I agree about the pods part. I question whether the message of New Atheism can get into others’ pods when the gatekeepers of the pods just spin New Atheism as aggressive and abrasive, and demonize it.
Indeed, I tried to make the point in Los Angeles that confrontation, supposing that’s your strategy, isn’t even direct confrontation in the end. Due to the aforementioned pod effect, much of the criticism of religion is going to be channeled through a hostile messenger in our current media environment, if it is discussed at all.
And here’s Chris Stedman, quite an accommodationist, at Huffington Post:
It’s just a hypothesis, but I wonder if fewer nonreligious people would actively try to dismantle religious communities if we had a more coherent community of our own. Perhaps if we spend less energy negatively “evangelizing,” we’ll find ourselves well positioned to reach out in ways that build bridges instead of tearing them down.
“How pushy should we be, then?” We’re asking the wrong question. Instead, let’s ask ourselves: What are we pushing for?
Is our top priority trying to do away with religion altogether, or is it trying to make the world a better place? If it is the latter, then we must change our approach, reach out to religious liberals and moderates and work together.
And then there’s Hemant Mehta, the “Friendly Atheist,” who polls his readers and finds them very confrontational. He writes:
I’m clearly on PZ’s side of the spectrum, but I don’t think anyone could realistically call me a “confrontationalist.” I’m not looking to pick fights with theists, I frequently get invited by churches to help Christians understand our perspective, and I’m not calling religious people names just to underscore my point. PZ revels in that.
So the downside of the accommodationist/confrontationalist dichotomy is that it leaves a lot of people with no label. What do you call those of us who might lean to one side but aren’t in one camp entirely?
Where do you place yourself on the spectrum?
More, I’m sure, to come. Jerry Coyne has also posted videos of our public debate.
Links to this Post
- Young links | Evolving Thoughts | October 21, 2010