I’m not talking about it on this site and at my main site www.rationalresponders.com
See my posts here and here. (and more to come depending on how my community votes)
Here’s what others have to say on the side of “boldly stand up for reason, logic, and science”
Accumulated Wisdom 2007.12.21 | Polypyloctomy
Yet another debate rages between those in the freethought movement
who favor either tolerance or resistance. In this case, the discussion
centers on the softer, tolerant approach taken by Hemant Mehta and a
group of his commenters at Friendly Atheist and the more direct, actively resistant approach promoted by Brian Sapient at Rational Response Squad here and here). As I mentioned in a previous post on this subject:
Balancing resistance and tolerance is not easy. Too much
tolerance – to the point of being softheaded – endangers important
civil liberties. Too much resistance – to the point of militancy –
places a wedge between nontheists and liberal religious observers,
deists, and others who are sympathetic to the humanist worldview but
shun the label, and foments attacks by those who most fervently
disagree with, or are most threatened by, a secular, rational outlook.
A proper balance between resistance and tolerance will foster a robust
defense against the intrusion of religious ideology into our society.
While tending to err on the side of tolerance, I must admit that
Sapient is on target when he discusses the relative failure of the
humanist movement, which holds tenaciously to its model of inoffensive,
positive engagement, and has yet to find an effective voice or any
substantial traction in the new media.
For a comparison as to
how “passive atheism” doesn’t attract people like “aggressive atheism”
does look towards the Humanist Vision challenge. A project that we were happy to support and put an equal amount of effort in to as compared to our Blasphemy Challenge. A project that I’d consider a failure in comparison and I know the reasons why, do you? Humanist vision: 6 responses . Blasphemy Challenge
1,444 responses, and there were about another 700 that have been
removed for a multitude of reasons that are not relevant to the current
The limits of our tolerance of religious intrusion into all spheres of public life are nicely discussed at Atheist Revolution.
Given the massive influence religion has on
politics and the degree to which it repeatedly leads politicians to
make horribly destructive decisions (e.g., denying global warming,
preventing stem cell research, launching preemptive wars to fulfill
end-times prophecy, etc.), I simply do not have the luxury of ignoring
it. Given the frequent intrusions by believers into my personal domain,
I have little opportunity to ignore it. Instead, I must work to defend
reason and oppose religious extremism.
Hardliners v. Moderates: the Debate Continues
If you haven’t seen already, vjack posted an open question about RRS. Sapient responded. Hemant reported on it. Sapient responded to Hemant’s commenters. Hemant reported on that. And here’s what I have to say about it:
a dick. But so is Hitchens. And Dawkins when he’s cranky. And to a
certain degree Harris. Dennett’s probably the nicest of the “Four
Horsemen,” but still is firm about his convictions. The thing that
Sapient is reminding us of, as well he should, is that hardliners are
clearing a place at the table for moderates like Hemant. As he’s said
in his second response:
… different people are
susceptible to different modes of thought. One person’s bitter pill is
another’s only chance to get through to. I’ve got a bitter pill and
Hemant carries a glass of water around with him. You see how we work
He even acknowledges that synergy between the
two sides. Those of us on the moderate side need to remember that
without Dawkins boldly pushing his position, many of us probably
wouldn’t be reading about this debate today. We’d be figuring out how
to subtly live our lives in peace. As we all know, that time is over.
We’re in the public eye. And it’s time to make a difference.
way that we can make a difference is by those strident hardliners to
keep making their point, and the moderates to help the rest of America
(and the world) understand who we are (and I agree with Hemant; they
certainly aren’t passive). I’m not the first atheist who has made this point.
This will continue to be debated, and the moderates, for the most part,
won’t see the hardliners as anything but a threat to their progress for
the whole movement. Likewise, there will be many hardliners who will
just keep repeating the mantras about religious addiction, and lambaste
the moderates for being cowardly.
My point here is that there
are thinkers on both sides of the atheist coin, like Hemant and
Sapient, who recognize the purpose of both approaches. We need people
to spread the word about us as Americans, but likewise we need people
to mount a hard defense against the stupidity and monstrousness of the
Religious Right. The battle for scientific education, for example,
won’t be won by warm fuzzies. It will be won by hard data and brutal
reasoning. The fight for our perception as human beings and upright,
moral contributors to society won’t be won by in-your-face tactics. It
will be won by polite persuasion and community-building.
will continue to be a dick. That’s a good thing. That means that
there’s someone fighting for our philosophy; for reason in the face of
a whole lot of woo. Hemant will continue to be a nice guy. That’s also
a good thing. That means that there’s someone out there to put a kindly
face on our community. We need them both. I spent too much time in my
life trying not to draw attention to myself and my philosophy. It’s
time to be included.
12/21/2007 06:55:00 PM
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