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Rational Atheism - Comments

BAEOZ's Avatar Comment 1 by BAEOZ

So I can't return fire on theists who declare that they "know" everything there is to know and I'm amoral and the inheriter of all that's nasty in the world (as well as hell bound), for not accepting their certainty of belief?

Bummer......

And.....First Post again!
Numero uno! Ichi Ban! Numerus unus! Number eins? etc. I need to get a life.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 21:29:00 UTC | #61440

10's Avatar Comment 2 by 10

1&2: I suggest Pro-logic
3&4: Seem to refer back to the "militancy" of passionate debate. No one is suggesting violence. Personaly what I have found is that simple sparring will lead to dragging out the issues that lead to passionate debate eventualy.
5: Right, though the idea is making a more vocal Pro-logic (patent pending!) front is not the same as banning all religions. I'm not sure why we should continue to give Alogicists kid gloves treatment if they continue to generate problems amongst themselves and for the rest of us, via their misunderstanding of our species importance in relation to the universe.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 21:55:00 UTC | #61441

fonex_86's Avatar Comment 3 by fonex_86


1. Anti-something movements by themselves will fail. Atheists cannot simply define themselves by what they do not believe. As Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises warned his anti-Communist colleagues in the 1950s: "An anti-something movement displays a purely negative attitude. It has no chance whatever to succeed. Its passionate diatribes virtually advertise the program they attack. People must fight for something that they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil, however bad it may be."


IMHO, this is semantic nonsense, especially the last sentence. What do you people want to achieve? Why, the rejection of an evil, of course!


2. Positive assertions are necessary. Champion science and reason, as Charles Darwin suggested: "It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follow[s] from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science."


We've tried this for hundreds of years. It's nooooot workiiiiiiiiing.........

Time to start shelling them back.


3. Rational is as rational does. If it is our goal to raise people's consciousness to the wonders of science and the power of reason, then we must apply science and reason to our own actions. It is irrational to take a hostile or condescending attitude toward religion because by doing so we virtually guarantee that religious people will respond in kind. As Carl Sagan cautioned in "The Burden of Skepticism," a 1987 lecture, "You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy making fun of all those other people who don't see things as clearly as you do. We have to guard carefully against it."


As much as I respect Carl Sagan, I must say... BULLSHIT! It's precisely this sort of attitude that has given those religious charlatans so much false credibility! We should call MORONS for what they are -- faith-intoxicated, turd-brained, head-up-their-ass FUCKING IDIOTS. Offensive? You bet your ass it is!


4. The golden rule is symmetrical. In the words of the greatest conscious ness raiser of the 20th century, Mart in Luther King, Jr., in his epic "I Have a Dream" speech: "In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrong ful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline." If atheists do not want theists to prejudge them in a negative light, then they must not do unto theists the same.


Is this guy serious? We atheists have been prejudiced in a negative light IN SPITE of our lack of misconduct! That's what PREJUDICE is, goddamn it! Screw this!


5. Promote freedom of belief and disbelief. A higher moral principle that encompasses both science and religion is the freedom to think, believe and act as we choose, so long as our thoughts, beliefs and actions do not infringe on the equal freedom of others. As long as religion does not threaten science and freedom, we should be respectful and tolerant because our freedom to disbelieve is inextricably bound to the freedom of others to believe.


Finally, something I (somewhat) agree with..

Really, this article has begun to erode my respect for the good Michael Shermer..

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 21:58:00 UTC | #61442

Morro's Avatar Comment 4 by Morro

The word "militant" has to be the single most misused word in this entire debate. I would like someone to show one (just ONE) thing about the atheist movement that has been even remotely approaching militant. Is "outspoken" militant?

Also, I'd like to see where all this breaking of the Golden Rule is really going on - I've not seen it. Even Christopher Hitchens, characterized as the "meanie of atheism" is really only stating "your ideas are stupid." That is the golden rule in action - we state our opinion of their views, and I've yet to see an atheist who attempted to deny a theist their right to do the same. The say that the wording of the indictment is too strong is simply to coddle the opposition. That's not the golden rule, that's simply poor tactical decision making, not to mention dishonest.

I think there ARE a few atheists out there who are jerks, and I tell them so FAR more readily than I tell theists they are jerks, becuase theists don't reflect poorly on me. However, none of those people are among those atheists who get media attention. The five or six atheists who get quoted and interviewed and best-sellered are uniformly reasonable. I'm just not sure when "reasonable" became confused with "respectful." Not all ideas are worthy of respect, and it's not militant to put that truism into action.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 22:14:00 UTC | #61443

roach's Avatar Comment 5 by roach

I don't feel like writing or thinking much at the moment so I'll give a quick knee-jerk reaction to the article.


I didn't like it.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 22:26:00 UTC | #61446

Monkey2's Avatar Comment 6 by Monkey2

What's the point? We may as well give up. There's no hope. Whatever you say it will just make things worse. I'm just going to go and lie down. I wore myself out writing that article for scientific american. I still can't find my prozac.


Go to the Doctors Michael and get a new prescription. Please

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 22:49:00 UTC | #61449

SteveN's Avatar Comment 7 by SteveN

As much as I admire Shermer for his quite prolific efforts on behalf of rationality, I find his "show respect for the liberal faithful because we need them on our side to fight the extremists" attitude simply wrong. I'm one of those who thinks outright ridicule of ridiculous beliefs is far more effective and, to be frank, more honest.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 23:02:00 UTC | #61451

roach's Avatar Comment 8 by roach

It would be pretty cool if all Four Horsemen replied to this open letter.

Edit: SteveN,

I concur. I always wonder why people agree that some ideas are ridiculous but then turn around and say that we shouldn't ridicule those ideas. What the hell? Apparently they don't know what ridiculous means.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 23:04:00 UTC | #61452

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 9 by pewkatchoo

Ho hum. Yet another, keep quiet, mustn't upset the religites, article. What stuff and nonsense. Has this guy actually noticed? THEY WANT TO BLOW THE FSKCING WORLD UP WHILE I AM STILL ON IT!

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 23:37:00 UTC | #61456

SteveN's Avatar Comment 10 by SteveN

I also think that the approach of "gradually wean the moderately faithful off their delusion" is pretty condescending, implying as it does that such people are incapable of living without the dummy (or pacifier) or their faith and that they would suffer distress if confronted with open criticism. It seems likely to me that most of the moderately faithful don't really give it much thought and just carry on doing what they, and their parents, have always done. More of a tradition than a deeply held belief, perhaps. A short, sharp shock such as that delivered by RD or The Hitch might be the trigger to get them thinking about what and why they actually believe.

Then again, I might be totally wrong of course.

Tue, 21 Aug 2007 23:51:00 UTC | #61457

Eamonn Shute's Avatar Comment 11 by Eamonn Shute

"1. Anti-something movements by themselves will fail."

Rubbish - what about the anti-slavery movement?

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 00:01:00 UTC | #61458

AdrianB's Avatar Comment 12 by AdrianB

Much as I can imagine many of us not liking this article, to be fair to Shermer I think we can all agree with him on his last point, which I think is the most important one.

As King, in addition, noted: "The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom."

This is essential in my opinion, and we need to hammer this home to our religious neighbours. We are fighting for the freedoms of the religious moderates just as much as we are for our own. We have only become a vocal presence in the last few years because we are the first to recognise the damage that is being inflicted by the religious zealots. Christian intolerance is spreading like a cancer in the US, and in Europe we have the Islamic equivalent, which will become the majority religion in a generation or two.

We need to fight this side by side with our enlightened religious friends.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 00:09:00 UTC | #61459

Corylus's Avatar Comment 13 by Corylus

Ok

This is a clear and polite piece from a smart person so lets look at this calmly.

Point 1.

"An anti-something movement displays a purely negative attitude. It has no chance whatever to succeed. Its passionate diatribes virtually advertise the program they attack. People must fight for something that they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil, however bad it may be."
Well, I am glad that this is a quote and not actually Michael Shermer speaking,because I am sorry to say that this is complete BS. What a myopic understanding of political activism. When you reject something this is both a negative and a positive action. When you reject something you, by definition, embrace its opposite (unless you wish to put forward a third alternative). For example if you say that you reject racial discrimination, then by definition you embrace racial equality - unless you want to make silly alternative suggestions like apatheid.

Point 2.
It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follow[s] from the advance of science.
Advance science and learning - agreed. However, no direct arguments against theism because they are ineffective? Don't know until you try and if the sales of the above books are anything to go by....

Point 3.
If it is our goal to raise people's consciousness to the wonders of science and the power of reason, then we must apply science and reason to our own actions. It is irrational to take a hostile or condescending attitude toward religion because by doing so we virtually guarantee that religious people will respond in kind.

Sentence 1 - completely agree. Sentence 2 - don't agree. You don't avoid debate simply because you are frightened by tu quoque.

Point 4.
If atheists do not want theists to prejudge them in a negative light, then they must not do unto theists the same.
OK. Important to be kind and polite to everyone. However, the important phrase above is "unto theists do the same". If a theist wants to talk about giving to charity and helping people - great. If a theist (like the Bishop of Carlisle) wants to talk about floods which kill innocent being due to God's wrath over society's tolerance of homosexuals then ... gloves off.

Point. 5.
A higher moral principle that encompasses both science and religion is the freedom to think, believe and act as we choose, so long as our thoughts, beliefs and actions do not infringe on the equal freedom of others.

Absolutely, completely 100% agree! Well said. (I'm with AdrianB on this one).

Also interesting that this is the one point in which Michael Shermer does not hide behind a quote from another person. Wonder why?

N.B. If anyone missed this the first time round - PZ Myers article in response to similar criticism is a fun read.

http://richarddawkins.net/article,926,We-aim-to-misbehave,PZ-Myers-Pharyngula

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 00:36:00 UTC | #61464

nickthelight's Avatar Comment 14 by nickthelight

...."If atheists do not want theists to prejudge them in a negative light, then they must not do unto theists the same."

Theists cast a shadow upon themselves and others whom they indoctrinate - mostly the minds of innocent children. We must be a brighter light.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 00:42:00 UTC | #61467

ICONIC FREEDOM's Avatar Comment 15 by ICONIC FREEDOM

I like Michael's writings and enjoy his appearances, etc. but one must point out to him with all honesty:

WE MEET PEOPLE AT THE LEVEL OF THEIR OWN ASSIMILATION

If a religious person sets up the conversation to be argumentative or hostile, they may well be met with that attitude.

If a religious person sets up the conversation as to be indignant or sanctimonious, they may well be met with that attitude.

If a religious person deems the conversation to be rational and respectful they WILL be met with that attitude.

I've never seen those opposing religion start out angry or antagonistic.

The tone of the discussion is most, if not always, set by the religious person with whom the discussion is being had.

Additionally, if a religious person thinks it's okay to just drop a religious subject, term, or inference in a conversation, then it's open to discussion, debate or criticism based on the manner in which it was offered. You opened the door, I just walked through it.

There is no more respect for a religious belief above any other individual opinion.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 01:49:00 UTC | #61479

Geoff's Avatar Comment 16 by Geoff

"Atheists cannot simply define themselves by what they do not believe"

Err, yes they can; that is the precise definition of the word. Although the implication of embracing science & reason is there, it isn't a necessary condition for lack of belief in a god.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 02:04:00 UTC | #61481

NMcC's Avatar Comment 17 by NMcC

The more I read of Shermer and the more I read his writings, the more I believe that he's an idiot.

What on earth is his point in this article? As far as I can see, it is simply to say 'don't rock the boat. The more we realise that science cuts the ground from under religious claims, the more we should pretend that it doesn't'.

There isn't a single point listed in this article that isn't demonstrably false and even dishonest.

His dragging in Darwin, for example, is done in a completely dishonest way. Shermer's Darwin quote, as I recall, is part of Darwin's response to Edward Aveling's request to dedicate a pamphlet on atheism (the source of the ridiculous claim that Darwin turned down an offer from Karl Marx to dedicate to Darwin the first volume of his Capital) which Darwin politely declined for numerous reasons, some spoken and some unspoken.

What Shermer conveniently ignores is the people, place and time. As far as the people are concerned, Darwin was afraid of his own shadow and wasn't an atheist anyway, and Aveling was a disreputable cur. As to place and time, Victorian England wasn't exactly the open-minded society in matters religious as we have now in the UK and elsewhere.

Shermer's other points are equally dopey.

Was Martin Luther King not 'anti' racism? Shermer would have us believe that joining hands with those who would cherry-pick the 'nice' bits of ancient religious mumbo-jumbo and who give cover to the loons, is the best way to promote science and rationality.

Did Martin Luther King join hands with people who were only slightly racist and whose racism was expressed in the best possible taste?

I think not Shermer.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 02:09:00 UTC | #61482

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

There isn't a single point listed in this article that isn't demonstrably false and even dishonest.


This is going way too far. Shermer is a very respected guy and deservedly so. He is certainly NOT an idiot. Just because he disagrees with your approach does not make him dishonest.

I think we need to be careful about over-reacting and use of language.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 02:28:00 UTC | #61483

heathen2's Avatar Comment 19 by heathen2

If "new atheism" is truly a movement, then we need the "militancy" of Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens to pave the way for the "rational" brand of atheism that Shermer suggests.

I, like others here, take exception to the term militant however. Theists are alarmed at the disrespect for their silly beliefs, so they label it "militant" in order to put a negative spin on valid criticism.

And please, Mr. Shermer, you do an injustice when you level the charge of "militant" against Dawkins. How many books has he written extolling the beauty of the natural world and promoting science? I think he has more than done his part in educating the public about science.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 02:29:00 UTC | #61484

tieInterceptor's Avatar Comment 20 by tieInterceptor

as Hitchens points out again and again, 'reverend' gives credence to anyone who puts in in front of its name,

much as doctor use to be, until science got devalued on the eyes of the masses mainly by the faithful efforts.

we Must use every chance we get to ask serious questions to those who claim to know what they obviously do not know.

most people will believe the reverends and 'experts' of theology if no one treats them with the disdain they rightfully deserve.

once those charlatans are ridiculed enough, people will think twice about following them, no one wants to follow an idiot, but lots do thanks to the aura of respectavility,

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 02:46:00 UTC | #61488

Thor's Avatar Comment 21 by Thor

All right, let's get into the fray here...

I very much admire Shermer and generally enjoy his writings - as I did with this piece, apparently unlike most others here. That doesn't mean I disagree with Dawkins, Hitchens et al. one bit. I am also a big fan of theirs.
I find pretty much all of Shermer's points here very persuasive and am rather disappointed that most commenters seem to throw him in with the "let's not be so uppity about religion"-crowd.
Read more closely, people. That's not what he is saying AT ALL.
Let's go by the numbers:

1. Anti-something movements by themselves will fail.
Some here seem to disagree, invoking the "anti-racism" of MLK: that's exactly the wrong analogy, because MLK was not anti-racist as much as he was PRO civil rights (or, in a larger sense, human rights). The same goes for whoever argued above that what people want to achieve is "the rejection of evil" - not in the world I know, they don't. The primarily strive for what they consider to be "the good".
Anyone who thinks that this is an automatism, that this is self-evident, logically equivalent or just an issue of "framing" is utterly missing the point (which I am happy to discuss, but not in this post)
2. Positive assertions are necessary.
Shermer's second point is a corollary to his first argument, but one that obviously needs repeating:
as long as there is no positively described and actively promoted, coherent worldview that argues from its own principles rather than predominantly against a theist concept of the world, we will always be on the defensive (a point that Michael Onfray often makes in his "Atheist Manifesto" with regard to Christian ethics in the West)

To avoid misunderstandings here - I have no problem with the current upsurge of "new atheism" (not sure if I like the term but everyone understands it, so...), but my attitude towards it can best be summarized as follows:
It is necessary, but not sufficient

Yes, Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens etc. deserve great credit for the publicity atheism is getting (although Hitchens likes to point out that he sees himself rather as someone who has profited from a change in the zeitgeist than as someone whoe is bringing it about - chicken-and-egg problem, if you ask me)
This encourages many people to finally start thinking about their own beliefs more deeply than they have done before. A necessary first step.

3. Rational is as rational does..
I'll just say that the statements by fonex_86 above demonstrate most eloquently the point that Sagan was trying to make - unintentended though it may be...

4. The golden rule is symmetrical.
I have no problem with this - and I don't see why anyone would. The golden rule's symmetry, taken with a little nuance, doesn't necessarily prevent us from calling Jerry Falwell all the nice things that Christopher Hitchens said about him. It's still a matter of individual taste, but one where I personally very much agree with Hitchens.
However, it should give us pause before using the same words against, say, the Bishop of Oxford, with whom Dawkins has had some very friendly and amiable conversations.
I don't quite understand why this should in any way be controversial: treat kindness with kindness and RESPOND (never initiate) to aggression with all means necessary to defend yourself.
Now, there is the whole "moderates provide cover for extremists" argument - which I agree with. That shouldn't prevent us from respectfully telling moderates how and where and why we disagree with them while on the other and hand calling a fundamentalist crackpot a fundamentalist crackpot.

As for #5: I will just be dogmatic here and say that anyone who seriously disagrees with this statement I consider to be an enemy of any free society that I would want to live in.


Finally, though, I will admit that I sympathize and partly agree when some of you are not happy about Shermer's choice of the word "militancy".

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 03:19:00 UTC | #61491

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 22 by pewkatchoo

Sorry Thor, with the risk of being fried by one of your lightning bolts, I have to disagree with you. It is very clear that softly softly does not catch monkey. I make no apology for being inyerface about my atheism and will happily confront anyone who tries to push it to me in any way. Even people who say things like 'god be with you', to me get a mouthful now.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 03:40:00 UTC | #61494

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

It is very clear that softly softly does not catch monkey. I make no apology for being inyerface about my atheism and will happily confront anyone who tries to push it to me in any way. Even people who say things like 'god be with you', to me get a mouthful now.


And do you have any evidence that this changes anyone's mind? I am interested.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 03:44:00 UTC | #61495

Dr Benway's Avatar Comment 24 by Dr Benway

Thank you Mr. Shermer for reminding me of stuff I already knew, but had back-burnered a bit.

It's true: positive assertions are more powerful than opposition. When you oppose something, people will ask, "what's to replace the value of the thing discarded?" So you have to address a positive value, no matter what.

Religion provides a set of small communities of mutual caring, reassurance, and optimism. Rituals reduce anxiety, by making community meetings predictable.

We have nothing to replace all that.

So I say, let's reassure religious people that we appreciate the many valuable social functions religion provides. There's nothing wrong with getting together with others in a beautiful building for music and inspiring talks. Keep all that.

Our beef is with unchanging dogma that's come unglued from reality. We think dogma, like other assertions, has to change as we get new evidence about the world around us.

When I first starting coming to this site, I said more frequently that I view myself as a secularist more than an atheist. Secularism is really a higher goal, as it supports a diversity of first person data, so long as all personal data bend the knee to our collective need for corroborative evidence.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 04:23:00 UTC | #61504

Dunc-uk's Avatar Comment 25 by Dunc-uk

It is very clear that softly softly does not catch monkey.


I'm sorry, but the evidence suggests that this simply isn't true. I don't know of any poll that claims religiosity is increasing worldwide, nor in the US. See this recent article that got posted here:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/paul07/paul07_index.html

I'm with Shermer (and Thor), for the most part, I'm also quite disapointed with some of the comments in this thread, particularly fonex_86. If I'd adopted the sort of shrill, ranting style of some of the posts above when discussing religion with some of my faithful friends, I wouldn't have got anywhere near as far as I did.

Please, can we not rise above our own stereotypes?

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 04:33:00 UTC | #61505

ClemIsMe's Avatar Comment 26 by ClemIsMe

I agree completely that the right of the theist to believe what they believe is paramount to our society, even if it destroys it. Same with the racist, the sexist or the nationalist. But this is, after all, discussion. No one is holding a knife to their throats. And frankly, King did not raise consciousness in a vacuum. He was the good, wise and noble face of larger and very complex movement. Recognize King or deal with X...

As has been pointed out the friendly nudging has left those of us in the States dealing with at least thirty years of downward spiral, and finally with George Bush Jr. who, I cannot stress enough, was elected to office twice. Half of the voting public thought he was a good idea AFTER four years of fail. And a vast portion didn't even care enough to bother voting at all. If we want to last long enough as s society to see a new enlightenment the gloves have to come off, conversationally at the very least. At it's heart this is not about atheism. It's about what I leave my son.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 04:39:00 UTC | #61507

I'mNotAlone's Avatar Comment 28 by I'mNotAlone

I'm with Thor and Dr Benway on this. I'm an atheist, not an anti-religionist, and when I discuss it with people I put the emphasis on positive, i.e. why atheism is the course for me.
Of course some of the stronger-opinioned believers will get me wound up to the point of picking out the clear inconsistencies, but most of the time I'm talking to either very loose Xtians (there must be something up there) or very polite Xtians. Occassionally I try to drop in some of these inconsistencies but the emphasis is very much on the positive.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 04:49:00 UTC | #61510

Prufrock's Avatar Comment 27 by Prufrock

Thank you, Dr Benway. In attacking the monster we must ensure we do not become the monster ourselves. The monsters are dogma, superstition and the downgrading of people who wish to believe evidence, not to remove from people the right to believe. I am for rationality and have no time to religion bash. We already understand the value of evidence based reasoning, it just needs us to ensure we constantly push its positive value and contribution, rather than continually undermine and demean. Leave that kind of pointless behaviour for the God Botherers. We are better than that. We believe in reason not dogma.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 04:49:00 UTC | #61509

geckoman's Avatar Comment 29 by geckoman

Re post #24 by Dr Benway:

Been struggling a bit with this myself. In fact, my wife has had a go at me for spending too much time on this site for reasons similar to those you mention.

She says that atheists like me are almost gloating at others' ignorance, patting theselves on the back for being so smart and defining themselves largely only by what they oppose. I have found it hard to refute her claims to be honest. She is not a believer; only she just does not think that atheism v religion is terribly interesting.

It's fine to say that I believe in evidence over dogma, that I appreciate the wonder of the world around me etc, but she still thinks I'm some sort of obsessive smart alec that gets wound up by all things religious but doesn't have much positive to contribute by way of alternative.

Can anyone help me provide a snappy response to this?

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 04:50:00 UTC | #61511

UberStan's Avatar Comment 30 by UberStan

It's a litle disheartening to see such negative reactions to mild criticism. This instant polarization - lumping an article or author as either for or against - does not seem helpful to me. Having read a fair bit of Shermer's stuff, I must point out that he always only ever falls on the side of rationality, which seems to be a point widely missed by the audience here.

He raises a vital question: do we try to convince others that they have a choice about what they believe in, or do we continually insist that they are wrong in their beliefs? What's the rational answer to that question?

Dawkins is completely justifed in suggesting that religion is afforded way too much respect, but that isn't a reason to apply disrespect as a way of reversing the influence of religion.

It seems that people are confusing the end with the means by which we get there. The right to ridicule is where we are going, not where we should be starting from. Sure, it's liberating to scorch those who treat scripture as evidence, but only for you. For your opponent it's just more evidence of the "intolerance" of atheists.

Wed, 22 Aug 2007 05:06:00 UTC | #61514