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← Can we at least demand 'Secular Communion'?

Pythagoras's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Pythagoras

I enjoy a robust debate, but this is getting silly.

One of the reasons that religion exists is because we have a natural tendency towards an "us and them" mentality. The fact that religions exploit and inflame this tendency is one of the major problems with religion. There also seems to be ample evidence of this mentality here. It reminds me of the scene from the Life of Brian with the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea.

I can understand people getting upset about the unflattering cartoon, but putting that aside, Richard Norman makes some valid points, even if, as PZ rightly points out, his arguments are not as strong as they could be. I don't think anybody is saying that faith is a good thing per se, but refusing to cooperate with people who have different views to ourselves is counter-productive. I'm not saying that we should not be critical of religious moderates, but we should not be critical of them simply for being "religious moderates", we should be critical of the individual irrational beliefs that they hold. Saying "All religion is bad and religious moderates are stupid and irrational" is just not productive and simply not true either. Moderate religions are a step in the right direction and religious moderates should be encouraged to continue the process and keep the good bits of religions (like promotion of community, kindness and charitable works) and discard the bad bits (like morality based on the dictates of mythical deities).

I think this is a major point that Sam Harris has been trying to make, that we should be fighting one issue at a time and not necessarily under the banner of atheism or any other such label. Take one issue like the Catholic Church's stance against the use of condoms to prevent AIDS. There are many religious folks, including many Catholics who are opposed to this. I think nearly every atheist, agnostic, humanist, bright etc would be in agreement on this issue, and we should put aside our petty squabbles and make alliances with whoever else agrees with us to fight that kind or irresponsible stupidity.

I think there is a place for labels in raising awareness, but we should focus on the issues and not get so hung up on the labels and petty "doctrinal differences" that we use them to divide ourselves from each other and from our allies.

One other point: I don't agree with Mr Myers that 9/11 wasn't a major factor, if not the main motivator in the recent popularity of atheism. I've read many many forum posts by atheists such as myself who say that 9/11 was the catalyst for them becoming active about atheism. I've been an atheist for over 20 years, but I hadn't given religion much thought until 9/11. Perhaps US atheists have other reasons as well, but 9/11 has got to be right up there.

I'll try submitting this for the second time. Most of my posts seem to disappear.


Sat, 10 Nov 2007 17:33:00 UTC | #83014