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← Robert Wright promotes accommodationism, disses Dawkins

RichardC's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by RichardC

I must admit that hearing Richard Dawkins at the Reason rally encouraging the crowd to show 'ridicule' and 'contempt' for religious belief did jar with me. The problem is that, in hearing this, some supporters (and most of his detractors) will think he is encouraging the kind of mindless response where an atheist holds a board saying 'Fuck this guy' with an arrow pointing to a religious believer: link text

Now, I know Richard doesn't support this kind of ridicule and even commented that he didn't like the picture. This picture represents an extreme that very few of us agree with. One of Richard's strengths is his civility, relying on argument rather than ridicule, and I don't like to see this aspect undermined. In using the word ‘ridicule’, I suspect that Richard has in mind intelligent satire (e.g. 'The Life of Brian') and sharp, observational comedy, which can be very effective. However, I think he should take care, especially when speaking at large rallies, not to use language that can be misconstrued (by supporters and detractors) and used against him and us. Coyne is right to object to Wright's accommodationism, but Wright’s general point, not to unnecessarily alienate those who may be open to persuasion, is good. This needn't entail showing ‘respect’ for their beliefs, but rather, attempting to encourage a conversation in areas where progress is possible. For various strategic reasons, this can sometimes mean avoiding areas of controversy as well as not deliberately riling people through open ridicule and contempt.

Fri, 30 Mar 2012 11:23:14 UTC | #931330