Joined: Sep. 2006
|Quote (midwifetoad @ April 28 2011,18:06)|
|The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality? |
Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.
I have been as abrasive as he has been, I will admit - but guess who just had a run-in with a street preacher's partner? When Yours Truly griped that this kid has been shrieking on the mall for three days (and no kidding, I could hear him two blocks away), his partner replied, "Well he has to keep preaching, because there's at least one unsaved soul on this street!" and pointed at me!
Such tolerance and respect. Anyway -
Since I last posted, I have seen the honesty issue come up in several articles, including a post by PZ. I don't mean to imply that all creationists are dishonest, but isn't intellectual honesty - in terms of transparency, resisting logical fallacies, and not using disproven canards - the real weapon to use, rather than niceness? Scientists are not necessarily nice to each other, after all - and as the daughter of a church secretary I can tell you that believers many times are not!
People don't like facts that contradict their beliefs - this is universal (I don't like them, either! - but I do think that people respect those who say something and mean it. Dembski himself has admitted that he admires "strong atheists" more than the sweetness people. Maybe that is the most we can hope for, but I do not think that advocates of science should start down the path of saying this to this audience, and that to that audience, as IDists do, simply in order to win converts.
As Recip Bill says, people are terrified of death - let's talk about that then, and how creationism establishes a template by which one can, if one believes Christian theology, inherit eternal life. Well and good - I'd love to live forever, and I don't always believe atheists when they say that they don't need anything more than the universe. Come on. Being discontent, and fearing death, are natural consequences of consciousness, not just religion.
Of course I honestly cannot say that I "know" that death is oblivion, but I have told believers this: if there is an afterlife, it will, like evolution, happen whether we believe in it or not. But if this afterlife is only granted to me because I love the right god in the right way, well, I am sorry - I cannot "love" any deity that I fear. Threats can scare me, but they only make me resentful. I don't agree with Coyne that if a 900-foot Jesus appeared tomorrow that I would drop to my knees with hosannas. Even if God created me he does not live my life, and has no right, once I exist, to command my heart and my love. No one can do that.
I think this hanging on to some primitive image of He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed has consequences for our democracy. Religious or not, such black-and-white thinking and appeal to authority is incompatible with, say, an election. Being that creationism seems to be a particularly (but not exclusively) American foible, I find this most troubling. This goes even beyond science education, or atheism, for me, and right to the question of how we are to live.
Ken Miller (or was it Michael Shermer?) in one of his books describes a scene that has haunted me since I read it. He (Ken or Michael) debated a creationist and then ate dinner with him, and asked the creationist, point blank, how he could possibly say the things that he had argued that night. Ken/Michael expected a smile and a wink, but got a pained look, and the assertion that "Though we don't have the evidence for creation today, we will have it someday." Such utopianist thinking is revealing, and it explains much, and it does touch me. I did feel sorrow for this creationist who was so honest, finally, in saying that there was no evidence and that he was horrified by this fact. I remember reading about the development of the solar system and being horrified, too, that it did not mirror Genesis! (I was really, really young.)
I do get concerned by Dawkins' "evolution is wonderful, life without God is wonderful" talk. Eeverything has a dark side, and evolution certainly does (Booby chicks pushed out of nests, penguins going crazy and running to certain death, Trilobites going extinct, etc.). Therefore, I don't know how to be nice about evolution. I don't know how to make it palatable to even atheists, let alone believers, when it makes me cringe at time. All I know is that people tend to be more impressed by those who unequivocally state their convictions, even if they disagree, than by those who window-dress and chew the audience's meat for them. It is the latter that I see the NCSE doing, and I think it is a mistake.
On teaching evolution in schools, atheists and believers should stand united. On religion, let us all be honest. I think that the debate as to how a believer can reconcile science and religion may, handled correctly, pull in more believers toward theistic evolutionism.
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?
AtBC Poet Laureate
"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive
"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr