Friday, November 03, 2006

More pussyfooting

I don't know why I am so obsessed with trying to stake out a militantly moderate position in the atheism wars. It seems both easier and more fun to just skewer the godly (shooting Jesus fish in a barrel). I guess I like a challenge.
Here's a excellent comment by john c. halasz in yet another huge Dawkins thread. The first part just makes the fairly commonplace points:

1) Dawkins' tendentious style mirrors in some ways the chauvinism and narrow-mindedness of his opponents. Militant atheism has some of the same flaws as militant religion.

2) Science, which is about the natural world, should leave itself out of metaphysics.

But this is worth quoting (emphasis added):

Contemporary right-wing Christian fundamentalism is not just some sudden and inexplicable outburst of irrationality and ignorance, whatever its historical antecedents, but rather a deliberately crafted and manipulated phalangist movement. Attacking religious belief per se, rather than the distortions and instrumentalizations of its normative contents, which are less about the cognitive understanding of the natural world than the social ordering of ethical relations with respect to collective fate, not only badly misses the point interpretively, but serves to re-enforce what it ostensibly opposes, precisely by blocking off any communicative understanding and deliberation, any search for, broadly speaking, rational common ground.

Yeah. It's not that Dawkins is wrong but that he's fighting the wrong war. Reducing all religion to fundamentalism and attacking its belief system misidentifies the enemy. The enemy should not be religious beliefs, which are too deep rooted to eliminate and not really addressable by rational argument anyway. The enemy is the (mis)use of religion in service of a right-wing political agenda.

Even religious conservatives (see David Kuo's recent book) are starting to feel uncomfortable with their alliance with the Bushite authoritarians. So why not try to persuade then and others in the muddled middle to support the hallowed wall of separation?

We militant moderates need a name. hopefully better than "brights". I propose "NOMAds" after Stephen Jay Gould's acronym for Non-overlapping Magisteria. OK, that won't win any marketing awards either.

Thoughts from Kansas makes similar points, here and here.

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