There’s an intense discussion going on at Panda’s Thumb, on a thread of PZ’s that links to the comments by Dawkins and Dennett here – and now a new comment by Paul Kurtz. It’s that ‘should we shut up about religion or not?’ question. No we certainly should not, is my view, you will be calmly unamazed to hear. I tried to say it there only to be told I wasn’t allowed to comment. Because – what? I’ve been banned? I don’t think so, I think it must be a kink of some sort. Anyway I thought I wouldn’t waste my comment, so I’ll put it here. (At least I’m allowed to, here. It’s my Monopoly game and I can put ten hotels on Boardwalk if I want to.)
Well, another way of adding up the score is to point out how much deference to religion and religious beliefs there has been in US public discourse in the past few decades, and then noticing where that has gotten us. The expression ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’ leaps to mind. The more atheists and rationalists and defenders of the Enlightenment defer and bow and keep silent about religion, the more aggressive and truculent and self-pitying religious believers seem to get. Why is that? Could it be, say, a sense of entitlement? If so, could it be time to give up on that approach and get real?
That seems to me to be how it is. We’re always hearing that forthright atheism will frighten a lot of people off, and maybe it will, but what has the opposite done? It seems to me it’s given a hell of a lot of people the idea that there is just no such thing as enough respect for and deference to ‘faith’. If no deference is ever enough (short of actual conversion and joining the godpesterers, and I won’t do it, I won’t I won’t I won’t) then why not give it up and tell what we take to be the truth? At least that way, we get to tell the truth, instead of doing all this creepy smirking tiptoeing around and apologizing for not believing fairy tales.
So good luck to PZ. I’d stand shoulder to shoulder with you, but silly old PT won’t let me.