Rav Winston sent in this article in the New York Times detailing a recent science and religion forum held at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Reading through the anecdotes, which include great quotes from Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss (“I think we need to respect peopleâ€™s philosophical notions unless those notions are wrong”), one gets the sense of a large group of reasonable people suddenly looking around and realizing that they’re in a great big war with the deluded and they need to figure out what the hell they’re going to do about it. The lines are being drawn over how harshly to condemn religion. According to one: “With a few notable exceptions, the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?â€
Dawkins was proclaimed the extremist to mirror the religious camps’ own extremists — that’s not exactly right, since he hasn’t tried to kill anyone yet, but . . . wait, let me edit that. That’s not even close to being right because he hasn’t tried to kill anyone yet. No matter how smarmy he comes across, no matter how mean he is to call religious indoctrination “child abuse,” he has never, ever tried to kill someone because of their religious belief. Sadly, this cannot be said about extreme fundamentalists who strap bombs to themselves or fly planes into buildings.
The point, though, is well-taken. Dawkins is about as outspoken as atheists get these days. I’m sure there are people who don’t bother to really hear what he has to say because they are insulted before they even get the chance to consider the point. But, I also think he is necessary. He is pushing the discussion along and firing up a previously silent group of people. Every collection of humans will have an extreme component. If Dawkins is the most extreme atheist we have, well, I think we could do a lot worse.
There was a very long discussion about Dawkins following an earlier post, which got rather heated. Keep it clean, folks.