Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An Agnostic Questions
my decision to not do posts about the religion wars. He requests that I continue, pointing out that between religious fundamentalists and Dawkinsites he’s feeling beleaguered. He says my posts are some of the few on the leftist blogs that support his position.

Any thoughts?

I'm in a very similar position to your agnostic. On the leftist blogoweb, I get the distinct impression that those who are respectful of other people's choices regarding religion are completely unwelcome. Your message (so far as I can tell) is much more tolerant and accepting, and is in line with what I think should be the accepted attitude with regards to personal religious choice.
I hope that I respect other peoples' rights, Paulkman, thank you for saying so.

Even on a practical level, I can't see anything to be gained by splitting up the left along lines that have so little to do with the aims of the left. If the effort put into all the snark was suddenly put to any one of our issues it might actually produce something in real life that would be a real benefit to actual people. The last straw for me was the "framing" debate, how scientists might learn to talk to non-scientists to explain their work and build a consituency for the teaching of real biology. What could have been a productive discussion got bogged down in charges of insufficient atheist apostasy, Neville Chamberlain Atheism, even covert, gasp!, religious belief. I remember high school, it was a lot like that. But nothing that happened in those exchanges did anything but blight the lives of those who were convicted of having cooties.

I've never, for the life of me, understood the animosity of some atheists for agnostics. In so far as science goes, the position of agnosticism is the one that states the truth most closely. The answer to the question of the existence of a god can't be found. You can't know that there is a god or that there is not a god. The hostility always seemed to me a matter of agnostics not being willing to lie about what they knew to be true and that their stand didn't fit into the aesthetic prefernces of that kind of intollerant atheist.

Luckily, I think every religious liberal I've ever known has a pretty open view of those issues, so the intollerance of religious believers doesn't come up on a leftist blog. And there are atheists, self declared, who don't have any problem with the entire range of belief either. I'd rather try to work with all of those adults to try to do things that matter than fight with the ones who take a "my rules only" stand.
It really all boils down, not to personal religious beliefs, but to the nuts and bolts of how we all treat one another.

Go for it, man.

Sometimes I may not choose to present myself as tolerant of religious belief, but in a shoot-out I've got your back.

Post away. All voices deserve to be heard.
I'm usually all for tolerance of views. It seems to me, however, that many lefties who argue for such tolerance tend to speak of Richard Dawkins as though he should be summarily squelched.

I've recently become a big fan of Dawkins's point of view on religion. I think there is a lot to be said for his arguments against even tolerating religion. Until I read The God Delusion and heard him expand upon those views in interviews and talks, I'd say that I was in the "live and let live" camp. Now, I'm a little more hard line, although I tend to argue against religion only in the abstract, and stop short of attacking the beliefs of my friends and family. (That's arguably inconsistent, I admit.)

I could be talked back to the middle ground of tolerating other people's religious beliefs, if only there weren't so many extreme religious types trying to jam their twisted beliefs down all of our throats. I have no problem with people having irrational beliefs when they keep them to themselves, but when they start organizing and trying to wreck my country and my world based upon those beliefs, I think a firm stance is merited, if not obligatory.

I view the struggle between religious and non-religious types as I do the struggle between conservatives and liberals, at least in this way: My side, for a long time, tried to be respectful of different points of view, wanted to discuss, proposed compromises, etc. All that seems to have come of such good-hearted efforts was a constant shifting to the right of the definition of the midpoint.

The United States is losing its way, and a big part of that has to do with the political actions and growing clout of religious groups. So, olvlzl, having just come across your blog, I say in response to your query: Please feel free to continue speaking for a middle ground. I'd like to debate it.
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