Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum of the Guardian.co.uk have called for a truce. They’re pushing science and religion into the center of the ring to call a draw. At the crux of the conflict is the topic of evolution–which we should all know is still a ridiculous point of contention in the United States due to the vast scientific ignorance of the largely religious American public.
We’ve read Richard Dawkins’ strong position on evolution vs. creationism. Should scientists and atheists be so adamantly vocal and in-your-face confrontational about the incongruity between the empirical universe and the invisible land of the spiritual? Or should we be open to partnerships with people of faith who support the cause of science?
It often appears as though [author Richard] Dawkins and … the New Atheists… want to change the country’s science community in a lasting way. They’d have scientists and defenders of reason be far more confrontational and blunt: No more coddling the faithful, no tolerating nonscientific beliefs. Scientific institutions, in their view, ought to stop putting out politic PR about science and religion being compatible.
A smaller but highly regarded nonprofit organisation called the National Centre for Science Education has drawn at least as much of the New Atheists’ ire, however. Based in Oakland, California, the centre is the leading organisation that promotes and defends the teaching of evolution in school districts across the country.
In this endeavour, it has, of necessity, made frequent alliances with religious believers who also support the teaching of evolution, seeking to forge a broad coalition capable of beating back the advances of fundamentalists who want to weaken textbooks or science standards.
[And here’s the kicker] In this context, the New Atheists have chosen their course: confrontation. And groups like the NCSE have chosen the opposite route: Work with all who support the teaching of evolution regardless of their beliefs, and attempt to sway those who are uncertain but perhaps convincible.
So which way would best serve the needs of this ignorant population: Rallying the troops (or, rather, herding the cats) of adamant atheists for a duel lead more people to science as they see religion fall in defeat, or would a soft-spoken, more ecumenical approach fare better in the long run?
I must be a dichotomy. In my heart, I’m an ecumenical type of person; I would rather make peace than war. Despite my sarcastic banter and ranting, I dearly love my religious friends and family despite their mythical beliefs. I care more about connecting with people than proving them wrong. I think you can draw more bees with honey, as the saying goes. Still, I support being a loud and proud freethinker. We should not be ashamed! I freely and joyfully mock aspects of faith and practice that are ridiculous. When I first recognized the ludicrousness of my own beliefs, I was finally able to leave them behind. A little poking doesn’t hurt if it inspires people to think! Check out my post about Ridicule vs. Politeness and weigh in.
I just hope that science does “win out” in the end. If we are to grow as a nation and increase the intellectual and social wealth of our society, we need to get rid of this anti-scientific bias.