Podcast: Episode 15: Easter Round Table with Skeptics and Seekers

https://anchor.fm/reasonpress/episodes/Episode-15-Easter-Round-Table-with-Skeptics-and-Seekers-e3o0ab/a-ad5lhg

It’s time for another Round Table episode; Andrew and Matthew are joined by Dale and David from the Skeptics and Seekers podcast for another of their regular round tables. This time fielding questions about Easter.

Find out more about Skeptics and Seekers at https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/

 

 

Sailing in a Sea of Negativity

There are times when I feel that there are elements of the atheist and sceptic community who are only happy when they are knocking someone else down, or more specifically, mocking and laughing at someone else’s irrational beliefs because they consider them stupid and idiotic. Its not just the atheists and sceptics of course, there is this type of person everywhere, however lately I’ve begun to wonder if there are those who take their position of being non-religious to such an extreme that their sole purpose seems to be to tell everyone about how bad and awful religion is.

It came to a head for me when I listened to several episodes of an atheist podcast and in the guise of proclaiming how wonderful it was to have a purpose without religion it majored on the delusion of the believer. Proclaiming the wonders of having a life of purpose without religion is not the same as telling the (un)converted how misguided the religious are. I actually got very annoyed with hearing the same anti-religious rhetoric rather than good quality reasoned argument.

I’m not going to name and shame here, it would distract from my point and the list of offenders would be too long to be practical. Some generally decent blogs and podcasts have also fallen for the same ‘lets bitch about religious because its trendy’ bandwagon; plus I should also get it out there now, yes I’m guilty of those same accusations in this blog as well. I hope that I’m fair and balanced in my posts, but I do have to acknowledge that in telling my story there are some things I have said (and maybe will say) that are not especially nice about religion. There is also much good religion has done in my life and I hope I am balanced and fair, giving credit and blame where each is deserved.

Choosing sources

In my reading on science and religion there have been a variety of podcasts and blogs I have perused. Some I still subscribe to and some I have chosen to leave alone or avoid. Finding some which appear to exist for the sole purpose of telling the world how bad and wicked religion is disappoints me; not because I think religion needs me to defend it, but because I consider an overtly negative and derisive tone unhealthy. How can you spend so much time focussing on the negatives of something you disagree with and not be affected by it? I can’t think of a better way to foster extremism than to focus so much energy of the negative aspects of a specific subject!

Even in the blogs and podcasts that I have chosen to stay subscribed to, for reasons of my own scientific education and learning, I find posts and episodes which are so negative I end up moving on and waiting for the next instalment.

Language should be appropriate

I’m not saying that religion is blame free; far from it. More specifically, there are some religious people who have done some horrid things and there are some people who have done some horrid things in the name of religion. Those acts and the perpetrators deserve scorn that’s appropriate to their actions.

What I find much more bothersome is the attitude which is basically the religious are stupid and that fact alone makes them deserving of ridicule and scorn. As someone who was brought up to have respect for others, regardless of creed, I find this conflicting attitude contemptible and hard to stomach. I’m not for a second implying its all one way, its not, and that’s not my point anyway. What I am finding is that there are so many un-called for digs in the direction of religion or the religious that normally mild mannered me is getting sick of it.

Get excited about life not about others lives

There is so much pleasure in being curious about science and living life to its fullest and enjoying the best of what nature and man has to offer. When I read a science blog or listen to a sceptic podcast I want to learn about science and understand the specifics of why certain ideas are false. Inappropriate attacks on others just because of what they believe bugs me silly and I really don’t want any part of it. One specific laughable example is the person who gets all hot and bothered about those who they consider are guilty of pushing religion onto others and then go and do exactly the same with their own anti-religious beliefs!

No, I don’t like the negativity that floats about the fringes of religion and I don’t buy the argument that its all religions fault. As the adage goes, it takes two to tango and those who spout their overtly anti-religious rhetoric are guilty of spreading negativity and I do get concerned about where that could lead.

To be, or not to be, a Dick

I thought I’d take a break from my autobiographical posts and put down some thoughts on the current big topic in the Atheistic and Sceptical arena. That is, how to behave towards those who believe in the unbelievable. That’s not just religion, though the topic does appear to centre mainly around those with religious beliefs, but any superstition and what sceptics love to call ‘woo’.

Reading some blog posts and opinion on the subject you’d be forgiven for thinking that there are only two choices; lambast anyone who dares to hold an unprovable belief with as much ridicule as possible or embrace anyone and everyone so long as you can find some common ground with them, no matter how tenuous.

Save us from the Accomodationists!

What I find most frustrating when reading various comments are the highly vocal people in the anti-accomodationist camp. These are the easiest to identify on the imaginary grey line I mentioned above, they would be clustered very close to the lambasting extreme.

To the anti-accomodationist there is nothing more pure than the utter sanctity of science proven conclusion. If you can’t back it up with the science method, then it does not belong and don’t you dare go mixing with those folks who believe without proof, or you’ll taint the purity of reason. Usually these are the same people using the label ‘Gnu Atheists’ as though they are some gnarly badge wearing, skateboard riding, baggy jeaned cool new kid. They probably have their own special handshake as well.

Accomodationist and Proud.

Yes I would be classed as an accomodationist. Yes I am proud of that. When I first saw the extremeophiles calling others accomodationists, it was as though they spat the word out, like it left a bad taste to even think the word, let along utter it. It was most definitely not meant as a compliment to the recipient.

The term ‘accomodationst’, seems to be drawn out and thrown at anyone who dares suggest anything other than utter contempt should be shown towards those who choose to believe in anything unscientific.

This is a sad thing to see and it seems that more effort is being channelled into creating a rift in the sceptical community than is being put into more productive use educating and evangelising the good news.

Ridicule never Changed Anyone’s Mind

Of course there are some people who will never abandon their belief. Even worse, there are some people who know they are wrong, but continue to promote it because it provides them with a considerable income. Of course I hope the latter are a minority.

With these people, reasoned debate will probably never be possible, but is publicly mocking really going to achieve anything other than self satisfied smugness?

But what about the casual observer?

I have seen it suggested on more than one occasion that the act of ridicule will help show a casual observer how much of a fool your target is.

This has to be the most pathetic cop out of an argument I have ever heard. Unless the casual observer is already of the same mind as you, the most likely reaction of the casual observer is to think that you are a dick and then respond accordingly.

If you want the world to share your conclusion that belief is silly and only science can lead someone to reason; then you had better prove it by acting like a reasonable person.

Be Passionate about Science

Instead of being a crabby insulting human, how about being a passionate scient advocate instead, enthuse people by being passionate about truth. Truth is tangible, truth can be handled and touched, truth is proven time and time again to be reliable. Truth is beautiful. When you talk about science speak with passion about how can you not be riveted and encouraged by the wonder of what is true and by knowing so utterly that it is true because it can be demonstrated to audiences.

This is what makes great ambassadors for scientific reasoning, don’t ruin it all by yelling at and insulting those who deny reality.

Look at how the Christians do it.

One final thought, Christians have known for many years that the most effective way of converting people to Christianity is to go to them and meet them on their terms. Find out what a person needs most and attend to that need. Christians convert other people by making the effort to get to know other people and letting them see that Christian are not some do-gooder perfect human, but they do care and they do want to try as hard as possible to make life better.

If sceptics really want to show that science leads to reason and truth and that truth has something genuine to offer, then they should show it by doing things other than ridiculing the ridiculous.

 


 

* My thoughts on this matter are still evolving, so its possible (probable even) that I will revisit this subject in the future. It will be interesting to see if my stance changes between now and then.