Cross my palms with silver, and I'll write better posts. Promise.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do Atheists Want to See the Eradication of Religion?

A little over an hour ago, an acquaintance brought the above question to my attention, and it gave me slight pause for thought. I'm guessing that a lot of the "eradication of religion" rhetoric is more public perception than reality. Then again, public perception often morphs into reality. In any case, I've heard at least one atheist say that s/he wants to see religion eradicated. So, provided she told me the truth, and I relayed it to you correctly, we now have anecdotal evidence that at least one such atheist exists. But that atheist isn't me; I want to live and let live. I want to see the need for superstitions evaporate, yet somehow retain the charitable work and community services that many religious organizations perform. We can all agree, I think, that we want to see the harm caused by religion eradicated. But even that's not easy to accomplish because unless it's blatantly obvious, we can't agree on a universal definition of harm. Besides, my harm may very well be your pleasure.  But I digress.

Elevatorgate* was what made me want to start this blog. I saw skepticism and atheism slowly turning into dogmatism. On the one hand, the scandal was about personality clashes, yet on the other it was a fascinating illustration of how masses of self-proclaimed skeptics proved to be incapable of independent thought. (I'm not implying that that any of the participants are dumb, quite to the contrary, I'm simply saying that groupthink and cognitive bias are extremely difficult forces to over come).

One last thought: When the trombone is playing in an orchestra, you can barely hear the other instruments. Yet they're in the vast the majority. There's a little bit of that going on in atheism as well.

*In case you missed the Elevatorgate drama, this post from Jean Kazez is accurate, compassionate, and unbiased. Please read it with an open mind (but not so much that your brains fall out, of course.)


  1. Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them. -- Richard Strauss

  2. Eradicating religion isn't really something I would necessarily want either (although I would want to see some forms of it gone, like Ultra-Orthodox or fundamentalist anything). I just want to have it seen for what it is--a form of entertainment, like the Power Rangers TV series or, as Sastra wrote once on Pharyngula, like a sports team--than as a source of truths about reality.

  3. I think it was PZ who said that he would like to see religion as a side dish, but not the main course. I know it was PZ who said that when entering a science classroom, people should leave their religious beliefs at the door. I agree with him in this sense -- there is no compromise between science and religion, and any religious practice should be so personal as to not infringe on the rights of others, including one's children. I think the argument between "accommodationists" and "confrontationists" is silly, though. There's a time and a place for both tactics, and I think that when we demonize each other, we all lose.

  4. "There's a time and a place for both tactics, and I think that when we demonize each other, we all lose."

    I certainly agree with that as far as any demonization does occur on either side. I don't know if you were around for the You're Not Helping accommodationist debacle with Wally Smith, but hopefully you do and know what I mean when I say I'm sure glad that's over!