Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Canadian Atheist Accommodationist

Canadian Atheist is a blog run by several Canadian atheists (hence the name ). One of them is Brent Kelley, an undergraduate at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Here's what Brent said in today's posting: The Atheist Disposition,
Almost everybody I talk to seems to disagree with the “militant” positions that firebrand atheists such as Dawkins and PZ take. They feel they are too extreme and that their outlook too rigid.

I might disagree to some extent, but that’s not the point. The point is that the great atheist leaders that many atheists regard so highly are often viewed by outsiders as extreme, unreasonable, and ridiculous. Even those who agree with our cause often feel this way. Which means that if we’re trying to get the public on-board with our ideas and opinions, we’re failing.

We need to work on our image. I’m not sure where to start, but perhaps approaching the problem from the ground up is a nice way to start tackling the issue. What I would suggest is for atheists everywhere to be a little more friendly to not only one another, but also to others outside their atheist circle of friends. Before you attack a theist’s beliefs, ask yourself if the argument is worth it. You probably wont change their mind anyway. Instead, perhaps you could start up a discussion about science and try to explain the scientific viewpoint on this or that. Slowly and gently introducing them to the worldview of scientific naturalism might make them more receptive to atheism and critical thinking. And be open to their ideas too, you might even learn something. Do whatever, just don’t get into a shouting match and reinforce the stereotype that atheists are argumentative, unfriendly, and annoying.
[emphasis in original]
Why not visit their blog and post a comment? I did.


  1. That article is a perfect example of why I quit reading that site. It is such a piece of condescending BS that words don't adequately convey how crappy it was.

    One question I would have is: Did Chris Mooney write it?

  2. Brent needs to get out more. I wonder whether he has heard some of the strident things that Christian apologists say about atheists.

    I can't comment on Dawkins, since I have not read much of his criticism of religion. I do often read PZ's blog, and he does not seem particularly strident to me. It seems to me that PZ is mostly ridiculing religion when it is being ridiculous. If religious groups don't like that, they should just stop being ridiculous, though I doubt that they will take my advice.

  3. If only there was such a place for people to go and privately share their points of view no matter how misguided, and not force them onto everyone else... if only.

    On a side note, have you heard about the 'be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world.' munkdebate - can't say I have heard much of Hitchens(the atheist) before, or care much for the suggestive title.

    And afterall it is a munk debate- so expectations are stifled as i thought they stopped years ago. Now here is the link if your interested: http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/Religion

  4. I'd laugh if this all were not so scary. My local atheist group was usurped by accommodationists who, from one day to another, decided that all the strident, honest discussion was "hurting their cause." None of it was directed at anyone outside the group, mind you, it just made them generally uncomfortable and a small subset of us got outed for it.
    Atheist Accommodationists: Can't live with them, can't send them to hell.