[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]There seems to be a consistent presumption among many contgributors to these boards that atheism is a forceful stance with integrity and courage and that agnosticism is a feeble, timid unwillingness to admit God really doesn’t exist. I’m overstating the case to make a point, of course, but the tone is pretty unfriendly to anyone not willing to assert positively that God cannot exist and is, in fact, a totally ridiculous concept.No, no, I didn’t mean it to sound that way at all. I’m just saying that my experience with Christians is that they regard agnosticism as wishy-washy. I was forced to take a more forceful stand, or they would not have taken me seriously. a scientist who always understood knowledge and truth as beginning with,
Doug’s point about rallying the “faithful,” as it were, is a good one…I guess I just am not convinced by your argument about the tactics that people like Harris use (and, as I currently understand, Dawkins, though I am still aware of my second hand understanding of his recent book). I don’t think humility and forthrightness are mutually exclusive.
Christians don’t hesitate to frame the debate in terms of a “Culture War” (my 19 year old nephew carries his Bible around in a canvas, camouflage pattern case with the words “Army of the Lord” embossed on the front). While I don’t particularly approve of that way of looking at it, it’s one of the realities we have to deal with. The funny thing is that Dawkins and Harris would have to go a long way to catch up with the kind of aggression that Christians ministers routinely employ, when they paint anyone who hasn’t “surrendered to Jesus” as evil, hateful and fundamentally unhappy.
I hope you get around to reading Dawkins’ book soon (I read it at the Public Library, if you’re worried about spending your hard-earned money!). I think his charm takes some of the sting out of what might otherwise be seen as abrasiveness.