Most of this thread is kinda bewildering to me and not terribly interesting. I think it might be more productive to just debate the actual issues rather than who called whom a liar and on what basis. Maybe Chris could do an episode of POI podcast with Ophelia and hash out the whole story.
Personally, I’m opposed to Mooney’s characterization of the New Atheists, but I enjoy his podcasts. He’s doing a great job as an interviewer. I think the discussion of the accomodationist vs confrontational approach is useful and should be pursued. Maybe, if it can be arranged, another podcast with Mooney and Dawkins or Harris or one of those guys would be useful as well.
It seems that in general the confrontational side of the discussion—first, does not necessarily agree with that characterization of what they’re doing and—second, does not have much if any problem with the accomodationist approach, but that the accomodationists do have a problem with what they consider to be confrontational.
In that context, I’m on the confrontational side of the debate. I think both approaches are useful, but Dawkins et al have contributed hugely to making atheism more respectable among the general public…. and perhaps more importantly, in encouraging closet atheists to come out. The fact that “The God Delusion” is considered confrontational based on the title alone—I suspect not too many fundamentalist religionists have read it—just confirms the need to break down the convention that religious ideas should somehow be beyond criticism and that pointing out the absurdity of a religious dogma is somehow comparable to acts of physical violence or hate speech. I’ve read Harris, Dawkins, and Barkers’ atheist books and all any of them seem to be doing is pointing out the absurdity (and the real-world harmful consequences) of using faith or “revealed” dogma as a means of arriving at any kind of knowledge about anything. If that is confrontational, then it is evidently confrontational to disagree with a religious person about belief. By that definition, IMHO, being confrontational is a Good Thing.
As far as Mooney taking a Templeton grant… that doesn’t bother me. The Templeton Foundation, by all accounts doesn’t dictate what the grantees say and lets the conclusions of the resulting studies reflect the implications of the data. Didn’t they sponsor a study on the effectiveness of prayer whose results weren’t quite what they hoped for? http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html