First post in a long time…
I finally got around to listening to this podcast. Having some notion of what to expect helped me be more critical. The idea that the world needs more than one method of communicating is a good one. The idea that some methods of communication (“loud atheism”) can, in some cases, cause people to pull away from the neutral ground and solidify unhealthy ideas is another good idea to keep in mind.
PZ (supposed “loud atheist”) pointed out that he does not start conversations with the intent to rile people up about religion (airplane conversation). He focuses on actual topics and issues and if the person he is talking with shifts the conversation to include religion, then he will state his position without any mincing of words or apologetic language.
Confidence about who we are and what we think is important if atheists are to break free from the negative connotations that have haunted us for generations. If atheists continue to be push overs, then religious communities are free to label us as devil worshipers and baby eaters. Stating clearly that “Atheists are not these things, that we are moral contributing citizens and that we simply don’t see a place for ancient mythologies in today’s society,” is an honest enough point to make. If this is considered loud, obnoxious or mean spirited, then I say the onus for these negative opinions falls on the offended.
The main point I would like to make is regarding how the speakers discussed people. PZ focused on individual ideas, whereas Mooney & Heckt used language concerning people as a whole, or as a collection of ideas. This seems to be the only point of contention in this debate. This would have been more evident if the guests were asked a similar question to this, “Suppose there is an individual who sets the record for feeding starving children in the world, suppose he also sets the record for abusing these same children. Would it be acceptable to criticize this persons abuses and at the same time laud his humanitarian efforts?” (of course you can) How you view this person as a whole or as an individual is irrelevant when focusing on the issues. Taking the good with the bad is unacceptable. This is about specific issues.
The point I take away from the accomodationists perspective is that it is necessary for atheists to reiterate (sometimes over & over) that they are not necessarily speaking out against individuals but, more so, against specific ideas. By doing this, we make it harder for those with conflicting views to label us as loud or obnoxious or worse. And more importantly, it is also harder to disagree.
I appreciate all of the people involved in this debate and value many of their specific ideas on science, politics, poetry and atheism. Keep it coming.