One thing that annoys me about the atheist movement is the idea that being an atheist makes you a beacon of rationality. We’re “brights,” which means that we have things figured out. And yet in any discussion (especially online) with an atheist, you’re bound to catch them espousing views that are not supported by evidence, or poor/fallacious reasoning. This is even more pronounced when you engage an atheist in a discussion about some topic unrelated to religion or science.
A response to Pascal’s Wager by Seth Kurtenbach.
Pascal’s Wager is an all too familiar argument for those of us in the skeptical community. We like to point out that there are innumerable other gods for whom the same wager may be considered, thereby undermining the power of the original wager which usually focuses on Christianity. We say, as did Richard Dawkins, “what if you’re wrong about Zeus, Ba’al, Wotan, or the great JuJu at the Bottom of the Sea?…”
Today, August 11th, is the birthday of one of the most amazing and influential leaders of the freethought movement. Robert Green Ingersoll (August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899) was born in Dresden, NY, a mere two-hour drive from the current Center for Inquiry headquarters. I recently had the chance to visit the Robert Ingersoll Museum, the birth place and historic home that is maintained by the Council for Secular Humanism. The home was purchased and restored and is currently filled with Ingersoll’s work as well as period-specific artifacts and pieces of local history. I asked a few of my fellow freethinkers to go on a field trip to see the museum. In all, nine of us piled into two cars and took off to learn more about this amazing thinker and orator who was known as "The Great Agnostic."
There’s certainly no revelation in saying that those working to expose pseudo-science or speak in favour of scepticism and atheism can attract harsh criticism. But it doesn’t lessen the seriousness of death threats against those in our community.
The Status Quo The virtues of cooperative work (frequently referred to as interfaith) with religious groups are widely noted and assented to in the secular community. You can improve your community service by adding many more volunteers to the effort. Better still, you can humanize yourself to people who might hold a narrow, two-dimensional stereotype of atheists (and vice-versa). Eventually, through this, you might even diminish the discord between religious and secular people at scale.