Rick Warren's foreword for Should We Fire God?
So I was excited when I saw that Adam Frank, an astrophysicist from the University of Rochester invoked it in a
At least at first. His take was that we need to try to not fall into the same “us versus them” pattern that can so often derail the discussion. That by thinking “orthogonally” we can put a right angle in the discussion and come up with something that is entirely new.
Then I ran across what I run across all to often in discussions with those who would consider themselves commited scientists and atheists. The issue that is seemingly not even noticed is the baseline belief that those with religious belief are more opposed to this discussion than those without religious belief. That the religious, with my experience being obviously as a follower of Jesus, have behaved more poorly in the discussion than our counterparts.
Yes, I liked how Frank mentioned Einstein’s concern about fanatical atheists who were as intolerant as their religious counterparts. And yes I liked how he talked about our need to approach a discussion that can often be conducted on one axis (only my side has value) more orthogonally. Not just shoot for a middle position, but take a right angle on the axis and create something different. Adam, I was with you.
Remember, this isn’t about what the conclusion is, Frank and I would clearly disagree on that, but rather how we can engage in this discussion seeking to be listeners and not just winners.
But, then it happened. And it was going so well.
Of course the point must always be made that in domains of politics and policy strident atheists are infinitely more tolerent and less damaging than the gang hanging out at other end of the spectrum.
It isn’t even that I am bothered by his opinion on the matter. It is the “Of course” that starts that opinion off. That “of course” approach is what is so frustrating for me.
Much more often than not, when I enter into a discussion with a scientifically oriented atheist, the presumption is that I am likely a knuckle-dragging holdover from an earlier evolutionary stage. My experience is that in the significant majority of conversations, rarely is time taken to investigate whether their hypotheses about me are true.
I recognize the look of disbelief mixed with frustration, disdain and occasionally even pity.
I am not saying that there aren’t many from among those that follow Jesus that haven’t been equally offensive. I remember a Christian I knew that had a bumper sticker that read “April 1st – National Atheists’ Day” and I remember those that cheered his “bravery” in proudly driving around with it on his bumper.
So I am not saying the faith community has handled itself well all the time. And I am not asking people to feel sorry for me as I know very well that many followers of Jesus around the world suffer much more than disparaging looks.
My issue is that it must at least be acknowledged that, for at least a portion of the atheist/scientific community; this thought is so automatic that it could even find its way into a posting urging its readers to not do that very thing.
Sometimes it would seem we have a very long way to go.