Hi there! I stumbled across this site accidentally, and I really think you have one of the best pro-atheist sites out there. I’m a huge fan of how patient you are with the threats, personal attacks, and general hate mail unpleasantness that you seem to recieve on a daily basis.
I’d like to know your opinion about something, though: we live in a world where there are undeniably religious fundementalists inflicting serious harm on others either as a result of, or as somehow aided by their religious beliefs. Now, my problem with religious moderates is that (not always, but) by and large, they belive that it’s ok to hold a worldview that is based on “faith” and not pure reason. And thus moderates are dangerous because while they will never strap a bomb to their chests or shoot an abortionist, they also won’t go out of their way to stop someone else from doing these harmful things. They really can’t (without being hypocritical); when it comes down to it, those extremists and moderates, both groups are simply going by a “gut feeling” that they’re right. And if you don’t need naturalistic evidence to justify your belifs, how can you argue that any of the extremists are on the wrong path without being philosophically inconsistent? And since we also live i n a world where some (if not many) of these extremists are in control of weapons and armies, it would seem that adopting a “live and let live” attitude towards extremism could be potentially very, very dangerous. So doesn’t it follow that even allowing for religious moderation could be very dangerous in today’s world? After all, doesn’t everyone who wants to be ethical have a responsibility to do their best to stop others from blowing things up (if they can)?
While I agree that it’s generally a good idea to be nice to others, I have serious trouble accepting the idea that religious moderates are harmless. Hope to hear any of your opinions!
Good question! Part of the problem, as I see it, is that some people feel it is not “politically correct” to say anything negative about the religious beliefs of others. (As an aside, many of these people don’t have a problem with saying negative things about atheists, but that’s a rant for another time.)
I personally do not have anything against the concept of faith-based beliefs. They serve some people well. However, I would argue that faith-based beliefs are only acceptable when the person with those beliefs a) admits that they are based on faith, and b) does not automatically condemn others who have contradictory faith-based beliefs. To say that you have faith in something is to admit that you believe in it without proof, and it is logically inconsistent to condemn another because their unprovable belief contradicts your unprovable belief.
With this as our basis, we should be free to judge people by their actions instead of by their faith. If a Muslim (for example) has faith that Christians are an offence to God that’s (in a sense) okay up to the point of taking action to wipe out that offense. If the Muslim admits that this belief is faith based, then s/he must either take no action (because an unproven belief is not solid ground for killing) or be willing to say that Christians who think God wants Muslims wiped out are acting morally. The latter option invites the destruction of mankind, so my hope is that people will choose the former.