In which I get all accommodationist

I still don’t know if I’m using that word right, but Science and Religion Today asked me a question about the award Chad wants to give me. They wonder “Do moderates have a responsibility to be more vocal in science and religion discussions?”

It’s an admittedly vague question, and they left off my epigram, from Petronius: “Moderation in all things, even moderation.” Ah well.

In brief, I said yes. I used “religious moderates” in what I think is an idiosyncratic way, taking it as the religious subset of moderates on a particular question much under discussion lately, not members of congregations which identify as moderate religions.   Because the invitation started with the blog discussion here, I tried to incorporate insights I’ve picked up from y’all, and I’m curious what you think.

One comment that I hope doesn’t have to be made is that it’s quite different to say people should be more vocal than to say they are right. We can’t even know if religious moderates have a good case to be made unless they speak up and make their case. If that has the side effect of drowning out the religious fundamentalists in our discourse, no great loss.

And to all you science nerds, whatever your religious views, don’t forget this bit of advice for churchgoers:

This year contains numerous scientific anniversaries and is being celebrated as a Year of Science, which presents lots of opportunities for such a sermon [on science and religion]. Why not aim for November 21 or 22, the weekend nearest the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species? publication?

Yep, the 150th anniversary is November 19th. What’s your school doing for that day? Your church? Your neighborhood? Your local museum? Your library? Your skeptics group?

If you don’t have a plan, here’s a suggestion. Get a lot of friends and a copy of the book (Ray Comfort’s going to be giving them away for free, so you might put those to good use), and spend the day reading it out loud in a public place. Take turns when you get tired, and see how far you get. If someone asks what’s up, you can tell them about how far evolution has come in the last 150 years.



Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    October 7, 2009

    I still don’t know if I’m using that word right …

    You’re not. Nothing in your post is an example of accommodationism.

    In fact, if you think about it a little bit, you already know that, because you later write:

    One comment that I hope doesn’t have to be made is that it’s quite different to say people should be more vocal than to say they are right.

  2. #2 IST
    October 7, 2009

    We can’t even know if religious moderates have a good case to be made unless they speak up and make their case. If that has the side effect of drowning out the religious fundamentalists in our discourse, no great loss.

    That might actually generate a discourse, instead of you talking to people who have their fingers in their ears chanting “goddidit”… talking to fundies always seems like a waste of time. If there were no fundamentalists, I’m not sure whether I’d actually be bothered at all by religion. I’d certainly have quite a bit less of one.

    The reading aloud of Origin is a rather neat idea…

  3. #3 Josh Rosenau
    October 7, 2009

    Llewelly: Thanks. Alas, I do sometimes feel like any outreach at all to religious people or acknowledgment that they’ve got something to say is viewed as accommodationism by some. (No, I haven’t got links, this is a feel rather than a proven point.) Blogs being what they are, lines like the one you quote are known as troll-repellent.

  4. #4 Benjamin Nelson
    October 8, 2009

    Josh, accommodationism is essentially telling atheists to stop being vocal activists and not to argue for atheism on the basis of science. If you’re not doing that, then nobody cares (unless they hold an internet grudge).

  5. #5 Norwegian Shooter
    October 12, 2009

    Greta Christina wrote a good post on atheists and accommodation. Shorter: the religious think you’re a sap