And by “get along”, Mooney et al. mean “do things the way we think they should be done.”
If you’re wondering what I’m babbling about this time, you’re not hanging in the same blogging circle that I am. Lemme explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Mooney and Kirshenbaum came out with a book,
Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future, wherein they bemoan the inadequacies of the science community to communicate effectively with the populace and lay the blame on the feet of the “New Atheists” for being too mean, i.e. telling the truth about scientific fact when it contradicts religious dogma.
I haven’t read the book and I’m probably not going to. This isn’t a book review. The book was drawn to my attention because of their direct attacks within it upon PZ Myers and his blog Pharyngula, a very popular pro-science, pro-atheism blog. PZ is known for being quite outspoken about the need to fight back against the growing incursion of religion into the science classroom and the government. He reviewed the book, per Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s request. The review was unfavorable, due primarily to the authors direct personal attacks and general lack of any sort of decent evidence to back up their claims.
So what this all boils down to is that there is a perceived schism in the atheistic community. On one side are the mean, disrespectful and damaging-to-the-cause loudmouth atheists, such as PZ and Richard Dawkins. At least, according to Mooney et al. On the other side are the mealy-mouthed accommodationists who think PZ and his ilk need to STFU and that the absolute worst thing for our cause is to piss off the Xians. At least, according to PZ.
So here’s my summary, now that I’ve babbled for a bit. By now you can probably tell which side of the discussion I’m going to come down on.
There has been an upsurge in the number of people willing to speak out on behalf of the godless; people striving to move atheists from the marginalized into the mainstream. People who are tired of being told that they are somehow less than moral, less than human, less than patriotic, because they see through the veil of mysticism that religion has draped over the collective eyes of a large part of the world.
Quite a few of those engaged on the side of godlessness are scientists. They have a large stake in the discussion since one of the primary forces of anti-science come from the sphere of religion. One only has to look at the reports of Xian extremists trying to force their way into boards of education and other public office in the hopes of imposing their theocracy upon the rest of us.
PZ was a big part of my “coming out”. I was never an active theist, more like an apathetic atheist. I just hadn’t felt the need to analyze or clarify my positions. Reading blogs like Pharyngula and seeing the kind of damage that the right-wingers were doing crystallized my thoughts and made me realize the importance of speaking out on behalf of the godless. I am an outspoken, sarcastic, snarky, obnoxious person, so PZ’s approach resonated with me. However, I realize that not everyone is like me (FSM help us if they were!). Not everyone will respond to such direct prodding. That’s where the accomodationists come in. Our movement needs the soft-speakers to hold the hands of those that aren’t quite ready to toss aside their entire world view in one fell swoop. There is absolutely no reason why they can’t be gradually brought into the light (to steal a phrase from the other side).
All that being said, Mooney et al are idiots. Rather than realise that there are multiple paths to reach the same goal (the goal being, not an eradication of religion, but rather the reduction of its prominence in society, especially government, and especially its interference with science), these fuckwits decide that anyone not following what they see as the correct path is not only wrong but is teh enemy, destroying their noble efforts to improve the world through bowing down and stepping aside for the religious fuckwits and not taking them head on.