The Sciences

John Wilkins is Making Sense

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJun 27, 2009 1:38 PM


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Go read a brilliant accommodationist argument here. And I give this recommendation even though there are some things about the post that I don't even agree with! (John, I reject point 4, for reasons I'll explain at some point). But Wilkins' very best point, I think, is this one:

Only those who are completely without self-knowledge think they are entirely rational on every subject, and that this licenses attacking others for their perceived failings in that respect.

I even tried to Tweet those words, but they were too long! Anyway, Wilkins' post stirs up something that, especially as a journalist, has always made me wonder about the New Atheists--how are they so confident? Don't get me wrong: I shared their mindset very vigorously in college. Indeed, my atheist activist antics of those days are well documented (and will probably always prevent me from running for public office!). But then I met a lot of moderate religious people, in the course of my life, who were anything but irrational or fundamentalist. And they changed me. Never fear: They didn't make me less of an atheist. Indeed, they didn't even try. But they certainly made me less of an absolutist. They made me less confident that I had all the answers, that my way was the only way--not just for finding out the truth, but for getting through life. At the same time, I was becoming a journalist, which requires regularly meeting and talking with people who you may think, deep down, are the arch-enemy. Usually, when you actually hear their voice or shake their hand, you find out that they're actually not imps of Satan--that what had looked black and white from a distance was actually very gray at close range. Much the same is true for the science-religion issue, and Wilkins is very much with me on this. Go read his whole post.

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