The Sciences

What Would Bridge the New Atheist/Accommodationist Divide?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyOct 28, 2009 1:27 PM


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This question was raised for me by a comment by Luke Vogel, as follows:

I have expressed my concerns at length, I do wish we, perhaps with a blog post by the Intersection, that I (we) can return to defining and defending and idea of “accomodationism” since I had begun the process, which includes highlighting the paper by Austin Dacey which gave us the terms as used now in the science and religion debates. I think this focus can highlight our complete agreements with people like Sean Carroll, Lawrence Krauss, Michael Shermer and many others, while also recognizing the primary concerns that are shared by all of us that seem so intensely interested in what happens at The Intersection.

Huh. From my own perspective, I partly translate this as follows: Is there any way to get back to a productive discussion over the merits of "accommodationism

," or the lack thereof? It would be interesting to hear what the New Atheists would say; but I think we are a long way from seeing this happen. The problem is that there does not even appear to be an understanding of basic terms and positions--a problem compounded by a concomitant lack of civil discourse or good will. Both sides, I'm sure, consider themselves to have big grievances that have not been addressed; so any additional comment just fans the flames. How could this change? Well, first of all, I'm highly skeptical that it can. But if I were to suggest the conditions in which it might, I would say that a serious dialogue cannot resume without an end of name calling, ad hominem attacks, and extensive misrepresentation of positions

. If there is no interest in getting basic views right, understanding them, or admitting those views are based on evidence and not unreasonable, there is no way a two-way dialogue can be had. So that's my own take, but there are two sides here. It might be fruitful if some New Atheists would respond with their own take on Vogel's question, if only to see how broad the gap really is between two groups of people who, after all, probably share well over 95 percent of their intellectual DNA.

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