Michael Shermer, Responding to Jerry Coyne’s Accusation that He is a “Faitheist”, Quotes Me as More Properly Characterizing His Position

Here’s what Shermer says about his perspective on atheist accommodation of religion:

This comment well captured my position and needs no further comment:

“What Shermer is trying to make peace with are sensible moderate theists, not fundamentalists. It is the people in the middle, not those on the fringes, who will, ultimately, determine the virulence of religion and irreligion. Shermer is trying to reduce religion’s virulence, not embracing fundamentalist ownership of the Bible, and it’s ridiculous interpretations of it. Shermer is right to reclaim the Bible as part of the Western cultural patrimony, and not leave it to fundamentalists to tell us what it means, and the implications to be drawn from it.”

The comment was mine, and made at this blog here. Shermer then offers a sensible debater’s middle ground, arguing that context in argumentative style is everything:

How one responds to theists all depends on the context and goals of the response. I think we nonbelievers have fallen into black-and-white thinking on the question of “what is the ‘right way’ to respond?” The answer is that there is more than one way. There are multiple ways, all of which work, depending on the context. Sometimes a head-on, take-no-prisoners, full-frontal assault á la Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or Jerry Coyne is the way to go. Sometimes a more conciliatory approach á la Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, or your humble servant is best. It all depends on the context and what you are trying to accomplish.

Bravo to Michael Shermer for pushing back against New Atheist lockstep conformity with a little common sense (and a quote from yours truly).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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