Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"I Want Atheism To Be True": Why It Matters

In my last post I discussed the following comment by Thomas Nagel:
I believe this is one manifestation of a fear of religion which has large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life. . . . I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. . . . I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.

And elsewhere he states:
The fear of religion leads too many scientifically minded atheists to cling to a defensive, world-flattening reductionism.

I do not raise this in order to promote an inquisition of atheists. Quite the contrary. We would be better off if motive inquisition played less of a role in the debate. However, the mainstream media have developed the bad habit of looking very closely at the religious beliefs of Darwinian skeptics and proponents of intelligent design, and deeming irrelevant the religious beliefs of proponents of evolutionary theory. Such a discriminatory double standard makes no sense and is not conducive to civil debate.

For a good example of a New York Times article demonstrating this discriminatory double standard, see this post, a follow up post here and a previous post here. Judge Jones exhibited the double standard in his Dover opinion, which is one of the many reasons why that opinion should not be followed by other courts.


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