Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Great Divide



There seems to be a real schism in the ranks of atheist activists these days. As usual, we seem to be missing the "ingroup loyalty" thing about one for all and all for one. Ingroup loyalty is touted as one of the hallmarks of the religious movement, as is extreme passion and dedication (epitomized by the Tea Party movement that has sprung up so viciously this week), so it seems we have much to learn.

Why do we keep eating our own? Pretty boy physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson bad mouthed Richard Dawkins as "obnoxious" and "completely ineffective" in the September/October 2009 issue of The Humanist Magazine. Dawkins brings something to the table that makes Tyson's work easier as a frontman for science, so what is gained by this pissing contest?

In the book, "Good Without God" by Greg Epstein suggests that atheists too often reject the ceremony and emotional community that many seek out when they join groups.

From the book:

“Atheism alone, as the rejection of gods and the supernatural, cannot meet our deepest human needs for connection and inspiration.”

Most of us do want a connection to others in some form. Maybe that comes in the form of a poetry reading at a secular meeting or hosting social events that are designed for fellowship as much as debate. We have enjoyed this kind of interaction since we lived in caves and it brings some of our humanity to our otherwise mundane lives.

Maybe if we allow the more aggressive ideas to gain a little speed, we will see secularism being a stronger force in the community? I'd like to think that the guy who challenges religious people makes my life a little easier. Let’s stop this “us or them” mentality and realize that we are on the same side and it takes all kinds of philosphies to propel secularism in our society.

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