Monday, 12 February 2007

We need more fundamentalists

Is it right for the atheist community to ridicule creationists? What right do we have, other than our own 'truths', to rail against them and argue that religious fundamentalism is wrong headed?

Of course, we have the benefit of overwhelming evidence. We can even argue the moral high ground, given past abuses in the name of their Gods. And let's not forget that they ridicule us. An eye for an eye I suppose, to quote the vernacular.

It doesn't stop me feeling uneasy about it. After all, they are such easy targets. When it comes to religion, fundamentalists offer us low hanging fruit. A cheap thrill if you like. It takes little effort to debunk their odd theories on the speed of light, dinosaurs and such like. I almost feel like a bully.

As with most extreme positions, creationism is believed only by a minority, a growing one I grant you, but I'm sure that the vast majority of the religious remain sympathetic to Darwin.

Perhaps then, the moderate religious should be more of a concern to active atheists than extremophiles? After all, this is where the real sea change can be made. As any politician will tell you, the struggle is over the floating voter.

In my view, the vast majority of people who call themselves religious give their belief little thought. Why should they? Frankly, people have better things to be getting on with. Most people opt for the path of least resistance.

It's easier to adopt the belief systems of our communities and parents. In conforming to majority beliefs, we open more doors than we do by questioning them. So, should members of the atheist community (who wish to change peoples' beliefs), shift their attention to moderates? I would argue not.

The problem is, debate amongst moderates makes for poor headlines. It only gets noticed by those with an active interest in the topic. Whereas arguments between extreme points of view piques the interest of the masses. If only to laugh and poke fun at the oddballs on both sides of the debate.

We need religious fundamentalists, as much as they need us. Vapid, overly dramatic debates entertain people.

That's the trick of good entertainment; To change peoples attitudes and beliefs without them even realising that they've been educated.

The sad fact of the matter is - the group that will end up prevailing in this struggle for hearts and minds will be the one that's most entertaining and colorful.

Bring on the fundies...


Louie said...

I don't know Sans. Theism is bad news in any guise. Be it flying planes into buildings or just teaching the poor that contraception is morally wrong...

jamon said...

I didn't say it wasn't. Just the debate over the middle ground wont get noticed. Sensationalist arguments do. And in being noticed, those who choose theism as a path of least resistance may well sit up and notice a bit more?