Sunday, March 25, 2012

Richard Dawkins at the Reason Rally

Here's an interesting video from Saturday's Reason Rally in Washington. It's worth listening to, even though you need to sit through some very loud cheering (his much-deserved welcome) at the beginning; I suggest you turn the volume way down until Dawkins starts talking.

Video streaming by Ustream

What I found particularly interesting was Dawkins's suggestion that if you meet someone who claims to be a Christian or religious person you should follow up and ask them what they mean when they say that: what are the specific beliefs they have that lead them to make such a statement?

I thought this was a provocative suggestion to engage believers in the kind of discussion that might actually get somewhere (maybe not, but you never know), and then he continues to say that it is important to ridicule believers. I used to think the same thing, and I still have to admit that I enjoy it, especially among other atheists and nonbelievers, but I have come to question its utility.

In discussions with a young friend about politics (we haven't really talked about religion) I've come to see that exploring the political ideas my friend expresses, their foundations, and where they lead, we can actually get somewhere, to the point where she probably would no longer describe herself as a conservative.

What if we could do the same thing with religion?

I recognize it's not easy, because these ideas are pretty entrenched, but I do know that ridiculing someone to his face isn't going to get you anywhere.

It might be worth a shot.

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Blogger toniclark said...

Agree with your stance on ridicule (though it's hard not to do it in private)! Glad to have found your blog (via Vermont Skeptical Atheists). Wish I could have been at the rally. Hope it happens again.

March 26, 2012 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree also with this, it is wrong to ridicule someone on where they stand both religiously or politically. However I do believe people should be free to practice their religion as they wish and if this includes speaking about ones higher power I think it is ok but to speak about God for example to a person who is a non believer and informs you they do not like to discuss the topic then you crossed the line. I think many people that are religious want to bring God into other peoples lives to help them and sometimes it may be pushed too far, but other times a non believer may change their belief because they may have never grown up in a religious home and never really got to learn much about religion or they may have had somethnig horrible happen to them and they choose not to believe and many religious people seek to help these people, I think it is wrong to try to influence. Some people go WAY overboard with talking about God in public and even religious people who believe in God can get offended. But if you choose to praise him in your daily life thats your choice just as it is if you choose not to. If a believer says something to a non believer about a touchy subject I think this is only sometimes ok if you either are unaware of their beliefs or non beliefs or if you are close friends and are able to have these discussions despite the difference in beliefs. If that makes any sense at all. Another thing I think people should speak up if you are offended by someone saying something you should tell them because otherwise they are going to continue to do this and not realize it is offending anyone. I couldn't watch the video much but I was able to read what you wrote about ridiculing someone about religion and I had to post my opinion it may be a little off subject but my overall point is that you should not ridicule anyone about their religion, but you should not be looked down upon if you choose to try to open somones eyes to what you have gained by being a believer if they say they are ok with that... Also I think its good if you ever are in public and want to discuss an experience to say my higher power whom I choose to call God, like they do in AA meetings, this atleast shows respect for people who are non believers of God.

November 14, 2012 7:21 PM  

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