Are Atheists Fundamentalists? Part I

Many of the pro-science bloggers I read attended or closely followed the science conference Evolution 2010, and apparently during at least one panel things degenerated into atheist bashing.

BlagHag reports that it started out okay [We should be careful] choosing our wording as to not confuse others... Don't say you "believe" in evolution, don't call it "Darwinism," don't say you have "faith" in science, etc.

Unfortunately the attitude quickly came up that scientists should distance themselves from any atheist viewpoints.  The proponents of this want to win over more people by enthusiastic accommodation, or even outright encouragement, of evolution as a theistic rather than natural process. To these accommodationists, it seems like atheists are as extreme as fundamentalist theists. But is that perception true? Are both ends of the spectrum always extreme, the middle always right?

Most of the evolution deniers I've talked to have implied or even come out and said that they can't accept evolution because it contradicts their bible. No amount of evidence or logic will convince them, because in their mind evolution is atheism (at best a theist who accepts evolution is misguided and led astray from the inerrant truth of the bible).

"No matter what you say you can never make me stop believing" I've heard some say. When I was witnessed to last month the evangelist told me "Whether you are convinced by my testimony, ignore it, or respond to me with hate and anger doesn't matter. I have succeeded, for I have done what the Lord asks and planted his seed in you."  So no matter what, theist fundamentalists will refuse to change their minds, they see truth from their book, not from evidence in the natural world.

On the other hand New Atheists are arguing that people should think for themselves. We happily say "convince me" or "show me the evidence." If there is sufficient evidence we will change our minds with confidence that we are justified in doing so. Many atheists even have public lists of what would convince them of a god.

Are these two positions even remotely comparable? I'm all for introducing science education in a way that doesn't force a choice between science and religious beliefs, but lets be reasonable.

There is no evidence for a seven day creation 6,000 years ago. There is no evidence that the Sun orbits the Earth and that the Moon creates its own light. There is no evidence that Adam and Eve and a talking snake were real. There is no evidence that the hand of someone's god reached down and guided the mutations and selections of the evolutionary process so that it would inevitably result in humans.

We're not being irrational or stubborn for not believing in these things. We care about our beliefs being true and we won't accept beliefs if we find that we lack good reasons for them. All we are doing is applying the scientific process and concluding that we have no justification to believe those things. If you demonize atheists for being contrary to believers, you're not really trying to reconcile science and religion, you're trying to win a popularity contest.

In search of reason,


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