I haven’t weighed in on the Larry Moran/Ed Brayton/etc. squabble over the different motives people have in the creationism wars. My feelings are well known, I’m in Ed’s camp, and I frankly don’t see why the Moran camp cares so much about what people believe. And I’m glad that I haven’t written anything, because Stranger Fruit said what I would have said:
to set the record straight, I am not a Theistic Evolutionist and never have been. I am an agnostic … due to intellectual humility as much as anything else. I was an atheist for a good period, and earned my stripes baiting the believers, but eventually realized that the pose being adopted by many (but definitely not all) atheists was, frankly, intellectually childish.
My agnosticism comes from thinking about the issues over the years, not from being a “wimp,” as you [Larry Moran] seem to imagine all that disagree with you are. My agnosticism allows me to work with whomever is willing (believers and atheists) to ensure that only science is taught in science class. Your form of atheism alienates people who share the same goals regarding science education. All for what? A sense of intellectual superiority? A persecution complex? That rebel streak? Sheer bloody-minded indifference to the fact that people don’t all think the same way as you?
…Doctrinaire certitude in ones own correctness is comforting: it is also a form of intellectual fundamentalism, a mindset that exactly mirrors that of Gish, Ham and fellow travelers. Some definition of “rationality”.
I would point out that John’s focus on science education, like mine, is driven by a deep belief in the importance of good education. Moran (and Dawkins, etc.) regard us as “appeasers” because we don’t see religion or religious belief as a bad thing a priori. Pat Hayes takes a different angle, and surveys the pragmatic damage done by the Moranites.
The only addition I’d make to the discussion thus far is to ask what we as a society gain if we were to eliminate religious belief, or just make religious belief less socially accepted. Wars would still be fought, groups of people would still cook up stupid reasons to try to oppress other people and to impose their untestable views of the world on other people. The desire to define opposing camps and to wage intellectual or physical war on the “other” is deeply ingrained in the human psyche.
Ed, Pat, John Lynch and I agree with Larry, Richard, Sam Harris and PZ Myers on every scientific, moral and political issue I’ve seen any of us discuss. Our only difference is whether we care about what people are thinking, or only how they behave. Why is it worth fighting over that? Not only do I fail to understand the “other side“s interest in beliefs, I fail to see their interest in drawing stark distinctions between themselves and another group of people who disagree with them about that topic.
Like John, I have to question the rationality of that approach to the world. Rational choice theory assumes that there is some benefit to be gained from a person’s actions. What is the perceived benefit here?