Our Latest Secular Altercation

The antagonistic conversation that is currently filling up secular blogs and Facebook posts has many of us deeply evaluating our own points of view. There have been many valid points made but the conversation has often been reduced to trivialities that undermine the very important issues at hand. And the divisiveness has been ugly and disturbing.

As a committed feminist, pro-choice, left of liberal in my politics I am being confounded by this discussion in a way I have never encountered before. I disagree with everyone! I feel angry at everyone. First I will confront a few issues directly.

I believe that Silverman has inflated his position in the atheist community and therefore has a responsibility to keep his personal politics to himself. At least when he is speaking at a national organization on behalf of AA. I understand the desire to let conservatives know that there are atheists of all stripes politically. But using hot button social issues as part of this discourse was ill advised. By doing so he moved the conversation away from what he was trying to accomplish and simply created a lot of bad feeling in every corner.

I think that Alquist suggesting that he “pulled the rug out from women” was overblown and not very accurate. We lose ground when we overstate our case.

I think that Croft went in too many circles trying to placate too many people.

I think that Pigliucci was too flip and sarcastic to be taken seriously when he could have written a more thoughtful and effective piece. I have personally engaged on this issue with him and I think he has a lot more to offer to the discussion. (Massimo came out with this very thoughtful postscript later)

I think that Christina was too divisive and judgmental and that she is creating an environment where thoughtful discourse becomes impossible.

Within our community we must have these conversations. We need to examine the ethical arguments on a host of issues. As committed atheists we need to find our own voices when it comes to ethics, no longer granting the ethical high ground to religion and religious leaders. And this means we need to be able to hash out these very touchy issues with each other in rational and respectful ways. When we attack each other with anger even though at the very root we often agree we not only lose ground but we put a rift in the community that may never heal.

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