mooney and co. vs. the new atheists

Most people in a hole know to stop digging. Mooney and Kirshenbaum are bringing in heavy mining equipment and redoubling their efforts.

frustrated cry

Usually when you’ve managed to dig a hole for yourself during an argument, you don’t bring in heavy mining machinery and redouble your efforts. But then again, you have to realize what you’re doing and after all the debates and even a toxic spoof that tries to embody all the criticism of their book, neither Mooney or Kirshenbaum seem to grasp that maybe they went off on the wrong track. Instead, they decided to lambast Richard Dawkins’ anticipated book about evolution before it comes out.

It will surely be an impressive display, as Dawkins excels at making the case for evolution. But it’s also fair to ask: Who in the United States will read Dawkins’ new book (or ones like it) and have any sort of epiphany, or change his or her mind?

Surely not those who need it most: America’s anti-evolutionists. These religious adherents often view science itself as an assault on their faith and doggedly refuse to accept evolution because they fear it so utterly denies God that it will lead them, and their children, straight into a world of moral depravity and meaninglessness. An in-your-face atheist touting evolution, like Dawkins, is probably the last messenger they’ll heed.

via the Los Angeles Times

At this point one wonders if they’re actually in touch with the real world anymore. After they say exactly why American creationists reject the science behind evolutionary biology, do they honestly expect them to go out and buy books by a nice enough author and change their minds? Are people who think that science is a gateway to the evils of atheism going to run out and change their minds if you sweet talk them a little before hitting them on the head with the hard evidence? They’ll just decry it as a bait and switch. Audiences that willfully stick their fingers in their ears and scream really loud not to hear the world around them, aren’t going to accept science just because we give them a lollipop and pat them on the back while nodding with a serious expression as we tell them that their views fit perfectly with the modern world.

But this is exactly what Mooney and Kirshenbaum want scientists to do. According to them, instead of “simply declaring a holy war on religion,” vocal atheists should pipe down and scientists should be telling everyone that science and religion are perfectly compatible even though they differ at their very core. So what happens when the oh so very nice scientists tell religious fundamentalists that evolution doesn’t seem to require a supernatural creator? Or that life is a series of persistent biochemical reactions? Or that the only tangible thing about religious faith is the belief of its followers? What then? Well, our self-appointed masterminds of faith/science relations didn’t develop their train of thought that far.

Of course, we should point out that Mooney doesn’t spend all his time on a high horse. Why after an interview with The Young Turks on Air America, he thought it was “kinda fun to bash Republicans and the religious right again” less than two weeks after he sternly warned that the internet’s vocal atheists are just motivated by culture war instincts and don’t invest enough in civil dialogue that’s necessary to build bridges between scientists and the public. However, it’s ok when he publicly bashes political parties and the religious people he lambasted in The Republican War on Science and now tries to defend from those evil godless heathens. He doesn’t have to practice what he preaches because after all, he just wrote the books.

# science // atheism / books / religion / science education

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