For the Ottawa Citizen, Dan Gardner asks just what is supposed to be so radical about Dawkins’ and other popular atheists’ views. Is it what they’re saying, or how they say it?
But just what is the core of Dawkins’ radical message? Well, it goes something like this: If you claim that something is true, I will examine the evidence which supports your claim; if you have no evidence, I will not accept that what you say is true and I will think you a foolish and gullible person for believing it so. That’s it. That’s the whole, crazy, fanatical package.
Why does fighting for sense and sensibility in full public view make someone a radical? Why do some claim that atheists are just as fundamentalist as the fundamentalists?
This is completely contrary to how we live the rest of our lives. We demand proof of even trivial claims (“John was the main creative force behind Sergeant Pepper”) and we dismiss those who make such claims without proof. We are still more demanding when claims are made on matters that are at least temporarily important (“Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction” being a notorious example).
Or is it, as I suspect, the mere fact that they’re saying it all? The strange truth is that questioning religion is still equated with the crossing of a cultural taboo — even (strangely) among agnostics.
We’ve had this discussion here before, but the “fundamental” difference bears repeating: Fundamentalists ask us to accept metaphysical claims without evidence; atheists ask us to question everything — even atheism.
Re-published with public comments on richarddawkins.net.