I’ve always quite liked Hemant Mehta and thought he was generally thoughtful and certainly a decent chap. But I tired of what often seemed like a mawkishly accomodationist stance and stopped reading his blog some time ago.
He’s changed his mind though. It’s moving stuff.
While a lot of people in my life know me as an atheist, the battle I used to fight involved getting the religious people to agree with me on other issues and finding common ground there.
I don’t have that problem anymore. Instead, a new problem has emerged.
Now, the battle is over when I should bring up religion with people who might agree with me on everything else. Do I fight with my friends over topics like religion? Should I argue with my parents about god’s existence? At least in my own life, no good can come from these things.
But I’m getting more vocal… I’m trying, anyway.
It seems so easy for PZ and Coyne to say these things because people already know them to be anti-accommodation.
It’s a lot harder when you’ve tried to build bridges with religious people and now risk tearing them apart.
I know what he means. I think most atheists do. It was hard for me to stop vaguely pretending to my parents that I’d become an atheist, let alone a grumpy and uncompromising one. There’s a genuine hurdle to get over. We’re brought up to feel bad when we don’t give undue respect to religious beliefs. But I think it’s only when we let go of that instinct that we can really start to think clearly about our lack of belief.
For me, the change in attitude came sometime in the mid 80s. Atheists and agnostics I knew kept saying things like “I don’t believe in any religions, but I respect them.” This immediately seemed an astonishing thing to say. What was there to respect? And why were they deserving of respect? It sounds silly in today’s climate, but I struggled with these ideas for quite a while. There weren’t many people saying stuff like this back then. And I was only a kid.
I really don’t want to sound patronising, but I hope that Hemant is now entering an awesome new world. I’m sure he’ll still be friendly. I don’t think for a moment that he’ll maraud about the place offending people for the sake of it. But hopefully he’ll no longer pull his punches.
The world just got a little bit more interesting.