Yeah, I saw Rosenau’s post. It’s very bizarre. Among its many problems are these:First, Rosenau blatantly and inexcusably misrepresents Jerry's position on the NCSE - a position that Jerry has always stated with total clarity. If Rosenau has an ounce of intellectual honesty, he'll apologise for this immediately and without reservation.
1. Josh appears not to realize that “accommodationism” is simply the view that science and religion can be reconciled. Period. Has it ever been defined otherwise? And I certainly did not espouse that view at the Methodist church; in fact, I said just the opposite – and very clearly, too. Only a fool can claim that what I said was “accommodationist.”
2. Josh seems to think that all of us Gnus advocate being nasty and in-your-face to religious people. That’s crazy; nobody has ever advocated that, least of all myself. So if I talk to religious people and am civil, that certainly doesn’t abrogate my views about religion. Why does Rosenau see that as some kind of hypocrisy?
3. Josh seems to think that we Gnus argue that the NCSE shouldn’t address religion. He’s wrong again: I, at least, think the NCSE shouldn’t take the theological position that faith is consistent with science. And the NCSE should limit its discussion about faith to saying that there are a variety of views about the consilience of science and faith and somebody in conflict should consult his/her minister. People like Larry Moran, P.Z., and I have been saying this for years, but it doesn’t seem to have penetrated Josh’s consciousness.
4. Most of us concentrate our anti-religious efforts on the inimical effects of faith, particularly on those faiths that do real damage in the world. It’s not hypocritical to say that some faiths are better than others, and do more good things than others.
5. Clearly, when I said that religion was on peoples’ minds because of the Gnus, I meant people’s minds in general – not religious people’s minds! What I said was this:
. . .thanks to the Gnu Atheists religion is on many people’s minds, and I welcome the chance to speak my mind.
That’s why, I think, that when I talk about my book before students or the general public, everyone wants to know if evolution (or science) can be reconciled with faith. I think that’s largely attributable to Gnu Atheist writings.
Josh’s post is so muddled, so confused, so willfully wrong, that I’m stymied. I can’t figure out if he’s just completely muddleheaded or if he’s intellectually dishonest. Or maybe both. . .
But the real take home point is that accommodationism is not necessarily "nice". As Rosenau demonstrates by example, accommodationists can be as snarky, unfair, and obsessed with scoring cheap points as anyone else. And those of us in the broadly anti-accommodationist camp, who see a genuine and serious difficulty in reconciling a worldview based on science and reason with worldviews based on religion, are not thereby nasty. I see nothing in Jerry's original post that recants his anti-accommodationist position or shows him backing away from it in his dealings with liberal Methodists. What I see is a further demonstration, if one were needed, that anti-accommodationist positions can be as careful, subtle, and, alas yes, "nuanced" as any other intellectual positions.
When I spoke to a group of progressive evangelicals last year - a group nowhere near as theologically liberal as the group Jerry met with - I had much to say in their praise. That doesn't mean that I thereby turned into an accommodationist. It means that I give credit where it's due, as Jerry did.
What really pisses me off about Rosenau's approach is its "heads-I-win-tails-you-lose" mentality. If we show the slightest degree of aggression towards the religious, we are attacked for being, well, basically, nasty. If we are polite, thoughtful, and give credit where it's due, we're accused of abandoning our substantive positions. This is plain unfair. It stinks like the proverbial dead cat.