I'd like to return, over the next couple of days, to this piece by Scott Aikin and Robert B. Talisse that was published by 3quarksdaily back in February. This is not because I want to have a further shot at Aikin and Talisse, but because what went on here seems to me like it may be a teachable moment, or at least a moment we can all learn from. The new book from these authors, Reasonable Atheism, looks interesting, and it's one that I look forward to reading (especially if the publishers think to send me a review copy).
In particular, I'm not at all out of sympathy with the project of producing the best possible formulations and incremental developments of the case against theism and religion (which are not quite the same thing). The task that Aikin and Talisse appear to have set themselves is an important one that must go on. I also agree with their point that it's better to treat opponents with respect ... although I may be quicker than they are to discern limits to respect.
From everything I've seen so far, Aikin and Talisse are not accommodationists in any sense in which I'd want to employ that term, and I think it's unfortunate that they end up accepting the term, even when giving it a stipulated definition that would also make me, Richard Dawkins, and almost anyone else in the "New Atheist" camp an accommodationist. I'll return to this ... but in any even they are not what I understand by the word "accommodationists" and in my humble opinion it only creates confusion if someone applies the term to them or they embrace it. At the end of the day, they appear to be valuable allies in the ongoing struggle to reduce the social footprint of religion.
So let's assume - at least for the sake of argument, if you don't agree with the above - that Aikin and Talisse are good guys. What went wrong last month and what can we learn from this situation? By "we", I include Aikin and Talisse themselves. What could we all have done differently? I'm looking for constructive comments here.