I don’t think the New Atheists are bad people. I really don’t. I think the contrary, that they are deeply moral people. But moral conviction is not enough. To answer Sam Harris: Doing the right thing is not a matter of deriving morality from the facts; it is a matter of combining morality with the facts. ——And until I get some sense that the New Atheists are going to show why their present strategy does not spell disaster down the road, why it is that they can mesh science and atheism as they do and not get into trouble in the courts when it comes to keeping creationism out of the schools, I will continue to regard them with contempt.This is extraordinary. It boils down to, "I think that some of the views of the Gnu Atheists could lead to a bad outcome (as well as being false). Therefore, I regard these deeply moral individuals with contempt."
See what he did there?
I'll be responding formally to Ruse over at the ABC religion/ethics portal, which gets many, many times as much traffic as I get here. But I couldn't let that statement go. When you think about it, it's outrageous. Just let it soak in for a minute.
(The fact that the bad outcome would only arise from some very bad legal reasoning is independently important, but beside the point I'm making here.)
I can't help (some supervillain with a mind control power obviously has me in thrall!!) observing that the relationship between the teaching of evolution and freedom of religion, as embodied in the US First Amendment and various other legal instruments, will be among the many issues discussed in my new book (working title Freedom of Religion and the Secular State) to be published by Wiley-Blackwell in late 2011/early 2012.
If I don't get to flog my book out of this, what's the world coming to?