Monday, September 17, 2007

Strategy Review: Promoting Science

In a post Why Pairing Science and Atheism is High-Brow, John Young advocates doing little to antagonize the religious in the name of science because religious moderates hold the balance of political power in their hands, patience and refraining from upsetting others in talking about the relationship between science and religion.

I had written on this subject previously, in a post called The Culpability of the Moderates.

That post was built around a quote from Martin Luther King who, at the time, was sitting in a jail in Birmingham, Alabama.

Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied.

The arguments in that post still apply here.

It is difficult, at best, to argue (for example) that slaves could have ended slavery by making their masters feel as comfortable as possible and refusing to alienate them, or that the problem with the holocaust is that the Jews did not show sufficient respect for the Aryans.

Politicians, I have argued need to try to form an alliance of "the best 51% of voters". In America, this means including a substantial percentage of religious Americans in their majority coalition. At the same time that I condemn certain religious attitudes, I recognize that this disqualifies me for public office. The public office winner will be the one that unites 51% of the population against the other 49%. My hope is that they will be able to unite the best 51% against the worst 49%.

If atheists support reason and truth - this happens to be one of those truths that we have to accept. However, that is the job of the politician.

Each of us has a role to play. Different roles mean different objectives. One of the reasons, I would suggest, why different means all seem to make sense is because these different means are being used in the pursuit of different ends.

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