The Things That Keep Us Going in the Face of Adversity
There is a quote from Dr. Albert Ellis in which I find some solace: "By not caring too much about what people think, I'm able to think for myself and propagate ideas which are very often unpopular. And I succeed." For some reason, it makes me feel less alone in this quest to expose religion for the fraudulent and dangerous idealogy that it is. The fact is, though, that without our community of people behind us, we would never be able to continue doing this.
We've grown pretty thick skins over the past two years, but an endless stream of criticism and insults gets to you no matter who you are. In the end, our controversial approach has acheived exactly what we intended and more. We've had a ton of publicity: We've been in periodicals, tv shows, respectable radio shows, and magazines. Our website is currently the number one atheist website in the world according to Alexa, and has been number one in the US for quite some time. Of course, some of that traffic is people who hate us, but we have still managed to acheive more in the 2 years that we've been around than others have in 20. Even if you disagree with our tactics, you can't deny that we get people talking.
Now, I'm not trying to blow my own horn here, but just giving the readers some perspective. We aren't perfect--we're normal human beings who make mistakes and try to learn from them. Despite any of our successes or failures, it seems that no matter how hard we try to explain the "method behind the madness" to people, they just don't get it. That's why seeing this blog post today was refreshing and exhilirating. It's so rare that somebody, on their own, gets it.
My Public Endorsement of The Rational Response Squad
That’s right, there it is.
What is the Rational Response Squad, well in a nutshell they are a group of mostly young people (though age is no barrier) who set forth to promote rationality in our society.
Sounds pretty harmless , that is until you figure out they consider the biggest irrationality out there to be religion.
I have religious friends, many of you read this blog. Look I have no hostility towards you, but I do believe that what we think should be justifiable with evidence. This tends to put me on the side of the fence that says okay so you believe in God, why? And then as you answer about personal experiences I tend to think about well understood psychological mechanisms of misattribution, that is, to think something is causing something which it is not causing. Or you talk about the bible, and I think about how many other religions there are and how they have as much of a claim to the exclusive information on the creator as you do.
Some of you who are religious have thought this through a lot more, and I respect that. I really do, some of you have come up with philosophical ideas that back up your relatively allegorical interpretations of scripture. Personally I have no quarrel with those of you that have taken this route. But the Rational Response Squad probably does.
And I think the Rational Response Squad is awesome! They take their views to the street and the net, with equal voracity.
One of their slogans is “Believe in God, we can fix that.” To some this may seem offensive, but infused within it is the intrinsic respect for all people that presumes that you will defer to reason if confronted with reason.*
When I believed in God I seriously took the position that I should not be afraid of dispassionate and constructive argument, or books. Or course my faith did not survive my open mind. But if you're on to something real than this should not intimidate you.
They also take on other frauds like Uri Geller, the spoon bending psychic from Israel, recently found on the show Phenomenon.**
My podcast takes a street level approach to talking about science, and I will fully submit, without a single doubt. I based the Mindcore podcast on the approach of the Rational Response Squad. I have heard interviews with these guys on the Humanist Network News, and Skepticality, and I have listened to their own podcast. They talk about philosophy, history, and science like these are topics best discussed with friends wherever you are, not exclusively academic issues. These people fight for thinking, but not formal education. That takes courage, balls, and passion.
So there you have it: I endorse the Rational Response Squad!
* This is a concept that we have been trying to elucidate since day one, but we have never done so as eloquently. That is precisely the intent. The content is hiding under a facade of ridicule--some of which is genuine, and also an effective tool against irrationality, in my opinion.
**I edited this sentence to reflect current status. The original was "currently to be found on the show phenomenon."