Some Commentary on "War on Easter" FAQ
Are you worried that the tone of your campaign will cost you your credibility?
As the author Sam Harris points out in this interview, ridicule is a potent weapon. And political correctness has not exactly been effective in keeping religion in check to date.
I'd introduced myself in another entry here.
First of all, I want to extend my thanks to Sapient for his warmth and generosity in sending me a copy of the DVD. As agreed, it will be my intent to make its content more accessible to Christians, and it is my hope that this will encourage them to become intellectually engaged with their faith rather than remain content to sub-cultural confinement. It is also my hope that this in turn will encourage more open discussion where all sides of the matter can offer their best case on equal ground.
Because I haven't seen the content of this production yet, I'll withold any remarks on that, so instead I'd rather focus my attention now on the methodology upon which "Rational Responders" is motivating its adherents.
To wit, I'm a bit concerned about the final question in the FAQ section. Ridicule just does not strike me as an intellectually respectable maneuver in any debate. The justification for this, according to Harris and his disciples, is that political correctness has just been too ineffective. Does this mean that the skeptical community is beginning to loosen its grip on the merits of rational discussion, instead turning to thought-coercion by relying on less-than-honorable tactics of intimidation?
The problem with resorting to a-rational (even fallacious) methods of persuasion is there doesn't seem to be any limits to what lengths an atheist may feel free to go to just to degrade the personal dignity of a believer... and why? Because the beliefs he holds to are religious in nature? This more "civilized" form of torture seems more consonant with a modern-day grand inquisition... not exactly the kind of image I'd expect the more intelligent sector of society to espouse, is it?
Sam might have a few good points concerning the dangers of uncritical acceptance of certain religious beliefs, but it strikes me as a bit cowardly to abandon reasoning with the opposing side altogether. Shouldn't the main goal of any proponent be that of convincing their counterpart of the truth of their proposition, and not resort to mental or psychological coercion?