Atheism is a contentious subject and as President of the American Atheists, David Silverman is an outspoken and proud advocate for atheism. In this episode, we talk about what hardcore atheism is and what it isn’t. While I know that I have a very controversial guest who I am positive is going to make some of you very angry, I hope you will give the full podcast a listen. Critical thinking involves looking and listening to alternative points of view. Politically, I think most of you know I lean left of center but everyday I watch Fox News as well as CNN and MSNBC and I pay close attention to my right-leaning friends on social media, the articles they post and what they have to say. I wouldn’t be much of a critical thinker if I just put my hands over my ears and cried everytime someone said something I didn’t like. Echo chambers aren’t great places to learn or grow so I always encourage listening to opposing points of view. Maybe the result is that you are more certain of your existing views or opinions but at least you don’t have to wonder what the other guys are saying.
Now as an atheist, I am not a believer in god or gods and I put myself very firmly in the atheist camp. However, I think of myself as a moderate because I advocate for a tolerance of belief. It’s not up to me to tell you how to think or what to think. I see my role as more of an educator and it’s up to you what you want to do with the information I give you. As an atheist, though, I very strongly believe in the separation of church and state. Frankly, I’ve been somewhat disappointed in the atheist community’s insularity on this, because they take on this issue as though they are the only ones who care about it and that’s not true. As crazy as this may sound to some atheists, I think that atheists can accomplish their goals faster and easier when it comes to separation of church and state by joining forces with like-minded religious groups. For those of you who don’t know, there are Christians and other religious groups who are very much in support of the legal separation of church and state and who advocate for it. I’d like to see more atheists work with those groups to move that ball down the road, but so far no atheists I’ve talked to seem at all interested in doing that. Believe it or not, we get more done together than apart and on this issue, we need all the help we can get, especially with the current political administration.
I like a lot of what Dave is doing and I agree with much of what he has to say but not everything. I wanted to bring him on my show because I wanted to see what the limits were on tolerance and understanding of belief from one of atheism’s most ardent advocates. When it comes to a total intolerance of religious belief, I cannot go there and I don’t think that it’s smart for atheists to either. However, I also understand that in any movement there are going to be people who have views that are about as absolute as you can get and for the atheists, Dave is that person. We discuss this during the interview amongst many other things.
Music by Pale Blue.