This week I’m honored to have Seth Andrews, host of The Thinking Atheist, on board to talk about atheism and some critical thoughts about the atheist community and the pros and cons of belief vs disbelief. Here are the questions we discuss:
(1) Our modern conception of science and religion actually have a common root in philosophy, which is simply the love of knowledge. Religion is not simply a collection of prayers and worship services, but historically has been a way of searching for answers as to how and why things work in the same way many of us today think about science. Up until the 1700s, science wasn’t even a thing but was actually called “natural philosophy.” I think atheists either don’t know this or like to ignore it and badmouth religious thought and ideas because these ideas assault their understanding of how things are. What do you think?
(2) In looking at science and religion, we talk about the fact that science answers certain questions, philosophy and religion address others and it can get tricky and even stupid to try to mix these things, such as when fundamentalists try to assert intelligent design as a reasonable scientific alternative to teaching evolution in school. What do you think? Are science and religion mutually exclusive or are they actually wholly different fields which shouldn’t be trying to mix?
(3) Some atheists and secularists get confused and even outraged about scientists or technically trained people who maintain religious beliefs. How can a doctor or engineer or even an evolutionary biologist hold on to kooky religious beliefs about God and the Bible? Yet, some do. Do you think that secular thought and a scientific understanding of the world necessarily go hand-in-hand?
(4) When confronted with facts or evidence that dispute or disprove someone’s ideas, a good skeptic or critical thinker should acknowledge those facts and change their mind. Yet we’ve found that facts can be misinterpreted, evidence can be falsified and people can simply make mistakes. What does this mean for skeptics on both sides of the religious equation? When do we decide that something is “settled science”?
(5) Your background and experience is in audio/visual communication and promotion. What do you see are the goals of the broad atheist community at large and what do you see as the biggest problems with how the atheist community is going about achieving these?
Seth Andrews podcast is available here.