Over at HuffPo (by way of Friendly Atheist), I'm reading a shitty article/list in which "New Atheism" is listed as one of the top 10 most over-rated things of the decade. I'm on page 10/19 of the comments and I'm interested in comments referring to this caption for "New Atheism":
Dawkins’ book The God Delusion at least spends some time arguing why God doesn’t exist, based mainly on Charles Darwin’s theories. Darwin would probably be surprised that atheists talk about him so much, because he himself was not an atheist. Sure, there’s good reason to criticize religion and promote science… but exactly how does that prove that God doesn’t exist? [emphasis mine]
1st, I don't know why theists think we can prove there's no god or should try to, or that we're atheists to prove there's no god. 2nd, I can't get a great handle on whether or not Darwin was a theist or deist or what, but that's what's interesting. Theists and atheists both tried to claim him based on some quotes or biographical info. They don't get it. All atheism is, in a socially proactive way, is pointing out where theism intrudes on all the other important stuff. Keeping theistic beliefs from influencing one's studies. And if Darwin had some theistic beliefs influencing his studies, his studies were still sound enough for someone else to broaden and refine without a lot of god goo on it. He kept that separate.
Same could be said for the founding fathers. It's not important to me if any of them had beliefs in god(s), just that they could reasonably keep that shit out of our Constitution, and then to make particular note of their intent not to establish any particular religion, but also to preserve people's rights (thought police are bad). There is no dispute on their intent beyond what they published in the official document. Who cares if any of them fought for a different clause or to leave it out or other things they wrote. They're not part of the document.
I don't know why it's so important for people to claim someone for their side. If an individual keeps their beliefs out of their work, the work gets done, their beliefs aren't damaged - why would theists think they can claim any of these people, as if they have to have been atheists themselves? All atheism can do is keep theism out of science and law. We can hardly require the purity of the scientists and lawmakers to be atheistic as well - and just because they're theists doesn't mean we dismiss them! That's the point! That's the whole point. Never the twain shall meet. Individuals who know how to separate their Church from their State are perfect models for how this should work. Is it that scary, what we're trying to do?
We get this whole crap about trying to force people to believe in atheism, atheism requires just as much faith, and agnosticism is the only rational approach! Ding!
I had actually read some of the comments over there from agnostics and wondering if there might be something to it. At least from a PR standpoint, agnosticism might be a more approachable way to suggest to theists exactly where they are treading over the line without threatening their beliefs, and getting them back on their side of the line. Almost all theists and some atheists claimed that all atheists do is complain and never shut up and try to force people to believe in atheism. We might be able to talk a lot longer if we said we were an agnostic. I am usually one to say, let's help the world just get used to atheism and use that word a lot until they're not afraid of it anymore. Agnosticism IS our skinny edge of the wedge.