- Category: Theory
- Created on Wednesday, 09 July 2008 10:00
- Written by Nando
These comments first appeared under the name Nando in Debate Among Atheists #1 and Debate Among Atheists #2. They argue for a militant materialism rooted in an understanding of how religion is lived in the real world, as opposed to RCP's strategy which is focused on exposing the irrationalities and horrors found in the Bible. The posts have been edited here.
First, I think we should be militant materialists — in the sense that we uphold, promote and apply a worldview based on reality.
If oppressed people are going to change their conditions then on a very basic level they need to understand their world in a way that requires materialism. We need to “know things to change things” as our motto goes.
Second, I think that our tactics, how we “promote” our worldview, depends on who we are talking to, what the moment is, and what is going on in the larger society.
I certainly think it is appropriate (very important, really) to launch a counter-offensive when fundamentalists try to take evolution out of schools, and when a significant number of presidential candidates, and even the president himself, publicly say that they think religious myths should be taught to kids in science class.
I also think we should share our larger philosophical views (including atheism) with everyone, including progressive religious folks, as we go through political and social life. Encouraging that kind of ongoing open discussion over such crucial questions is the kind of movement (and society) we want.
Third, the heart of this debate, to me, raised by Bob Avakian’s abrasive anti-religious campaign and the 9 Letters critique of his view of religion, gets concentrated in the false dichotomies in the Observation piece: is true, then how we characterize people’s beliefs and their membership in churches, or their adherence to a religious identity varies — not because we are tailing them, but because our characterizations should flow from their actual nature (in both their particular and dynamic nature).
I think that religious views on the world represent the past, and atheist scientific views represent the future — in the sense that we can, and should, separate ethics from deism, and we can, and should, separate scientific explanations from mythology, and we can, and should, separate supportive social community from religious congregations.