June 16, 2014

Different Opinions Are Often Thought-Provoking

Thinking
Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn DeLight (back again))
I have referenced the writing of Chris Stedman (Faitheist at Religion News Service) here a few times. I enjoy reading Chris' work even though I disagree with much of what he says. Wait, what? No, that was not a typo. I enjoy much of Chris' work not because I agree with it but because I find it thought-provoking. Sure, sometimes this means that it provokes me to think about why I disagree with him on some point. But even in those cases, I find that it usually provides me with some insight into a fairly different way of looking at religion.

I think it is good for us to be exposed - or to expose ourselves - to ideas different from our own. Those of us who are atheists living in religious areas may feel like we get more than enough of this from religious believers; however, there is great diversity within the atheist community itself. It can be helpful to explore that, as we are probably more likely to learn something of value from people who are not mirror images of ourselves.

Chris certainly has his critics in the atheist community. For examples, see this post by Chris Hallquist (the uncredible HALLQ) or this one by JT Eberhard (What Would JT Do?). The idea that atheists should participate in interfaith work is itself rather controversial. Some see it as a way to advance work on common goals; others view it as little more than a way to enable religion to continue its destructive ways (see Big Question 1: Anti-Theism vs. Secularism for more on that).

I believe that one of the highest compliments a blogger can receive is that his or her work is often thought-provoking. Sure, it is nice to hear that someone agrees with something we've written, but I'd much rather hear that something I wrote has stimulated some thought. And while Chris and I do seem to have rather different views of atheism and how atheists should think about religion, his writing often makes me think. That's why I keep reading.

Here are a few posts in which I have referenced Chris Stedman's work:
The only sort of atheist community I am interested in being a part of is one that has room for many different ideas, including those with which I am likely to disagree. I don't want to encounter nothing but my own opinions when I interact with other atheists. I want to be exposed to diverse viewpoints, including different political orientations and different thoughts on how (and if) atheists might work with religious believers to pursue the common good.
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