November 11, 2005

Solutions to the Problem of Faith: Progress so Far

Since I suggested that atheist bloggers start working together to identify possible solutions to the problem of faith, some great ideas have been put forward. In my original post, I envisioned a collaborate endeavor where solutions would emerge from cross-blog collaboration. It seems that this is exactly what has happened. In this post, I will summarize what has been suggested so far and offer some thoughts about what should happen next.

1. Educate people about the world's major religions (Evangelical Atheist). Conflict may be reduced through understanding, and fanaticism may diminish in the face of increased knowledge about other religious worldviews.

2. Develop an alliance with progressive Christians (Atheist Revolution, It Ain't Necessarily So..., Freethought Weekly). We share many common goals, and there is strength in numbers. Assuming that each side can be respectful of the other, this could be a powerful force of opposition to Christian extremism.

3. Attack belief in biblical inerrancy (The Uncredible Hallq). An important target that is clearly maladaptive and opposed by most Christians too, biblical inerrancy could be a good choice for our initial efforts.

4. Organize (Be Reasonable). The Christian right is one of the best organized political forces America has ever known. In order to mount effective opposition, we must learn to organize ourselves. Fortunately, there are a handful of viable pro-atheist organizations one can join.

5. Model the application of reason (Be Reasonable). Like any other problem we face, we should look to reason to generate solutions. To combat destructive faith, we apply the tools of science, philosophy, and history. In essence, we construct a meme of atheism to provide a viable alternative to religion.

6. Continue the critique of faith and encourage critical thinking (Meet An Atheist). We need to continue our critique and also look for opportunities to engage a wider audience. By planting a seed of doubt in people for whom doubt is unacceptable, we may spark critical inquiry. Of course, we also need to promote critical thinking in all our endeavors.

If I left anyone out, it was not intentional, and I'd be happy to add your contribution to the next post in this series. I am impressed with the ideas that have been generated so far, and I believe they provide us with an excellent starting point. Keep them coming!

In the early stages of a movement such as this, I believe that our initial focus should be on organization, including the development of strategic alliances with like-minded Christians, and increasing our political activity. It is time to get our critiques of faith a wider audience. Let your elected officials know how you feel and look for opportunities to write letters to the editor of your local paper or other publications with wider readership than our blogs. An ideal unifying theme would be separation of church and state, as this is one where we should find considerable support outside our community.

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