I was very disappointed to read an article entitled Stand up for reason! written by James Merryweather over on the atheist blog The Freethinker.
Here’s a flavour:
I have a cunning plan. We non-believers should unobtrusively infiltrate church congregations. Each time the vicar or minister or priest or pastor or preacher says something daft (as they surely will), we should muster our courage, raise a hand, be recognised, stand up and politely ask him or her to justify or explain it. Of course, the congregation will gasp at the effrontery of it. They will turn and stare in disbelief and outrage. But we must stand our ground and not be intimidated by the implicit demand that we should, like them, pay respect to the cloth through dumb, unquestioning silence.
We potential bold contradictors can pick on these apocrypha and many other inconsistencies (syn. nonsense), and challenge the vicar to clarify the truth of the matter, and if s/he can’t, s/he should be encouraged to talk about something more meaningful.
If minister or Bible reader bleats on about the creation according to Genesis, take the side of evolution (first make sure you know the science, the Bible and creationist pseudoarguments). If he’s a moderate who has accepted the scientific fact but has mindlessly gone into biblical auto-run, he ought to be embarrassed when challenged and hopefully will pull himself together. If he’s a rabid creationist, prepare to enjoy a right old dingdong, but don’t get over excited. Conduct yourself with dignity and stand firm but fair in the authority of knowledge, intellect and reason. Don’t argue. Let him do the talking. He’ll soon tie himself in knots or trot out nuggets of familiar creationist misinformation about evolution that you can then tackle with a swift academic blow. If you can counter his bogus version of evolution concisely and with authoritative confidence (it’s quite easy really because they have only a few pat items of utter codswallop) you can sustain your gentle interrogation. Calmly but persistently ask questions to oblige him to deal with the science: “Why do you think that?” – “Is that what Darwin/Dawkins/Ridley says?” – “Are you certain that’s right?” as you reveal the established biological facts of which he has, inevitably, produced the usual false versions. But be prepared: even if you keep cool, the preacher and his flock might not and you could get thrown out. So why not have a press photographer in attendance?
There are many of us Christians standing against the more extreme elements in our Church. We systematically combat Fundamentalism, Biblical Literalism, Anti-Science, Dominionism, censorship; so forth and so on. If atheists wish to undermine these incremental steps forward then I heartedly suggest they adopt the aggressive and unnecessary tactics suggested above.
Leave the modernising to us Christians and allow us the room to challenge if we wish to do so.
As for the other matters of faith mentioned in the article, we are perfectly entitled to hold our beliefs – no matter how incredulous an atheist may deem them – and worship in peace within our own buildings, without being interrupted in order that justifications and explanations be given to those that hold our faith utterly contemptible.
A poor article indeed.