Something I’m ambivalent about:
On the one hand, there’s the value of being reasonable, and trying to see all sides of a question. There’s the value of not getting things wrong by being too one-sided; by confirmation bias; by seeing everything the way you see everything and so becoming blind to other ways of seeing everything. That’s different from the more political value of giving everybody a fair hearing, and letting people pursue the good in their own way as far as is compatible with the rights of others. The value I mean is epistemic and cognitive.
On the other hand there’s the value of countering a very loud, dominant, hegemonic, majoritarian, conformist brand of conventional wisdom.
Those two things are in tension. Hence my ambivalence.
On the one hand, as an atheist I think I have a duty to try to consider ways in which theism can be a good thing. On the other hand, as an atheist I also think I have a duty to help spread the minority view that theism is on the whole a bad thing, especially with regard to free inquiry.
Those two things are in tension.
The trouble is, there are already whole trainloads of people willing and eager to say that theism is wonderful and atheists suck. There are whole trainloads of people like that even in the UK and Australia and Canada and other places lucky enough to be more secular than the US, but in the US they also have a firm grip on the mainstream.
Given that fact I think we need a lot of unadulterated atheism just to make atheism more available. From that point of view, I actually don’t want to talk about ways in which theism can be a good thing. I want to insist that conventional wisdom notwithstanding, it isn’t.
But there’s always the nagging little voice in my ear droning away about confirmation bias and group psychology.
It’s a pain in the ass.