One of the things I like the most about being a member of the freethought community is the fact that we, as members, prize debate and conversation above fawning civility. At least on the internet – maybe people are very different in meatspace. There are no sins in the freethoughtverse, except offering up a shitty argument. Doing that breaks the unwritten commandment of being a rational person: thou shalt not be boring. The inevitable outcome of a group of people all communicating with each other at the level of logical discourse is that oftentimes we see knock-down drag-out conflict over seemingly minor disagreements. Some people bemoan this fact – I revel in it. One of the ways we know that we are freethinking is when we disagree with each other – even those we deeply respect and whose views we otherwise share.
It is with that in mind that I say that I think PZ got this one wrong:
But freethinkers ought not to be shackled by rote and rites. And they especially should not be led by “chaplains” or whatever the hell they’re going to call them. No gods, no masters, no dogma, and no goddamned priests…not even atheist priests.
This was the conclusion of his post responding to an idea by Greg Epstein to create humanist ‘churches’ – secular institutions that perform the function that religious churches do, in much the same way. While I didn’t see the issue the way he did (I thought it was a nifty idea), I have been a Pharyngula reader long enough to know that I will get my ass handed to me for straw-manning or otherwise misrepresenting PZ’s position on an issue, so I waited to get a fuller explanation as to what the exact nature of his objection was. I participated briefly in the discussion on Twitter about the idea, but it quickly turned into a debate over optics and semantics, and I tuned out. Then I read this: [Read more…]