Saturday, July 9, 2011

Two Rational Thought Sites

Two of my friends from Rational Thought @UCSD, Jon Whitmore and Michael Caton, have some very insightful atheist websites that I'd like to plug.

First up is Jon's blog and resource site, Conversational Atheist. The purpose of the site is to teach atheists how to better engage religious arguments. The basic strategy he uses throughout the site is to continually give ground to believers on unimportant issues for the sake of argument, so he can take a stand on the more important issues. For example, in response to "Hitler was an atheist!":
"Hitler may not have been an atheist, but I am willing to go along with you on this because either way we have a point of agreement here! Commanding genocide is immoral – are you willing to condemn the God of the Old Testament for commanding genocide?
"We both agree, the God of the Bible is as immoral as Hitler and Stalin, right?
"Or perhaps you want to say that genocide is only 'sometimes' wrong?"
It's tempting to combat the theist on every incorrect point (Hitler criticized Christianity but still identified himself as Catholic). But these points often distract from the big ones, the real reasons people hold onto their beliefs. If we make those the points of contention, we're much more likely to make them rethink their position. Jon's website has pages for both general tactics and for articles on specific issues within Christianity and Islam. I especially like his "Word of Zeus" strategy, which uses a comparison to another religion to illustrate the problems with the one in question.

The second site is The Lucky Atheist, a blog that covers not just atheism, but skepticism in general. There are some very thorough and thought-provoking posts that clearly and cogently tackle subjects ranging from the possibility that theism could lead to greater happiness, to the problems bad critical thinking causes in my hometown of San Diego.

What I like about Michael's blog is that it often finds a unique angle or viewpoint to a story that I would never have thought of. It's nice to get different views rather than the continual echo chamber that makes up a large portion of the atheist community. And since he's in the field of medicine, he has the expertise to add his insightful commentary on topics like the fundamental flaws that pervade medical conspiracy theories.

On an unrelated note, I'll be on vacation from now until the end of the month—although I have a couple of posts scheduled during that time so things don't go completely dead. I'll be back in August!

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