CFI: Home to Both Atheist Fundamentalists and Religion-Loving Wankers?

April 14, 2010

Michael De Dora has written another thought-provoking blog post. He makes some interesting points, some valid, some perhaps not. But I’m not here either to defend or criticize the substance of Michael’s post. He is capable of his own defense and as far as criticism goes — well, there seems to be a surplus of criticism.

Of course, Michael’s views, just like the views of anyone else, are properly subject to close examination and criticism. So I have no complaints about those who criticize the substance of Michael’s post. However, I do want to make a couple of observations about some of this criticism, in particular a blog post by PZ Myers .

First, I find it remarkable that in the space of a few months, CFI is alleged to have been taken over by "atheist fundamentalists" and then by those who are wishy-washy about religion. Was there a coup and then a counter-coup of which I was unaware? Both aspersions, of course, lack empirical support, and it is regrettable to see them being made by two learned individuals, Paul Kurtz and PZ Myers, who claim to base their beliefs on evidence.

The individuals who write for CFI’s blog are, for the most part, CFI staffers and, therefore, subscribe to CFI’s mission statement. Beyond that, they have their own views, including their own views about how best to advance our mission. The posts on our blog, Free Thinking , represent their own personal views, not the views of CFI (as the "About" page for the blog makes clear). We wouldn’t want it any other way. One of CFI’s core principles is a commitment to robust free expression. Reviewing each blogger’s contributions before they are posted to ensure they adhere to some management-dictated party line would be inconsistent with that commitment. It would also undercut one of the goals of the blog, which is to generate discussion among atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and humanists about issues of interest to them. Given the response to Michael’s posts, he seems to be contributing to that goal.

Contrary to what PZ Myers has suggested, CFI does not stand for the "Church of Fatuous Incompetence." Among other things, we’re not a church. We don’t all sing the same tiresome hymn and recite the same tiresome creed –we don’t have a creed — day in and day out. And with respect to competence, perhaps I am biased, but I would rank the overall quality of CFI’s bloggers as very high.

Finally, let me note that PZ’s post is, how shall I put it, a bit hormonal in tone. I took exception to Paul Kurtz for smearing CFI, justifiably I believe, and I believe it is appropriate to take Myers to task for his intemperate tone. "Witless wanker"? Oh, come on. Are we still in junior high? Insults are easy, mindless ways to pump up the home crowd, but at the end of the day they usually function as substitutes for argument. They certainly contribute nothing to the exchange of ideas.

Maybe that’s the real issue some have with Free Thinking. On Free Thinking , one usually finds arguments, not invective or snarky observations. Apparently, there are other blogs where you can find that.