Monday, January 1, 2007

Our Message to the "Courageous Faithful"

We call religious believers who welcome a good challenge to their faith the "courageous faithful". We want you to know that above all else the authors of this website and podcast are dedicated to critical thinking. We are not dogmatic ministers of atheism, agnosticism, or secular humanism. We just happen to think skepticism towards theology and the supernatural are the necessary result of thinking critically about these issues. But our minds could be changed if presented with sufficient evidence. We know there are many religious believers who strive to be good critical thinkers (like yourself, for example. Why else would you be reading this?) We know this because we have been raised and educated by thoughtful religious people. They are our co-workers, relatives and friends. Everyone who contributes this website/podcast once considered themselves a "born-again" Christian. We are intimately familiar with what we are criticizing, and we know that even the worst actions of fundamentalists and religious extremists begin with good intentions. That is why we attack ideas and not people (except maybe a few who really deserve it-which shouldn't trouble you. Even the bible holds knowledgeable people to a higher standard). We think we have more in common with the "courageous faithful" than some of the so-called "skeptics" who know little to nothing about the character or beliefs of the people they are attacking. That doesn't mean were open-minded though; not if "open minded" means looking favorably on a position which has poor or no evidence supporting it. We have very high standards for what passes for truth. We take pride in our commitment to reason and we wont compromise our standards to spare anyones feelings. We do, however, strive to be fair-minded. We endeavor to always give the other side a fair hearing and to never misrepresent a position just because we disagree. So we may not always seem nice, and you are sure to be offended by some of what we say. But we trust you wouldn't have it any other way. We know from personal experience how much courage and emotional strength it takes to seek out critiques of a belief that you care about--so we know you don't need us to sanitize or sugar coat it for you. Because we respect you as a critical thinker, and we value debate over diatribe, its only fair that you be able to challenge us in return. We encourage you to take part in our conversation by e-mailing us your questions and comments, and arguments and rebuttals as well as posting comments to our blog. Who knows, you might just change our minds (ok, so thats not too likely...but it's happened before). And even if you don't, we know that everyone who is dedicated to truth will have gained something from the exchange (iron sharpens iron). Please CHALLENGE US. We do not want to just preach to choir. Please HELP KEEP US ACCOUNTABLE. We want to have a reputation for being firm but also fair. We look forward to hearing from you, as we participate together in one of the greatest dialogs of our time.

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P.S. Just so you know, what is said above is only intended for religious believers with respect for reason, evidence, and fair-minded dialog. Uncritical dogmatists, un-apologetic enemies of reason/science, and most southern baptists can disregard this message...if mouth breathing de-evolved cave-dwellers such as yourselves are even able to read it.