What’s causing the split? A debate over the best way to proselytize.
“Classic” atheists believe religious people should be treated with respect. For instance, old-school atheist Paul Kurtz founded the Center for Inquiry three decades ago to offer a positive alternative to religion. However he intentionally seeks common ground with religious groups, building alliances with them to tackle issues like climate change.
On the other hand, “neo-atheists” advocate a more in-your-face approach. For example, God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens recently had this to say to an audience at the University of Toronto:
“I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.”
September’s Blasphemy Day celebrations created a flashpoint for the brewing controversy. But Stuart Jordan, a scientific advisor at the Center for Inquiry, says the argument goes way beyond that day. He believes this issue will decide the future of the atheist movement:
“It’s really a national debate among people with a secular orientation about how far do we want to go in promoting a secular society…”
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