Skepticon 3 – Atheist or Skeptic?

Skepticon 3, the third instance of one of the largest annual skeptic events in the US is currently in full flight in Springfield, Missouri … alas, I’m not there, but I wish I was … however I have a mortgage to pay, so I’m somewhere else.

Well, anyway, Jeff Wagg (formally of the JREF) has stirred up by bit of a storm with his latest blog on which he makes the following observation.

  • An talk by an Atheist entitled ” Are Christians Delusional?” is one in which he is … “unsure about that topic’s relationship to skepticism” … really, why?

He then goes on to observe that two other talks also have an Atheist theme … and so because 3 out of 15 talks are like this, its apparently an “anti-Christian conference“.

Jeff, for fracks sake, what cool-aid have you been drinking? Being skeptical is all about looking for evidence and applying critical-thinking, so why should belief in a supernatural entity be excluded? Being skeptical is not just about exposing psychics or putting water dowsers to the test, its universal and applies to anything and everything, there are no zones that are off limits, religion does not get a free pass. Given that so many people make such extraordinary religious claims it is oh so very appropriate and completely in context. If individuals take offense when a couple of speakers point out that religion is not evidence-based, then thats an issue they personally need to come to terms with, we should never ever let the beliefs of others exclude our pursuit of truth, because doing so is allowing them to emotionally blackmail us.

Jeff, maintains that “to conflate atheism with skepticism dilutes atheism and destroys skepticism” … Thats complete nonsense, I maintain that accommodating belief, and not demanding evidence for such extraordinary claims would truly be the end of the skeptical movement, because once you start excluding, where do you stop? Both Skepticism and Atheism are linked … being skeptical is about critical thinking … atheism is the natural result of this process.

If interested in reading a bit more on all this, there here are a few links …

  • Here is Jeff’s initial posting
  • here is the response from JT (the chap who organizes Skepticon)
  • Here is a write-up from PZ Myers (one of the speakers)
  • Here are some further thoughts from Blag Hag

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