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Recent discourse between theist and non-theist positions has been strident – not the least because the platform has been the very wide educational one, both public and private. Government funding of chaplains, indeed the existence of chaplains, teaching of scripture, the saying of prayers, adding faith specific verses to the national anthem – all have raised the emotional investment of both sides in the debate.

Some of the rhetoric from either side has bordered on the banal.  Neither fundamentalist theists nor taunting non-theists have served their side of the argument well.

Today however, I read – Jonathan Rée – Varieties of irreligious experience | New Humanist – presenting an atheist position that I found helpful, respectful and refreshing.  Here, I thought, is someone I, as a theist,  could have a cappuccino and a chat with sans a sense of being humoured or set up for a pratfall. Without caricature or parody, Rée surveys a history of non-theist thought and philosophy vis-vis the theist stance without parody, caricature or rancour. No straw men here. I am sure that non-theist folk of good will would also appreciate the opportunity to weigh matters with “opponents” who were not looking to trip them up and “win” an argument.

Well -articulating his atheist position – Rée is able to move it to the middle ground where people can touch and appreciate a shared humanity. No lobbing clever hand grenades at an unseen and often imaginary enemy from the safety of an entrenched position . When the current public slanging match can move to a place where this kind of conversation can happen, we’ll be in a much better place. It depends on what our vested interests are.

I am indebted to A Feather Adrift for drawing my attention to this article.

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