As I understand it, one of the debates going on in the nontheist community is between the New Atheists and the Accommodationists. Basically, it seems the New Atheists argue that all faith based ideas run counter to scientific thought and should be criticized, while the Accommodationalists seem to argue, among other things, that only faith based beliefs that are disruptive or harmful to others should be criticized.
I'm not sure I'm a good fit for either side in this debate. That is, I can see merit in both sides. For instance, I agree with the New Atheist position that beliefs which run counter to a weight of reason and empirical evidence ought to be open to criticism.
Yet, I agree with the Accommodationists in so far as I think that virulent criticism of faith based beliefs is of limited or no usefulness. Specifically, such criticism seems most likely to cause people to double down on their beliefs. And those who disagree with you will double down at least as much as those who actually do agree with you.
Consequently, if you are preaching to your choir, and you wish to get them to double down on their beliefs, then virulent criticism of the other guy's positions might work to your benefit. But it is the odd person out who will convert to your cause because of it. At least, that's my understanding of the current science on the issue.
But unlike both the New Atheists and, apparently, even some of the Accomodationalists, I do not foresee a coming time when religious beliefs -- or more largely, faith based beliefs of any sort -- will be eradicated. I feel human nature runs counter to that suggestion. To me, the question is not whether we will ever get rid of religion, but whether we can "stop burning witches at the stake", so to speak.
That is, whether or not we can ameliorate the harmful effects of religion is, for me, one of the key issues. Moreover, I recognize that task as endless, since I suppose religion is too deeply rooted in human nature to ever be wholly eradicated.
Another key issue, for me, is respect for people. I do not believe that ideas need respect. Even apparently true ideas should not be respected to the extent that they are never intelligently questioned. But people do deserve a certain degree of respect even when their ideas run counter to our own.
It is quite easy to lose respect for people who do not share our ideas or values. But I believe it is a mistake to do so, even though I have at times committed that mistake. So long as we all live in the same society -- or nowadays, so long as we all live in the same interconnected world -- it benefits us to give everyone a certain measure of respect regardless of their ideas and values. After all, it's when we respect ideas and values more than we respect people themselves that we find it all too easy to justify burning people at the stake. The first thing the tyrants and wannabe tyrants of this world try to take from people is their right to be respected. If they manage to achieve that, then they can convince their followers to do anything to you.
That, at least, is my current thinking on the subject. What do you make of the debate between the New Atheists and the Accommodationalists?