Friday, 2 April 2010

Opposing Views

In the Radio Times this week there is an article by the Bishop of Croydon, Nick Baines, who calls himself an "e-vangelist" since he writes a blog at, "normally five times a week" - it's a wonder he can find time for anything else.

He says he tries to practise "confident humility", surely an oxymoron, but he is not averse to the occasional arrogant put-down such as: "Richard Dawkins isn't alone in excelling in one field - such as biology - while being awful in another - such as 'thinking'." Ouch! The implication being that his own thinking is hunky dory.

He also has the usual complaint: "An area of challenge relates to the atheists in the blogosphere, particularly those who represent perfectly what their prejudices tell them is the preserve of religious people: fundamentalism and an unswayable confidence in their own unargued-for assumptions about the world and human meaning." I must admit I've encountered a few who give that impression! However all atheists and humanists I know most certainly have thought very hard about their assumptions and about giving meaning to their lives."

There is a point in which I can agree with him: "... what's the point in simply talking to those who agree with you when you could be arguing your way to a better understanding ...", though we may differ as to what needs to be understood. To this end I propose to add a series of links in the right-hand column to various sites that represent Opposing Views, beginning with the Bishop's blog. If you have any links that you think ought to be included please let me know.


  1. The idea that "confident humility" is an oxymoron, springs from a caricature of the meaning of humility, which is not the same as self-doubt. In fact, reading your blog I'd like to suggest that you do express that virtue. To me, the confidence comes from honest and tested self-knowledge. Humility is an expression of knowing that I can, and should, learn from others.

    The "usual complaint" about fundamentalist atheists illustrates that in the blogosphere, those calling themselves atheists can be divided into two groups:
    (1) those who have come to their position as a result of a thoughtful search for the truth; and
    (2) trolls who are just looking for a good fight, who don't happen to be religious, or who really define their identity as being anti-Christian.

    I tend to think of the www as being like a pub, particulary in the variety of people and opinions that you'll meet there. So if I'm in a pub and meet a bloke looking for a fight I don't oblige!

  2. OK, "skinhead", maybe not quite an oxymoron, more a sort of confidence trick. The advantage of the www over a pub is that you can get into an argument without physical danger.

    I used to go to the Anglican Mainstream forum to stir things up a bit, particularly the creationists and the homophobes, but I now find that the discussion forum there is "undergoing renewal". Hopefully it will be resurrected. Meanwhile the comments on Bishop Baines's Blog give some idea of what it was like.