As I write, the Council for Secular Humanism is wrapping up its Los Angeles conference entitled Setting the Agenda: Secular Humanism’s Next 30 Years. On the conference’s second day, Lauri Lebo reported in these pages  that the program included a discussion about how best to deal with religious belief and its relationship to science. The session was named “Science and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation?” Or, to be abundantly clear, the question was: How should atheists and secular people deal with religious people? Should they be accommodated or confronted?

My answer is: Neither one. Perhaps those atheists who want to advance their cause should consider—just for a moment, and as a very live option—disbelieving.

To explain myself, I would like to refer to several comments that were made in response to Lebo’s post. Here is an excerpt from one of them:

In addition to making it clear just how overwhelming the evidence for evolution is, science has also demonstrated just how dishonest the creationists are. This might be a vicious fight, but the outcome is already decided. The battle is over the American soul. That outcome is probably also decided, but religion still seems determined to take as many casualties as possible on the way out.

Yes, the evidence for evolution is overwhelming. Yes, creationists are wrong and they can be quite dishonest. But what outcome is this that is probably already decided? That “science will win” and “religion will lose”? Unless I am wildly mistaken, that is the subtext of the remark. I suspect the war, to employ the writer’s hawkish language, will not work out that simply. I think the science and religion will come to coexist peacefully, just as they do in the minds of so many. Christianity, like other great faith traditions, is not easily done away with. It is at once strong and flexible. In centuries past it has adapted itself thousands of times to thousands of different contexts. It has withstood challenges far more severe than evolution or the emboldened atheism of the 21st century. It will do so again.

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