The key thing is when you can accept something on faith, without evidence or believe something in-spite of the evidence, that mind set allows you to believe anything without question.
The moderates in your example clearly do not see faith as the pinnacle of human reasoning. They neither force their views on others, looking at scientific evidence for understanding the world around us. For me the key thing about a moderate is one that recognises their faith is a product of human reasoning – not one divinely revealed, or supernaturally supported. It works for them but maybe not for everyone.
Your example of not supporting a proposition because others would use violent means to achieve it; it may give a peacemaker pause to advocate a position when they know rising tensions on the subject will lead to an increase in violence. The key thing is that they are not promoting the idea of violence, nor that their position sanctions such actions. The means (by peace) are as important as the end itself.
Moderates are critical about those with extremist tendencies, misrepresenting their position. What we as atheists would question is the belief that accepting something through faith justifies a belief – our argument is that the rationale for any belief must be based on something outside of authority (god or holy book).
Otherwise, the danger is that people on the basis of faith may add to all manner of human misery, and use faith as a get out of jail card. To them the end is faith itself, and any means to achieve it are sanctioned by their faith. It is a dangerous circular idea and the only break on how far you take it is you.
That does not mean that we have to oppose moderates with the same intensity as extremists. However, the idea that faith as a virtue is an idea that needs discrediting.
Posted: September 29th 2008
See all questions answered by John Sargeant