How can I say he isn't the average rational thinker? Easy. He's willing to defend rational thought in the public square.
I know, I know. When it is said like that, everyone is willing to defend reason, right? Wrong.
On a regular basis, our society is filled with irrational beliefs being given free rides. Undue respect is given to people's cherished beliefs even when they are completely irrational, totally wrong and, sometimes, even when they are very dangerous. This isn't only about religion - though I would venture to say that religion is a valid example*.
You need to look no further than your local newspaper (unless your local newspaper is NOTHING like ours) and the letters to the editor in support of bible literalism which are often dealt with using the following phrases (any or all):
- Evolution is only a theory.
- Darwin was wrong.
- Everything can't come from nothing.
- The banana is proof of an intelligent designer.
- God created man.
- Scientific proof of a world-wide flood.
- There is evidence that jesus existed.
- Science disproves itself on a regular basis.
- Scientists disagree on evolution.
- Evolution isn't necessary for science.
- Darwinism leads to Hitler.
- You can't believe in evolution and in god.
- The earth is only 6000 years old.
- Man and dinosaurs walked on earth at the same time.
- Carbon dating isn't accurate.
- Nobody has ever see evolution happen.
- Micro-evolution, sure. Macro-evolution, no!
- Have you ever seen a croco-duck?
- ... the list could go on forever.
Support for and defense of rational thought, critical thinking and the desire for evidence is something we all need to be doing but the responses to the letters show that only some of us (I wish I could be included in that group) are willing to go that extra step.
I do defend reason when given the opportunity but I have yet to attach my name to a letter to the editor. For that reason, Bryan is not your average rational thinker and is, in turn, a hero. Thank you Bryan.
* I said religion isn't the only example and then only use religion but here are other examples - MMR & Autism link claims, Homeopathic/Alternative medicine claims and global climate change denial. There are countless others.