Friday, December 26, 2008

Taking Up Steve's Challenge: Part 2 (A Day Late)

Now, some unsolicited advice for unbelievers:

1) Stop being so sanctimonious. So a lack of belief constitutes "common sense" for many of us, including you. Common sense is, by definition, common. Your decision to reject religious belief doesn't make you extraordinarily intelligent, gifted, or really all that unique, especially these days. Stop pretending you're a font of intellect that all others should drink copiously from.

2) Drop the absolutism about the evils of all belief. Religious beliefs are diverse, as are the outcomes of them. For every Jim Jones or Catholic pedophilia scandal, there's a Quaker meeting opposing the war or a congregation distributing food to the needy. While anti-common-sense attitudes and beliefs are *often* found in the political and outreach efforts of religious groups, they are not *always* found. Smearing every religious group as equivalent and identical is as stupid as some religionists' insistence to destroy the individuality of people in groups that THEY don't like.

3) Stop lying. All Christians don't want to stone disobedient children. All Christians don't believe in "ritual cannibalism." All Christians are not evangelicals. It's bad enough that "the other side" often tells big lies about its perceived enemies -- by duplicating the practice yourself, you're no "better" than those you claim to oppose.

4) Consider others' points of view. Approaching every believer as though he or she is a superstitious moron in need of being completely trounced is no different than a religious activist approaching a nonbeliever as a hellbound sinner worthy of punishment. If you want to introduce the joys of reason, you don't do it by repeating the same practices that make so many people despise the persistently and obnoxiously evangelical.

5) Depriving others of the ability to believe or say what they want is not liberty nor logic. Calls for bans on belief systems, as Richard Dawkins makes, are as illiberal as efforts to impose belief systems on others. Your lack of belief, and opposition to the tenets of various belief systems, doesn't entitle you to impose upon those who choose those beliefs. Debate in the free market of ideas, but don't use force to impose your ideas on others. For reason to prevail, it must exist in a reality where all ideas exist and succeed based upon their merit rather than a system of unilateral imposition.

Happy Winter Solstice! :)


Anonymous said...

Does sitting on the top of the Mountain, or on the Fence,

Allow you to see BOTH sides?

Thanks for your insight and balance.

Brian Miller said...

Perhaps. It's just my viewpoint -- with my name attached.

The way to learn is to talk through things and exchange points of view and experiences. Are you doing that? :)

Brian Miller said...

PS -- there's more than "two sides" to most debates. Those who characterize a lack of "choice" between two imposed "sides" typically either want to control others or want to be controlled.

That's just as true in this debate as it is in political debates that get hijacked by "conservatives" and "liberals" (with no room for often-better perspectives).