Saturday, November 07, 2015

Mind-virus thinking

I think we are in trouble if we think that we can infer from the fact that someone holds a view based on a religious conviction, it must therefore be an uncritical and irrational belief, and therefore we have the right to deputize the government to punish you if you try to act on it. This kind of "mind-virus" thinking concerning one's opponents is precisely what is going to turn the atheist movement in a totalitarian direction. I'm not going to argue that atheism always leads to totalitarianism, but well-intentioned anti-religious philosophies have produced the worst forms of totalitarianism the world has ever seen. How does this happen? It happens because people think there is a right answer to the world's problems, and to get us to the end, any means is justified. 

The simple fact is that there are people at the top of every major academic field, from theoretical physics, to evolutionary biology, to philosophy, who are serious, orthodox Christians. These are people who think very hard about these issues, and come out where they come out. They are not going away, and they are not going to go away in response to anti-Christian bullying. Simplistic ways of explaining them away won't wash. If they are mistaken, the explanation for their error is more complex than the simplistic answers I am used to (and tired of hearing) from atheists.

Religious freedom is foundational to our country. People are going to disagree about religion, and we have to find a way to deal with it. Gay marriage? Maybe. But, oh, that's not enough. We have to protect gay people from anyone expressing openly the idea that they might not be doing the right thing before God, and therefore they are unable to produce speech congratulating them for doing what they are doing. 

You can tell me that the deity I worship is "the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” and that's not hate speech. You can say that biology instructors who teach intelligent design should be fired from their jobs. But we have to punish people who won't do wedding photographers for a gay wedding when the couple can go right across the street and find a photographer who will? Ohhh, that's discrimination, you're just like George Wallace and Lester Maddox. 

You're kidding. No?

6 comments:

Dave Duffy said...

As long as there are people who need redemption there will be Christians. People who know the need for redemption are everywhere in our society.

Cal Metzger said...

Reppert: "I think we are in trouble if we think that we can infer from the fact that someone holds a view based on a religious conviction, it must therefore be an uncritical and irrational belief, and therefore we have the right to deputize the government to punish you if you try to act on it."

Fact: Islamic terrorists acted on their religious convictions.
Fact: These terrorists based their actions on ancient documents, an imagined afterlife, and the pronouncements of men imbued with religious authority. (I can't think of a much more uncritical and irrational approach to belief.)
According to you, the rest of us will be in trouble if we try to protect ourselves from the above.

Thanks, but no.

Housekeeping: No one argues with the religious when they say they believe in evolution, as many religious people do. No one argues with the religious when they say they believe we should have compassion and try to help one another, as many of us do. No one argues with the religious when they say they express humility, curiosity, and hope.

Do you know when people argue with the religious? When they do harmful things and justify their harm based on a religion that can't be questioned or disproven. That's when.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm not saying there are no uncritical and irrational religious beliefs. What I was objecting to was the claim that if someone is acting on a religious belief, we know it's irrational and we've got to keep it out of the public square.

Cal Metzger said...

Reppert: "What I was objecting to was the claim that if someone is acting on a religious belief, we know it's irrational and we've got to keep it out of the public square."

I agree with you. A problem is that I don't know of anyone making that argument.

To be clear, the real problem is privileging harmful beliefs that can't be justified without resorting to "religious" reasons. These should be exposed, dissected, and discarded when they can't rise to justification outside of reference to one's "religious" reasons.

Crude said...

Fact: Islamic terrorists acted on their religious convictions.
These terrorists based their actions on ancient documents, an imagined afterlife, and the pronouncements of men imbued with religious authority.

Actually, a good share of them acted on secular convictions. 9/11 was prompted by the support of Israel, the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, and more.

Housekeeping: No one argues with the religious when they

...agree with them. To which I say: yeah, no shit.

Do you know when people argue with the religious? When they

...disagree with them. Again, no shit.

The idea that it's because of claims 'which can't be questioned or disproven' would snap up a hell of a lot more than the religious. See: Feminists, communists, SJWs, and just about anyone else who has secular convictions, left or right, which ultimately reduce to rock-bottom views about how the world should work, right and wrong, and more.

Physician, heal thyself.

Cal Metzger said...

Crude: "Actually, a good share of them acted on secular convictions. 9/11 was prompted by the support of Israel, the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, and more."

I agree with this. But if you think that U.S. support of Israel, and the Arab reaction to that support, doesn't revolve around religion then I think you are mistaken. And if you think that the leaders of Al Quaeda don't use religion as the unifying force behind their ideology, or that ISIS doesn't justify their actions based on religious doctrine, then I think you would be avoiding the role that religion plays in these conflicts. (https://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/abu-bakr-naji-the-management-of-savagery-the-most-critical-stage-through-which-the-umma-will-pass.pdf)

Crude: "The idea that it's because of claims 'which can't be questioned or disproven' would snap up a hell of a lot more than the religious. See: Feminists, communists, SJWs, and just about anyone else who has secular convictions, left or right, which ultimately reduce to rock-bottom views about how the world should work, right and wrong, and more."

To the extent that the above operate as the religious do, I agree. There is no god, so the poor thinking often shown among the religious isn't a religious problem; it's a human problem. And poor thinking isn't confined to religion (although it provides a lot of harbor). But in the future, movements like SJW may be the biggest sources of the kind of pathological reasoning we see so often now among the religious.

Crude: "Physician, heal thyself."

Hmm. I'm a feminist in that I think that women are equal humans, and should be granted all the same rights and privileges as men. (And that I think it's ridiculous that I should have to say that as if it needs to be considered and affirmed.) I'm not a communist. I'm not a SJW. But I do have secular convictions, and ideas about how the world should work, but when I argue for them I do avoid referring to supposedly holy documents, claiming that I have insight into the mind and will of a god that doesn't exist, etc. In that way I imagine we differ.