My evolution of personal free thought has run what I consider to be a normal evolution. I’ve gone from argumentative and forceful when confronted by persons of “faith” to almost not willing to argue with someone whom I consider to be incapable of critical thought.
But through this process I have not been able to give up my feeling of superiority in that I’ve reached the “right” conclusion regarding issues of theologies’ failure and defeat by science. In fact I consider those that are religious but tolerant as lazy and those that are strongly religious as ignorant. Even taking science out of the equation I find it very hard to understand how modern people can “believe” that religion and in my region “Christianity” is the way to go. How can they buy into something so obviously attributed to ancient backwards thinking?
I like to consider myself tolerant and empathetic but in this area I just cannot. How can I achieve this without giving up my own desire to question and seek out truths?
I’m sure there are stages to this process as any other. I doubt there’s been any exacting study but I’ve been through the confrontational phase and reached the point where I’ve come to realize that there is no changing the mindset of most of the people whom feel it necessary to share their belief system or attempt to force you into church because they want a new merit badge to wear in front of their friends.
I find most so hypocritical that I want to scream. “Why can’t you get your head out and see the silliness of your beliefs?”
Bin Laden’s death for example. All the Christians are celebrating the death of a human being. This is contrary to at least the teaching of the New Testament and their savior. I, on the other hand can be relieved and happy about the conclusion to this part of our history because I’m no Christian and base my morals on what I consider to be a good thing for society.
To loosely quote Bill Maher, “If you pick and choose which part of the words of Jesus you want to live by then you’re not a Christian. Follow the Bible. It’s that book you hold up when you scream at gay people.”
Good luck and let me know if you find something I’m missing. Or should we further interpret the “acceptance” stage and let them have their silly ways of not thinking for themselves without it affecting us?
I think it is a grave mistake to adopt a positon of tolerance and indeed superiority. But this could be of course a natural trait in human beings. One must not forget the state of un-affectedness should, by definition, not have to resort to labels/language such as tolerance and superiority to describe ones position, beliefs, sentiments, etc. Indeed, when engaging in discourse with people of any persuasion especially an expteme one, then the language one uses in order to at least establish a meeting point, should not be confrontational or provocative in nature.
In answer to your question, then, abandon the idea of tolerance, because the religious are there and not about to go away overnight, and indeed, no doubt, are tolerating us like a does of salts. Just as we don’t necessarilly tolerate Britney Spears because Beethoven is far better musically, it doesn’t even become an issue, so the same can said of the above. Now I know that Sam Harris, Richard Dawkings, Patricia Churchland, Steven Hawkins, and the like, have nailed their colours firmly to the mast of Science and Reason, and beleive me, like you, I’m on their side, but I do feel they have approahed the subject rather like the ubiquitous bull in the china shop. It’s all very well deconstructing, or destroying, but we had better be damn clear as to what it is we’re perporting to put in its place.
I do believe the position of un-affectedness(being certain about uncertaintity) is as strong and longlasting as any other position out there i.e. religion but we have to market ours a bit better and as I said be very, very, clear about what it is we are trying to sell, rather then what we don’t want to buy.
I hope this is of some use to be getting on with. How exactly to do this I need a confirmation of ideas/approaches.
I like the idea of framing a response with a “replacement”. I’ll have to find a way to put that into words. I do feel like having a grasp of the truth as opposed to a religious speculation is a much better way to live and that it allows one to live with less fear and more acceptance. My mental well being is much better since I turned to reality and it’s easier to deal with tragedy and death when you give up the illusion that the Man in the Sky is watching and pulling all the strings. I want to share that but the environment in which I live makes that difficult with so much prevailing delusionary thinking.
I have a colleague who describes his situation as an intellectual wasteland, but for a very different reason. Clearly some situations are more extreme than others, and naturally humans will seek out like minded people. However, where this is difficult for whatever reasons, in our efforts to convey our way or a way of thinking or even attempting the daunting task of creating at least an understanding in another, one is at the mercy of words/language. But this may not be the end of the story, because there are other ways/tools(art, literature, film) that help us avoid the pitfalls that we are all familiar with when it comes to language. So when conceiving of a strategy remember you have more tools to use then you think.
In my area its social taboo and the fear of labeling that keep people in line. Just a few short years ago when I was younger it wasn’t so cool to be the forceful Christian. Many went to church but few approached you inviting you to church or checking that you were “right” with Cheeses.
Now, if you aren’t loudly professing your Christian nature or how great your church family or gawd is then people become suspicious of you. Yes, there are still large numbers of what I call “hypochristians” who sneak around doing worldly things but they usually hide out for these activities in a location away from home.
It seems to me the social environment doesn’t reflect the makeup of the people within and that’s got to change. The dual nature of most and the fact that they can’t possibly be so obtuse is probably why I feel so frustrated.
The picture you paint makes me realise how extraordinarily privalaged I am to both live the life I’m leading and to have such a diversity of friends and coleagues one of whom is about to become a priest, one is philosopher, another believes in spritualism another in mystissim. However, these are not issues when it comes to going about our daily lives and indeed, if any importance is to be attatched to these individuals ways of thinking it is that none of them are uttered in an attempt to convert, convince, or cajole the others. In others words, each of us are happy to be where we are within ouselves.
You stated earlier that your well being had improved since you embraced certain ideas etc; so psychologically one can assume a contentment if not happiness/well being that A.enables us to overcome Fraud’s commom human unhappiness and B. to find the courage, strength, will, whatever lable you want to attatch to standing alone on the island of “I”.
The social environment that you find yourself in that does not reflect the makeup of the people within it, indicates that there are of course more of one kind of people who think/act in a certain way or another than there are people like yourself. The change you seek has already began, because you are that change in that environment. Small steps.
The social taboo and the fear of labeling you speak of are extremely powerful forces. One cannot underestimate thier power in controling human actions and indeed steering humanity in a any direction. If I may call these forces, attitudes, then their powerful reputation/appearence may well be reduced somewhat, if it hasn’t already done so by virture of changing the language. So is something really taboo or are we dealing with an attitude towards something, do we/they fear a label because we don’t want to rock the boat too much. Small steps.
The religious ideology isn’t really the appeal of religion, or even its focus. In the more fundagelical type churches it’s a lot more important, but even there the main appeal of religion is the read-made community into which a practitioner (or petitioner) can pretty easily and seamlessly slip. Religious communities are generally very accommodating, though also generally more demanding the further out on the fundagelical end of the spectrum.
The heart is a lonely hunter, and the mind’s jouney is often a solo, lonely flight. People grasp ideas and become enlightened or become benighted at different points in time. None of us is on the same time continuum. Imagine how the French existentialists felt in the last century, e.g. Albert Camus, in a country as rabidly Catholic as France. I have reached a point where I really do not care what the right-wing, Bible thumpers really think about what I think. But I become fully engaged when their policies and agenda fail to allow my fellow humans to flourish and thrive. The GOP is doing business with religion, and we need to be aware of its machinations at all times. I can become politically active when religion does its evil thing, but otherwise I am happy to be me, to focus on my profession, and to live life to its fullest.
Speaking just for myself I don’t think we should be more tolerant. And that is because the demands that “being tolerant” of religion entails are rather steep.
Religion requires not just the right to believe as they see fit but also respect for those beliefs no matter how absurd they are.
And I also see the tendency of playing that card very often in debate. The religious like to play the card that “many questions can’t be answered and you have your beliefs and we have ours.” But I see that as an attempt to put irrational beliefs on the same footing as rational ones.
I typically point out that there is a fundamental difference between rational belief and irrational belief and they do not deserve the same level of respect.
I believe in science for many completely tangible reasons. I know that my cell phone works. And I know that it is the product of a lot of science all the way back to the atomists and even Ben Franklin with a key on a kite string. I know that the research in genetics and DNA sequencing work because of the progress in cancer treatments. And the list is of course nearly infinite and completely tangible and verifiable. The religious REQUIRE more than tolerance.
It would be like requiring that I completely respect a neighbor who routinely conducts animal sacrifice in his yard or conducts seances in his basement.
I simply refuse to accept that in order to be a nice person I have to accept any such lunacy without the right to express derision and even ridicule.
I really think we NEED to do this and it is a big part of why I now identify as an Atheist. I truly believe in moving the bar from it’s current state of acceptance to one of a “freedom to disrespect”.
If the religious have a problem with that then I say” earn my respect for your beliefs through rational discourse or do not mention them in my presence.”
You’re not alone. I also struggle to hold my tongue when faced with people espousing silly faith-based pablum. I just posted a thread on a recent discussion I had on the subject of prayer and hospitals with a Catholic who should receive a gold medal in incoherence. The problem with arguing with true believers is that they use “faith” as an all-purpose trump card. Something makes no sense? It does if you have faith. The existence of god cannot be and never has been proven? With faith you need no such proof. And so it goes. Faith truly is the get-out-of-jail-free card for the irrational.
My idea of tolerance? Don’t get into arguments over anodyne religious practices—going to services, burning incense, observing Easter, kissing an icon. But if someone wants to debate he meaning of life and death from a religious perspective, I don’t hesitate to tear their beliefs to shreds.
There is value in avoiding the us vs them mentality. Keep reminding yourself that all people are people. Try to avoid dehumanizing people and seeing them as the other.
Try to see them as a crazy uncle or something. Yeah they may have issues, but they are your family and you must love them and wish them well.
Also, keep in mind that humanity’s progress will probably go from bad religion through good religion to no religion. Different people are in different places and they may need different things to make the next step. Help them.
Haven’t read the rest of the posts except only the original.
My take is that the reason people still believe in God is because God is a non falsifiable entity. This empowers many to believe “it” is behind things like the Krebs Cycle, reproduction, photosynthesis and planetary alignment. Since most do not explore the fallacy that stems from believing any one non falsifiable entity is “real”, the cycle continues.
“God” for me is the explanation behind all the mysteries I do not understand. Whatever it is, I believe it is bigger than me and deserves my reverence. Do I worship it? I experience awe and wonderment, but would never fly a plane into a building or go to war defending it or trying to convert anyone to believing in it.
In the end, it really is a Faith thing. Some people are capable of that, some are not willing, others are incapable.
Tolerance has cost many lives over the years. So has religious fervor. I think we should defend what we know to be true and that no person or country should ever force their religion onto others. I think that forced religion is repugnant.
I believe we should be allowed to think for ourselves within our own personal space as long as no one else is harmed psychologically or physically.
I believe others should be allowed to think for themselves within their own personal space as long as no one else is harmed psychologically or physically.
In the event that people become harmed, swift action should be taken to halt the harming.