New Year Resolution

No more Mr. Nice guy. I don't want to hide any more. I am sick and tired of self censorship when I'm around religious folks. Why should I? Why should I give a damn if that religious guy over there is going to get "hurt" because of my opinions about his non-existent deity.

Religion has somehow conned us into respecting it automatically. You can criticize anything in the world except religion but it doesn't give any valid reasons why it is so. I think Douglas Adams made the point very nicely. I shall quote him from Richard Dawkin's book, A Devil's Chaplain (Section 3.5, Time to Stand Up):

Now, the invention of the scientific method is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked. If it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day, and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes.

Religion doesn't seem to work like that. It has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, 'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because you're not!'

If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down, you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if somebody says, 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday', you say, 'I respect that.'

The odd thing is, even as I am saying that I am thinking, 'Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?' But I wouldn't have thought, 'Maybe there's somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics' when I was making the other points. I just think, 'Fine, we have different opinions'. But the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody's (I'm going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say, 'No, we don't attack that; that's an irrational belief but no, we respect it.'

Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows - but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe ... no, that's holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence that for any other reason other than that we've just got used to doing so?

There's no other reason at all, it's just one of those things that crept into being and once that loop gets going it's very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas, but it's very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be.

That being said, I will not be deliberately offensive. I will not incite an argument for the sake of it. I will still respect the person and his beliefs but only to the extent that I respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children are smart.

That's my new year's resolution. No more self censorship. I will talk about it when I want to.

Speaking of new year resolutions, my previous one was pretty successful. I haven't ate shark's fins for 2 to 3 years now. I'm sticking to this for the many years to come.


Anonymous said...

Hey, is becoming an atheist the best way to stop deaths caused by religion? Someone living near my BLK committed suicide because he joined an evil religion where he claims that he suffered serious headache everyday. He has no medical history of any serious illness. The doctor could not find out what's wrong with him. So what's your take on this?

Nox said...

First things first, becoming an atheist won't stop deaths caused by religion. It would take actions on our part (as human beings) to put a stop to religious stupidity/insanity.

I'd assume that the doctor in question didn't take much of a look at his state of mental health. It is possible that he finds difficulty in reconciling his other beliefs with the beliefs of his cult.

Frankly, I can't comment much about this since I don't have the details. Nonetheless, we should not jump for supernatural causes. Totally uncalled for.