It is up to us

June 29, 2016 — It’s been a bit over 24 hours since the terrorist attacks at Ataturk airport in Turkey as I write this.

It seems quite obvious to me that the attacks are religiously motivated. If those people weren’t adherents of a religion, they wouldn’t do those things. They might still be unhappy, they might still have various grievances, but they would not explode themselves in a quest to kill strangers perceived to be enemies in some purported exchange for some imagined eternal blissful afterlife awarded by some imagined deity for fighting in some imagined holy war. For that, religion is required. And the throbbing core that powers the Death Star known as religion is faith.

Faith is the idea that it is a good idea and a virtuous deed to deliberately attempt to be more certain about something than what is warranted by the available evidence. Deliberately willing oneself to be excessively certain. “Look at me! I’m so certain I’m right! And I clearly don’t have enough evidence to be so certain! I have faith! I’m so faithful! What a good boy am I for being so faithful!”

Faith is never described by the faithful so baldly as I have done, because to do so would be to highlight the idiocy of faith, and nobody wants to think of themselves as having behaved like an idiot. But faith is clearly idiotic. It is not a good idea to deliberately be excessively certain. It is not a vritue. It is the opposite of a virtue. The all too common and ridiculous cry of the defeated theist, “Well, it takes more faith to be an atheist…” betrays the believer’s subconscious realization that faith is something to be avoided, that it is not a reliable way to know what’s true.

How should we combat the type of faith that drives people to commit such acts? I would suggest the most effective way (not that I think it will be all that effective) is not to coerce compliance by means of threats, weaponry, and soldiers — I do not think this will do anything to mitigate cancerous faith. Likely, it will only make it stronger. I suggest the most effective tactic — or at least a tactic which should be tried — is to educate the faithful by argumentation — help them to reason their way out of their faith. And most importantly, I think we should directly attack the basic concept of faith itself. The concept of faith should be given the reputation it deserves. The statement, “He is a man of great faith” should not be regarded as praise, but as an insult.

We cannot rely on members of other religions to do this. A Christian and a Muslim and a Jew arguing about religion are like three blind men arguing about which of three unremarkable Thomas Kinkade paintings is the best possible painting in the universe. Their arguments will all be constructed out of the sheerest nonsense.

And you will not see any U.S. politician making any sort of argument that Islam or Christianity or Judaism or any religion has no basis in fact, or that faith is the idiocy that it so obviously is. That is because (among other reasons) the U.S. Constitution requires that the government remain neutral towards religion, not favoring any religion (or no religion) over any other religion (or no religion). Their hands are tied — even if they wanted to make such an argument, they are not permitted to do so. Nor are members of the United States armed forces while acting on behalf of the United States, as I understand it.

So it is left to us — private individuals — to make such arguments.

~ by scaryreasoner on June 30, 2016.

6 Responses to “It is up to us”

  1. I am chagrined that there is so little that we can do about blind belief. Eric Hoffers book “True Believers” asserts that belief is not amenable to argumentation, in fact it hardens the faith. The only advice I’ve found is to be non confrontational, and the discuss things that both have in common. It seems like a gradualist approach which I cannot see being very effective. I think that religion is the default position of limited minds, in common with the behavior of herd animals involving little but experiential grasp of reality, and leaders of all sorts thrive on manipulating these needy people to accumulate influence, gain power, and in many cases swindle. Given that half the population is by definition is below average, and the fact that a large movement of faith free politics has never truly evolved, or as with communism, succeeded, despite strong government control, it seems a matter of gradual change. Atheism is growing but i think there is a floor that many will never be able to rise above.

  2. Faith is not a rigorously obtained position. You cannot un-indoctrinate a person using logic because no logic was required to obtain their position.

    • It is true that you cannot un-indoctrinate a person — that they must do themselves. However, it is not 100% true that you cannot help a person escape from faith, though it is almost 100% true that you cannot help them to escape from faith *this instant*. Their escape will require time, sometimes years. I know that people can be helped to escape faith by argumentation because I’ve had people tell me that I’ve helped them to escape.

    • Another point — yes, faith is not a rigorously obtained position — but usually people argue for or against the conclusions reached by faith, not against the very concept of faith itself. I am suggesting arguing against the concept of faith itself. Most believers are not really prepared to defend the idea that deliberately choosing to be excessively certain is a good idea — although I have encountered one case in which the counter argument was literally “rational thought does not apply,” which pretty much ends things, though you can still ask, “how do you know that?”, not that it will get you anywhere.

  3. War is not caused by is justified by religion.
    The IRA did not bomb England over religion.
    Groups under occupation are not motivated by religion.
    An economically destitute marginalized person is considered cattle, and as such is more than justified in lashing out and destroying the society that views him as such.

  4. Sounds like your going to be in the deepest depth of Hell sucking Satan and his demons, you know what, if you don’t educate yourself lonely one. One day in Hell you will relive every single horrible thing you have said and done to people. I pray for your soul in Jesus Christ name, Amen!!!

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