Monday, September 26, 2005

A Compromise...

Over at The Evangelical Atheist, ~I AM~ has created yet another post that will easily collect near 100 comments. And rightfully so.

I, predicatably, got swept up in the commenting, and, lacking any discernable proclivity for terseness, penned a novella of sorts in response:

Both CT (Christian Theist) and Chad get right to the crux of the real issue (quite eloquently so, I must add). Bottom line, this is head butting, and the subsequent butting of heads on the wall is what works us into frenzy. These may just be irreconcilable differences. Our very view on existence is so vastly different we are nearly polar opposites.

But we recognize we aren't polar opposites. Our very nature of being human dictates this, but this rift lies at a level so essential to our actions - which define our existence - that it seemingly can not be ignored.

We (atheists) do indeed value reason, rationality, and logic so completely that they form a virtual trinity. I'm not saying that theists don't value reason, just that, in my opinion, they value not needing a reason even more so.

WE, on the other hand, need that reason. At times I think we fiend for it.

So We argue protocol. I would like to think us all naturally averse (or at least indifferent) to discord, and where there is a disagreement, there is a chance of solution. WE focus so completely on things of PROOF, or at least testing (i.e. science, math, logic), that we insist on it in everything. Of course We do, and I'm not at all saying that We're wrong in this, but We must acknowledge, and concede, that nobody else HAS to. Conversely, I'd hope theists can see why this prospect can be horrifying to an atheist.

In a society depending on human interaction, laws, based on value and enforced through judgment, are a necessity, and proper evaluation is paramount. Regardless of the nature of morality's origin, can we rely on morals alone to settle claims fairly? A central tenet of Christian belief is the fallibility of man, and without developments of the human mind - of our cognitive process through reason - our moral codes would not have a vessel for delivery. We apply logic to decide IF morals should be applied or not. We utilize advancements in science to investigate (forensics) and prove (DNA evidence) guilt or innocence - beyond merely questioning it. THEN we can apply morality in judgment.

Our prosperity too cannot be increased without stringent protocol. Theists acknowledge this when they go to a doctor, drive to church, turn on a television to watch evangelism, and log onto the internet to wage war with We infidels (j/k). The scientific method made all of that possible.

When a difference of opinion is recognized, and the next step - to investigate and consequently attempt to resolve it - is taken, the participants enter this realm of protocol, logic, and reason. Theists must then understand: you're on Our home court now. This is why We insist so strongly on concepts such as burden of proof. An established process is in place, and this dictates the rules of the game.

This brings about a conflict in the atheist's mind: As bewildering and infuriating as it is for Us to deal with people who won't play by the rules, We are still moved – compelled - to engage. Our system dictates that we MUST, but, at the same time, We feel if you won't, or are incapable of, abiding by these rules, then don't bother getting involved. Just don't assert your position. Add to this a previous observation of theists abiding by the very same principles, in the larger sphere of things, that they eschew in the arena (such as going to the doctor when ill) and we are beset with a maddening sense of hypocrisy.

What you must not forget is the very real implications this has on our lives. This is unavoidable. We all do live together, and that will not change - nor do I really feel we wish it truly would.

In our world theists preach personal salvation, a personal relationship with their god, a personal Faith.

Then keep it
personal. Pardon my directness, but don't push your personal belief on our public sphere.

Here, again, morality is sure to rear its multi-faced head, but please, just bear with me…

Our system of protocol is established. Its practice is widespread and its merit apparent - personal value given, or faith taken in it may vary, but we cannot, and more importantly do not deny it.

When we and the ones we love are ill, we take them to get a diagnosis. If that diagnosis is threatening, we act and look to treatment. If a crime is committed against us, we urge a systematic, deductive, forensic investigation (and subsequent procedure of debate) in hopes justice can be served, and retribution paid.

Some of us also appeal to and enlist other help, and employ additional methods. And this is their personal choice and right, as much as it is mine to not.

I, personally, am definitely not 100% satisfied with the mechanics of the system we have in place (here along the lines of the social system, not scientific system), and I’d be a fool to suggest anybody is. But, overall, we ALL reap the benefits.

Don’t remind me that you believe in a god every time I look at money. Don’t have me fear that a prejudice against me due to my belief system will affect me negatively. Don’t decide my personal decisions. Do not impose your will on me. Let us have a system that centers on the personal FREE WILL your religion emphasizes. Let us have a system that allows ALL personal choice. Vote officials to a position of power that will affect ALL of us based on their track record pertaining to the task at hand, and their personal merit, not their personal belief.

We have enough prejudice and discrimination based on how people look. That is exterior and can’t be avoided. Let’s not extend it internally, and base it on belief or opinion - remember, neither HAS to be expressed: that is a choice.

This is in no way an urge to deny or hide WHO you are, but in a system that is blind to personal beliefs, no one’s personal beliefs can be infringed upon.

{For instance, when testifying in court, by not swearing on a Bible, I may deem myself untrustworthy to Christian jurors, but if this were not an option, such potential prejudice is completely circumvented. A serious theist who subscribes to a system of belief that emphasizes sound moral action – e.g. honesty – should not be compelled by the simple omission of a Bible to go against such standards.}

When I decide I don’t want my child acknowledging a god I have no belief in as a condition to her proclamation and affirmation of her citizenship of this nation, it has no ill effect on those who do – nor does their silent approbation.

This in no way prohibits your personal faith or beliefs. If I run up on you, snatch off your symbol (cross, WWJD bracelet, Jesus fish), and lock up your church, THAT is prohibition. That is a violation of your rights.

Uncertainty about equality and fairness are certain. But theists here, especially Christians, have a bonus. Your God loves you. Your God favors you. Your religion is full of examples and promises of this. You have your own system to guarantee it – the same system I’m requesting you not push on me. Afterall, this world is temporary. YOU have a greater goal. But my world is finite. This is it for me, and prosperity in this life is my goal.

The very Faith you rely on so thoroughly to support the positions We attempt to argue with you, should not only pertain to the reason why you believe, it should dictate how you live.

Your God should protect you. This is what you preach! Have faith in it and live by it. Hold that Faith that you will not be ill-effected in our system. I don’t mean to sound at all insensitive, but heck, even if Our proposed system does affect you adversely, it’s only temporal. If you swear by a religion that promises not only eternal happiness, but earthly struggle beforehand, why are you so scared at and averse to the prospect of the fulfillment of that promise? Christianity, in its Gospels, champions the underdog so thoroughly, but most Christians fail to embody this. Rather than submit to their Heavenly Authority, they’d rather BE the authority.

I am not at all proposing a system that will discriminate against those of Faith – ANY faith - or disproportionately benefit the faithless. Nor will I allow such a system, and if one arose, I would martyr myself to the cause of liberty and equality alongside those martyring themselves to a god in which I don’t believe. In all actuality, I’m suggesting a system that a revolutionary group of men put forth in the late eighteenth century.

This is not (expressly) a political forum, and pardon my venture into this realm.

If two men (or women) desire to get married, or to merely be attracted to one another and act on that affinity, it does not reflect on you personally. If these two individuals carry through with their desires, you are not personally hurt. If we prevent them from doing so, it is not going to set in motion the eventual extinction of homosexuality. If we outlaw abortion, abortion won’t stop, nor will miscarriages or even death itself. You may view it as murder and be terrified, but as long as it isn’t mandated, it is a murder that can be guaranteed to never be perpetrated against you or those you love. If we outlaw stem cell research, the abundance of human embryos that already exist due to fertilization efforts will not simply cease to be.

I am not homosexual. It is physically impossible for me to get an abortion. I am not personally presently afflicted with a terminal disease (other than life itself).

But I desire that we not legislate or dictate activity between our fellow grown, mutually consenting, competent humans, which does not directly assault us physically or prohibit our prosperity personally – unless for the greater good of humanity.

(Remember – your God looked out for Noah and Lot.)

In the arena of debate, we can argue all we want, regardless of who does and doesn’t decide to follow the rules. But in the arena of public life we need to practice what we preach.

Just have faith.

15 comments:

Tanooki Joe said...

That's one of the most eloquent defenses of the right to be let alone, of the harm principle, heck of libertarianism (in the broadest sense) I've ever read. Great job.

We're gonna have to shut you down. You're blowing the curve here. :P

DUB said...

Wow. Thank you very, very much.

Aaron Kinney said...

Yea Im all intimidated now. The bar cant just keep raising all the time!

j/k! Keep it up please. I personally enjoy these posts of yours very much.

DUB said...

Aaron, thank you for that vote of confidence. It actually means something.

I realize write long-ass posts. Like I told Yam, I just don't have enough Ritalin to be concise.

But I wrote like eight in a row, and basically got no feedback. I'm not whoring for comments, but damn. Eight lengthy posts that actually had substance and were worth reading. But maybe I'm biased. LOL.

I honestly can't and don't expect anything though.At least I get to express myself. The victims of genocide and slavery over in Africa can't speak out. So, even if I'm unheard, I'd be an insensitive ass to complain.

(Maybe I'm blessed? You guys keep prayin' for me, ok?)

I actually started another blog. I figured I'd just blog about mindless shit. That way I'd be apathetic. I'mma probably still do it. Just because there's a whole lot more to me that I can't really express here.

I'mma work on the length issue so you guys might actually WANT to read my shit. LOL. If anything, my posts on nothing will be short. I can't possibly post 3000 words essays about nonsense.

Can I?

DUB said...

See ^^^.

My fuckin' comments are books.

Dammit.

I Am said...

I am not at all proposing a system that will discriminate against those of Faith – ANY faith - or disproportionately benefit the faithless. Nor will I allow such a system, and if one arose, I would martyr myself to the cause of liberty and equality alongside those martyring themselves to a god in which I don’t believe.

I will be there fighting alongside you.

When I was posting my Journey of an Atheist series, I talked about how I took something away from each religion I tried on. The most useful bit I borrowed was from Wicca. There is a Wiccan principal that says "An it harm none, do what thou wilt."

I Am said...

By the way, I read and enjoyed every one of your posts. I'm a loudmouth on my site, but I'm a lurker at heart.

Chad said...

Speaking of long comments, you got me off on a bit of a tangent. I originally posted this on Spam's site, but figured I'd go ahead and post it here also since it pertains to this blog post:

Wow, DUB, in reading over your commentary above I’m tempted to write an entirely separate post on it myself. Thought provoking stuff. Without delving into the specific political issues you’ve brought up, I think you’ve really hit on an important point.

You said: “Christianity, in its Gospels, champions the underdog so thoroughly, but most Christians fail to embody this. Rather than submit to their Heavenly Authority, they’d rather BE the authority.”

There is some real truth to this statement, maybe even more than you realize. Grace is the essence of the Christian faith and what sets it apart from all other religions. Whereas, power struggles for control and authority are the antithesis of grace. So when you have Christian groups lobbying for political power and sway, there is potential for a huge rift to open up between the underpinnings of the professed belief system and the actual manifestation of it in public life.

Yet, I’m not sure the other extreme is a good one either. Apathy or removement from the public sphere is not the answer, but it is crucial for Christians to remember that any real progress on issues of morality can only begin from the bottom up and not from the top down legislatively.

Shinsyotta said...

Very well-written post, DUB.

DUB said...

Yammy:
Damn. You read all my posts? I'm both honoroed and perplexed. How on earth do you find the time...lol...we know I write some books.

Chad:
Thank you for venturing onto another atheist's blog. I, too, thought that statement quite profound after I wrote it. I kinda sat back like WHOA, and thought about all it actually entails. If you give into temptation, I look forward to reading what you have to say.

"Apathy or removement from the public sphere is not the answer"

Apathy or removal of what? I think it best we be apathetic to one another's belief systems - unless they can potentially harm us (e.g extremist fundies). I don't see apathy causing harm in this sense. Especially in government. This whole argument will most likely always fall back to the debate on morality, but I still have yet to hear a sound reason why religion is needed in the civil sphere.

shin:
Thanks, bro.

Chad said...

Dub,

Thanks for pointing out that most inarticulate statement I made ;-) I was referring to a removal of oneself from the public sphere. By which I meant that theists should not shy away from voting or participating in politics but should remember that politics is ultimately not the solution.

I see what you're getting at in terms of your advocating an apathetic attitude (of sorts) toward other's belief systems. Particularly in situations where it does not cause harm, I agree. The problem, though, is that our belief systems can dictate to us whether or not harm is being caused.

So, in the case of abortion, due to my faith, I may look at it as the taking of a life (which implies tremendous harm being done) whereas you may see it as none of my business and ultimately just a lump of cells. Whereas, with a lot of other matters such as gay marriage, I'm inclined to espouse a more libertarian, live and let live attitude, and not feel as if that contradicts my own belief system.

I'm I making sense?

I Am said...

Chad:
I prefer "I Am." I will accept "Sam." I have even grudgingly come to terms with "Yam." However, I believe you referred to me as "Spam." No. This will not stand. I'm assuming it's a typo.

Chad said...

"This aggression will not stand, man" - The Big Lebowski

Okay, it was a variation on your handle I had not yet heard so I was just testing to see if you would catch it. It won't happen again :-)

DUB said...

Actually, Chad, my mission is to remove believers from the public sphere. In my world, you'll all have your religious sybmol tattooed on your forehead, and we'll promptly shoot you at the voting polls.

Just kidding. Really.

Yes, I think EVERYONE should vote and try to participate in politics. Expecially th epolitics part, where the majority WASP male presence seriously misrepresents the actual face of the nation.

"The problem, though, is that our belief systems can dictate to us whether or not harm is being caused."

Ah, yes. Which brings us back to morals. And brings me back to theist's "faith". Sorry if that's short, but I would have rambled on something terribly.

Overall, my impression of you is that you may fit in the mold of my ideal Christian.

Anonymous said...

Smokey was a conscientious objecter, man!