11 oct. 2011

Bad Arguments: Atheists are Extreme

Are you enjoying this series? I am. I guess no one reads this blog or else I would have a zillion comments.

Today I'd like to address the idea that atheism is "extreme" in the same way the religious fundamentalism is. This is the well-known "extremes meet" kind of argument. As I've stated before, if religion actually has some truth to it, then it should be taken very, very seriously. I mean, if it is really true that Jesus died for our sins, or whatever, that is a hugely important fact about human history. It doesn't make sense to believe it "moderately," or see it as a vague feel-good metaphor that you can take or leave. On the other hand, if it has no truth to it at all, then it is pretty ridiculous and harmful nonsense. It is kind of hard to have a moderate, non-extreme position between those two poles of belief or non-belief. So in a sense, I do agree with the Christian fundamentalists that it truly matters whether you believe or not.

I remember being told by a guy, who heard that I was professor literature, "You must like to read, then." Well, yeah. I almost asked a few ministers I met casually, "Wow, you must be kinda religious to do your job." I thought better of it because I am polite guy.

In my view, however, it is not dogmatic or extreme to refuse to believe in something you really don't have plausible evidence for. The two positions are not symmetrical in that sense. Even a very hard-core in-your-face atheism is still just a non theism, a refusal to buy into what almost everyone else is saying. It only looks extreme because of the huge dominance of religion in modern culture. Most atheists don't even spend a lot of time on atheism per se. It's more like something we don't do rather than something we devote energy to. Atheism is religion in the sense that not collecting stamps is a hobby, someone once said. In other words, it's more of an absence than a presence. It only becomes "extreme" when we actually decide to make a point of it, as in these posts of mine.

1 comentario:

Vance Maverick dijo...

I read these. I don't always agree with your take on the issue of the day, but they're worth the read, if only to feel out the contours of my own eccentric religious configuration (roughly, "There is no God and Mary is His Mother").