My Free Inquiry Interview: Why We Need Religious Moderates

3. Schaffaeri Says:

March 25th, 2010 at 9:54 am

Feeling are irrelevant when we talk about facts

That is, quite possibly, the single most ignorant and irrational statement that’s ever been posted in a comment on The Intersection. (Yes, that’s including posts from creotards, too.)

Why? Well, the statement itself may not be factually incorrect, because you certainly are still right if you’re talking about, for example, evolution to a creationist. In that sense, the facts are still true whether or not you’re having a calm discussion, a vigorous debate, or one in which you’re letting yourself spew violent epithets referencing murder and rape, and generally acting like a 12-year-old.

But that statement is so ignorant because, while making it, GM appears oblivious to the fact that despite his multiple calls throughout his 8-paragraph “you’re all wrong” tirade for us to communicate the utility of empiricism and reason to others, he has just deemed that this very communication that he so stresses is “irrelevant.”

Well, surprise, GM! As Monotropa said earlier, “A true rationalist should have the mental capacity to understand cause and effect in a human society.” I hate to break it to you (you might have already noticed this), but simply stating facts to humans – even to the most rational and godless ones! – is not an effective strategy for spreading an idea most of the time, especially if your only argument is “it’s a fact,” and even MORE especially if you think that those humans will overlook your hateful epithets just because there’s a fact couched somewhere deep within them.

Us humans hold stubbornly to ideas and opinions, GM, most stubbornly when someone attacks us vehemently and childishly rather than engaging through debate. If you really want to spread reason, per your repeated claims above (and I’m with you on this goal), then you need to use reason and acknowledge the reality that is the inherent nature of human society and the different strategies that are necessary to communicate with them – no matter how obvious or clear a fact may be.

I’m not arguing that we should always be “nice” to people thinking irrationally. Far, far from it. But I AM arguing that we need to drop this unmitigated bullshit that all approaches to communicating science and reason to other humans are equivalent to one another and lack consequences are long as the same facts are nested somewhere within them. If anything is a fool’s argument, utterly devoid of logic and reason, this flase equivalency claim is most certainly it.

You may continue living in your idealistic dream-world where strategy doesn’t matter because everyone changes their mind using “facts,” GM. But I choose to continue living in the inconvenient, real world where it does

FYI, I am 100% aware of the fact that the majority of people have their mental habits so hardened that it will not be at all possible to change them in any meaningful way. Where we differ is that I refuse to adopt a defeatists attitude and have the basic intellectual honesty to tell it like it is, and even though I am quite sure there isn’t much that can be done to save us from our collective ignorance, I will not keep my mouth shut about or prevent that there is not problem. Once again, this is much much bigger than religion vs evolution. It is, among other things, and from a purely practical perspective, about such things as us understanding our place in the universe, the role religion plays in preventing us from doing that, and our own extinction we are heeded towards because of our failure to achieve that understanding.

But to reach that conclusion require a lot more education of the type you’re not likely to get in the deeply anti-intellectual environment of modern universities (even the very very top ones)

95. Monotropa Says:

March 25th, 2010 at 10:17 am

Pardon me for asking this as nicely as possible, but what in the hell do you think you’re talking about? I get your point that we need to go beyond an acceptance of science to a more scientific *way of thinking,* but your claim of “once an irrational thinker on any topic, you cannot use rational thinking on any topic” is patently false. Humans can use extraordinarily rational thinking in some lines of thought while using some equally extraordinarily irrational thinking on others, no matter how false their irrational claims may be. Holding irrational claims (about religion, about vaccinations, about sports teams, about seeing a UFO) does not, by any form of nonfallacious logic, lead to universal irrationality.

You talk about reason, GM. Try using it. Correctly.

As usual, when I state these things, people look right past through them and don’t understand a thing. So I’ll try to do it again – imagine a lab technician who does nothing but wet work, no analysis, no intellectual work, just experiments. He/she does them incredibly well, but would you consider that person a scientist? No, because even though such people are “doing science”, the part that makes scientific activity science, is missing, and such activity is quite similar to assembly line work in a factory. On a fundamental level, it is quite similar with people like Francis Collins – they do good scientific work, but they are not thinking like scientists outside of the lab, which means that they have not adopted the scientific way of thinking and they are not “real” scientists, if we define science as a set of epsitemological rules you are supposed to follow rather than the act of collecting data and publishing papers.

Which is why I brought up the rotten corpse analogy – once you die/start thinking irrationally, there is no coming back. Of course we all think irrationally from time to time, because that’s now our brains our wired, but some of us are at least aware of that

99. Schaffaeri Says:

March 25th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

The important thing is to remember that one can criticize, even harshly, while still acknowledging reality – and that, not just being as outspoken as possible, is truly using reason. A deeply religious person is capable of being an incredibly rational thinker and contributor to the development of something like evolutionary theory – even moreso than a similarly trained atheist! – while being wholly incorrect on other topics, like the notion of God. Should they be criticized for the latter? Absolutely. But to claim that their use of reason in the former is disingenuous or wrong simply because they are irrational otherwise is, of course, a reasonless lie.

The very act of believing of God breaks the core set of rules a scientist should never break. I rarely use analogies, because they are not a good mental habit if you are a scientist either, but I will do it again here and say that what you’re saying is equivalent to saying that just because catholic priests are preaching being good to each other, and they also engage in a lot of charity work, the fact that they rape little children doesn’t really matter

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