Monday, April 9, 2012

Why It's Futile to Argue with Religionists

Trying to engage in  or respond to believers, especially fundamentalists,  in a discussion about religious issues can be frustrating.  This is because they are usually so wrong on so many levels that it's almost impossible to know where to begin.  

For example, on an ER episode some years back Jerry, the emergency room desk clerk informed Dr. Weaver who had just come out as a lesbian that because of her sexual orientation she is going to hell.  Weaver was so stunned by this remark, especially by someone who she apparently never realized is a bigot, that she was at a loss for a reply.

And so it is for atheists. How do we reply when religious extremists confront us with a similar prediction about our eternal fate?  Just ignore it?  Respond that non-believers should not be condemned for who they are since most of them are moral people? That hell is a myth? That the attacker is rude for making such a statement in the first place? That it's none of their business that atheists don't believe in a god?

Atheists can, of course, request these fundies prove their assertion. Their typical reply is that it says so in the bible. But if advised that such a passage is an still just an assertion and not proof of anything including the existence of hell (or a supreme being for that matter)  they will likely say something to the effect of  "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."  This of course kills any further exchange.  You can't counter faith with reason.

On this basis, especially in such areas as education, politics, and especially science.I don't see how atheists and religious believers can accommodate each others' perspectives.  And since it's usually the latter who often have no regard for the First Amendment and who demand special legal and social privileges at the expense of others, it's certainly not incumbent upon non-believers to make any effort towards reconciliation..