To argue for the sake of argument is like running for the sake of tiring, but fatigue can yield its own fruits to those willing to endure its effects.
Believers often tell atheist that atheists have an issue with following rules. I disagree completely and will explain why.
Reason, far from the elastic, arguable, and interpretable ‘belief’ of religion, is a much stricter set of rules to abide by, because one is robbed of any personal opinion when you embrace logic (this may be why opinionated people hate reason and prefer their own experiences and interpretations). Logic predetermines something, and it is the logistician’s duty to simply see what that logic points to--their opinionated contributions are not required nor tolerated in circles of reasonable thinkers.
The reason why I will not debate scripture with the religious is not that I don’t know scripture, or that I consider the religious to be more skilled in scripture, but because scripture is the believer’s deliberate attempt at a filibuster. And you hear this all the time when you debate scripture with believers, “That is not actually what the bible says,” “this verse must be interpreted literally/historically/symbolically,” and “this verse near the end of the bible relates to what was said by a verse at the start of the bible,” etc.
So ridiculous are these personal interpretations that no two believers can for long agree with each other on matters of scripture, and soon, one tells the other to reform their thinking or risk eternal punishment in hell for their ignorance.
You see, I have a pretty good memory. So when I reach this state of loggerhead with a particular christian on Paltalk, all I do is wait a few weeks, find him/her online again, and argue with them over the same issue, but using a different form of reasoning. All of a sudden, their previous interpretations and convictions are widely different as they interpret the same scripture in an ad hoc way to counter everything I have to contribute to the debate. And then, when I jolt their memory regarding the fact that I debated them on this very issue but a few weeks ago when hey said X and Y in defense of their argument, I get that ultimate defeat response: they put me on ignore.
I find being put on ignore by a believer to be the ultimate verification that I have destroyed them in debate. To me, it is a sign of respect, not insult.
But what I do gain from these skirmishes is the understanding that the religious demand a grey area for debate, because in a grey area, nobody wins, which also means nobody loses (the best outcome one can hope for one you present fairy tales as substitutes to reality). The religious, in assuming themselves to start the argument from the winning position, can then just declare that the atheist could not defeat them in a debate and disprove their claims. That may be true, but that is because debating scripture is an unwinnable debate as long as someone insists that the actual meaning of scripture is dynamic. This is nothing more than emotionally feeling one’s way through the potential explanations until one that resonates with the self is discovered; predictably, the ‘eureka’ moment follows shortly after such a discovery.
In case the religious think I am adding unnecessary drama to my explanation, let’s not forget that you lot have fought wars and murdered each other over how this book supposedly must be understood, and your contradicting interpretations of the bible have resulted in hundreds of denominations, each condemning all others as heretics and false prophets. Never have scientists wage war with each other over the interpretation of scientific literature. Sure there are disagreements, even feuds, but nobody, yet, has been burned at the stake.
When we have laws that aren’t open to interpretation, the self-serving and the insane are much easier to distinguish from the group, thus the religious do not want laws and rules that lend themselves not to the fine art of personal or denominational interpretation of tedious quantities of scripture.
Facts are not interpretable, therefore they don’t need consensus. Reality then, if accurately defined, is not interpretable! The religious cannot stand absolute rules that are self-evident, sound, and devoid of the need for personal agreement to validate their existence and merits.
The religious, in a self-contradicting fit of rebellion, are in fact the ones who cannot stand laws, rules, or anything that robs them of the chance to superimpose their personal expectations on the subject matter, or even the very fabric of civilization.
Religious people are comforted only in their assumption that they (and they alone) are right, and they want to be right about crucial subjects (e.g., morality, destiny, purpose, history, reality, etc.) without the usual effort that precedes the enviable position of being right about anything (let alone everything).
The religious need reality to be like a series of paintings from an unknown artist who never explained what his paintings mean or represent or even how he painted them. In such a world, the fool’s opinion is as valid as the expert’s opinion, because when nobody can know, everyone is equal despite the effort expended to try to know.
Religion cannot acknowledge the validity of science, its practitioners, or its productions, because that would force the religious to pursue a lifelong study of the sciences to regain access to the debate chair. It’s much easier for the religious to just stick to what they know and argue for its validity than to acquire a whole new reality that they need to fine comb and scrutinize all over again to make any sense of and to even have a sensible argument regarding it.
“No,” the religious proclaim! “We can discount honest inquiry and simply rely on personal revelations and interpretations.” That reduces reality to art and makes everyone’s interpretation equally valid, but not as valid as the person who believes he, in fact, has the only valid interpretation. See the catch? Everyone is right, but I am most right.
In dealing with people who try to limit reality to their own experience with and contemplation of it, I see so many atheist get utterly frustrated, to the point of losing composure, when the religious bargain for or even demand a separate reality in which their interpretations are the most valid argument uttered and completely unchallengeable.
But this is a sign of tremendous progress for the secular Homo Sapien: The once absolute rulers of society and human conduct (the religious) are now forced to explain themselves to a society that no longer fears the stake or the torture rack.
It is a pity that those who died for their skepticism of religious authority never got to see what the convictions and justifications of those who condemned them to death. To demand of the religious to explain themselves, when for centuries they would not, is a pleasure I never pass up, and unlike nonbelievers who died for their condition, the modern unbeliever never has to doubt their convictions as the flames lit by the believers consume them. The religious are powerless in a world that now bows down to science.
For well over a decade, I could not relate to how my fellow black South Africans must have felt after the fall of apartheid. But now, I think I do. To be an atheist in public and to note the bitter look on the faces of the religious who now MUST tolerate me puts the same proud smile on my face as the one I saw on black people’s faces post-apartheid, when they could sit in public and just be black and enjoy the miserable faces of the Afrikaners who once had the power to forcefully remove blacks from their presence.
So it becomes plainly visible that just like a die-hard apartheid supporter, the religious are constantly insulted by the fact that they have lost their relevance and power; however, they keep themselves sane with self-therapy: thinking that they will one day, again, take over and bring back the good old days.
And my mocking reproach to the religious is the same as the one I reserve for right-wingers: Come try!
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