Having had many conversations with religious people over the last few weeks, Christians to be precise, I have come to some conclusions regarding their attitude towards the idea of an equal society, where all beliefs or lack thereof are respected in the same manner.
Religions based on proselytism seek the political domination of the area they exist in.
When living in the midst of a religious majority, in countries where laws are generally inspired by secular principles , non-believers are tolerated as long as they are not too vocal or, Heaven forbid, they try to influence or change the status quo by eliminating dogma from laws or politics, seeking to ensure religion is not imposed in any neutral environment, shared by all.
If and when non-believers raise concerns in that sense and try to diminish the imagined superiority of said majority to dictate how things are run (as it happens in the case of LGBT rights or contesting the role of religion in education), the backlash is immediate and comes with a seasoning of moral outrage.
They have no doubt regarding their right to impose their dogma on others. They refer to tradition, as if it were unheard of for traditions to change. And suddenly, they refer to themselves as a monolith, throughout history, although nothing could be farther from the truth.
Respecting others’ beliefs is a false claim, when what they really seek is to “save your soul”.
Intricate mental gymnastics are employed when trying to justify to themselves that agnostics or atheists, when formerly religious at least, are automatically wrong to have abandoned their beliefs. I will paraphrase some of the replies given to me:
Your soul is, really, crying out for God, otherwise you wouldn’t have this preoccupation of sharing your opinion on this subject. Those who contest God the most are those who need him the most.
You must’ve had some emotional problems, of feeling unloved, so you turned against God and all you claim as evidence is just confirmation bias for your decision.
It’s all about your ego, as if you had a brand new toy you want to show off.
All this, as if searching for truth were not a purpose in and of itself, as well as the refusal to believe in a lie (or a potential lie, when at the doubting stage).
This brotherly love, in this particular context, turns queasy, since one realises they are sometimes treated with kindness in the communal hope that they might one day be brought back to Jesus.
Respect for a person’s mental faculties does not enter this context, let alone and admission of the possibility that the person might be correct, at least partially. This so-called goodness is a masturbatory exercise, anticipating to be proven right in the near or far future.
Which makes sense, really; you don’t apply a modicum of consideration to someone else’s processes when you are convinced your point of view will be vindicated sometime by an all-knowing, all-powerful God. Which is why religion is so toxic when it comes to human interaction.
They accuse others of Neo-Marxism while arguing for the propagation of potential falsehoods “for the good of the collective”.
The world would crumble without religion. We would revert to a beastly nature and society would dissolve. Everyone arguing against the respect for dogmas is playing a part in a Neo-Marxist conspiracy to deprive mankind of its divine connection.
It appears as though this modern red scare, becoming clearer by the day, could not have succeeded in adding to the ideological tension, internationally, without the aid of religion. Whereas the left does exaggerate (and it often does), a new type of hysteria has arisen over the last few years, proved to be partially pushed by online Russian propaganda. Namely the right and far-right’s conviction that there is an international conspiracy, rooted in atheism or satanism or both, to eradicate the “true religion”, namely Christianity, through reforms demanded by the left.
Whilst more eccentric theories such as the belief in reptilians or a flat Earth are not so widespread, for obvious reasons, the theory of a sustained persecution of Christians in secular countries is something in the vein of Ebola. It stretches from lamenting the so-called war on Christmas (which they still see as genuinely connected to Jesus, despite undeniable evidence to the contrary), to congregations warned of the dangers of vaccines, seen as a tool of depopulating the planet (again, in spite of all evidence of the diseases now eradicated through vaccination).
There is no end in sight to this. Just as the radical left is driven by a false sense of knowing it all and having absolute moral superiority, the religious right is driven by the presumed need to defend the status quo “in the name of God”.
There is a truck-load of cognitive dissonance regarding what is known and unknown about God.
On the one hand, when discussing this world’s atrocities and the apparent divine uninvolvement in them, Christians for instance claim God’s reasons are unknown, and therefore cannot be judged by us mortal, limited humans. That is the basic response to every question involving why does God allow so and so to happen.
On the other hand, and sometimes in the very next breath, a Christian will claim to speak for God, by claiming this is what God wants or does not want, this is what God feels and this is what God will do.
No comment needed here.
The unwillingness to doubt implies a lack of basic intellectual honesty in debating non-theists.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of religion is its power to provide unwavering convictions to its propagators, to the point of rendering them unwilling, and through that temporarily incapable of opening themselves up for an honest debate.
Since their stance is combative from the very beginning, coming from a point of presumed moral superiority, there is no getting through to them with hardcore data or logical arguments. These just do not penetrate that shield of apriori “nothing you say will ever make me doubt”.
Which renders the whole conversation rather pointless.