deepone wrote:This certainly sounds like a good starting point. I think that the possible divergence from this point hinges on your view on peoples ability (and right?) to know and decide for themselves what is good for them. Sure, you are probably able to say enough about your suffering right now or yesterday for this to be an essential foundation for any intervention designed to reduce your suffering. But you cannot say with any certainty what will reduce your suffering tomorrow. Or in ten years. Or on your death bed. Or in the afterlife. I am convinced that there are certainly (many?) situations where a second party has better knowledge and a better understanding of what will reduce your future suffering than you do. So, how should you act given this? That is, I am convinced that I know better than you how to reduce your future suffering - what right (or obligation!?) does this give me to intervene in your life?
Yes, this is part of the problem. Theists often think they are privy to a secret world--and that the choices we make ripple across this world, causing consequences you cannot understand unless you too can see this world. So, they argue, when they oppose us, they are doing it only because they see a consequence we are blind to. They possess a knowledge we lack, and this knowledge grants them a deeper insight. We must trust them when they tell us that this insight tells them we are wrong. And hopefully, one day, we'll gain this special knowledge for ourselves--and understand why they had to tell us no.
This is a very compelling narrative. For a lot of reasons, but I'll just give you one: It's the narrative we use to raise our children. When Billy wants to eat all the candy and not brush his teeth, we tell him he can't do that. When he insists that he wants it, really wants it, we tell him why he can't--his teeth will rot. When he insists that he doesn't care, or that he doesn't believe us, we tell him he still can't, because we know
he'll understand one day, so we send him off to brush his teeth and go to bed without any more candy. Because we are privy to a secret world he isn't: The world of adults. The art of raising children is the art of introducing them, step by step, into this world.
At some point, if our parents were good at their job, they cease to always know what's best for us. It becomes our job to know. And that can be terrifying, because part of that is realizing that the process of growing up is never ending
, and parents are just people who were (hopefully) farther along the process than you were. On one hand, I see theists as just creating another parent--one for grown-ups. On the other hand, I can't claim I'm not doing the exact same thing when I say 'question everything'. We're both creating some sort of perfect ideal that we can't reach, and so long as we're struggling to reach it--so long as this ideal calls upon us to grow up
, rather than settle down and accept things as they are--I'm fine with it.
If you accept that growing up is a process that never ends I don't have a beef with you. Because something like "God hates fags" really is a product of someone being unable to grow up. It's the sort of thing we expect children to say, except with children we feel less angry because we hope they'll grow out of it. With adults, we fear they won't.
deepone wrote:Now, I do not think that it is right to tell homosexuals to repress their sexuality, but I think the right way to prevent people from making such statements is to change their beliefs, not to tell them not to act on their beliefs! I think that if you have beliefs that tell you to act in a way that I find unacceptable then those beliefs are a real and serious problem. I'm not at all satisfied with you simply not acting upon that belief. I think not acting on your belief is dishonest and serves to sweep real problems under the rug, thereby enabling the continued (erroneous) survival of bad beliefs.
The only belief you really need to change is the belief that morality is found merely by reading a book. Morality can
be found by reading a book, but you also need to have a mind to interpret that book--and if the mind fails, so will the morality. I prize the mind more than the book. Theists prize the book more than the mind. But if theists agree with each and every one of my points morally, then we have nothing left to argue about. What we prize more doesn't matter if both approaches get us to the same place.