I will take on a conversation I had this morning , quite a good one I might add.
First I want to touch a bit the subject of radicalism. I know that non-believers (“atheists” – as they are often called , a name I don’t agree with but I will not write here about it ) have the tendency to argue against religion with same radical attitude as religion fights common sense and morality. That can not really be disagreed upon, because we know that is true. I got one side blinded many times in my long discussions on the subject and I found that I was getting carried away in my desire to convert somebody to the non-religion that atheism is. Another mistake that we do, as Alan de Botton so eloquently put it in his book ” Religion for Atheists” , is that we forget how important religion was to the culture we are so proud of, how scriptures embody some good text, some quite decent philosophy of life that deserves its right place in our literature and body of knowledge, and can become very educative and very inspiring without necessarily having any religious believes. A decent book is a decent book after all.
So to fight radicalism with radicalism is plain out wrong. To be moderate in remarks against radicalism and be patient while arguing your points is the way to go as radicals vs radicals can lead only to something even more radical. And that is applicable to all non-believers and believers alike.
In the way of arguing your point, either side you find yourself, where does one needs to obstruct his freedom of speech to run a bit short of being offensive? When I argue against obesity, I do make it a point to pin out the fact that I was fat, and that people are fat. If that is a fact, it is hard to find it offensive. I don’t run around and tell women are fat, not because I am afraid they might threaten my life (which some of them will probably do) but because I am a man, and in my unpolished ways, I do try to make a good impression on the beauty that a woman represents and that every man desires.Is just my evolutionary copulation instinct that stops me, and the image of my mother smacking the words right out of my mouth.
Who is to decide when something is offensive? a simple thing like telling my grandma that the food she learned how to cook from her mother, who learned it from her mother and so on…, is disgusting , will be highly offensive to her, and I can see some other three or four of her sisters feeling the same, as that would insult entire generations of her family. Is that offensive enough to cut off the right to free speech? Certainly my grandma and the rules of politeness would say that, but we all can agree that this can never be a law punishable offence.
So if I , a non-believer, say that presumably god is not great…or god is not…is that offensive? If I say that religion is the enemy of morality and common sense ? (history and today’s news bring great proof to support this argument) Is that offensive? Shouldn’t I then feel offended when I hear that god is? or god is great? or when I hear that orthodox priest every Sunday singing and preaching to his congregation? I should take offence at the thousands of religious people condemning me for not believing, calling me a sinful person, telling me that I will burn in hell?
But here I am , not offended even for a bit, because despite me getting a bit carried away with my arguments against deity and against blind faith in fiction , I value a good conversation, and I do appreciate people that hold their ground and come up with reasonable and thoughtful arguments in support of their side. And I stand by the affirmation that if one is in truth as religious as I am not, then we can only end such a conversation being a bit wiser, having learned something and with a stronger faith and confidence in our values.
I passionately believe that, despite our debates and conversations on the subject, despite all arguments, we should all respect each other as human beings. We should take great offence when we see famine and disease ravishing our brothers and sisters, we should take great offence at the wars fought for material profits that kill innocent people. We shouldn’t take offence at ideas. Doesn’t matter how long and how fierce we debate, ideas and thought and free speech are the forces that drive us forward.
As usual, I hope nobody will find my opinion offensive as it is not intended to offend, and I invite any valid and educated argument against it. Ignore this if you find it erratic and nonsensical ,or criticise it if you wish to…as long as you put some thought into it.
The images are not at all related to the subject, but I still hope you enjoy them.