On Debating Specifics

I often state that religion can be defied on reason alone. Simply put, if there is no evidence for it, there is no reason to believe it. There is also no reason to disbelieve it, though if evidence can be brought against it, the claims become increasingly absurd and defy Occam’s razor to the point of ridiculousness.

Thus, it’s often seemed silly to me that so many of us are forced to argue the specifics of Bible passages and the like in order to make our point. The thing is, though, that many of the people we’re debating against are willing to make great rationalizations for what they believe. They’re incredibly forgiving with the book. They variously condemn us for taking a phrase too literally or, alternately, not literally enough.

And yet they say that their book is not open to interpretation, that it is concrete and infallible. I find this disturbing; they accuse us of living our lives without a guiding code, but it is they who are willing to mold their scriptures to reflect whatever they like them to. And they still claim infallibility, and promote that their own interpretation is the only way. All others are not the *true* followers.

Of course, so many people won’t listen unless we know the specifics of their particular faith (usually varying forms of Christianity). They’ll call us on these specifics when what we’re arguing is for reason. It’s like discussing bad slash-fiction with a middle-aged basement dweller: none of it ever happened, none of it will ever happen, and yet you’re arguing over specific plausibility like it really matters. It’s not about the specifics. It’s about fundamental concepts of rationality. They’re large, large enough that it seems people can’t see them so often, preferring to pick over smaller things.

It isn’t about the smaller things. It’s about the things required for faith in their God: deep solipsism, the relinquishment of personal responsibility, suppression of the questioning intellect, and the acceptance of personal unworthiness and helplessness that are necessary to be “saved.” All of these things are, to my mind, unhealthly in any person looking to improve the state of things. These are the mentalities of downtrodden slaves, not of thinking human beings.

Little is accomplished by going down the list of contradictions and conflicting interpretations in the Bible, of which I understand there to be many. But it would seem that we will never be listened to if we cannot play their game. With any luck, by showing proficiency with their texts, they become more willing to listen to what it is we have to say: that reason and rationality should not be suppressed, and that religion is a prime enemy of the intellect. I hope that one day people will listen to reason, rather than arguing empty, truthless scripture.

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