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One Dogma For Another

One of the things I love about the greater community of reason is that we are all different. Not only are we a diverse group of people, but we have diverse opinions and points of view too. While most of us tend to be pretty liberal there are still a somewhat large number of Libertarians and a small spattering of conservatives too. Many of us are opposed to the death penalty but some still support it. If you pick an issue, any issue, you will see that atheists will argue and debate the details of that issue if not the issue itself.

The old expression is that atheists are like herding cats. We tend to be very individualistic thinkers and we tend to focus on any detail in which we might disagree with someone on even if we are basically in agreement on the general idea. We love to argue and debate stuff except those who don’t.

But lately there has been a growing orthodoxy within our community. People who believe that there is only one reasonable opinion to any given issue and if you deviate from that opinion in only a minor detail, then you are a blasphemous heretic. Of course they would never use those words. But their dogmatic view of reason is little different than the dogmatism of religious believers in my opinion.

In one conversation I had with a fellow atheist, he ended his comment with a threat of unfriending me because I defended someone we both disagree with because I thought his criticism of the person in question was invalid. Instead of trying to understand my opinion, I was told that I must be unfriended because I was defending the enemy.

One thing I like about most atheists is our ability to admit that we are wrong sometimes and that we can and do change our positions on various issues. In fact, most atheists have proven this by giving up deeply held religious beliefs. So the way I see it is that if a fellow atheist is wrong on something, we should have a conversation about it and one of us might just change our minds if presented with new evidence or a compelling argument. I would never start off a conversation by threatening to ban, block, or unfriend someone if they disagree with me in some minor or even major way. That’s not how reasonable people conduct themselves.

While I would love to see a world without religious dogma; do we really want to replace it with a new dogma? Let’s have the conversations and the discussions without resorting to throwing people in virtual dungeons, name calling, or threats against those with descending opinions. We should be better than that. We are people who value reason over faith. We shouldn’t trade one set of dogmas for another.

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