The debate rages on. Is it arrogant to point out the irrationality of theism?

The lack of posts today is a consequence of the time that I had to spend responding to a day and half of comments on the topic of whether or not it is arrogant to point out the irrationality of theism. This discussion has produced 73 posts as of the writing of this post. Major issues being discussed include the value of personal experiences of God, the double standard of favouring religious faith-based beliefs over all others, productive debate approaches, the evidence for theism, theist arrogance, and more. If you feel like reading, this debate should keep you busy. I may do a post in the next day or so which summarizes the discussion. But I also might not, given the size of it.

12 Responses to “The debate rages on. Is it arrogant to point out the irrationality of theism?”
  1. scaryreasoner says:

    My response to the accusation of arrogance is this:

    I’m arrogant? I’m not the one claiming to be on a first name basis with the supreme creator of the universe.

    (works better with certain types of theists than others, of course.)

  2. ronbrown says:

    That’s a really witty way of wording it. The closest argument I’ve made to that is asking how I am the arrogant one when you are the one claiming to know the root of the answer to the greatest questions humanity has ever posed: how did the universe come about, what is moral, and what happens after we die? How am I, the agnostic atheist, the arrogant one when you are the one claiming to know the answers to questions that centuries worth of brillliant scientists and philosophers have not solved?

  3. Rachel says:

    So what if you’re arrogant? That doesn’t make theism rational… That whole arrogance accusation is a nice distraction from the actual topic: theism. I don’t want to accept that I am thinking irrationally, so I deflect that by accusing you of arrogance. Phew! I sure dodged that bullet! Now all we’re talking about is your arrogance – I don’t have to look at my beliefs now…

  4. scaryreasoner says:

    Rachel, you’re preaching to the choir, as it were, at least so far as I’m concerned, and good on you for doing it too, as you make a good point.

  5. Eddie says:

    scaryreasoner that’s an awesome answer!

  6. lichanos says:

    This arrogance issue comes from the idea, generally quite laudible, that we must respect others’ beliefs and opinions. Also, that we must be tolerant of different points of view and not condemn religions that are simply different.

    The believers, who think that everyone is religious, even atheists, don’t understand that when they undertake to argue their points, they have entered into an arena requiring proof, logic, evidence, etc. They think they should be able to assert their views and have them accepted. Certainly, we should treat them with respect – arrogance is never pardonable, I think – but politely demolishing their positions is not arrogant.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that this “arrogance” business is a distortion and vulgarisation of a strong democratic cultural tend that is, in many cases, quite valuable. But, as many point out, scientific questions are not decided by voting. It can degenerate into a debased “wisdom of crowds,” otherwise known as mob rule.

    The deeply held American view that we are all entitled to our opinions, religions, tastes, etc. and that no Authority has the right to gainsay them can easily become a dogma. Or as Senator Moynihan used to say, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to you own facts!”

  7. ronbrown says:

    Lichanos: I don’t have to respect anyone’s beliefs and opinions. I respect their right to have them, and to have them even if they annoy me. But I will never respect a belief/opinion simply because it is held. To do so would be to act as if an idea becomes more respectable once it is held (e.g., the idea that martians control our thoughts becomes more respectable once someone believes it).

  8. ronbrown says:

    I really like that Senator’s quote.

  9. lichanos says:

    Ronbrown – I meant that we should treat the people with respect. That should govern how we critique their ideas. I agree, some ideas are beneath consideration, but if a person believes them, for whatever reason, we have to start the conversation from a stance of basic respect for the person. After all, none of us can claim never to have had an idiotic thought, right? That’s all I meant.

  10. ronbrown says:

    Lich: Understood, sir. I should say that in reading my last comment, it came off far more assertively than necessary.

  11. Zennalathas says:

    I think we can all learn from the now famous words of House MD:

    “I speak in Latin because I don’t try to hide what an ass I am.”

    We’re all pricks, anti-theists. Oh well, it could be worse; you might believe in god.

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