Greta Christina's Blog: How Dare You Atheists Make Your Case, Round 2: Persuasion Equals Intolerance
Greta Christina continues her series of posts looking at Atheism and common arguments against Atheists.
I've been in a number of debates on Facebook lately (btw, if you're on Facebook, friend me!), with several Wiccans, neo-pagans, New Age Christians, and other practitioners of woo spirituality. And I've been running into a baffling new version of the "Shut up, that's why" argument -- one that basically says that any attempt to persuade someone that you're probably right and they're probably mistaken is a form of bigoted intolerance, and a slippery slope to violent oppression.
When it comes to religion, anyway.
It's a trope that says, "All experience is subjective, and therefore all experiences are equal and have to be treated with equal respect." Or, rather, "All religious experience is subjective, and therefore all religious experiences are equal and have to be treated with equal respect." It's a trope that says, "It's okay to share your thoughts on religion... as long as you don't disagree with anyone else's, or try to persuade them that they're wrong."
And it's driving me up a tree.
Armor I'll give the devil its due: Of all the pieces of armor in religion's armory, this one is uniquely effective. How do you debate someone who doesn't value debate? How do you present evidence to someone who doesn't value evidence, who values personal subjective experience over rigorously tested reality? How do you persuade someone who thinks that persuading people is horribly ill-mannered at best and abusive at worst? How do you engage with someone who thinks it's okay for people to express their opinions... as long as they don't commit the appalling faux pas of backing up those opinions with arguments and evidence? How do you make a case with someone who thinks that the very act of making a case makes you a bad person?