11
Jul
09

Ponderings

I sometimes wonder if the religious zealots could stop for a moment, step back, and listen to themselves and compare what they are saying to what other, equally zealous, groups are saying, if they might realize just how ridiculous they sound. Then I come back to reality where I realize “of course not, they are zealots, they can’t look at ANYTHING from another perspective.”

This brings me to a thought; we’ve had so many posts around here recently on empathy and how religions desire compassion and all this other fluffy bullshit, I realize that, if these religions really desire empathy and the ability to step back and look at the world from another viewpoint, why are they so hostile when someone tries to present them with another viewpoint? It could just be that it’s 2:35 A.M. and my brain is a bit slow at the moment, but it’s really an interesting thought. Empathy=good but contradiction=bad.

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4 Responses to “Ponderings”


  1. July 12, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    It’s kind of like trying to define a policy of tolerance. How can one be tolerant toward those who are intolerant? If you are not, are you truly tolerant? Yet to tolerate intolerance permits the intolerant to teach intolerance.

    In the not-so-distant past the problem did not exist. If others had a different world view and you were stronger than them, you kicked their corporate asses, took their stuff, and treated them like the dogs they must be to hold such views.

    Hey, wait. That’s not the past at all.

    Mike

  2. 2 jaredcormier
    July 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Michael, that is what I would call a paradox, just like this line of reasoning:
    “does absolute truth exist?”
    “no”
    “Are you absolutely sure?”
    “uhm…pretty certain”
    “yes or no”
    “yes”
    “HA, so absolute truth must exist!”

    The problem is that I am, in no way, advocating absolute tolerance. I am advocating tolerance toward those who wish only to have the rights and privileges given to others in similar situations. Being tolerant of the intolerant is not something which I am for; simply being tolerant of the benign. Prior to something being claimed dangerous, I would like to see real evidence of this; not the cherry picked crap normally presented.

    Kindly,
    Jared

  3. July 13, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    If the amount of tolerance you receive from others is proportional to (though not necessarily equal to) the amount that the person themselves gives, I think the problem is resolved fairly easily: you can tolerate someone who is slightly intolerant, and you can not tolerate someone who is highly intolerant themselves and still be “tolerant”. You need to allow for some drop off in the extremes, and if you accept a wide array of attitudes and behaviors save for those most inimical to others or society at large, you can reasonably still consider yourself tolerant while not tolerating those notable fringes.

    As for the main post: I think the religious people who are sincerely seeking empathy and compassion are not those who are actually zealous enough to be completely unable to see things from other points of view. Granted, I think, in general, there is some difficulty putting one’s religious perspectives in perspective with those of others, but those who seem completely incapable of it do not really want others to have such a understanding of them. They may call it “empathy” and “compassion” but what they really want is submission and obedience. They just don’t want to be challenged, or to be forced to re-evaluate or empathize with others. They’re just able to hide behind the people who sincerely desire the more wishy-washy state of acceptance since they are effectively pursuing the same goals. The zealots are the sword, and the moderates are the shield, mutually benefiting one another while pretending at the same time that the other does not exist at the same time. It’s really rather interesting, but it makes conversation confusing, exhausting, and sometimes just plain futile.

  4. 4 Richard
    July 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    @Michael

    I suppose the first question might be, “what do we mean by tolerance?”

    I’m tolerant towards people. So, if they disagree with me, I can tolerate that (read: ignore the disagreement when it’s not relevant, remain civil when it is). I might disagree, but I’m not going to try to physically force them to adopt their views.

    So, I can tolerate (in this sense of the word) intolerance.

    But, I don’t think that ideas are intrinsically worthy of respect. Some are pretty unpleasant when put into practice. And, I’m happy to try to argue against them whenever possible.

    So, I cannot tolerate (in this sense of the word) intolerance.

    The reason it seems like there’s a contradiction is that we use the same word (tolerance) to signify several different things. Appologists will often say that tolerance (civility to people) is good, and then demand tolerance (civility towards ideas) in an attept to stop criticism.


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