Thursday, March 12, 2009
Watch Your Tone!
I'm in danger of becoming all religion all the time this week, but I want to drop another post on the topic.
I had an interesting exchange with a friend today about the tone (among other things) of my criticisms of faith here. She feels that my tone is too harsh in addressing difficult issues like faith. Naturally I disagree.
I've come across this issue before, and I think the last thing we need in the debate over faith vs. atheism is more deference to faith. (Here's an interesting discussion of this issue.)
I don't understand why opinions about the existence of god should be treated with any more respect than opinions about - say - politics. We regularly see public exchanges about political ideals that border on fist fights, and while you occasionally hear about changing the "tone in Washington", I've never heard anyone say that one side or the other of the political spectrum is entitled to deference and respect just because.
Yet I hear that argument all the time when it comes to "faith." Why is that? What is it about believing in god that entitles the believer to more respect or deference than any other opinion? It makes very little sense. If the believer can back up his beliefs, and wants to engage in a debate about it, he should welcome my challenge even if it comes in strong terms.
The "watch your tone" argument is particularly annoying in light of the tone that so many believers take with atheists. I'm not suggesting they should tone down their rhetoric, I can take it, but when a former president of the US has said atheists shouldn't be considered citizens; and when states still have laws on the books (although unenforceable) keeping atheists from holding office, maybe believers should take as good as they give.
Hey - I'm not really that harsh anyway. Now George knew how to be harsh.