Author Topic: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?  (Read 2684 times)

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Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2019, 02:41:25 PM »
To be clear, I have never made either of the following claims you attribute to me:

1. That “all criticism of religion therefore defaults to a personal attack on believers”
2. That “criticizing an ideology like religion” is any kind of “offense.”

Gee, I wonder where I might have gotten those ideas. Maybe from the post where you said:

         
it is not reasonable to expect a religious person not to feel personally attacked when you attack something so fundamental to their sense of self as their religion. That doesn't mean that you can't discuss flaws in religion, its negative consequences, etc., but you have to accept that denouncing those ideas is denouncing those who hold those ideas

Am I wrong to construe, "denouncing those ideas is denouncing those who hold those ideas," to mean criticism of religion defaults to a personal attack on believers?

When somebody "feels personally attacked" or "denounced," isn't that synonymous with an "offense?"


I have also neither implied that beliefs cannot be untrue, nor that beliefs and feelings are static.

I didn't accuse you of implying either statement. Those sentences were offered as an explanation for my line of reasoning.


Finally, I have not “caution[ed] skeptics against criticizing irrational and harmful ideologies for the sake of sparing feelings.”

Is, "you have to accept that denouncing those ideas is denouncing those who hold those ideas," not a caution against criticizing religion for the sake of sparing feelings?


By the way:

our disagreement on the nature of subjectivity and objectivity

I don't think we're necessarily in disagreement about the nature of subjectivity or objectivity. Not to spill our previous discussion about objective morality over into this thread, but our disagreement in that discussion stemmed from your own intractibility about the idea that an "objective moral system" could possibly mean anything other than a metaphysical set of principles that all intelligent beings in the universe must acknowledge as morally right and true. My position is that an "objective moral system" could also mean something as mundane as a code of law established by some human authority, by which all subjects under its jurisdiction are legally bound whether they like it or not.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 01:27:04 AM by John Albert »

Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #31 on: March 09, 2019, 06:17:42 PM »
Attention mods: the discussion in this thread has sharply veered off-topic starting with Reply #35.

I'm feeling that the tangent is well worth preserving in its own thread in the Religion / Philosophy Talk subforum. Perhaps a good title for the new thread might be: "Does criticism of religion amount to a personal attack on the faithful?"

Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #32 on: March 10, 2019, 11:38:42 AM »
What context?

Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2019, 07:54:16 PM »
So no answers, eh?

I'm convinced there is no good reason not to split this tangent off from the rest of the thread, and you're just throwing your weight around to spite me for pushing back against your idealism.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2019, 01:00:36 PM »
I wasn’t aware that I labored under a deadline (or, for that matter, that I was under any obligation to provide you with answers at all). As for “throw[ing] [my] weight around,” I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

I never said anything about any "deadline." 

You had been replying to the thread quite regularly (often within minutes) then seemed to abandon it after my last round of questions for you. Not that surprising, given that you never answer any of my questions anyway and instead opt for the uncharitable approach of disparaging me for "misrepresenting" you after the fact.

Over a day went by with no response from you, so I figured you'd abandoned the discussion. Then within a couple hours of my request to split the thread, you jumped back in just to register your "strong" objection on the basis of some specious rationale of preserving context. When I requested an explanation, you disappeared again.


I expressed my opinion, which I think has equal weight with yours except insofar as I might make a better argument.

I'm eager to see that better argument. Where have you been hiding it?


And as for your question, I didn’t respond because I felt the answer was obvious: the context of the thread in which it was held and the posts that sparked the disagreement. It is my opinion that such things should be preserved if possible and that decisions to split of threads should be made only to facilitate discourse.

OK, then why not handle it this way: split the thread off to continue the tangential discussion under a new topic, but also leave the posts intact in the original thread and make a mod note of the split?


As both the original topic of the thread and this one that sprang from it appear to have been exhausted

So you're the authority who gets to decide whether the discussion has been exhausted?


But fear not; in case anyone wishes to return and discuss this phantom beheading, I shall bow out of this discussion which seems to be verging on bickering, leaving the last word to you.

This thread has moved on from the transient subject of a fake news report, into a much more relevant meta-discussion on the distinction between criticizing ideology versus demonizing people.

That's the reason I'm requesting that it be split off: It's an important subject that deserves its own thread with an appropriate title.

You still never explained your rationale for preserving the "context," beyond saying "it is my opinion."

That kind of attitude is exactly what I meant by "throwing your weight around."
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 04:50:55 PM by John Albert »

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #36 on: March 20, 2019, 08:58:00 PM »
It assumes that "religion" can exist independently from the person who holds it, which is not true. There are two major problems with this. First, people identify with their religion so strongly that an attack on their religion is perceived as an attack on their self-image. Second, it's "love the sinner, hate the sin", which is something we don't let the religious get away with.
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Offline heyalison

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #37 on: March 21, 2019, 01:29:54 PM »
Dawkins has been drumming up islamophobic anxiety for decades now, and is responsible for being a gateway to racist extremism for white men. I'd say what I think of him, but the language would probably get me a warning. Blood is on his hands. We'd all do well to stop idolizing this hateful old creep.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #38 on: March 21, 2019, 04:30:37 PM »
It assumes that "religion" can exist independently from the person who holds it, which is not true.

No, it doesn't necessarily assume that.

It may also be based on the assumption that religion is an ideology whereas a person is a human being; a person's ideology is not an integral part of the person, and people's ideologies can change.

Besides, heroin addiction cannot exist independently from the person who is addicted to heroin. Does that mean that pointing out the evils of heroin addiction amounts to a personal attack on drug addicts? Of course not.


First, people identify with their religion so strongly that an attack on their religion is perceived as an attack on their self-image.

That's a hasty generalization. How do you know that all religious people feel that way?

Even if some do, does that mean their feelings are warranted?

If a heroin addict feels that pointing out the dangers of drug addiction is a personal attack against him, does that really make it so? Of course it doesn't.


Second, it's "love the sinner, hate the sin", which is something we don't let the religious get away with.

No, not even close. By that rationale, any criticism of any belief or practice is synonymous with hating somebody.

That view is unreasonable, anti-skeptical, and socially regressive. Society does not improve by increasing the hatred toward various groups who have false or harmful ideologies. Society improves by discrediting bad ideas while promoting understanding, education, and empathy for other human beings.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 06:26:39 PM by John Albert »

Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #39 on: March 21, 2019, 04:36:49 PM »
Dawkins has been drumming up islamophobic anxiety for decades now, and is responsible for being a gateway to racist extremism for white men. I'd say what I think of him, but the language would probably get me a warning. Blood is on his hands. We'd all do well to stop idolizing this hateful old creep.

Your vitriol against Richard Dawkins is noted, but who said anything about him?

Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #40 on: March 21, 2019, 06:25:45 PM »
Dawkins has been drumming up islamophobic anxiety for decades now, and is responsible for being a gateway to racist extremism for white men. I'd say what I think of him, but the language would probably get me a warning. Blood is on his hands. We'd all do well to stop idolizing this hateful old creep.

Your vitriol against Richard Dawkins is noted, but who said anything about him?

Quetzalcoatl did.

Oh, I see. he posted a tweet from Dawkins. That in itself can be a fraught endeavor.

Anyway, I think it's a bit of a stretch to blame Richard Dawkins for bigotry against Muslims. Atheist humanists are not the ones going out killing Muslims and bombing mosques, and I seriously doubt that the far-right Christian crusaders responsible for most of these attacks got their ideas from reading The God Delusion.

The "gateway" argument is also bunk unless you can demonstrate a chain of causality.

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #41 on: March 21, 2019, 09:28:26 PM »
Yes, I know you disagree, John Albert. I'm not about to bang my head against your brick wall again.
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #42 on: March 22, 2019, 08:49:55 AM »
Second, it's "love the sinner, hate the sin", which is something we don't let the religious get away with.

No, not even close. By that rationale, any criticism of any belief or practice is synonymous with hating somebody.

That view is unreasonable, anti-skeptical, and socially regressive. Society does not improve by increasing the hatred toward various groups who have false or harmful ideologies. Society improves by discrediting bad ideas while promoting understanding, education, and empathy for other human beings.

Thank you for being a voice of reason here John Albert. It is by skeptical inquiry, questioning beliefs, and refinement of beliefs, that society can move forward. And that's all kinds of belief. Religious, philosophical, political, scientific, historical, etc. No area is off limits.

To me, it is utterly astonishing that two skeptics are trying to wall off particular beliefs from criticism. The world has truly gone mad.
"I’m a member of no party. I have no ideology. I’m a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that’s all around us." - Christopher Hitchens

Offline brilligtove

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #43 on: March 22, 2019, 01:15:19 PM »
Caveat: I haven't the time to read the whole thread since TL raised this point, so I'm weighing in without all the context.

"Why: The Dangerous Question" was a conference track I did many times. Why is dangerous because it is a combination of how and who, even though we use it as if it means 'how' in many cases. This makes 'why' threatening in ways that 'how' is not, because it subtly raises questions of identity. If I ask an executive 'How did your project run $2 million over budget?' we can have a conversation about the factors that played into that situation. If I ask that executive 'Why did your project run $2 million over budget?' the implied 'who decided to' in the question feels like I'm questioning their judgement and ability to do their job. We're not going to be having a productive conversation after that.

That example is just scratching the surface of the reactions you get when you question someone's identity in more direct ways. As The Latinist has noted, questions about a truely held belief are experienced as questions and judgements about who you are to believe such a thing. It may be possible to separate the person from the belief. It's a lot harder to do when you are the person who holds the belief.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Does Criticism of Religion Amount to an Attack on the Faithful?
« Reply #44 on: March 22, 2019, 03:35:42 PM »
I think the title given to this thread is not a fair representation of the claims that I and others have made.

Arthwollipot has said:

         
in my experience there is very often an issue, particularly where religion is concerned, where an attack on the ideology is perceived as a personal attack on the self. Religion can be so much a part of a person's self-image and identity that it isn't as easy to "love the faithful, hate the faith" as people think it should be.


Then The Latinist took it a step further, and said:

         
it is not reasonable to expect a religious person not to feel personally attacked when you attack something so fundamental to their sense of self as their religion.

To criticize their beliefs is to criticize them personally, as surely as would be criticizing another person's race or sexual identity.

My argument is against the claim that criticizing beliefs, especially deeply held religious ones, is separable from criticism of the individual who holds those beliefs.

you should not pretend that doing so is not a personal attack on the holders of those beliefs; it necessarily is.

So as you can see, it's not really a strawman after all.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2019, 07:12:21 PM by John Albert »

 

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