How dare you

I wouldn’t want you to think I’ve forgotten the twins. Chris popped his head around the door the other day to say ‘Here’s another favorable review’ (funny how both of them either ignore the bad reviews or pretend they were good reviews). While he was at it he also said ‘and here’s someone who thinks what we think – no actually he said her comment was ‘revealing’ and then said ‘It seems to me that Hannah is our ally in the cause of better public acceptance of science–and I for one, am glad for it.’ In other words, same old thing: keep ignoring what critics say and keep doggedly repeating what the twins say in the hopes that sheer repetition will convince the unconvinced.

Here’s a news flash: it won’t.

Hannah’s comment goes like so (you could write it yourself without even looking):

[A]theists have as much capacity for creating dogma as do religious folks. That is clearly evident in reading comments here. I will say, once again, that it’s insulting to continually read from progressive commenters here and other places that I must be a “crazy” who believes in “fairy tales”, etc. because I am a Christian. For the record, I have a degree in science (from a highly-regarded state university known for its science programs), have worked as a research assistant, am always trying to learn more about the natural world. The Christian denomination I belong to and many others are not like the fundies, and in fact are appalled at what those folks are doing. Many of us speak out against their un-Christian and other actions that harm their children (re education), the country and the world.

So…she thinks it’s insulting to read that she must be a crazy because she believes in fairy tales because she’s a Christian – but she doesn’t mind calling other Christians ‘the fundies’ and ‘un-Christian.’ What, exactly, is the difference? What is the relevant variable here?

Is it whose ox is being gored? Yes; pretty obviously. So she forfeited her moral standing to complain about being insulted.

But more to the point, it’s a silly complaint anyway. Suppose commenters here and there said that people who believe in Santa Claus or Loki or parking angels are crazy. That would be insulting to such people – and that would be just too bad. If you believe fanciful things for no good reason, then you just have to put up with people in the wider world saying those beliefs are silly. Your best friend may humour you, your siblings and colleagues perhaps will too, but you can’t expect all of humanity to oblige. You just can’t. In the public realm, ideas and beliefs have to stand on their merits. If they can’t – then there’s something wrong with them.

This is obvious in the case of beliefs in Santa Claus and parking angels. Generalized discussion of the absurdity of belief in Santa or parking angels doesn’t generally trigger outrage about militant fundamentalist new aclausists. Christian beliefs, like other religious beliefs, are not fundamentally different from other such fantasy-based beliefs, but people in Christian regions think they are because of long habit and social norms. That’s an illusion. It’s an illusion that ought to be patiently chipped away at until it is gone. It’s not an illusion that ought to be cherished and cuddled and pandered to.

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