If what I now write has atheists and devout belivers criticising this blog then I will have achieved what I set out to do. Which is to take both viewpoints outside the comfort zones of the holders.
That how right you believe your view to be is not a reason to hold others to your belief.
Even though atheism is not based on fantasy, or at least on super natural power, this does not mean that we can enforce those views on others.
What we can do is assess the actions that are a consequence of the thought. We need more than a correlation – we need causation, that the belief leads to the act.
As much as we may not wish to phrase it otherwise, atheism is a belief. We may argue that we have better data leading to the conclusion. However we cannot claim it as a fact – otherwise we do exactly what creationists do when they say evolution is only a theory. We cannot debase language by our emotion or force of conviction.
The belief that Jesus was born on 25 December does not hurt me. That it may be celebrated with a tree and tacky decorations is none of my business. The consequence of the belief does not cause harm.
Howver, when I ask you to look at the evidence that the early Christians focused on Jesus’ death not birth. Save for Matthew whose writings appealed to the Greek epic of omens fortelling deity. That the date chosen for commeration is more about pagan significance and convience than historical accuracy.
Faith is not a free ride. You may tell me that your partner is beautiful and your children smart. You are entitled to that view, however I shall choose the opinion that is independent of yours. Do not hold me to your view publicly – it may get ugly.
The above analogy is appropiate because people may feel comforted in their belief of their family as they do about their faith. I suspect though that we all know a family whose belief in their virtues is liable to loose it’s gloss with the disinfectant of scrutiny.
Maybe hands off would be polite. Certainly well mannered if we do not want an argument. Thing is that in the world of competiting faiths is like drunken husbands fighting over whose wife is most virtuous, while the wives prepare their children to dominate the future.
We cannot argue that if Dawkins and co would only shut up then an uneasy ceasefire may exist. Such is the power of thought and to silence is to deny who we are. Thinking animals moved to action based on thought. Not necessarily rationally based but the pack should be allowed to rip the bad ones to pieces for the survival of the best ideas.
So trump card – tolerance of thought. The limits are where the actions of those thoughts lead to consequences against the thoughts of others. Censorship being one, styfling debate another.
The more I see Hitchens debate Rabbis and others makes me think of Douglas Adams and the philosophers arguing about the computer giving answers to philosohical debates. Deep Thought responds that the wait for such answers can set them on the gravy train for life as long as they could vemenently disagree with each other.
The truth is the undiscovered country, but while some become rich on the journey we all benefit from the experience. The sparring, and the friction may lead to ugly moments.
Freedom of thought, the plurality of ideas is important if we want to discover answers. You have to accept that, as in Deep Thoughts words, you are not going to like it. Always.