Monday, April 25, 2011

Two Kinds of Ideas

I shall suggest that there are two kinds of ideas: those that can be addressed rationally, and those that cannot. Well, yes, there are many other ways of evaluating ideas, but let's go with this one for now.

What would you call an idea that cannot be addressed rationally? I call it insanity.

Let me present this idea. I think that Jupiter's moon Europa is populated by purple moon monkeys who eat green cheese and ride pink unicorns. You're laughing, I'm sure. But I'm perfectly happy for you to laugh at this idea since it's apparent that I just dreamed it up out of thin air on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, so laughing is actually a form of rational response.

Other forms of rational response are also possible. We could discuss the estimated cost of a space probe to Europa and the chance of ever getting funding. We could discuss what other priorities there might be for spending that funding. I'm perfectly happy to see any and all such responses to my seemingly wacky idea, so therefore my idea is not insane, even though it's most likely not true.

Now let's observe that many others have presented the idea that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World and that anybody who doesn't believe it is doomed to roast in eternal fire and brimstone. They support this idea with bumper stickers that say, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!" They are, by their attitude, blocking out all possibility of rational response to their idea, therefore the idea is, by definition, insane.

Now let's consider this news article about a high ranking clergyman complaining about something he calls secularism. What he's actually complaining about is people who attempt to address religious doctrine rationally. Religious people consider rational discussion to be a form of disrespect.

It looks to me like religious leaders are paying the utmost disrespect to rational thought. And then they have the gall to accuse me of disrespect to their religion. They are, by their own attitude, proudly declaring that all religions are actually forms of institutionalized insanity. Hey, how could I possibly disagree with them about that?

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