1.07.2009

Ideological Barricades

The problem in attempting to engage an entrenched conservative (or extreme liberal, for that matter) in a discussion is that there is no compromise, there is no open-minded approach to the discussion. There are merely forgone conclusions that you haven't accepted as gospel yet.

Which, as anyone who knows me, doesn't play well at all.

A foregone conclusion supported by foregone premises isn't a discussion, its an attempt at a conversational dictatorship.

There are conservative thinkers I've known for years and I respect them and their opinions. Not because I agree with them but because they have a willingness to open up and discuss issues on equal terms. They may have a strong belief in their stance, just as I normally do, but evidence can be presented for either side and either side is just as likely to cede the point.

In arguing with people with entrenched beliefs, there's no chance of a meeting in the middle, there's no chance of any sort of mutual understanding because they are unwilling or incapable of cracking the seal on their belief system lest it be cracked wide open and they realize that nothing they believe is sacred and perfect.

I stopped discussing religion with people long ago because of this. Faith is not something I can access. I was raised by a scientist, my grandfather was a scientist, my other grandfather was a engineer. Empirical proof is hard-wired into me. I cannot and will not accept a belief that requires me to ignore everything I have come to know and learn about the universe. The leap is the failure and, logically, requiring a leap of faith is a demonstrable flaw in that belief system.

And when the entrenched is faced with proof of the flaw, they dismiss it or ignore it. There is no discussion, there is the citadel within which they dwell with their cherished beliefs and there is the rest of the universe in which discussions can and often do change strongly held beliefs.

The entrenched believer squirms out of the way of evidence, they try to reframe the discussion, they try to use your own words against you, they throw mud at the wall in the hopes that it obfuscates the discussion so their false premises leading to their foregone conclusions won't be examined. They are intractable and not worth the time it takes to discuss the issue with.

I hold no belief so strongly as to be unchangeable save the fundamental understanding of cause and effect, of empirical evidence, scientific method and other baseline understandings with which I can and do judge the world around me. Other people do not come to the table with the same set of tools, others come to the table with faith-based fundamentals that are outside the realm of accessibility.

The counter argument to all of this is that we are flawed creatures, incapable of accessing the knowledge that would inform us of the existence of a creature or creatures outside of this universe. That the leap isn't a failure but a calculated gap bridging mind trick that brings one into an acceptance of these "facts". And I'm probably not doing a very good job of breaking it down.

What it all comes down to is the leap of faith. The required shoving aside of every mechanism of discovery to accept, without proof, the existence of a god. To me, the leap is the failure. If I'm allowed to push aside every bit of belief and understanding of the world for the leap of faith then what is to stop me from doing so for any other "truth" I wish to hold? It is a slippery slope that leads to intellectual damnation.

Also, it certainly doesn't help the religious argument that some of the most vocally intolerant buttwads in the world are also religious leaders. Christians preaching hate and divisiveness when Jesus Christ counseled tolerance and acceptance. The Mormon church throwing millions of dollars at the Prop 8 haters when they have a long and much joked about history of polygamy, denying one kind of marriage while having participated in having multiple wives is hypocrisy. And don't even get me started on the pedophilic preacher stereotype. Or the publicly vocal politician who thumps the Bible with regularity and then seeks gay sex in airport bathrooms.

Life is too short to enter into confrontational monologues with ideologically entrenched people. Just say no.
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