Sunday, 11 December 2011

The "Not I" Defence

A follow-upto yesterday's post. If I were to ask my religious friends whether they considered atheists like me to be as bad as rapists, they would probably say: 'no.' And if I pressed them that many believers empirically do believe that, they might say: 'there may be Christians who think that way. Not I!' I wonder about this. It does double service, of distancing the believer from the loonier aspects of religious belief, and of de-fanging religion itself (as it might be: 'some Christians are idiots, sure, but the existence of reasonable Christians like me show that the Church isn't all bad'). I wonder. At the risk of an offensive analogy, isn't this like a Nazi being accused of anti-Semitism, and insisting that whilst there may be some Nazis who think that way, s/he doesn't. If a main point of religious belief is community, then how is one served by explicitly distancing oneself from that community? Of course, humans may disagree on aspects of doctrine, but thinking atheists no better than rapists touches on a core feature -- belief itself -- without which conventional believers have nothing. So ...?

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