Religion is a manifestation of irrationality.
Irrationality is harmful.
We must fight irrationality.
We must fight religion.
The argument above is a sound (valid and true) argument, though many wouldn’t agree with the conclusion, pleading to “tolerance”.
My question is, given that the premise is true, _how_ do we want the government to fight irrationalism (religion), so it doesn’t degenerate into violation of freedoms?
I had 2 ideas :
(1) Making strong laws that protect freedom of speech _inside_ minority groups. That would lead to people being able to stand and argue with their preacher in public without fear of repression.
(2) Sponsoring organisations like Center for Inquiry, or _at least_ csicop.
What do you think?
Tempting as it is to do it this way, we’re not going to win many battles with the kind of strategy suggested by your formal argument. Our best approach, I believe, is to present our own vision to the broader community, not merely as an argument but as a visible way of life - in other words, we must show the community what we believe by our actions.
If we ever get our collective act together and live what we say we believe, joyfully and with a degree of dignity that people admire, then we will begin to attract more people. When the community comes to us of its own free will, we will have won the battle and the war. Until it does, we probably can’t win no matter how many laws are on the books. This means that we must present something that appeals to the community on all levels, not just the intellectual. In fact, the intellectual level is the least persuasive to most people. That’s a sad fact but it is a fact. The good news is that we can succeed in all the domains (thought, emotion and action) but first we must discard our baggage. I’m arguing for a religious response to religion, with one difference: we omit the supernatural.
My formal objection to your argument is the same one that generated a heated but fascinating discussion (to my eye) with Doug a week ago. We’re going to keep losing arguments if we don’t stop treating religion only as a collection of rules, creeds, dogmas and doctrines. There is an experiential and emotional side to religion, which may be non-rational but it’s not irrational. The hill ahead of us is more than steep enough without our making it steeper.
Regarding your two suggestions, the devil of any law is in the details. Specifically what laws do you have in mind? I’d be interested in suggestions for strengthing CFI and expanding its appeal.