Friday, February 29, 2008

Women Being Rude About God

I and others have made the point before but apparently not everyone on the internets is convinced judging from Ophelia Benson's need to reaffirm the value of uppity, offense-giving women and the comments it has spawned (more here and here).

The issue at hand is a big one -- naturalism or supernaturalism? Are we ultimately just highly sophisticated conglomerations of atoms or are we the product of a ghost-meat dualism? The answer ramifies profoundly and people on both sides genuinely give a damn about it. And of course there are many sides, not just two -- there are the materialists, the undecided-but-concerned, and a few thousand varieties of dualists. The question is magnitudes beyond 'is Pluto a planet or not?' or 'do cats make better pets than dogs?' or even 'is George W. Bush the worst president ever or just a moron tragically removed from his sit-com?' and the emotions and volume are correspondingly higher.

That it matters to all parties on all sides is the central reason it is not reasonable to expect discussion of it to give no offense. Discussion of it is bound to give offense almost by definition. Subjecting the matter to even the most initial questioning is, in and of itself, offensive to some parties given the views they hold on it, and given the stakes.

There is no charming way to say either "your god does not exist" or "god indeed exists, but you've spent your life worshipping the wrong one" or variants. Taking the other perspective: there is no nice way to say "you are going to burn in hell for eternity if you don't change your mind, and by the way, I am going to be partying with god while you're suffering eternally."

So if this or that take on these matters gives offense; if this or that stance presumes or asserts or implies that a contrary view and/or its adherents are mistaken, stupid, vacuous, evil, useless, dangerous ... how can I say this nicely? ... Too. Fucking. Bad.

To the extent we're true to the conclusions and their implications, there's no nice way to say what we find to be true about these matters.

It's certainly not the case that one side of this huge tangle of controversy gets to make its affirmative claims and then stand back and scream foul when a counterargument is made, on grounds that the counterclaim is offensive. Offense is the price of admission to this discussion for all parties. Period.

1 comment:

Zennalathas said...

Imagine how sweet it would be if things were priced with "offence"! Atheism would be priceless!