I find it tragic that I love reality, yet everyday I spend in the real world I die a little on the inside. No, it’s not the world itself that I hate, but the society within it that doesn’t seem to grasp its own environment.
Today, I had the pleasure of wallowing in more anti-intellectualism with the irnoic combination of cultural relativism. In history, I was in a group of two other students, one of which was African American, working on a project when we started talking about his race. It really wasn’t racist in any way, and I’m not sure how we got on the topic of his skin colour (it certainly wasn’t me who brought it up as I couldn’t care less if he was purple with turquoise polka dots), but I was trying to get the group back to work and said “Well, ultimately we all come from Africa so let’s start answering these questions…”
I was, of course, referring to the fact that Africa is the cradle of our species, Homo sapiens. The fact that they didn’t know this was already proof enough of the public education system having failed them.
Anyway, somehow from there we started talking about evolution and how I was an Atheist and the African American kid was trying to make the one connection to Atheism and evolution his education could make. “South Park, Atheism… South Park, Atheism… South Park, Atheism… Aren’t Atheists against evolution?”
The error was quickly corrected, but I asked him what his personal religious beliefs were because the two were pretty much ridiculing me for stating the fact that the cradle of our species was in Africa. It turned out that he believed in God but was not deeply religious and did not deny evolution, so the ridicule was more out of ignorance… but I went ahead and asked him why he believed that God was “up there”.
If God is “up there” in the United States, then is he also ” up there” in Australia? That was just a random thought and not what I actually said…
As I was saying, I asked him why he thought that somebody was “up there”, and the other kid suddenly started rambling about how “that’s just true for you, and what true for me is different from what’s true for you.”
Why, just why do these people deny reality?
I made an analogy, pointing to the nearest wall. “If it’s true for me that the wall is not there, but it’s true for you that the wall is there, is my ‘truth’ just as valid as your ‘truth’?”
I managed not to fall out of my chair.
“What if I walk into it, then?”
“You know what, I’m not taking your shit anymore. You can’t tell me that something I believe exists is not there, your scientific truth is different from my truth” and so on.
Honestly, I wasn’t trying to tell him that God wasn’t there for once. Faith is not hard to understand, but it never hurts to improve ones understanding. I was trying to have a civilized conversation about other people’s beliefs. If they had them, you would think they had them for a reason and wouldn’t be pissed about a lowly fellow freshman like me challenging them. What I wanted to know was…
“Do you care about what is true or not?”
And of course the answer was again…
“It’s true for me, and what’s true for me is different from what’s true for you…”
And it went on like that until they pulled their desks away from me, so I stood up and went to another desk. Because we had work to get done, they dragged me back, and at the end of class, I started getting attacked for something I had said earlier. I called the “what’s true for you is different from what’s true for me” by its proper name, post-modernism, and was asked how I knew that. “Because I’m an intellectual…”
“Well, do you study Warcraft?”
“I’ve played it a few times.”
And then I was asked about the difference between rogues and hunters, and the level at which mages can use polymorph. I hadn’t played it in months so I didn’t know the answer to the last question, and he started saying that he was an intellectual of video games. He ‘studied’ video games. I asked if video games had real world applications…
“Some of them do!”
Heh… “Name one.”
I’m sure somebody could come up with something to do with virtual reality, but honestly, knowing what level mages can use polymorph at does not make you an intellectual of any kind… even of video games.
This could be a poor definition, but I suppose that the very essence of being an intellectual is not just studying and learning these things, but also to back up your statements with evidence or logical arguments… exactly what they had failed to do.
But the other thing that I’d really like to address in this post is ‘respect’. As much as I’d like to do what society expects us to do and say “I do not agree but I respect your faith unquestioningly,” I simply can’t. There is nothing respectable about faith. Faith is stubborness. It’s believing for no reason other than wanting to believe.
When the theists blow up the second you challenge their beliefs and say “That’s just my faith! You can’t say anything bad about that!” you’re expected to say “Oh, I respect that…” When a Democrat debating a Republican blows up and says “That’s just my political party! You can’t say anything bad about that!” we’d all think that the Democrat was completely bonkers (as I don’t have affiliation with either party, feel free to interchange the two if you feel better about the Republican making a fool of themself).
And of course, I face the criticism from both theists and other Atheists that I shouldn’t think that all theists are stupid. I don’t.
Homo sapiens is the closest species to a reasonable being that you will find on this planet. Had we continued discussing the fact that we originated in Africa instead of moving on to religion, I have no doubt that the cultural relativist anti-intellectuals would have stopped denying it. But, the “what’s true for me isn’t the same as what’s true for you” boy is a victim of double think. Politics are debatable, but you’re simply not allowed to say anything bad about his faith. Why? You just can’t… His reasons for clinging to the delusion so dearly may be because he just wants to believe too badly, but it’s simply something that you can’t get past because the moment you question the boy’s faith, he closes his mind.
I can not respect faith. It’s the tool that religion uses to keep us in its tyranny. Faith is totalitarian.
But, it’s human nature. I can’t respect him for not rebelling against his nature, but I can understand it. As far as I’m concerned, the boy is still my friend. He is a good boy… with stupid beliefs.