Saturday, January 16, 2010

Are Atheists too Stubborn to Listen to Reason?

Am I a hardened atheist? Am I too inflexible? Do I always think I'm right? My Christian friend informed me:

You are challenging but just because you don't listen.

Which caused me to pause. Because I think of myself as a person who listens quite well. Many friends who I have consoled and comforted have informed me that I was the best listener they ever confided in. I still get phone calls from my high school sweetheart whenever she needs to vent, and she always tells me that I'm so easy to talk to. But then again, friends aren't exactly unbiased when it comes to doling out compliments. Maybe there is a character flaw I haven't noticed before? Or maybe, it appears that I don't listen because, in all honesty, there are just some things worth listening to more than others.

When it comes to listening to people's "truths" I have to apply caution. Am I going to listen to any old uninformed, twice-baked, nonsensical opinion or personal philosophy which has no tested or tried value? In short, no. I try to be as discerning as possible. I just don't have time for poorly constructed thoughts, and who would waste their time listening to hours of moon hoax landing propaganda, or holocaust denial, creationist conjecture. Should we seriously waste time by patiently hearing out those with no real point to make, such as religious frauds trying to sell us their thoughts on how to make us better people if we just buy (into) The Secret or some equivalent bosh, bull, or bunk? I don't think so.

I am a selective listener. I also happen to be stubborn in what I selectively listen to. I've learned how to identify the baloney and then scrutinize it, critically take it apart, and determine whether or not it has any merit to speak of or if its just more rigmarole. So no, I don't think I'm a bad listener, I just don't listen to opinions that aren't supported with evidence or based on reason, or in themselves not very reasonable. Personally, I try to be more skeptical than credulous.

But overall, I like to think of myself as a reasonable listener. And by this, the corollary follows as well, I will stop listening when the content becomes too unreasonable. It's that simple.

So maybe that does make me challenging, since if you're a Christian who is going to try and preach the gospel to me and save my immortal soul, within the first three sentences that come out of your mouth I will have been able to critique and judge whether or not you know anything about anything, or if you're simply another dime store variety propagandist working for the man in the sky. And I don't have time to listen to creationist conjecture or poorly rehearsed apologetics. There's more important things to be listening to and filling my mind with, in my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

In the end, that may not be the open minded sit down and let someone spill their guts sort of therapeutic listening people crave when they want to be heard, but if people would only think about what it is they were saying more carefully first, I wouldn't have to defend my choice not to listen to their often times mind numbing stupidity. Let me put it this way, I'll listen to something worth listening to, so you better make it good, and that's the challenge.

Moreover, whenever I am being challenging, what I hope to get out of it, is to challenge other people to think for themselves. I hope they will see by what I am trying to do here is show them how they can base their opinions off dependable and reliable evidence, not some devotional creed or conviction which, more often than not, turns out to be unfounded and uninformed.

I am about weeding through the balderdash and picking up the gems of truth along the way. But first we must learn how to weed out the unwanted stuff that litters our philosophical landscape. And that's what I try to do here. Show how my Atheist views are sustainable, and sometimes this means doing a little weeding, so if I start hacking away at people's cherished religious beliefs, there is a rhyme and reason, and it's political. Not personal.

1 comment:

  1. "But overall, I like to think of myself as a reasonable listener. And by this, the corollary follows as well, I will stop listening when the content becomes too unreasonable. It's that simple."

    Much of what people talk about is very subjective, preference based; what kind of food I like, my vacation experience, how super my kids are, what kind of problems I am experiencing with my Great Uncle Ned, how I have trouble coping with life. We can be good listeners to these things by being attentive, sympathetic, and empathetic, and by offering what advice we have to offer.

    With other things like religion and science, ideas are expressed in order to be believed by the hearer. But so much of religion is faith based, meaning evidence is lacking, meaning anything intended as objective cannot be supported. I was going to mention the baloney detection kit, but just scrolled down to read the rest of your post before commenting and saw you already had it! Great post, really good observations on this phenomena of being accused of not listening to baloney.


Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist