Understanding the reasons for religious arguments
I’m beginning to understand intellectually debating religion is a giant waste of time. The blog Atheist Revolution has an interesting article on the types of ‘religious trolls’ who frequently comment in atheist’s sites and the tactics they use. However, there’s something important here that is not being mentioned: what exactly is their motivation?
It’s easy to dismiss trolls as simple troublemakers who want to start flame wars with atheists, but that’s not the whole answer. Sure, there are bound to be a few shit disturbers, but for the most part, I’ve always found that although these religious ‘trolls’ were unusually insistent and persistent, the motivation behind their actions are, to them at least, genuine and pure.
Imagine I want to convince you my favorite restaurant is simply the best place to get fried noodles with chicken (it is, but that’s not the point). I would try any tactic available to convince you. Did you know they make their own noodles there? That the business is owned by a small family who lives in the same building as their restaurant, and work 15 hour days? Sure, their cooking equipment is primitive and the service is slow, but I promise you the chicken is the tastiest around!
Ultimately, there’s an element of personal taste that enters the equation I cannot account for. Maybe you don’t like chicken. Maybe you prefer fancy places with lounge music. Whatever the reason, the reason behind me telling you about my restaurant are genuinely kind; I want you to experience the same pleasure and satisfaction I do. Religious people share this same need to proselytize; many feel their lives are richer for believing, and cannot understand why anyone would choose to live a life without God. The details of how the arguments unfold masks a far more primitive need every human being shares: the need to tell others about something good. I personally love my favorite restaurant specifically because I share it with others. This need is part of the reason we are a social species. Like the lion’s pride that learns to share for the good of the group, so have we learned to share those experiences that make us more healthy, and more happy. Whether or not religion does this is irrelevant; it’s important only that some people FEEL it is in order for it to be true to them. Everything they do can be explained from that one simple need.
So rather than worry about the kinds of arguments I can use to convince them on the logical truth of my ideas, I have come to see the reason I am an active atheist is I want to share how profound and incredible the realization of a godless universe is. In that sense, I am no different from my Christian counterpart, with the exception I have perhaps the stronger arguments. Ultimately though, if I am blinded by my emotional attachment to an idea, I may be unable to see why it may not be universally appealing to others. The only value I can hope to instill on others, therefore, is that one always has to be willing to question their assumptions. This is something very few religious people do, and the vindication I have in my unbelief is I will always try and maintain an open mind.