Category Archives: Dialogue

9/11/2012

It’s Patriots’ Day, so I just wanted to say this.

Get all the political slogans out of the way. Get rid of the hot-button issues that push our emotional buttons and keep us from looking at the deeper long-term problems. Get to the core of it all, and I think most Americans agree that we’re in a bad situation and we need to find a way to get out of it. We may disagree about the fundamentals of how to do that, but that doesn’t make the other side evil.

We’re all human beings. We’re all flawed. We’re all often quite wrong, even if we’re too stubborn to admit it. And we all have ideas to bring to the table.

Somehow, compromise has become a dirty word in American politics. Those at either of the extreme ends of the liberal/conservative spectrum have painted the other side as evil, bigoted, hate-filled, know-nothings.

I’m a liberal. My heart is constantly bleeding, and I’m not ashamed of it. But this doesn’t mean that I think everyone who disagrees with me is the scum of the earth. It means that I have a set of values that differs from those of other people. When I discuss important issues with conservatives, I can understand how their positions derive from their values. We may disagree, but I don’t think they’re (necessarily) irrational or small-minded simply for disagreeing with me.

At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I think that this is the sort of attitude that our current political dialogue sorely needs. The polarity of our parties is not only hurting political discourse in our country; it’s pushing people further and further to the ends of the spectrum, and that can only have dire consequences for our future.

If this democratic republic is to long survive, we must return to a place where we can stop trying to prove how liberal or conservative we all are, and instead focus on how each one of us, as Americans, can help us come together to restore our faded greatness to what it once was. For better or for worse, we are the descendants of a nation of rebels who overturned the most powerful empire the world had seen in centuries. Our forefathers foresaw many of the challenges we’ve faced thus far, but they had faith that those who followed them would maintain a healthy body politic with a genuine interest in the affairs of state, and in doing so would keep the principle of freedom alive. We owe it to them, and to all who have fought and died for this ideal, to give our all toward keeping the American political system vital, focused, motivated, and sane.

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“Sophisticated” theology isn’t all that sophisticated.

In fact, it sort of pisses me off.

I was recently engaged in a debate on Reddit’s ‘DebateAnAtheist’ forum with a person who defined God in a way that made God an incoherent concept. When I pointed this out to him, he actually agreed, saying that God would have to be incoherent to humans. I don’t think he got my point, which is that the concept was logically incoherent; he was describing a god that (by his own words) didn’t exist and wasn’t a thing, but that he still believed in.

If you’d like to read the thread yourself, it’s right here. You may have to search for me (MikeTheInfidel), but if the scores of the various comments are any indication, I’m not alone in my frustration.

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So I had my first face-to-face theist/atheist discussion…

A few days ago at Starbucks I had a friendly discussion about atheism and skepticism with a barista. She noticed that I was reading Dan Barker’s Godless, which tells the story about how Barker, a former fundamentalist/evangelical Christian preacher, gradually lost his faith and became an atheist (and is now co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation). The book’s subject prompted her to ask if I was an atheist, and when I told her that I was, her reaction was reassuringly nonchalant.
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