Thursday, August 11, 2011

irreligosity does not imply apathy

A typical response to anything said or done by the irreligious is, "Why? If by your own admission religious ideas are irrelevant to you, then what are you accomplishing?" Let me list a few...
  • Public expression and inclusion of irreligious beliefs deserves as much protection and accommodation as religious beliefs. Irreliogiosity is of course really a broad classification, so the specific form and content of it varies greatly. Just as there cannot be a single universally recognized symbol for religiosity, there cannot be one for irreligiosity. I like a stylized atomic diagram as a symbol to indicate philosophical materialism ("disciples of Democritus!"), but presumably others of less strict views might prefer alternative irreligious symbols. (A critic of irreligosity would probably make the facetious suggestion of a "No symbol".) In any case, public exposure of irreligous beliefs does matter. Acknowledgment and tolerance of presentations of a belief reinforce the freedom for it to exist in a society. Disqualifying the mere exposure of a belief has a corresponding intimidation factor against potential believers. Removing a belief from discussion also gives the false impression that it doesn't exist or barely exists. Religious believers may expect to receive divine rewards for their publicity efforts, but secondarily they feel mundane emotional satisfaction simply for displaying the "truth" to society. Irreligious believers have purely the latter as motivation; nevertheless, their self-esteem too is boosted by feelings of belief "validation" regardless of how perfunctory it may be.
  • Irreligious encouragement of anti-conversions may prompt the taunt, "What are you trying to do, save the lost from going to heaven?" The taunt is well-aimed in that self-consistent irreligious definitely can't be motivated by impossible consequences in a non-existent afterlife. And it's also true that they can't be logically motivated by spiteful envy of a religious individual's bus ticket to heaven. Still, they may wish sincerely and unselfishly for anti-conversions in order that more humans spend lesser proportions of their limited lifespans in accordance with fallacies. Unlike the concept of humans who continue on in some shape for all time, humans composed of atoms have finite time which shouldn't be wasted or predicated on false hopes. Pascal's Wager contains the idea that a religious life ultimately disproved is no loss relative to an irreligious life ultimately proved. Wrong. Religiosity exacts non-zero tangible and intangible costs, which vary widely by belief system, and a singular life implies that the decision to pay those costs can never be recouped. Anti-conversions enable someone to expend the rest of their time as they choose. No guarantees apply to the amount of time left, either.
  • Some may opine that irreligious notions are too ill-defined, or too defined by negatives, to have effects like religious notions do: "Acting on behalf of 'no religion' make no sense; there's nothing of substance to debate or achieve!" In some situations, that could be correct. Apart from the definition "uncommitted to a religion", general irreligiosity doesn't have unifying creeds and ideals. It does have a unifying cause, though: blunting or reversing the detrimental outcomes of religiosity on society. I don't intend to claim that religiosity is uniformly awful. I mean that the irreligious are likely to try to counteract destructive repercussions that come to their attention. Assuming that religious notions provide plans of action, irreligious notions could possibly provide corresponding plans of opposition. For instance, attempting to insinuate dogma will provoke strong irreligious reaction. Attempting to relieve poverty won't. (To the contrary, the irreligious who care just as much might successfully ally toward this common enemy.)

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