Monday, October 08, 2012

atheism is narrow-minded?

Surprises keep life interesting. Not too long ago I experienced a surprising description of my perspective of atheism: "narrow-minded". The objector explained that atheism is too dismissive of competing beliefs and too arrogant in its expression of certainty. Then they repeated a well-known quote from Hamlet. "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Since I find myself existing in a complicated reality, my first reaction is to recognize the partial accuracy of these statements. If truths are defined through a Pragmatic-like approach, then it must be much more narrow-minded than the mindset that "all dogmas are equally valid". That's the advantage of it; it disqualifies incorrect/irrelevant ideas. Exclusivity is the rationale and the goal. Rather than debate the merits of abstract notions with unclear meanings, Pragmatists attempt to anchor the notions in pieces of practical reality. Notions that can't withstand this process are dropped from consideration, on purpose, with good reason.

Moreover, exclusivity is indispensable. Otherwise, disproved or unproved statements are too numerous to accept. Human inventiveness is the supplier. If the standard is lowered, then which of the contradictory statements in the growing pile shall be truths? And why should there be special treatment for proposed statements with a supernatural topic? When supernatural reality doesn't disprove any statements which humans propose, it is literally meaningless. When "X" can take any form whatsoever and confirm any statement, communication about "X" is effectively futile. It's sensible to not assume that most human statements are wholly correct. It's more arrogant to assume.

However, the "narrow-minded" aspect isn't synonymous with "close-minded". That is, I won't claim that my knowledge is either complete or inviolate. My approach simply cannot permit me to assert that prepackaged truths reached my brain via a direct conduit to a singular omniscient infallible Source. Instead I can merely cite the real sources for what I believe, i.e. the bases of my thoughts and actions. Those real sources of old information are judged relative to the real sources of new information. I'm extremely critical, i.e. "close-minded", of alleged violations of physical principles with thousands of past confirmations. I'm receptive, i.e. "open-minded", of alternative data which overturns a temporary hasty conclusion of mine. Tell me that my wristwatch is wrong, including how you know that, and I reset my wristwatch. Tell me that my soul is under inspection by Mr. Infinity, and I elevate my right eyebrow.

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