Contact DisComforting Ignorance

Have thoughts, comments, criticisms, requests, or proselytization? Email

No prayers. (Why not?)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Intolerable Dissent

Usually Ray's arguments are so crazy that I wouldn't even think about calling them the typical arguments of Christians. His post today is an exception to that rule.
"I don’t accept that [God sends all non-Christians to Hell]. It seems unfair to me that it is exclusive."
"You mean that Jesus said that He was the only way to God?"
"Do you think that Christianity is 'intolerant?'"
"Yes, I do."
"So you are being intolerant of Christianity? You are doing what you are accusing Christianity of doing. Being intolerant."
"No, no, not at all. I was just wondering..."
This is a good example of the typical concept of "tolerance" I see espoused by many Christians -- especially liberal ones. How exactly is Joe doing what Christianity is doing? Christianity is sending every non-Christian to Hell and torturing them for all eternity for not believing Jesus was a god. Joe is simply pointing out that that seems unfair.

It seems anytime you criticize or even just disagree (as Joe did in this example) you are labeled as intolerant. What does qualify for tolerance then? It seems the only way to qualify for being tolerant is to agree. For if you disagree, you are being intolerant.
Me: Hey Mr. Racist, it seems unfair that you only lynch black people.
Racist: You mean that I'm only lynching non-whites simply because they aren't white?
Me: Yes.
Racist: Oh, so you are being intolerant of me!
It seems to me that in order to be intolerant you must not be tolerating someone or something:
tolerate (v): to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.
The Christian concept of Hell is clearly intolerant: God is going to mercilessly torture everyone who isn't a Christian simply for not being a Christian. Note that the statement is that Christianity is intolerant. If a person believes this to be true, that doesn't make that Christian intolerant.

Many atheists are now speaking out against religion. We criticize the irrationality often involved, we reject faith as a legitimate way of knowing, and argue to remove the oppressive laws and stigma against atheists. In doing so, we're called intolerant. How does this possibly qualify as intolerance as it's being used in this case?

If that is intolerance, then all disagreements and debates are intolerant. I watched the Presidential debate last night and McCain was clearly intolerant of Obama and Obama was clearly intolerant of McCain. Well, at least by the same standard that intolerance is being applied towards atheists. McCain was criticizing Obama and his policies and arguing against both of them. Obama was doing the same in turn. Clearly, then, they are being intolerant.

This is to make "intolerance" a meaningless term as its applicability has been made so broad that it has no applicability whatsoever.

Intolerance can only come in the form of prohibiting the existence, presence, or act of something. When Christians pass laws that atheists cannot hold public office, the Christians are being intolerant of atheists. When atheists criticize Christians passing laws that atheists cannot hold public office, we are dissenting.

Dissent and criticism are not forms of intolerance.

No comments: