Double Standard

(Taken from a web commentary)

Christians and other religionists habitually adopt double standards: “I am making X a requirement for you, but I am not bound by the same (or an equivalent) requirement myself. I’m allowed to insist that you do some reading, but you’re not allowed to insist that I do some. I’m allowed to talk about understanding one day, but you’re not.”

A logical approach would be to call attention to this double standard, by means of a “We can play the same game.”

The reason why I suspect this strategy will work is that, in my experience, the religious simply do not get this “double standards” argument. For the last five years, I have been trying a version of Christopher Hitchens’ argument: What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. This is another refusal to play the double standards game. If you can make evidence-free statements, then so can I. However, not one of the religious people I’ve tried this argument on understands it. Literally, and without exaggeration. The idea that they are claiming rights (of argument) for themselves that they simultaneously deny others simply doesn’t compute. They just don’t understand the logic of the “No double standards” move.

The problem is that we are not dealing with open, logical minds. They have a premise which nothing can be allowed to challenge… and that’s not something readily amenable to logic.

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance. I’ve seen some atheists define it as doublethink, compartmentalization, or any attempt to dismiss conflict or rationalize it away, but cognitive dissonance is supposed to describe the internal discomfort people feel when they realize they “hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.” It’s stressful. That means they are not happy, beneath the smugness.

That’s something that can be worked with — sometimes. Help them argue themselves out of it.

The Soul

That the mind is what the brain does was a hard won scientific theory and it’s not intuitive.

To most prescientific and unscientific thinkers, it seems obvious that the Mind dwells in a realm beyond the physical one, a mysterious spiritual dimension ‘outside of space and time.’ We discovered that this was wrong. Neurology undercuts a natural propensity towards dualism.

It’s now the last major intellectual battlefield.