On sanctimony and annoyance
There are relatively few things more annoying, than the "sensible" centrist who seeks to stand above the argument.
Now what has prompted this is Carlos Amato’s column on “ sanctimonious atheists” – who he holds to be worse than sanctimonious believers.
Just a note here on atheism and religion, being an atheist does not make you better than anyone. Being a good human being is like being a good anything, it takes practise. Athletes don't become great athletes because they believe they are great, they become great athletes by practising.
Just why they practise is separate to actually doing it.
I do not include people who try to convert me in the category of even mildly annoying, trying to convince other people of the validity of your ideas is the entire point to free speech thus I see people who evangelise as nothing more than the normal functioning of a healthy society. I actually approve of honest attempts at evangelism for the most part.
The religious are no more insane than I am, and frankly I am starting to find it off-putting to phrase their natures as "nuts". The religious may be working off of a flawed data set in my opinion, but that isn't crazy in a society that constantly and consistently tries to pass off that data set as being reliable.
Further, frankly the crazy include some of the sanest people I know.
I do not believe false hope is any hope at all - as it often works to prevent people doing things about miserable situations.
There is the old story, probably fictional but illustrative, about the doctor who had a patient with cancer, and only a few months to live. The doctor didn't tell the patient, because the cancer was hopeless and the patient would have been upset, so instead he told the guy "Yeah, you're fine."
A few months down the line the patient was not happy to learn about this, as he lay on his deathbed, because in those few months he first of all, didn't know what was going on, and second of all there were all sorts of things he would rather have spent his last few months doing had he known he only had months to live.
False hope wasn't good for that man, and it isn't good for us.
The more accurate our understanding of reality, the more likely we are to direct our efforts to improve our collective situations in a productive manner. At the very worst, you can "keep them laughing as you go".
Given that not a single one of us is capable of fully comprehending reality, that means we need to check each other's observations, which means argument and disagreement is a vital part of making a better world, and us better people.
Plus I just like arguing.
It is thus dishonest attempts at converting me that annoy me, attempts that use techniques that are fallacious and thus waste my time, or outright lie and thus seek to reduce my understanding of reality.
Most religious people aren't sanctimonious otherwise it would stop being a useful term. I agree that atheists and theists who are sanctimonious can be irritating. After all, I fall into one of those brackets.
All of that said, there is at least one type of person I despise more than the most sanctimonious of theists or atheists, and it is the sanctimonious moderate. I say moderate, because it isn't just in religious arguments you get these.
The reason for this is simple - what is it that makes a sanctimonious atheist or theist irritating? What is the number one thing cited by people who oppose sanctimonious atheists or theists?
The fact that those said sanctimonious atheists and theists think they are better than everyone else just because they are atheists or theists.
So what makes the sanctimonious moderate worse than sanctimonious atheists and theists? Worse, in fact, than both combined? Well they act like they are better than everyone else simply because they are moderates.
That is exactly the same thing they complain about sanctimonious atheists and theists doing, except they presumably know how irritating it is and do it anyway.
They are tone trolls, and they are in a way worse than the extremists who are doing extremely bad things, because they are the precise reason why it is so difficult to stop those extremists.
Take Amato's claim that Richard Dawkins is the "high priest" of atheism, whose followers are more irritating than sanctimonious religious people.
Which is to say Richard Dawkins annoys Amato more than say, those Christians who beat their children till they are mentally or physically broken, because they follow the religious teachings of Michael and Debbie Pearl. So simply disagreeing with religion, is worse than torturing children for your religious beliefs, right?
So who is going to speak up against those people who beat children?
I could quite easily come up with a whole laundry list of examples like this, and it would only end up depressing. While the bulk of religion is not Michael and Debbie Pearl, if we are talking about who is worse we end up talking about the worst.
In other words, if you want to play the more annoying game you have to bring up a mite bit better an example than Richard "Wrote a book once" Dawkins and his fans.
And that is pretty much how worshipping at the alter of moderation goes. It always ends up with you looking worse than either side, because at least those people who are directly causing harm through their religion, political views or any other argument of substance believe they are doing the right thing.