June 03, 2006

Heinlein Quote of the Month (June 2006)

In a society in which it is a mortal offense to be different from your neighbors your only escape is never to let them find out.

- Maureen Johnson in To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

Posted by JohnL at June 3, 2006 07:28 PM | TrackBack

Ah, yes. Like the feeling that I've had to keep my atheism quiet since moving to Texas. Oops, did I just say tht in public?

Posted by: jpg at June 3, 2006 08:07 PM

Ah, that explains the Christmas tree/Christmas present discussion we had back in December.

You might find this article interesting.

The second paragraph in particular was thought-provoking to me, since I've classified myself from agnostic to Deist for the last 20 years or so.

Posted by: JohnL at June 5, 2006 03:28 PM

Considering that atheists are the most distrusted minority in the US (of those minorities checked; I hope we still come out better than axe murderers), I'm sure that you'll understand that I wasn't going to spill my dirtly little secret until I got to know you better. But once I learned that you're a libertarian, even though a regular church-goer, I figured that I was safe with this.

The article you cite is very interesting. I'm been trying to work out my own view on the matter. On one hand, I try to be as non-confrontational as possible. I won't make a fuss about crosses in public places and things like that.

But on the other hand, I am more confrontational: To the extent that religious ideas shape history they must be fully open to public scrutiny. That is, I should be a free to ridicule someone's ideas about the ascention of Mary as I would be to ridicule someone's idea UFO abductions. There is a taboo about criticizing religious beliefs (we are supposed to be respectful), but that taboo shields religion from the kind of scrutiny that other idea are subject to. If religious ideas were purely private matters with no impact on the public sphere, then there would be no need for much public scrutiny. But religion is important and influention, and so the ideas must be open to scrutiny with the "respect" shield.

Anyway, I'm preparing a longer essay on that issue. But I haven't worked on it lately.

Posted by: jpg at June 15, 2006 11:56 AM
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