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Are You an Apatheist, too? 
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Post Are You an Apatheist, too?
I came across an old Atlantic article by Jonathan Rauch that I thought was worth sharing. In case any of the available labels for your stance on God and religion don't seem quite to fit you, maybe it's because you really don't care. Rauch always seems to come up with something interesting. All of his Atlantic articles can be found here:https://www.theatlantic.com/author/jonathan-rauch/

Let It Be
The greatest development in modern religion is not a religion at all—it's an attitude best described as "apatheism"

JONATHAN RAUCH
MAY 2003 ISSUE
It came to me recently in a blinding vision that I am an apatheist. Well, "blinding vision" may be an overstatement. "Wine-induced haze" might be more strictly accurate. This was after a couple of glasses of Merlot, when someone asked me about my religion. "Atheist," I was about to say, but I stopped myself. "I used to call myself an atheist," I said, "and I still don't believe in God, but the larger truth is that it has been years since I really cared one way or another. I'm"—that was when it hit me—"an ... apatheist!"

That got a chuckle, but the point was serious. Apatheism—a disinclination to care all that much about one's own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people's—may or may not be something new in the world, but its modern flowering, particularly in ostensibly pious America, is worth getting excited about.

Apatheism concerns not what you believe but how. In that respect it differs from the standard concepts used to describe religious views and people. Atheism, for instance, is not at all like apatheism; the hot-blooded atheist cares as much about religion as does the evangelical Christian, but in the opposite direction. "Secularism" can refer to a simple absence of devoutness, but it more accurately refers to an ACLU-style disapproval of any profession of religion in public life—a disapproval that seems puritanical and quaint to apatheists. Tolerance is a magnificent concept, John Locke's inestimable gift to all mankind; but it assumes, as Locke did, that everyone brims with religious passions that everyone else must work hard to put up with.

And agnostics? True, most of them are apatheists, but most apatheists are not agnostics. Because—and this is an essential point—many apatheists are believers.

In America, as Thomas Byrne Edsall reported in these pages recently, the proportion of people who say they never go to church or synagogue has tripled since 1972, to 33 percent in 2000. Most of these people believe in God (professed atheists are very rare in the United States); they just don't care much about him. They do care a bit; but apatheism is an attitude, not a belief system, and the over-riding fact is that these people are relaxed about religion.

Even regular churchgoers can, and often do, rank quite high on the apatheism scale. There are a lot of reasons to attend religious services: to connect with a culture or a community, to socialize, to expose children to religion, to find the warming comfort of familiar ritual. The softer denominations in America are packed with apatheists. The apatheism of Reform Jews is so well known as to be a staple of synagogue humor. (Orthodox rabbi to Reform rabbi: "One of my congregants says his son wants a Harley for his bar mitzvah. What's a Harley?" Reform rabbi to Orthodox rabbi: "A Harley is a motorcycle. What's a bar mitzvah?")

Finally, and this may seem strangest of all, even true-believing godliness today often has an apatheistic flavor. I have Christian friends who organize their lives around an intense and personal relationship with God, but who betray no sign of caring that I am an unrepentantly atheistic Jewish homosexual. They are exponents, at least, of the second, more important part of apatheism: the part that doesn't mind what other people think about God.

I believe that the rise of apatheism is to be celebrated as nothing less than a major civilizational advance. Religion, as the events of September 11 and after have so brutally underscored, remains the most divisive and volatile of social forces. To be in the grip of religious zeal is the natural state of human beings, or at least of a great many human beings; that is how much of the species seems to be wired. Apatheism, therefore, should not be assumed to represent a lazy recumbency, like my collapse into a soft chair after a long day. Just the opposite: it is the product of a determined cultural effort to discipline the religious mindset, and often of an equally determined personal effort to master the spiritual passions. It is not a lapse. It is an achievement.

"A world of pragmatic atheists," the philosopher Richard Rorty once wrote, "would be a better, happier world than our present one." Perhaps. But best of all would be a world generously leavened with apatheists: people who feel at ease with religion even if they are irreligious; people who may themselves be members of religious communities, but who are neither controlled by godly passions nor concerned about the (nonviolent, noncoercive) religious beliefs of others. In my lifetime America has taken great strides in this direction, and its example will be a source of strength, not weakness, in a world still beset by fanatical religiosity (al Qaeda) and tyrannical secularism (China).

Ronald Reagan used to insist that he was religious even though, as President, he hardly ever entered a church. It turns out he was in good company. Those Americans who tell pollsters they worship faithfully? Many of them are lying. John G. Stackhouse Jr., a professor of theology and culture, wrote recently in American Outlook magazine, "Beginning in the 1990s, a series of sociological studies has shown that many more Americans tell pollsters that they attend church regularly than can be found in church when teams actually count." In fact, he says, actual churchgoing may be at little more than half the professed rate. A great many Americans, like their fortieth President, apparently care about religion enough to say they are religious, but not enough to go to church.

You can snicker at Reagan and the millions of others like him; you can call them hypocrites if you like. I say, God bless them, every one.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Quote:
The greatest development in modern religion is not a religion at all—it's an attitude best described as "apatheism"


This cannot be true.
Doxastic attitudes always are linked to particular beliefs and the propositions that are believed to be true.

Quote:
"A world of pragmatic atheists," the philosopher Richard Rorty once wrote, "would be a better, happier world than our present one."


Large sample sizes like the USA and China tell different stories. The US is a fairly religious country in comparison to China, that has declared their state religion as Athiest.
Yet the US ranks much higher on the happiness index (18th) than China - ranked 83.


What exactly is a "pragmatic" atheist and why would they be any happier than the BILLIONS of religious people worldwide who live very pragmatically peaceful lives?
Let's say I'm a happy pragmatic theist and you're a happy pragmatic atheist. Are you "happier" than I am? Why?
That philosopher apparently has a very narrow definition of the words religion and religious.

Quote:
Religion, as the events of September 11 and after have so brutally underscored, remains the most divisive and volatile of social forces.


Let's be clear about the events of 911. The perpetrators were from a very small band of religious extremists who's goals were a blend of socio-political, and religious goals and ideas. The underlying reasons for the attacks were not driven purely by the divisiveness of their particular religiousness. Also, outbreaks of religious wars are now tiny in comparison to the wars of bygone eras that were driven primarily by religion. Those have declined dramatically. in "modern" history.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
ant wrote:
Quote:
The greatest development in modern religion is not a religion at all—it's an attitude best described as "apatheism"


This cannot be true.
Doxastic attitudes always are linked to particular beliefs and the propositions that are believed to be true.

Had to look up "doxastic," but didn't understand your point, either!

Quote:
"A world of pragmatic atheists," the philosopher Richard Rorty once wrote, "would be a better, happier world than our present one."

Large sample sizes like the USA and China tell different stories. The US is a fairly religious country in comparison to China, that has declared their state religion as Athiest.
Yet the US ranks much higher on the happiness index (18th) than China - ranked 83.


What exactly is a "pragmatic" atheist and why would they be any happier than the BILLIONS of religious people worldwide who live very pragmatically peaceful lives?
Let's say I'm a happy pragmatic theist and you're a happy pragmatic atheist. Are you "happier" than I am? Why?
That philosopher apparently has a very narrow definition of the words religion and religious.

Well, okay, but Rauch isn't sure Rorty is right, anyway.
Quote:
Religion, as the events of September 11 and after have so brutally underscored, remains the most divisive and volatile of social forces."

Let's be clear about the events of 911. The perpetrators were from a very small band of religious extremists who's goals were a blend of socio-political, and religious goals and ideas. The underlying reasons for the attacks were not driven purely by the divisiveness of their particular religiousness. Also, outbreaks of religious wars are now tiny in comparison to the wars of bygone eras that were driven primarily by religion. Those have declined dramatically. in "modern" history.

I think you might be right that he overstates--"one of the most divisive," etc. would have been better. He's also talking about the "and after" of 9/11, when because of the religion of the attackers, Muslims became vilified in general. It's true that religious wars have become less common, as have wars due to other motivations. But divisiveness is often present in the absence of warfare. As I read Rauch, he is saying that in view of the tendency of religion to cause divisiveness, apatheism should be welcome. Apatheists are much less likely to hoot and holler about other people's religion.

Aside from your narrower criticisms, how do you feel about the validity of the label, and do you think Rauch has identified a real trend?



Last edited by DWill on Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:18 pm
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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Anecdotes don't tell the whole story. On average, religiosity is inversely proportional to happiness. Of course, correlation doesn't equal causation, so take it with a grain of salt.

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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
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Aside from your narrower criticisms, how do you feel about the validity of the label, and do you think Rauch has identified a real trend?


It's really an unnecessary label. I can see though how the label might be comforting to atheists that have a strong dislike for theism and religion.


He's identifying a trend that's been apparent for several years now. I've known "religious" people that have never once hooted about other people's religious beliefs.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
ant wrote:
Quote:
Aside from your narrower criticisms, how do you feel about the validity of the label, and do you think Rauch has identified a real trend?


It's really an unnecessary label. I can see though how the label might be comforting to atheists that have a strong dislike for theism and religion.

Haven't you missed Rauch's meaning? An apatheist is one who according to him doesn't have a strong dislike for theism and religion. Those aren't his thing, but if others like them, "let it be."
Quote:
He's identifying a trend that's been apparent for several years now. I've known "religious" people that have never once hooted about other people's religious beliefs.

He never said or implied anything like that, as far as I can see. And I myself didn't imply that religious folks in general go around abusing others about their beliefs.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Jonathan Rauch wrote:
Apatheism—a disinclination to care all that much about one's own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people's—may or may not be something new in the world, but its modern flowering, particularly in ostensibly pious America, is worth getting excited about.

many apatheists are believers.

I might fall in that category. I certainly don't get excited about what other people believe. Satanists? Yawn. Pentecostals? Well, that's one way to spend your Sundays. It gets a little problematic if it involves strange practices, like fire-walking and snake-handling, but even so it's mostly their business.

I care about my religion, but not as "the one true faith." Please, no! More like, as "works for me, care to try some?"

Jonathan Rauch wrote:
Finally, and this may seem strangest of all, even true-believing godliness today often has an apatheistic flavor. I have Christian friends who organize their lives around an intense and personal relationship with God, but who betray no sign of caring that I am an unrepentantly atheistic Jewish homosexual. They are exponents, at least, of the second, more important part of apatheism: the part that doesn't mind what other people think about God.

I believe that the rise of apatheism is to be celebrated as nothing less than a major civilizational advance. . . . It is the product of a determined cultural effort to discipline the religious mindset, and often of an equally determined personal effort to master the spiritual passions. It is not a lapse. It is an achievement.
Yes and no. The heyday of religious zeal, from Charles Wesley to Billy Graham, was very much about dealing with some hard times being thrown at whole classes of people, whether the farm hands and dairy maids or the carters and weavers, who lost their jobs due to merciless economic advance. Or, in the Western U.S., people with plenty of economic opportunity but not much in the way of community. Religion that wrapped them up in an aggressive zeal helped them keep some moral bearings and resist descending into personal dissolution.

Most of what gets considered religious intolerance from before that time was tribal economic interest wrapped in religious language. Even the Protestant Reformation had more to do with prosperous master workmen and burghers resisting rule and taxation from Italy than with transsubstantiation and indulgences.

Most important to understand is that religion did not play a larger role in the average person's life 60 or 100 or 200 years ago. It was just more taken for granted and accepted for lack of an appealing alternative worldview. There were people dedicated to a zealous worship approach during that time, just as there were monks and nuns and priests, but that was a small share of the population. The secular authorities might clap you in jail for challenging religious authority, but that was understood to be about helping people find contentment with their station in life as much as it was about following Christ.

So, to the extent that "apatheism" reflects material progress and a move from fending off inner chaos to questing for Inner Peace, sure, of course that is a huge step forward.

Jonathan Rauch wrote:
best of all would be a world generously leavened with apatheists: people who feel at ease with religion even if they are irreligious; people who may themselves be members of religious communities, but who are neither controlled by godly passions nor concerned about the (nonviolent, noncoercive) religious beliefs of others.
I am reminded of a friend in grad school who insisted that he and his wife would never have an abortion, but thought it should be legal. So if it was not wrong, why would they not have one? I asked. "We just wouldn't do that," was his answer. The danger is in such tolerant minds refusing to think a subject through. But the starting point of tolerance is extremely helpful socially.
Jonathan Rauch wrote:
actual churchgoing may be at little more than half the professed rate. A great many Americans, like their fortieth President, apparently care about religion enough to say they are religious, but not enough to go to church.
I think this is accurate. There are lots and lots of people, even in the enjoyable and very involving church we attend, who let it get crowded out by other priorities, including sports for the kids on Sundays and skiing on winter weekends.

Jonathan Rauch wrote:
You can snicker at Reagan and the millions of others like him; you can call them hypocrites if you like. I say, God bless them, every one.
Sure, if you have to choose between fanatacism and apathy, apathy is (probably) better. But please, let's not make a fetish of a false dichotomy. Warm human community and common enterprise for raising children and for helping the unfortunate are still worth a lot.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Harry Marks wrote:
Jonathan Rauch wrote:
I believe that the rise of apatheism is to be celebrated as nothing less than a major civilizational advance. . . . It is the product of a determined cultural effort to discipline the religious mindset, and often of an equally determined personal effort to master the spiritual passions. It is not a lapse. It is an achievement.
Yes and no. The heyday of religious zeal, from Charles Wesley to Billy Graham, was very much about dealing with some hard times being thrown at whole classes of people, whether the farm hands and dairy maids or the carters and weavers, who lost their jobs due to merciless economic advance. Or, in the Western U.S., people with plenty of economic opportunity but not much in the way of community. Religion that wrapped them up in an aggressive zeal helped them keep some moral bearings and resist , into personal dissolution.

I think if I was a "believing" apatheist, I could look at apatheism as more of an achievement, because I would then have avoided the pitfall of believing yet not denigrating others' brand of belief or others' non-belief. But I don't believe, so apatheism seems like just the way I am.
Quote:
Most of what gets considered religious intolerance from before that time was tribal economic interest wrapped in religious language. Even the Protestant Reformation had more to do with prosperous master workmen and burghers resisting rule and taxation from Italy than with transsubstantiation and indulgences.

I wonder if historians credit Protestantism with the emergence of free market capitalism.
Quote:
Most important to understand is that religion did not play a larger role in the average person's life 60 or 100 or 200 years ago. It was just more taken for granted and accepted for lack of an appealing alternative worldview. There were people dedicated to a zealous worship approach during that time, just as there were monks and nuns and priests, but that was a small share of the population. The secular authorities might clap you in jail for challenging religious authority, but that was understood to be about helping people find contentment with their station in life as much as it was about following Christ.

Then I have generally accepted a misunderstanding, if it is a misunderstanding that life was more influenced by religion 200 years ago. Do you know of historians that have made the case you're making? Maybe it's possible to separate what people believed from the reach of the institution. Belief in the supernatural isn't necessarily religious (i.e., church) doctrine, though we might want to class it as religious.
Harry Marks wrote:
Jonathan Rauch wrote:
best of all would be a world generously leavened with apatheists: people who feel at ease with religion even if they are irreligious; people who may themselves be members of religious communities, but who are neither controlled by godly passions nor concerned about the (nonviolent, noncoercive) religious beliefs of others.
I am reminded of a friend in grad school who insisted that he and his wife would never have an abortion, but thought it should be legal. So if it was not wrong, why would they not have one? I asked. "We just wouldn't do that," was his answer. The danger is in such tolerant minds refusing to think a subject through. But the starting point of tolerance is extremely helpful socially.

Is that a bit like Haidt's moral confounding idea, where people had strong intuitive aversions yet were reluctant to say the aversion was morally based? They wanted to avoid moral judgment.
Harry Marks wrote:
Jonathan Rauch wrote:
actual churchgoing may be at little more than half the professed rate. A great many Americans, like their fortieth President, apparently care about religion enough to say they are religious, but not enough to go to church.
I think this is accurate. There are lots and lots of people, even in the enjoyable and very involving church we attend, who let it get crowded out by other priorities, including sports for the kids on Sundays and skiing on winter weekends.

Yes, it's more like civic involvement perhaps than what one thinks of as something very vital personally.
Harry Marks wrote:
Jonathan Rauch wrote:
You can snicker at Reagan and the millions of others like him; you can call them hypocrites if you like. I say, God bless them, every one.
Sure, if you have to choose between fanatacism and apathy, apathy is (probably) better. But please, let's not make a fetish of a false dichotomy. Warm human community and common enterprise for raising children and for helping the unfortunate are still worth a lot.

We moved into an area with strong Mennonite influence and history, not far from Eastern Mennonite University. It would be mistaken, I agree, to regard not caring about religion as a better thing than what Mennonites have added to the culture. I would hope that apatheism is capable of crediting the good that religious groups do.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
DWill wrote:
Quote:
Most of what gets considered religious intolerance from before that time was tribal economic interest wrapped in religious language. Even the Protestant Reformation had more to do with prosperous master workmen and burghers resisting rule and taxation from Italy than with transsubstantiation and indulgences.

I wonder if historians credit Protestantism with the emergence of free market capitalism.
It is certainly considered an important influence. Max Weber's "Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism" is considered one of the founding texts of sociology (Weber, Marx and Durkheim are the three biggest names in 19th C. sociology) and is still important in both history and economics. My brother-in-law the historian considers it reductionist and nearly worthless, but acknowledges that a lot of good work takes off from Weber's analysis.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_work_ethic
DWill wrote:
Quote:
Most important to understand is that religion did not play a larger role in the average person's life 60 or 100 or 200 years ago. It was just more taken for granted and accepted for lack of an appealing alternative worldview.

Then I have generally accepted a misunderstanding, if it is a misunderstanding that life was more influenced by religion 200 years ago. Do you know of historians that have made the case you're making? Maybe it's possible to separate what people believed from the reach of the institution. Belief in the supernatural isn't necessarily religious (i.e., church) doctrine, though we might want to class it as religious.
You raise a good point in bringing up belief in the supernatural. I think it's fair to say that superstition, belief in witchcraft, and willingness to take one's ailments to "the witch doctor" were stronger in centuries past. If you take that as part of religion, I would agree that the influence of religion on ordinary life has declined significantly over the last century.

As for things like church attendance, the article cited just after this paragraph comes to conclusions similar to what I have seen before: attendance was not that high (this article says about 26 percent, which might seem high but is not really higher than currently) (I saw a good presentation in the 80s arguing that the late 40s through early 60s were anomalously churchey, and that subsiding attendance in the 80s was simply returning to what the statistics showed pre-WWII).
http://www.brin.ac.uk/eighteenth-centur ... tatistics/

The polling statistics shown here don't generally go back before 1992, but besides the recent (post-911) decline, things look pretty consistent with the "no real decline" argument.
https://news.gallup.com/poll/1690/religion.aspx

DWill wrote:
Is that a bit like Haidt's moral confounding idea, where people had strong intuitive aversions yet were reluctant to say the aversion was morally based? They wanted to avoid moral judgment.
Thanks for pointing that out. I still am less than half way through "The Righteous Mind." I suspect this finding by Haidt is strongly related to the cultural roots of "apatheism." If people don't have an over-arching conceptual structure to justify the rejection of particular behaviors, they may fall back on their own feelings without being willing to impose them on others. Hall and Oates wrote a song "I Can't Go For That" (number one hit!) which more or less expresses this sentiment. I suspect that high schoolers are finding themselves dealing with the surfeit of porn available on the net with some such sloppy methodology.

DWill wrote:
It would be mistaken, I agree, to regard not caring about religion as a better thing than what Mennonites have added to the culture. I would hope that apatheism is capable of crediting the good that religious groups do.
Jonathan Rauch was capable, anyway. The Mennonites are a peace church, and as such have never been comfortable with any kind of religious enforcement. That idealism has made it easier to maintain a lot of genuine religious commitment in their movement, but they have had trouble grappling with LGBTQ issues, perhaps because devotion was always such a serious part of their ideology and way of life.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Harry Marks wrote:
If people don't have an over-arching conceptual structure to justify the rejection of particular behaviors, they may fall back on their own feelings without being willing to impose them on others.


This seems to sum up the meaning of apatheism, and its core weakness. I don't like it, because my view is that constructing a systematic worldview is the key to ethical action, and in the final analysis religion is central to systematic thinking, for example on the question of how humans are connected to the universe. In particular with climate change the apathetic absence of clear values is the main reason the world is sleepwalking into oblivion.

A further point, on Interbane's question of the inverse correlation between religiosity and happiness. My view is that by and large a lack of happiness is the main social cause of religiosity, so the correlation does involve causation. The main outliers are the atheist states for specific reasons of historical ideology.

The liberal worldview tries to paradoxically build a system based on cultural relativism and tolerance. That is not a sustainable approach since it eventually involves tolerating views that will cause the viral destruction of the liberal world.


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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Harry Marks wrote:
DWill wrote:
It would be mistaken, I agree, to regard not caring about religion as a better thing than what Mennonites have added to the culture. I would hope that apatheism is capable of crediting the good that religious groups do.
Jonathan Rauch was capable, anyway. The Mennonites are a peace church, and as such have never been comfortable with any kind of religious enforcement. That idealism has made it easier to maintain a lot of genuine religious commitment in their movement, but they have had trouble grappling with LGBTQ issues, perhaps because devotion was always such a serious part of their ideology and way of life.

I appreciate the earlier parts of the post, too, but on the shortcomings of Mennonites on sex and gender,
I wanted to comment that if society is an ecosystem, we'll see these variations that all fit in interlocking fashion. Especially when strong commitment to ideology is present, it's hard to avoid some element of exclusiveness in the group's outlook. But normally the ecosystem seems to absorb that, rather than being thrown out of balance.



Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:00 am
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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
If people don't have an over-arching conceptual structure to justify the rejection of particular behaviors, they may fall back on their own feelings without being willing to impose them on others.


This seems to sum up the meaning of apatheism, and its core weakness. I don't like it, because my view is that constructing a systematic worldview is the key to ethical action, and in the final analysis religion is central to systematic thinking, for example on the question of how humans are connected to the universe. In particular with climate change the apathetic absence of clear values is the main reason the world is sleepwalking into oblivion.

"The best lack all conviction/While the worst are full of passionate intensity"? I can understand your dislike of the idea, although to me apatheism is less an idea and more a social phenomenon. There is no reason I can see to call it wholly good, though temperamentally I favor it.
Quote:
A further point, on Interbane's question of the inverse correlation between religiosity and happiness. My view is that by and large a lack of happiness is the main social cause of religiosity, so the correlation does involve causation. The main outliers are the atheist states for specific reasons of historical ideology.

It is often supposed that wealth and religiosity are negatively correlated. The graph shows possible support for that view.
Quote:
The liberal worldview tries to paradoxically build a system based on cultural relativism and tolerance. That is not a sustainable approach since it eventually involves tolerating views that will cause the viral destruction of the liberal world.

So a further paradox is that a liberal worldview is impossible if it acts to prevent what will weaken it. The only comfort comes in knowing that illiberalism, too, has a short half-life. Is either pulse generally the stronger and more likely to dominate history? I don't know the answer to that.



Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:23 am
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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Robert Tulip wrote:
my view is that constructing a systematic worldview is the key to ethical action, and in the final analysis religion is central to systematic thinking, for example on the question of how humans are connected to the universe. In particular with climate change the apathetic absence of clear values is the main reason the world is sleepwalking into oblivion.
I guess I am fine with fox thinking, to borrow Isaiah Berlin's terms, and view hedgehog thinking with suspicion. A systematic worldview is a good thing as far as it goes, but all the systems are incomplete and the more they strive for unearned completeness, as with Jordan Peterson, Hegel or perhaps Sam Harris, the more likely that they uncover inconsistencies.

I feel that the main block to acting in the public interest is not absence of thought or awareness but inner preoccupation with the measuring sticks we use for self-esteem. A good appreciation of grace can go a long way to undoing that, but not because it clarifies anything about the science.

Robert Tulip wrote:
by and large a lack of happiness is the main social cause of religiosity, so the correlation does involve causation.
Or they both could be markers for the effects of education, depending on how religiosity is measured. Prosperous societies tend to be well educated and to score well on most measures of happiness, and, for many measures of religiosity, they score low.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The liberal worldview tries to paradoxically build a system based on cultural relativism and tolerance. That is not a sustainable approach since it eventually involves tolerating views that will cause the viral destruction of the liberal world.
Although I resist relativism (at least, the absolute version) (sorry, couldn't resist), I really am not understanding about the views that could virally destroy liberalism. I'm kind of with Fukuyama on this - tolerance is the pinnacle, because diversity is baked in.

The goal is a sufficiently sophisticated worldview that it allows a person to feel invested in their own values being correct without needing to see this as definite and sure. Because as we know, most rationales for values are based on incomplete evidence.

This is not just the (for me, inherent) besetting internal tension between competing values. My favorite econometrician once said that a good econometrician can always think of a reason why the obvious interpretation of the evidence might be wrong. Even in the world of fact, there is so much going on that the evidence we have is usually not good enough to be completely confident. That isn't true for most physics or chemistry, but even in the world of medicine it is often the case.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
DWill wrote:
I wanted to comment that if society is an ecosystem, we'll see these variations that all fit in interlocking fashion. Especially when strong commitment to ideology is present, it's hard to avoid some element of exclusiveness in the group's outlook. But normally the ecosystem seems to absorb that, rather than being thrown out of balance.
This sounds interesting, but as with Robert's interesting "viral ideas" I am not sure I follow. Yes, I think there is a place for groups that give people a sense of confidence and rightness about traditional sex/gender roles, and maybe that's what you mean about the ecosystem - that such groups have their niche.

However, just as I am happy in my cis-gendered heterosexuality without being bothered by LGBTQ people, I think even traditional cultures can just let "some people" be different. This is not easy or obvious. Prostitution, polyamory, bestiality - many of the variations that are out there are problematic in one or more ways. Many of them are caught up in some pathology. But I don't think we need to assume that different is pathological, or that nothing is pathological.



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Post Re: Are You an Apatheist, too?
Harry Marks wrote:
However, just as I am happy in my cis-gendered heterosexuality without being bothered by LGBTQ people, I think even traditional cultures can just let "some people" be different. This is not easy or obvious. Prostitution, polyamory, bestiality - many of the variations that are out there are problematic in one or more ways. Many of them are caught up in some pathology. But I don't think we need to assume that different is pathological, or that nothing is pathological.

You mean letting people within the group be different, I think, without excluding them from the group. That does run into problems in terms of perhaps any traditional society or group. There is going to be intolerance of certain deviations from the "norm." Even liberal people have some intolerance, as you indicate. Intolerance may be something to condemn strongly, but it depends on the difference being condemned and whether the difference is punished severely. Intolerance in some cases acts as a guardrail for the group. Not the way we like to do things in liberal settings, but not necessarily wrong, either.



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