Your blog readership is unbelievable. Yeah, you know who's most likely to have no idea about the downsides of tight-knit Christian communities? Well, I don't, either, but my first guess wouldn't be someone who grew up somewhere with organized, explicitly Christian prayer in the public schools. Oh, yeah, and I know it must come as an UTTER SHOCK to you, a refugee from anti-gay-hellscape, that some Christians are anti-gay. -internet hugs- if that will make it any better.
Honestly, this whole affair is giving me new insight into a couple things:
One is the thing of railing hardest against the people nearest to you. Because you know who needs to be yelled at until they realise that Fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity is bad? Someone who spent years going through Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian Hell in a school so blatantly copying the worst parts of America that they handed out pamphlets on guarding your virginity that were published in fucking Georgia.
This is clearly someone with so little knowledge of Christianity’s downsides that they’ll change their mind if we loudly yell enough crude insults into her inbox. Except that these aren’t actually her opinions, so it’s not really “changing her mind” so much as “shaming her into shutting up”, but that’s good enough, right?
(BRB, screening out anyone on OkCupid who has “and it’s important” next to “atheist”, blocking atheism-themed blogs, gazing suspiciously at anyone who liked any of the many many anti-Fundie posts I’ve made, and just generally noticing that a large fraction of the people who agree with me are massive assholes I want nothing to do with.)
The other one is… Well…
I’m not quite sure what impulse overtakes anti-drug educators to claim that drug use spreads solely through peer pressure. Surely some people do start using drugs for peer pressure reasons, but the main thing that gets people addicted is that, for many people, being on drugs feels really good. Good enough to ruin your life over.
Obviously, a reasonable position on heroin would be “holy shit are you insane don’t even touch that stuff”. However, if you go far enough in the direction of railing against heroin, you may start denying that it has any attractive qualities. And then what do you do? How do you explain the people who like heroin? Well, clearly they got peer-pressured until they were trapped by the addiction.
OK, but now here’s the rub: Why did anyone start doing this? It can’t be peer-pressure all the way down. Why did the first person take heroin? Because it felt good.
I think this is the same problem anyone who thinks religion is bad has to face. In this case, peer pressure probably is explaining a fair bit of the effect, but it obviously can’t pull all the weight. Somewhere along the lines, someone liked it. We all know about them. They’re definitely there. And, if you want to give them an attractive alternative to their religion, you have to know why they like what they currently have.
If you think heroin doesn’t feel like anything and people only do it because of peer pressure, your model will be too far off to realise that methadone is useful. You’ll just go around telling people to use their willpower to stand up to peer pressure and immediately be fine. And, of course, you’ll fail to do any good in the world. But at least you’ll feel good about not compromising your principles, right?
Similarly, if Christianity has social benefits, then the only way you’re going to find a perfect substitute is by enumerating them and creating secular alternatives. If you want to make fewer heroin addicts, you need to figure out what people are getting out of heroin and target that. If you want your estranged family members to follow you out of their church, you need to give them a good alternative to snorting Jesus.
And, as someone who had to leave behind almost everyone I grew up with because of this, it actually fucking matters to me what will make it possible to see home again. Americans can just sit around and wait for the religious demographic shift to do their work for them. I handed out atheist pamphlets in a country that’s still 95% Christian. No shit I care more about what works than about what signals Righteous Opposition.
A few weeks back I made a post talking about how I’m trying to read up on the internal dynamics of Christian communities and, specifically, what people like about them. Y’all get three guesses why and two don’t count. And if, in the middle of something else entirely, I find a potential “This is what being high on Christ feels like” argument, maybe I’m going to mention it on my blog. Because that seems like the kind of thing I thought people cared about. Except not really, it seems.
Me: Hey, this person has an argument for why church-membership might be helpful to some Christians. I don’t know how much trust I should put in it yet, so I’ll just quote it in full for you guys to consider.
Y’all niggas, crawlin out of the sewers: ACTUALLY, fundamentalist Christianity, which this quote never addresses, is inherently evil, which no one has contradicted. It’s abusive to all the marginalised groups who don’t like it, which is definitely a counter-argument to it seeming valuable to the people who do like it. Clearly, the actual reason some people like it is that they
are corrupted by the devil are also inherently evil. Furthermore, this quote is gross, because it’s basically saying that Christians are oppressed, even though it explicitly says that Christians aren’t oppressed, because what’s reading comprehension? Finally, since it was quoted on this blog that has yet to endorse it, I’ll finish up by sending suicide-baiting messages to a known suicidally depressed person. That’ll definitely teach you to consider outside view points when attempting to promote social change! I’m a Rationalist™ :) :) :)
Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back. If you abide within that pattern, policy debates will also appear one-sided to you—the costs and drawbacks of your favored policy are enemy soldiers, to be attacked by any means necessary.
But expecting anyone to understand that is silly. Obviously rationality was never about winning - it was about the signals we sent along the way.