Critical Thinking Beyond Religion

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m completely failing to understand a common thread I’ve noticed over the years, of atheism and over the top liberalism. I think I should reiterate too, given the language I just used, that I’m not really liberal or conservative, nor do I have any loyalty to the political parties at play in our politics. They’re mostly full of shitty, conniving, useless human beings. Pieces of shit on both sides. The ones that aren’t are most definitely an exception to the general rule.

I get that Republicans are, broadly speaking, notorious for the role religion plays in their political views, but that doesn’t mean the underlying ideas are all faulty just because the majority of part members are religious. That’s one of the bigger reasons (beyond the corruption and all around uselessness to the public) why I am not affiliated with or loyal to their political party. They have too many zealots trying to inject their religion into our government and our legislature.

But that doesn’t invalidate every idea associated with their party either though.

Guilt by association doesn’t apply. Certainly not when it’s used in such broad strokes.

Atheists and agnostics – which are really the people who have inspired this post – seem to do that though. If I go to an atheist’s Facebook page and there’s a political post, for some reason the overwhelming majority of them seem to be fans of Bernie Sanders…. But I’m failing to see how or when critical thinking and a disbelief in god became so closely linked to socialism, group think, and redistribution of wealth. Far more likely, I would have thought, would be an emphasis on individualism, self-reliance, critical thought as it applies to economics, individual liberties…

You know, the sort of thing critical thinkers generally gravitate towards.

These are muddy waters for me to be treading too, because I’m uncomfortably close to calling the people I just described a bunch of idiots (I won’t mince words and pretend I’m not), but that’s really not what I’m getting at or trying to imply. All I’m saying is… if you’re one of those people, if you value critical thinking, if you feel that in applying it to religion you’re left without a god to worship or believe in, how do you not as a natural extension of that find yourself without the fairy tale bullshit socialism (and communism) is built on?

There’s a reason true communism has never been achieved. People do not function in a way to make that kind of governmental set up viable. We’re not wired for being content with our lot in life (which is always, inevitably, decided by someone else in a socialist framework, rather than ourselves). What’s more… so many of these people seem to value their personally liberty.

They seem to get it both in the abstract and on a visceral level (e.g. how would I feel if I didn’t have this freedom, or that freedom?) that I can’t even start to wrap my mind around the failure to see how the ideas of someone like Sanders, if implemented, would threaten those freedoms (freedom to choose for ourselves what we want, to fail, maybe even to never get it, but to get it on our own terms if we do) to an ever-increasing degree if they were allowed to be imposed on us.

I guess what I’m getting at is a question I can’t seem to find the answer for…

How does someone who says they value critical thinking, or personal liberty, end up supporting the ideas of a man like Sanders? It’s not just about the guy either (as a person, from what I understand, he’s a stand up guy, fairly honest as far as politicians go). It’s about his ideas.

How the fuck do those hold up to critical thinking? How do they in any way mesh with the fundamental ideas of freedom our country was founded on? How can anyone who values either of those things end up splattering the internet with #FeelTheBurn or sporting a Bernie Sanders sign?

Maybe that seems like more than one question but they’re all just variations of the same one:

How do people reconcile these contradicting beliefs and values? The people who claim to hold to both… seem to me like they’re behaving in much the same way as religious zealots. The only difference is, instead of gods, scriptures, and religious dogma, they’re buying into economic systems, political figures, and ideologies that don’t hold up to logic any better than the religions they look down their noses at. And I’m not saying that in defense of religion either.

I’m saying that as an indictment of the arbitrary but often automatic alignment atheists seem to have with, well, what seem to me to be pretty asinine ideas. In some ways I wish I could frame that in a gentler way but… I don’t even really know why. I don’t necessarily want you to agree with me, I just want you to fucking think about it. Especially if you’re one of the people I’m talking about.

As for myself… I am, have, will continue to think about it. That means that yeah, sure, I’m open to socialist ideas, to entertaining them, but I’ve also been that way for years and reached my own conclusions. Are they final? Not exactly, but they’re mostly pretty solid, and there’s a lot of reasoning behind them. Can you at least say the same? If not… then for fuck’s sake, think on it.

If you’re an atheist, don’t let that bias you against people who aren’t, or against the ideas often associated with those people. If, after you’ve mulled it over, you don’t see things the way I do that’s cool with me. Just fucking think about it though, make sure the opinions you have a right to are at least based on critical thinking, on research, and on some semblance of reasoning.

Just because you’re an atheist or a skeptic doesn’t mean you’re automatically applying critical thinking. Just because you’ve applied it in one area of your life doesn’t mean you’re not neglecting the application of it in other areas, and it doesn’t mean you should assume other people have managed to apply it in other areas of their lives either (e.g. Sanders).

Exercise your capacity to reason things out. That’s all this post is really about, ultimately.


(Alt. Title: Critical Thinking Applies to Politics Too)

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6 thoughts on “Critical Thinking Beyond Religion

  1. Ever heard of the word “corporation”?
    Economic inequality seems to mean absolutely nothing to you, so you take refuge in the word “freedom,” as if that has all the meaning for the disorganization of society that you will ever need.
    By the way, I wouldn’t worry about this too much: Bernie “F-35” Sanders is no more of a “socialist” than you are.
    You think Sanders supporters are “idiots” and “asinine.” They think they same of you. Big time. So now what?

    Like

    • Wow, haha… way to take that in the worst way possible.

      “Economic inequality seems to mean absolutely nothing to you, so you take refuge in the word “freedom,” as if that has all the meaning for the disorganization of society that you will ever need.”

      I know exactly what economic inequality is, and how it effects our economy. Can you explain the point you’re trying to get at? I realize you don’t think I get what it is, that it means nothing to me, but assume for a moment that it does.

      What are you trying to get across?

      “By the way, I wouldn’t worry about this too much: Bernie “F-35” Sanders is no more of a “socialist” than you are.”

      Again, can you explain? The vast majority of his policy ideas fit the definition of “socialism”, as I understand it. If you think I’m mistaken, I welcome you to clarify.

      “You think Sanders supporters are “idiots” and “asinine.””

      Nope, incorrect. I said I was dangerously close to calling them that, but that I don’t mean to or want to, and that I’m pointing that out because I’m not going to couch a childish little insult like that, accidentally or otherwise, in what I’m trying to get across. At least not if I notice it beforehand, which in this case I did. Noticed it as I was writing, so I clarified that that might be what it seems like I’m doing, insulting Sanders supporters, but that while I might be dangerously close to doing just that, that’s not my intention or aim, and it’s not what I’m doing. If you think otherwise, you need to re-read what I wrote 😉 .

      “They think they same of you. Big time.”

      I’m some of them probably do (or would, if they came across me and exchanged opinions), but that’s kind of part of the problem. A key part of what I’m saying is that I *don’t* believe people must be stupid if they don’t have the same opinions I do.

      So, to echo your own closing words… now what?

      Like

  2. You say you understand economic inequality, and how it “effects” (“affects,” to be correct) our economy. As that is the numbers 1-237 of the issues that Sanders supporters want to raise with the likes of libertarian you, then let’s give you credit for at least a start.
    Have you noticed the poverty around you? Ever wonder why the rich keep getting fabulously rich in the US and A, but debt and under-employment dominate young and old, middle-class and desperately poor? Then you should question why the words “idiot” and “asinine” sprang into your blogging mind.
    This country, which we both were born to, was founded on the principal actions of slavery, genocide against the native tribes, subjugation of women, and the rule of property. Oh, a love of war, too. Do you think “freedom” is the main word that unite those facts of history?
    Sanders has never authored a single bill that has successfully fought the rule of banks or transnational corporations. He likes drones, loves the F-35, embraces his Senate colleagues at every turn, but goes on finger-wagging about some reformist “democratic socialist” plan to stop the mean old billionaires. Socialism can mean a lot of different things, such as universal health care, but a half-a-trillion dollars of profit held by unneeded insurance companies being the controlling Mafia of health-care says nothing will ever get done that is “socialistic” in that arena in the US and A, or in any other.
    You wanted a response in your blog post, so you are getting one. Why not? That what’s wordpress is for.

    Like

    • “You wanted a response in your blog post, so you are getting one.
      Why not? That what’s wordpress is for.”

      That’s a bad assumption to make, given that if responses were the main thing I was looking for I’d just post in a discussion forum, but to a very large extent you’re completely right. I don’t mind responses, and nowhere did I say you shouldn’t have commented with one. I did edit out something from my last comment though, giving you the benefit of the doubt, that I apparently should have left in: if you choose to talk down to me instead of talking to me, two can play that game and you might just find I play it better. This is *my* blog, and while I don’t censor people no matter how condescending they are or how much they might disagree with me, I don’t take shit lying down, and at the end of any back and forth (like it or not) my words are still at the top of the web page. In essence, just as on your blog you would get the last say even if I were the last to comment in an exchange, on my blog, the reverse is true 😉 . Do yourself a favor and try not to talk down to me, m’kay.

      “You say you understand economic inequality, and how it “effects” (“affects,” to be correct) our economy.”

      I’m aware of the difference, and the irrelevance of you pointing out that minor typo. You clearly understood what I said, so there was no breakdown in communication as a result of my little mistake.

      “As that is the numbers 1-237 of the issues that Sanders supporters want to raise with the likes of libertarian you, then let’s give you credit for at least a start.”

      Gee, thanks, how kind of you 😛 .

      “Have you noticed the poverty around you? Ever wonder why the rich keep getting fabulously rich in the US and A, but debt and under-employment dominate young and old, middle-class and desperately poor? Then you should question why the words “idiot” and “asinine” sprang into your blogging mind.”

      I did question it, because that kind of language is something I don’t often get so close to. Usually, I find that even in absolute disagreement with someone there’s the very real possibility that they’ve come to a different conclusion based on the same understanding I have of the facts. That’s assuming there’s a certain level of reasoning involved in their opinions though, which I can respect, but from time to time I do find it hard to see that. When and if it’s absent (on my end or on someone elses) it is indeed a case of stupidity, and of intellectual laziness. Chalk it up to me simply not seeing the reasoning behind their perspective (best case scenario, generally), but as far as I can tell the income inequality is a symptom of a definite problem, and it’s not that the wealthy are evil bastards who deserve to be penalized and forced to pay the way for those less fortunate.

      The debt and unemployment, among other symptoms, seems to me to be far more related to the lack of socio-economic mobility, not the income gaps. Having a middle class is evidence of high social mobility, of an environment where the rich can fall and the poor can rise by their own hand. Lacking that is a sign of favoring of the rich, and to some degree suppressing opportunities for the poor as a part of that favor. So far we’re on about the same page, yes? But where we probably diverge is that imo, if you create an environment enabling social mobility (focusing on that) and generating opportunities (not hand outs, not ensured provisions via the government, but opportunities that some people may well fail to take advantage of) tends to close the income gap a fair amount. And even if that’s not satisfactory to some, or if that gap doesn’t close at all, it really doesn’t matter.

      Being able to move up or down the financial ladder on the basis of exercising your own personal, individual freedoms is what matters. Yes, there will still be poor people and there will still be ultra rich people, but if you increase the possibility of each “class” to move to the other end of the spectrum under their own power (the intention and, when it’s properly implemented and protected as a system, effectiveness of capitalism), the problem gets solved (at least in large part).

      You can’t blame capitalism for the current economic or employment conditions either; the system we’re largely operating under is corporatism (a.k.a. crony capitalism). Ensure that even the poorest of people *can* climb their way up, on their own, and they have no right to bitch. (And before you assume I’m rich, I would like to point out that I’m not, not even remotely.)

      “This country, which we both were born to, was founded on the principal actions of slavery, genocide against the native tribes, subjugation of women, and the rule of property. Oh, a love of war, too. Do you think “freedom” is the main word that unite those facts of history?”

      I’m aware of our history, as well as the ideology this country was founded on. While it may not always be reflected well in many elements of our history as a nation (slavery, genocide, subjugation of women), the values and principles those things fly in the face of (e.g. freedom) are what I believe in, and in that sense I’m American to the core. And in my opinion, the progress we’ve made over the years leaves us, at this point, with very little left to correct. We’re not killing Native Americans anymore. Women have equal rights, except in a few minor areas, and in those areas we’re moving closer and closer to a truly level playing field. I don’t know what you have against property, but I like my things and I have no problem with our right to protect our own.

      So… do I think “freedom” is the main word that unite those facts? In a sense, yes, very much so. Over the span of this country’s existence we’ve moved progressively closer to making reality match up with that word. You can look at our history, with freedom (among other principles) being a guiding force in how we’ve done things, and in how we’ve changed many of the things you mentioned.

      “Sanders has never authored a single bill that has successfully fought the rule of banks or transnational corporations. He likes drones, loves the F-35, embraces his Senate colleagues at every turn, but goes on finger-wagging about some reformist “democratic socialist” plan to stop the mean old billionaires. Socialism can mean a lot of different things, such as universal health care, but a half-a-trillion dollars of profit held by unneeded insurance companies being the controlling Mafia of health-care says nothing will ever get done that is “socialistic” in that arena in the US and A, or in any other.”

      Given your description of him, I have to wonder… do we even disagree? I mean what exactly are we talking about here? I *know* he’s accomplished anything (certainly nothing of significance) relating to his professed ideals, that despite what he says the unions that have contributed to his campaign are just another form of special interest group in the context of an election, and that socialism doesn’t generally end up being true socialism when governments attempt to implement it. That’s kind of a big part of the problem I have with him, and with the seeming lack of critical thinking from his supporters… Socialism, almost universally (especially if you look at larger countries) simply does not work. And trying to make it, has severe repercussions, all of which seem pretty plainly (to me at least) in direct conflict with American values.

      I hate to ask again, but can you perhaps clarify, in a nutshell, what you’re getting at? You seem to be critical (which I don’t mind at all, just so you know) and condescending (which I do mind) in many respects, and yet given the description you’ve given of Sanders (and the probable impossibility of actual socialism, even under him, just more crony capitalism…) I’m having a hard time figuring out what the reason for your condescension is, or what exactly you’re ultimately trying to convey.

      Like

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