One of the most disturbing arguments I see and one that bugs me a lot is the idea that we shouldn’t try to change humanity for the better because people are irrational and “that’s just the way it is”. This comes up most often in religious discussions where I try to encourage people to think critically and rationally about their religious beliefs and invariably, someone will pop up and say “humans aren’t rational, you can’t expect them to ever be rational”.
That’s like saying that humans are naturally racist and sexist, which we know they are. We generally seek out those with similar characteristics to ourselves and tend to fear those with different characteristics. It’s part of our biology and part of our evolution. That doesn’t mean we should throw up our arms and accept it, in fact, we’ve spent a lot of time, several generations at this point, fighting exactly that and it’s worked. There aren’t as many racist or sexist people around anymore. Just trying actually accomplishes things.
So why is it so awful to ask that people actually use that piece of meat in their heads? Why shouldn’t we hold people to a higher standard than we do cattle? Well, it all comes down to those lovely people, the accomodationists, who don’t want anyone to ever feel bad for being stupid. Unfortunately, the theists tend, and I say tend, to be stupid and irrational, basing their entire religious worldview on emotion, not intellect. It makes them feel good to think that there’s a powerful invisible man in the sky who is keenly interested in what people do in their bedrooms. I don’t know why it makes them good, I just know that it does, it certainly did back when I was religiously delusional, even though I can’t, for the life of me, remember why I ever thought it was a good idea.
That said, no, I do not accept that it’s just the way that it is. Those who aren’t willing or capable of upping their game ought to be criticized for it. People shouldn’t be allowed to feign stupidity as an excuse for believing ridiculous things. They ought to be challenged and if they fail the challenge, they ought to be ridiculed. It makes it a bit easier since the United States is becoming increasingly more secular, up to 38% in the most recent polls, for people who claim no religious affiliation. We’re winning, folks. Maybe we ought to press our advantage and take the war for intelligent debate over religious topics to the streets. Don’t let people use blind faith as an excuse. Blind faith is a failure. Make sure they know it. Make sure everyone knows it. The more people are ridiculed for relying on such absurd things, the more embarrassed they get by repeatedly failing to win these debates, the more they’ll be forced, by peer pressure, into actually adopting a more intellectual and rational standpoint. From there, it’s only a few steps to giving up the ridiculous religious beliefs altogether.
Let’s not allow “that’s the way it is” to be an excuse. It isn’t the way it ought to be. We need to demand better of everyone. We need to have high expectations. We need to keep raising the bar instead of what so many accomodationists routinely do, pull out a shovel when they look for the lowest common denominator. Stooping to the worst possible choice doesn’t improve humanity, it just allows humanity to remain blissfully ignorant and ignorance doesn’t help any of us improve.