Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Protecting Religious Beliefs - The Potential Double Standard

Alright, I thought I was maybe done with posts on beliefs, but I find I have one more in me...

One of the posts I was drafting on this topic back in 2012 was going to be on "Engineering With Bad Beliefs." The gist of it was going to be that if an engineer does not understand how the world works, they are likely to make a shitty product. I really should not need to say more.

It was thinking about this same idea lately that I realized there is a double standard, which is perhaps what bothers me most about such discussions. And it's not limited to just engineering; this can go for many jobs out there, particularly jobs that wouldn't just hire anyone off the street. I.e, jobs that require a certain level of education. That education is required to help an employer determine if one has the understanding to do the job. Most people would not suggest to an employer that they hire just anyone, no matter what that person understands about the job.

In regards to religion and other beliefs (like Phil Robertson's homophobia or George Zimmerman's racism), I'm trying to apply a similar concept. If a person is going to make decisions around some topic, they should have a good understanding of the way things are. And I have no problem releasing criticism against those who don't seem to have a good understanding.

So what I want to know from those who think I should not criticize is for you to tell me why I should handle such beliefs differently? Because all I've ever heard is people simply telling me that I should, but they don't tell me why I should. If someone tells me I should do something without a reason and I disagree, I'm going to keep disagreeing until I'm given a reason to change my mind. I won't change my mind because someone tells me I should. That would be silly. So, please, tell me why.

Now, someone might point out that Robertson's homophobia or Zimmerman's racism isn't necessarily critical to their jobs (though I would say racism is not a good characteristic in a neighborhood watchman). OK, but at best this says that my reasoning above in regards to jobs doesn't apply. I already know this. It does not say that my position is wrong. It does not say that a position of letting them believe what they want is right. So such an objection does not address my question.

The way that I am looking at it is that I am going to be consistent unless given a reason otherwise. Yes, the reasons for requiring certain knowledge and beliefs don't apply in general quite the same way as they do for a job. But I have to apply some sort of rule. So why not continue to apply the same rule?

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