Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can't we all just agree?

In the interview of Robert Wright* (on his book The Evolution of God), he seems to imply that any exclusive claim is just flat out mean spirited, because it is intolerant. The goal of any religion according to Wright is to "make people better" and this is done by not making any exclusive claims. Wright from the outset defeats his own argument in two ways. First, he assumes that truth does not exist, for if it does, then there is only one way. As stated in a previous blog, truth by its very nature is exclusive and therefore it would also be intolerant.

The second mistake of Wright is that his assumption is self-refuting. Wright seems to claim that taking an exclusive stance is intolerant, but his statement itself is intolerant, for he is telling an individual how things really are from an exclusive position. Wright is claiming it is intolerant to be intolerant, when he, himself, will not tolerate any position but his own. It is self-refuting and like saying, There are no sentences longer than 3 words.

Tolerance assumes that someone is willing to listen to an other's view while at the same time disagreeing. You can't be tolerant without disagreeing. Wright states, "Saying one possesses the unique path to salvation creates potentially deadly friction." What Wright assumes is that disagreement can lead to deadly friction, as if, disagreement is bad. It is not that disagreement is the villain here, it is the heart that is at issue. I can respectfully disagree and not want to destroy anyone, so agreement is not the issue.

Wright's overarching problem is his unwillingness to face up to the truth question. Being tolerant is the proper position to take, but dodging the truth question is the real mark of intolerance (in my opinion).

*interview with Robert Wright in Houston Chronicle Belief section (July 31, 2009)

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