I owe Michael Dillahunty an apology (not that he gives a shit).
When people call into your show regularly and try to deny reality and reasoning, I could see how one would lose their cool. In a discussion, when one person is correct and the other is wrong, when the correct person is an asshole, it does not negate the legitimacy of their claim.
I’ve often said that proof of unambiguous truth does little to change people’s minds. Probably because, and I could be wrong on this, that most of the decisions we make throughout a day are of the aesthetic preference/value kind (good or bad) and not the true/false kind. Nevertheless, where true/false claims are made…which is usually the source of our arguments…either someone is right or both parties are wrong (or both partially correct, or both WHOLLY correct but are lost in semantics).
Which leads me to this question: is it better to be correct and an asshole? Or better to be wrong but nice?
I think the answer is obvious: the former.
Or, in other words, truth trumps all.
Now obviously, truth is difficult to establish. We’re human. We’re finite. That’s why we have to rely on logic, reasoning, evidence, and experimental science to establish such claims. If you want to deny the validity of those methods, you have to use those methods you’re denying, which means you’d corner yourself. Of course, most arguments and disagreements are of the moral/ethical kind.
Morals and ethics are, in all likelihood, a human invention which are subject to change given the historical paradigm. But so what? I’d say that these ethics and the laws and social engagements they promote are VERY necessary for a society…however big or small…to function. And where these ethics fail the needs of a given paradigm, then it’s our moral obligation to challenge them. That’s my general description of morals/ethics that, I think, many would agree on. (If not, then excuse the hell out of me)
So what methods should we use to establish these ethics and morals?
That’s where Dillahunty is unapologetic: it’s humanism. Does humanism have its flaws? I’m sure. But it’s kinda hard to gain the moral upper hand when you’re arguing AGAINST the best interests of all people….or even against SOME people.
So I’ve changed me mind: Matt Dillahunty has every right to be a jerk while he’s arguing for truth and well-being for all of humankind.
People are shocked to hear this when I say it, but I genuinely do NOT care about question of God’s existence.
When I hear people arguing this question, it’s like listening to nerds getting into a heated argument over which fictional spaceship is faster: the Millenium Falcon or the Enterprise D?
It’s a nonsensical argument and I treat nonsense in the only sensical way: I ignore it.
Which leads me the ‘Atheist Experience’.
For the record, I agree with 99.99% with what this asshat, Matt Dillahunty, is saying. His logic holds up. But this is the #1 thing that drives me bonkers about YouTube atheists: logic is fetishized.
I’ll concede: maybe this is a ‘me’ problem. Perhaps I view logic, reasoning, science, and philosophy…and perhaps religion too…as a vehicle, not a destination. That may be too “Buddhist”, for a lack of a better word, way of thinking of these things but it has helped me “keep an eye on the ball” and not get hung up on the small stuff.
I mean, this is the purpose of life, right? To find meaning in a chaotic world? To love life, to enjoy company of others, to pass on our wisdom to the next generation? Life is about the sublime moments. When I’m trying to enjoy my short existence on this earth, I don’t really care what vehicle I drive to get to work.
I’ll always have respect for someone that channels their beliefs in a transformative way….way more than somebody that demands you follow the rules of logic. That being said, some atheists don’t need belief in a higher power to enjoy life to the fullest. I guess I’m one of them (I’m more agnostic. Or, more precisely, apathetic).
Matt Dillahunty is, however, just an asshole.
YouTube atheists aren’t alone in this phenomenon. Everyone is complicit is this internet “dunking” culture, where we try to make our perceived enemies look like idiots. It’s disgusting.
Dillahunty clearly had some bad experience with religion and is bitter because of it. I get it. This happened to me too. I’m sure it happened to all of us. But what are you trying to prove?
I think if the experience of the last few years have showed us anything, it’s that showing facts and logic is totally not persuasive. I mean, it CAN be…over time. But that absolutely cannot be done in a debate style format…especially when one of the participants is being a complete fucking dick.
I’m sure we’ve all been in a position where we find ourselves in a heated political argument where we know that we’re right, and THEY know that you’re right, yet strangely our interlocutor never says “you know, you’re right…you’ve changed my mind.” If this has happened to you then you’re a fucking liar.
There’s something deeply hidden in the human psyche that makes us believe things that are so patently false and absurd, that we just believe them. I think there’s a Latin phrase for it. I’m sure if we interrogate our own beliefs enough, we’ll find one. And when people call bullshit on it, we believe them even harder.
I think a helpful skill to learn, that when you find yourself in a heated argument over religion or politics…and you have your opponent on the ropes…make sure the joke’s on you. Don’t be so far up your own ass that you can’t make fun of yourself. In that case, you might’ve won the debate but you lost the war.
People’s minds don’t change over night.
What Dillahunty did was take his bad experience and project it onto ‘Brandon’. Now Brandon probably believes whatever nonsense he believes in that much harder. Nothing got solved.
The post-Socratics get a bad rap for being not nearly as good as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Stoicism in particular has been much maligned over the last few years. It reentered the public consciousness recently, which irked some in the philosophical community. I guess in our post-Enlightenment era, there’s a resistance to schools of thought that seemingly promote individuals to rise above their political realities. This makes sense to a certain extent, especially given our reality after the Great Recession. However, this in turn irks me because the intellectual community is unwilling to divorce the bad from the good in these philosophies, but they’ll gladly do so for Plato and Aristotle (and as I mentioned in an earlier post, for Marx).
Many claim to find stoicism to be too rigid in its determinism, which in turn means we should almost remain passive or unattached to the obstacles we find in our daily lives. But that’s an over simplistic reading, in my view. To be honest, I don’t know if this was the intention of noted stoic thinkers like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, but I think we can infer from them that we have to exercise our best judgments and restraint to remain above the madness in everyday life. If we fail to do so, then we are no better than that madness. Through logic and reasoning, we actually find our free will, then subsequently, our happiness. Through this interpretation, Stoicism actually isn’t deterministic at all (though this might run contrary to actual Stoic metaphysics. I don’t know 🤷♂️).
I understand why Stoicism would have had detractors in its heyday as it seemed to have caught on with the Roman elite, who had the security to explore such lofty idealism while the proles weren’t afforded that luxury. But that seems like a lazy, bad faith criticism of it today, which comes across like an attempt to deflect personal responsibility and agency (especially given that proletarian-centered philosophies like Marxism is way more complicated, lofty, and at times hypocritical).
But I’ve always been more partial to Cynicism. Not that I condone it, it’s just way more in-your-face. It’s impossible to be a Cynic today (you’d be arrested for a being a public nuisance), but it does ask you to question common sense. Diogenes of Sinope was its most prominent thinker. He apparently jacked off and relieved himself in public, gave no shit about social status, and extolled the virtues of what amounted to homelessness. I agree with the leftist critics of Diogenes’ form of Cynicism in that his fetishism of poverty undermines how dehumanizing it actually is. But the real reason why I think Cynicism is unpalatable to modern thinking is it’s rejection of material wealth and its promotion of “cosmopolitanism”. While I find the Cynicism of Diogenes to be somewhat individualistic, his form of individualism runs completely contrary to its modern form.
While I wouldn’t call Cynicism’s version of cosmopolitanism to be sophisticated, it was rather forward thinking in its rejection of “imagined communities” (see Benedict Anderson). Diogenes allegedly called himself a “citizen of the world”, this coming at a time when the city state dominated political thinking. Cosmopolitanism is widely rejected by ideologies across the spectrum, from Nazi’s, traditional conservatism, and even Marxism (depending on your interpretation), despite its inevitability.
So I don’t know, maybe I’m asking you to reassess these schools of thought because they piss off the right people.