March 8, 2018

Those Who Do Not Share My Political Views Are Not Necessarily Irrational

Let Oakland be a city of civility

A recent post by David G. McAfee at Friendly Atheist contained this gem:
Just because you can think rationally about God doesn’t mean you’re reasonable about everything else.
Yes! This statement is important and needs to be repeated over and over until we finally manage to wrap our heads around it. However diverse we atheists are, we have our humanity in common. And that means that we are susceptible to the same sort of flaws as everyone else (e.g., confirmation bias, tribalism, motivated reasoning), including those who believe in gods.

I'd add two things to McAfee's statement, one that seems important in the context of his post and one that seems important more broadly in the context of atheism:
  1. Just because one does not believe in gods does not necessarily mean that one arrived at this conclusion in a rational manner.
  2. Just because one does not share my political views does not mean that one is irrational or unreasonable.
Minor points perhaps, but I think we are mistaken to assume that atheists necessarily arrived at the correct answer to the question of gods through rational means. I suspect that many did, but I'd be very surprised if this is true for all atheists.

I also think it is important to understand that people who hold political views which are very different from those you or I might prefer are not necessarily doing so because they are irrational. Disagreeing with us is not enough to make one irrational, and labeling others in this way too often serves as an excuse to prevent us from fairly considering their views.