How's that for a confusing title?
As the embers cool from the latest of the many Holy Wars here at DailyKos, I offer up some subtle thoughts on why we might drive ourselves so nuts on the issue of theism vs atheism.
I think it all comes down to whether you BELIEVE there is a God (or alternatively, that there is no God) vs whether you KNOW there is a God (or again, that there is no God). Many of us believe one way or the other, and quite a few of us shrug our shoulders and don't know WHAT to believe. My theory is that most of these folks can interact pretty peacefully with each other.
The folks that worry me are the ones who claim they KNOW.
Sometimes I wonder if we incorrectly use the two words interchangeably. Believing is not knowing. Believing is accepting something as true. Knowing is believing on steroids. It is accepting something as an indisputable FACT. Right up there with 2+2=4. In my mind, if I BELIEVE
in God, it leaves open the possibility that someone who does not believe in God may in fact be correct. But if I KNOW
there is a God, I am rejecting the atheist's viewpoint. Or vice versa. That inflames folks that have the opposing viewpoint.
Personally, I believe in God. Inherent in my belief is an acknowledgement that the atheists (or Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans, etc) might be right. I can't KNOW that I'm right, and the intellectually honest in any of the other camps can't KNOW they are right either. When it comes to religion, we just can't KNOW, we can only BELIEVE. There is nothing to grab onto as FACT. If you think there is, then you are inviting yourself to be labeled a knower.
By and large, I think most folks here are believers, one way or the other. But I suspect that many of the flamers on the religion posts are knowers, one way or the other.
I don't mind if someone disagrees with my beliefs, provided they only BELIEVE I am wrong. But if you KNOW I am wrong... Well, that's when the flaming usually begins.
Fundies are knowers. So are many militant atheists. If locked in a room, these folks would scratch each others eyes out. Intellectually honest believers, on the other hand, should be able to quickly make peace with each other, and move on to other topics.
Like the mind-numbingly corrupt and hateful administration that presents itself every day as our common enemy.