Do atheists have the argumentative “high ground” where the religious believer is always needing to catch up?
I want to say “a pox on the both of you.”
And here is where Christina starts me off,
Why Religious Believers Are So Desperate for the Atheist Seal of Approval
If you hang around the online atheist world long enough, you'll notice an interesting pattern. Many religious and spiritual believers who engage with atheists seem very intent on getting atheists' approval for their beliefs.
Typically, these believers acknowledge that many religions are profoundly troubling. They share atheists' revulsion against religious hatreds and sectarian wars. They share our repugnance with religious fraud, the charlatans who abuse people's trust to swindle them out of money and sex and more. They share our disgust with willful religious ignorance, the flat denials of overwhelming scientific evidence that contradicts people's beliefs. They can totally see why many atheists are so incredulous, even outraged, about the world of religion.
But they think their religion is an exception. They think their religion is harmless, a kinder, gentler faith. They think their religion is philosophically consistent, supported by reason and evidence -- or at least, not flatly contradicted by it.
And they want atheists to agree.
They really, really want atheists to agree. They want atheists to say, "No, of course, your beliefs aren't like all those others -- those other beliefs are crazy, but yours make sense." Or they want atheists to say, "Wow, I hadn't heard that one before -- how fascinating and well thought-out!" Of course they understand why atheists object to all those other bad religions. They just don't understand why we object to theirs. They get very hurt when we object to theirs. And they will spend a significant amount of time and energy trying to persuade us to stop objecting.
Why do they care what atheists think?
This is an interesting question. I’d like to think about this here and propose some of my own speculations.
There is a Buddhist argument about followers of the Buddha and how they should think about what they are doing. It has to do with the follower and a burning building full of people. The argument is known as the Parable of the Burning Building, found in the Lotus Sutra.
The issue for Buddhists has been the self and how one can follow the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are:
1) Life is Suffering,
2) Suffering is caused by connection,
3) Suffering is cured by being disconnected,
4) There are ways in this life to become disconnected.
The problem is that trying to be disconnected is a service or a help to oneself, and as long as one is trying to service or help oneself, one remains connected, connected to one’s self. The Parable of the Burning Building is an explanation of how one can be disconnected without remaining connected to one’s self.
There is a burning building. There are many people living in the building and so one helps those people out of that building so they do not suffer from its destruction. One saves one’s self as just another person who needs to be saved from the building’s destruction. The lesson from the Lotus Sutra is that we can save ourselves and become disconnected in the act of saving or disconnecting others.