It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
- Aristotle
My last post contained this quote and I thought I'd explain why I liked it. It reminds me of the way religious people censor their lives so that no contradicting ideas cause them to doubt. It was one of the things that bothered me most growing up. I was very curious about everything and was frustrated repeatedly by my parents taking books out of my hands and telling me they were of the devil and I shouldn't pollute myself with them. They also interrupted science shows I watched to complain about mentions of evolution. I just couldn't understand why no one trusted themselves to read about an idea without accepting it blindly. I naturally thought to myself, well if what I was taught was right then shouldn't it stand up strongly in my mind against conflicting ideas? Therefore why shouldn't I learn about conflicting ideas in order to better argue against them. It wasn't until I was too old for them to censor my life that I started really learning some truth.
I believe that in order to learn we must be willing to open our minds to all kinds of things, even if they contradict what we believe to be true. I often suspend making a decision on subjects for long periods of time until I feel I know enough about it to have an opinion on it. I entertain many thoughts. Partly because, well, a lot of stupid ideas are entertaining, but at the end of the day I shelve those ideas and don't accept them as fact. Philosophy and psychology are two areas in which I do a lot of this entertaining and shelving.

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Comment by Father Nature on January 4, 2009 at 10:16am
Good post. When I was in college I brought home a book called "Russia Under Khruschev" and my Dad had a fit, thinking that I was becoming a Commie. I don't remember anything else about the book but the old man's bizarre reaction taught me a lesson that I never forgot.
Comment by Reality Activist on January 3, 2009 at 3:43pm
Comment by Reality Activist on January 3, 2009 at 3:43pm
You make a very important point. About half of US public is afflicted with this protected barrier around their beliefs. It is the reason why most everything that we do as atheists will not penetrate this barrier. Even when we do positive things, the public learns about them in a negative way because of the spins that the media and/or the religious leaders use. It is the very reason why I have been pushing for this new group called the National Pocket Atheists. The only way to break this barrier of ignorance and disinformation is to be conspicuous in public. The gays did it a couple of decades ago and now they are accepted in society or, at least, they can run for office successfully. If we want to change society, we must first have atheist politicians and to get them we need to change public opinion. Writing books, creating YouTube videos, having public debates, and using other forms of media just will not work because most the people who needs to understand have been blocking these attempts at enlightenment. By exposing ourselves in public under normal non confrontational ways, they will see that we are just like them, respected, kind, and prosperous. This reality can not be blocked. It is our only defense against this barrier that religion places around their beliefs.



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