avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
[personal profile] avevale_intelligencer
"Everyone's entitled to their own opinions. Nobody is entitled to their own facts." (Internet truism)

I've said before that essentially, nearly all "facts" as we understand them are in fact opinions, based on or supported by what we believe to be evidence, as filtered through our sensoria and interpreted by our brains. In practice, for the most part, this is a difference that makes no difference, and anyone who makes anything serious of that argument is being studenty and pretentious. There is one reality, and for the most part, in most cases and most of the time, we can agree on what it is. What it *means*...well, that's another kettle of fish entirely.

The abovementioned truism has been getting quite a lot of use in the last couple of years, and with Tronald, the current President of the USA, and his team busily coming out with "alternative facts," that seems likely to go on. What interests me about it, though, is the large hole it blows in the idea that non-religious people (who, I believe, comprise the majority of users of said truism) are actually capable of religious tolerance in any real sense.

When you call them on this, they stoutly maintain that they think everyone should be entitled to believe whatever they wish, as long as they don't try and force it on anyone else. Which is as good as saying that everyone is entitled to "their own facts," since it must surely be obvious to anyone who thinks about it that, to a religious person, a religious belief must of absolute necessity have the status of a fact, or what exactly does the word "belief" mean? Christians are not "of the opinion" that God sent His son to redeem mankind. Buddhists do not "incline to the view" that the material world is an illusion that must be transcended if the soul is to attain Nirvana. Jews are not "prepared to entertain the notion" that Passover night is different from all other nights. If any of them say they are, then in my estimation (and I admit I'm an outsider, see below) they're just being nice and trying to avoid causing conflict or offence, which is laudable but not conducive to greater understanding. An atheist friend, not so circumspect, told me quite flatly the other day, "it's a fact. There are no gods." It may be her fact, but it's not everyone's.

How all these contradictory beliefs may be reconciled is not an insoluble problem--I can think of half a dozen reasons why a deity might have communicated, or been understood as communicating, different truths about itself to different peoples, without using the words "sadistic," "psychopath" or "deceiver" once--but happily, it's not my problem. I have no facts in that area. None. Nor any opinions. I have nothing to defend except truth and logic.

But when you say "nobody is entitled to their own facts," and then claim to be okay with different people believing that different deities created the world, you are contradicting yourself. Because a belief is not the same as an opinion.
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