Daily Archives: December 29, 2004

Heh heh heh.

Apparently, in the conversation at Chad’s place, someone got his feelings hurt.

I particularly like this comment about me:

“Obviously Scalzi is a genius in line for a MacArthur grant; obviously he is someone whose very cyber-presence confers beneficence. Though, actually, when you read what he writes he comes off as a sort of self-important creep. The kind of guy whose loud certainty makes you edge away from him in a bar, you know. He’s the big guy with the shaved head & a lot of opinions about tolerance.”

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!

I have to imagine he thinks I’m a big guy because of the picture here. I suppose the camera does add about 40 pounds, and six inches.

But if you think he gets angry with me, check this out. He gets positively apoplectic over Patrick Nielsen Hayden. At least he’s getting cardio out of it.

Update: Turns out the aggrieved party is a published author and a professor of creative writing. The mind positively boggles.

Update: Michael Rawdon wrote something very true in the comments, so I’m elevating it out of the comments for general consumption:

The Internet should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Something like:

“WARNING: The Internet may contain people and subject matter which you find offensive. Engaging in dialogues with other inhabitants of the Internet may expose you to ideas, comments and language which you find offensive. Further, you may be made fun of for being offended. You may particularly be made fun of for posting journal entries complaining about people disagreeing with or making fun of you.”

Right on. So right on, in fact, that I propose this concept is henceforth codified as Rawdon’s Law of Blog Retreat:

When you write on your blog how mean everyone else was to you on some other blog, you are officially the loser.

Update: Mr. Duemer, the fellow who generated that lovely quote about me that is excerpted above, has made an appearance in the comment thread. We seem to be playing a little more nicely. Scroll down to 12/30 at 8:48 pm.

Maxims for Non-Believers

The other day Chad Orzel excerpted my post on teaching Athena about Christmas and did a compare and contrast with a comment about religion from another blogger who is a non-believer. This prompted a comment from a reader (who is, presumably, also a non-believer):

“I really can’t approve of John Scalzi’s Laodicean attitude. Believe, if you can. Disbelieve, if you must. But don’t pick out just the pretty parts to pass on.”

This naturally caused me to break out John Scalzi’s Patented Hard Rubber Mallet of Agitated Clarification and apply it liberally. I won’t post the messy, snippy results of this; instead, please visit Chad’s fine, fine blog for the details.

However, in the course of whacking on folks, I did sketch out seven Maxims for Non-Believers – seven heuristics that I use to reconcile my own utter lack of religious belief with the rather more religious world I live in. The maxims are:

1. Being a non-believer does not mean you have to be intolerant of those who believe.

2. Being a non-believer does not mean you have to be ignorant of the beliefs of those around you.

3. Being a non-believer doesn’t mean you need to keep your children ignorant of the beliefs around you either. Withholding information from your children is a very bad way to help them make responsible decisions.

4. Being a non-believer does not mean you can’t empathize with the religious impulse in others.

5. Being tolerant of belief, knowledgeable about beliefs and empathetic toward the desire for belief does not make one less of a non-believer. It makes one tolerant, knowledgeable and empathetic.

6. I believe that my tolerance, knowledge and empathy makes my own non-belief stronger, because I know why other people believe, and why I don’t.

7. I believe that in being tolerant, knowledgeable and empathetic toward believers, I encourage those who believe to be tolerant, knowledgeable and empathetic toward me.

Note for the record that these maxims do not preclude thumping on people of faith who are also ignorant as paste and would try to make me and mine just as ignorant. Since I don’t believe that faith requires adhesive levels of ignorance, I feel perfectly justified tolerating faith while whaling on active, aggressive know-nothingness. Jesus may love us all, even the morons, but that doesn’t mean being a moron should be an aspiration.

But I have to be honest: I find arrogant, intolerant non-believers just as annoying on a personal level as arrogant, intolerant believers. Just as having faith doesn’t require ignorance, neither does non-belief require sneering contempt. Ignorant believers, contemptuous non-believers: Both are equal in my eyes, since both should be laid upon hard with a shovel and put out of my misery.

Anyway: Tolerance. Knowledge. Empathy. They work for everyone. Believe it. Try them.