According to Winston Churchill “A fanatic is one who can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject”. That means close-mindedness, i.e. unwillingness to consider ideas other than the ones we hold ourselves, is a brand trait of a fanatic. Obviously there are some other issues there, but first things first.
During our small talk C told me:
– I will not talk with you because you will not change your mind.
To state it precisely – I will not change my mind about there existing a Christian God.
Those of you who are atheists probably already know what I replied
– It’s not true. I don’t claim the God doesn’t exist, I just don’t see any evidence to support and justify a belief in that God. Show me proof, give me some decent evidence for that God existing and I will change my mind. I will not necessarily worship it, but I WILL believe in it.
The accusations of atheists being close-minded or unwilling to change their minds are old as earth. And sometimes even true when dealing with shitty atheo-kiddies who bark around about their atheism on the webz, but once they go off-line they go with their grannies to the church, accept a body of a man into their mouth (not necessarily Jesus if it is a Catholic church…) and so on. In general though they (accusations) are crap. But that’s a good jumping point to your counter-attack/K.O strike.
– What would make you changer your mind about God? What would have to happen for you to stop believing in a God.
99.9% of cases the answer you’ll hear is
– I will not change my mind.
– There is nothing that could make me stop believing in Jesus., etc.
– Well then, out of the two of us it is you, by your own admission, who is unwilling to change your mind, who is close minded, and dare I say, who is fanatic. I gave you conditions under which I would reconsider my belief. And frankly – given the claims you Catholics make about your God it really shouldn’t be THAT hard to provide a sufficient proof for your God – a proof that will hold against scientific scrutiny and will not rely on gullibility or ignorance of audience. Yet for the last 2000 years you were unable to do it. But putting that aside – should you satisfy the condition and provide the proof I would change my mind and start believing in this God. You – on the other hand – refuse to even entertain the idea that there is no God, you refuse to use your reason and you will not even consider the possibility of your mind being changed by anything. You are the close-minded one, please be aware of that.
Obviously this won’t do much. If anything, it might shake them a bit off of their comfort zone and maybe – just maybe – make them think a minute or two before they rationalize somehow their narcissistic yet contradictory ideas of being open-minded, and unwilling to change their minds at the same time. Yes – Catholics and other people of faith excel in that and you can spot it in almost every case.
But still it’s worth it to shake them up just a bit. Who knows – maybe that little nudge is all it takes for the pebble to change into an avalanche five years later? Worth taking a shot.
The problem with fanatics is the same as the problem with stupid. Stupid people do not know that they are stupid precisely because they are stupid. It’s a rephrased Dunning–Kruger effect. Smart people know what they are smart about and are perfectly aware they are stupid about virtually everything else. It’s that awareness of your deficiencies which opens your mind.
When you are not sure you know everything there is to know about X, it logically follows you don’t lock yourself in your beliefs castle and hide from the world. You know you can be wrong, or that most likely you are wrong, and therefore you accept that someone might know better, which makes your mind open and accepting to new ideas, new beliefs.
When you are dead sure that you’re right your mind closes down. After all you *know* you’re right, so people telling you otherwise are wrong by definition and in your own eyes you are not a fanatic, you just defend the truth you *know* to be true. Absolute certainty about your own knowledge or beliefs is something that we should be protected from, it’s something we should be taught to be wary of as early as in primary school. Maybe even earlier. Because if we’re not careful our minds lock up and quite often the effort necessary to open and change them is not worth it.
Fanaticism is often defined as an extreme intolerance of other world-views and beliefs. Which means people being convinced they are the ones being right are better in their own eyes than those who disagree with them, who should either die or surrender one way or another to those who were bestowed with the truth.
But violence is not really necessary for you to be a fanatic. I think it’s enough for you to hold harmful beliefs locked in your mind; beliefs harmful to others, to society at large and sometimes even to you. If you are intolerant of homosexuals, you will vote for politicians who think likewise, you will raise your kids to be the same, you will increase the overall amount of suffering on the world instead of decreasing it. If you think abortion is wrong and if you’re catholic – you will try to force others to comply with your beliefs, even when they don’t share it, by voting, by funding church, which in turns funds various organizations that picket abortion clinics, or even children, who aborted the pregnancy after being raped. If you’re catholic doctor you will disclose confidential and protected personal data to those, who will want to harass the raped teen. You will support in one way or another priests raping children, organizations that protect them, anti-educational efforts and so on. And if you try to silence opposition by censuring it, one day the censorship might affect your right to speak up. Even by your own kin but just a tad more fanatic than you.
That for me is a fanaticism. And my country, sadly, just as my extended family, is a fanatic one.