Judgemental Disagreement

One aspect that particularly bothers me when it comes to religious attitude vs philosophical attitude is a certain judgement of those who disagree with you. If I disagree with someone philosophically, the most judging I can be is to say that I believe he/she is seriously mistaken and that his/her views would bring great harm. However, if I disagree with someone religiously, as in, the other person is not of my religion, I'll believe, implicitly or explicitly, that the disbeliever is somehow inferior in the eyes of God, that the nonbeliever is not worthy of the fruits of afterlife that are reserved for the believers of my religion, that even though I may respect you in this world, I believe that your very disagreement renders you deserving of an infinite punishment in hell, and that the very fact you cannot see the obvious truth of my religion and cannot take it on faith, you are somewhat of an imbecile. It might make some sense to say that the judgement of afterlife would be based on moral behavior of a person regardless of religious affiliation, but what sense does it make to say that the judgement of afterlife would first be about adherence to the true religion (i.e. my religion) based on faith and only afterwards moral behavior (and that too moral behavior as prescribed by my religion)?

As a philosopher, I recognize that there is almost always room for rational disagreement; perhaps no issue in metaphysics or ethics warrants universal agreement. It would be absurd to judge someone for not taking on faith something that is not rationally binding. How can I judge someone who disagrees with me on an issue on which legitimate rational disagreement exists? I can't, and I won't, and I cannot approve of an attitude which does so.

Comments

Komal said…
There might be a difference in the way some religious people and philosophers disagree, but I'm not sure I entirely accept the distinction you mentioned in the post.

What I've noticed is that there are more dogmatic and less dogmatic people, and then there are more or less calm and emotionally stable people. And of course, there are more or less sophisticated thinkers. In general: Emotionally stable + undogmatic + intelligent = good conversationalist.

The most dogmatic and emotionally volatile people I've come across have been: fanatically religious people, fanatical atheists, and fanatical adherents of certain ideologies (such as Marxism).

In my personal experience, since I started believing in God, it has only lessened my dogmatism and increased my emotional stability. And for other people I know, it has either done the same or made no difference.
Anonymous said…
The people who display this behaviour are those who are proud, arrogant or have superficial knowledge and are ignorant of human nature. Humility is the trade mark of a soul of knowledge and faith. We as Muslims have NO RIGHT TO JUDGE OTHERS. Human condition changes at each moment. Our job is only to convey the message , supported by the best moral character. True souls of faith become shelters for humanity(Not just Muslims). So said the Prophet ( Peace Be Upon Him). Signed Musaafir
Anonymous said…
Totally second Komal's comments. Signed Musaafir
Awais Aftab said…
@ Komal

I don't think its about believing in God. I am not even talking about mysticism. It's about organized faith-based religion. Muslims believe only Muslims will go to heaven. Jews believe only Jews will go to heaven. I am not sure about Christians, but at least a significant proportion of them believe that only Christians will go to heaven. Even the more sophisticated of the believers usually think so. It is almost impossible to genuinely believe so and yet not be judgemental of those who do not share the faith.
Awais Aftab said…
@ Musaafir

Do you believe that atheists can go to heaven?
Alec Lindsay said…
It seems to me to be peculiar for somebody who has no belief in god or gods to suppose that there might be sense in the judgement of afterlife, let alone in supposing it would be based on the moral behaviour of a person. They are non-propositions. In that sense the judgement of a non-believer is as damning as that of a believer - 'you are somehow inferior because you hold to the absurd notions that there is a god who promises the eternal fruits of an afterlife. What kind of imbecile would believe that.'
I think believers and non-believers are equally capable of being intransigently judgemental. I also believe there are people of both persuasions who aren't. Perhaps behaviour in debate comes down to the nature of the debater.
Komal said…
Whether or not religious people believe atheists are going to Heaven is irrelevant to the way in which they disagree. For those who believe atheists or people outside their particular religion are not going to Heaven, that is just a belief they hold, not a manner of disagreeing; and it is not inherently dogmatic.

Also, it's not judgmental to believe someone else will not go to Heaven. The other person may not like it, and it may be false, but it's not judgmental.
stumblingmystic said…
"Whether or not religious people believe atheists are going to Heaven is irrelevant to the way in which they disagree. For those who believe atheists or people outside their particular religion are not going to Heaven, that is just a belief they hold, not a manner of disagreeing; and it is not inherently dogmatic.

Also, it's not judgmental to believe someone else will not go to Heaven. The other person may not like it, and it may be false, but it's not judgmental."

How is it not dogmatic? How is it not morally judgmental to claim you know the future of a person based on their beliefs?
Alec Lindsay said…
Komal puts it best. Dammit!
Awais Aftab said…
@ Komal and Alec

If someone of religion X believes that I will go to hell for my disbelief of religion X, then he has to believe that I deserve to go to hell. [It would be a sort of inconsistency to believe that I will go to hell for my disbelief but I don't deserve it.] It is this particular aspect that I find judgemental, and I don't think a counterpart of this exists in non-religious (not necessarily atheistic) discourse.
Komal said…
stumblingmystic,

It is not dogmatic to hold an unpleasant belief. Dogmatism is when you are unwilling to change your mind even when faced with good evidence and arguments against your position.

It is not even necessarily epistemically irresponsible to hold such a position, since if you accept certain background metaphysical assumptions (e.g. the Koran is the revealed word of God), then this position may be entailed by those assumptions, or may be strongly supported by them.

According to my worldview, there is no eternal Hell, and you generally cannot know another person's future, but this is what I believe because of my background metaphysical assumptions. It is not that this position is less dogmatic, or even less judgmental, though it is more accurate of course ;).
Anonymous said…
But then why would atheist be concerned with afterlife heaven or hell:-). " From quarks we are and to quarks we go". No judgement, so why the worry.
The concept of judgement would entail the Existence of Divinity. Lack of this concept would imply us being individual deities in our own right. And you might agree humans make horrible deities.
:-), & why would an atheist have to have to "believe"? If there is "nothing to believe in" why have to refuse it?
As for who will or will not go to heaven? I do not know.
Some people find Divinity through Happiness, or sorrow, or through observation of nature.Like in your post about scientists. Although they do not name that Realisation, but that still is a reflection of Faith.
What about people who never heard about " Islam" but held the highest morals in times of extreme trial?
Coming to your most recent post. I am ignorant about feminism. However I gather that you are not married. Raising kids and having a professional career are two separate things. If done properly each role reinforces or nurtures the other, not only for women but for men also. Me, being the working, child-development obsessed father of two , should know about it and most of my friends feel the same. Some things have to experienced to realise their reality. No amount of mental actualisation may be able to perceive it.:-), Musaafir