In my last post, I pointed out how Jeb(!) Bush punted when he was asked how to defeat an ideology. Well, I asked myself the same question and I’m afraid I didn’t do much better. How does one defeat an ideology? Since an ideology is merely a set of ideas, one would logically think that defeating an ideology would be as simple as offering up a better ideology, a more useful set of ideas.
But one would be wrong. Especially when it comes to religious ideologies, and the uniquely human ability to believe-with-a-capital-b. Religion is man’s preferred antidote to the futilities of everyday life. Churches sell the dream, the illusion of control, the happy ending. Just follow the rules of some ancient sacred text — as interpreted by your preferred purveyor — and live forever in paradise.
Monotheistic religious ideologies, by definition divisive and exclusionary, have the added strength of being backed by a all-powerful, all knowing invisible cloud-daddy. The problem is, each of these ideologies has its own version of that cloud-daddy. To an atheist outsider like myself, witnessing a conflict between two mutually exclusive monotheistic religions, simple logic dictates that one of the religions in conflict must be bullshit, and since there is no objective evidence for either religion, one can safely assume that both are bullshit. In theory, one could extrapolate that logic to all religion. Indeed, one does.
But for the true believers, trapped in these eternal conflicts, there can be no solution, no compromise, no peace, because to lose is to accept life as finite. For them, victory in a “holy war” is the ultimate confirmation of bias, as if they can will their beliefs, their god, into existence. The defeated religion becomes a “mythology” and the triumphant get to hang on to their dream of a happy ending.
But it is just a dream. You and I, and every other living thing will eventually die. Cease to exist. Death defines life by revealing it’s cost. The price of life is death, and the price of consciousness is awareness of that eventual death. It is an awareness that 90% of the world’s population just can’t face. They want the happy ending so badly they will consciously flee the uncertainties of objective reality for the absolutes found only in fantasy. And if my life has taught me anything, it is that you cannot reason someone out of a position that they did not arrive at through reason.
Circling back to the question at hand, it seems to me that ideologies are strongest when under attack, whether real or perceived, when the adherents of that ideology must fight together to defeat a common enemy. (That’s why Fox
News Outrage Channel brings us their annual War on Christmas.™) So how do you defeat an ideology? I say ignore it. Ignore it to death.
* I’m thinking I might just make the title of this post a new category.