Have done an interview this week on Ignoranti about humanism, faith schools, apologetics and more.
The most questionable parts in the 2014 Oxford Declaration of Freedom of Thought and Expression are these four, I think:
(1) The obviously untrue assumption that everyone understands what is meant by ‘belief’. No: ‘belief’ means two (at least) widely different things. (a) What you think is likely to be true. (b) Ideology – what you would like to be true, or have as your agenda. Broadly, (a) is good, being evidence-based; (b) is bad, being non-evidence-based.
(2) The lack of any sense of a hierarchy of beliefs. Aren’t evidence-based beliefs to be regarded as even slightly preferable to non-evidence-based ones? (That gives a green light to all sorts of harmful claimed ‘beliefs’ which are nothing but ideologies.) Relativism is, of course, self-refuting.
(3) There is a real unthinking dogmatic fundamentalism here on the matter of censorship. Everyone can think of cases where censorship is a good thing. Children ought to be prevented from watching pictures of other children being brutally murdered. Etc. etc..
(4) ‘Non-discrimination’: herein lies a problem. The classification systems we use for labnelling types of people will be different from culture to culture and from historical period to historical period. Once again we have unthinking dogmatic fundamentalism. There are thousands of exceptions to the stated principle. We should discriminate between mobile phone stealers and non mobile phone stealers. Between under 17s and over 17s (who have passed their tests) driving cars. Etc etc.. Non-discrimination, like non-censorship, is an unintelligent and unthinking shibboleth.
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