I haven't posted a blog in a while here due to personal reasons, and apologies to some, as I couldn't reply to a previous thread that I had started, ( you know who you are). But anyway, the following topic comes up over and over again.
A friend of mine asked me what I was reading - it was God Is Not Great by Hitchens. She then asked what the book was about, and I preceded to explain how "religion poisons everything." I explained to her the dangers of religion and its divisive nature, the supernatural truth claims, the no evidence etc...
Her only response seemed to be "well that's just your opinion." As if it was worthless.
How do we judge the merits of opinions anyway?
Why is it that people seem to think all opinions are equal and that there is no right or wrong on anything; that everything is just one big shade of grey
Before we talk about opinions, lets look at what defines opinion and how we sane humans determine which opinion is better.
According to Wikipedia:
"In general, an opinion is a subjective belief, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. An opinion may be supported by an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts. However, it can be reasoned that one opinion is better supported by the facts than another by analysing the supporting arguments. Collective or professional opinions( Scientific, Legal & Editorial ) are defined as meeting a higher standard to substantiate the opinion"
So if I say that Justin Beiber is shit and Metallica is God, while you say the opposite, both our opinions are equal unless I can provide testable evidence that proves Justin Beiber is literally shit. While if you say that Hitler and his army were driven by a belief that they are doing the work of Jesus and I disagree, your opinion is still better because it is better supported with an autobiographical evidence.
p.s. If you do not like the definition of opinion given here, well that's just your opinion...
Everybody is entitled to have an opinion on any topic – and most people do. However that does not make all opinions equally valid. That is because some opinions are formed by intellectual thinking through the available knowledge first and then formed by a process of reasoning and pondering on them. So the power of a subjective opinion has more objective validity or weight than one formed as a reaction to something one disagrees with.
I often hear people disagree with the intellectually based opinions of (say) Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins by saying “It is only an opinion” or “It’s only a theory”. However they seldom offer an “opinion” of their own that does not have the faith card wrapped around it. One can have an opinion that Evolution is not a fact and that you don’t believe (in) it. However whether you believe it or not is irrelevant because it is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of understand it through education.
I have always liked the Clint Eastwood opinion on opinions:
"Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks."
In the realm of the religious opinions offered in response to non-theistic assertions are almost always based on emotion and not fact. They actually use their brain only long enough to realize that something was said contrary to their belief system and subsequently spout the ubiquitous "Well that's your opinion." remark. It's the easy AND lazy way out.
The ongoing problem rational people will experience in dealing with the general populace, even if for some reason everyone goes atheist, is that not everyone is on the same level of cognitive development.
I don't have my textbooks on hand about this because I have not packed everything nicely away since moving, but there are psychologists on here that can weigh in. I am only at the beginning of my own studies. But it seems to me from the things I have learned so far, that human beings are on different levels of cognitive development, and that most human beings do not have the capacity for pure reason. For some reason, their thinking gets distorted. This makes points essentially impossible to prove for some people. For many people, if you point out that they are employing a logical fallacy at the core of whatever belief they espouse, they will look at you with a bit of confusion, not realizing their belief has been refuted.
A lot of the frustration I see here on this site with religious people, ought to be more appropriately pointed at the low levels of moral and other forms of cognitive development in the human species at large. So returning to your question, my conjecture is that this is an adaptation of society at large due to an incapacity to use logic appropriately. Rather than "butt heads", people adopt a notion of "to each his own". I think a lot of this is due as well to the expectations we have in society. People are pressured to be right all the time, and shamed for not being so. In order to avoid shame, people cling to undefendable positions.
People with the capacity for pure reason, see this as ridiculous because logic provides a means to validate or invalidate a position. Others have difficulties with logic, so they don't see how precise it really is.