Jeremy Stangroom over at the Philosophy Talk blog brings up some good points about “contrarianism,” the idea of “believing or accepting something to be true, rather than finding out that something is true (yes, I know – the distinction is complex).” He writes,
My distaste for this kind of thing (narcissistic, self-congratulation when it comes to debates among contrarians) is motivated by a number of things. But perhaps most significantly I don’t trust the warm, fuzzy feelings that people experience when they think (or experience) themselves as part of a group – real or imagined – that is (seen to be) specially privileged in some way (even if in principle there are no barriers to entry to the group). This is the case whether we’re talking about a humanist group convinced that the methods of rational enquiry are the best way to get at the truth (even if such methods are indeed the best way to get at the truth), or a religious group convinced that it is the locus of revealed truth. My worry here is that such warm, fuzzy feelings link up all too neatly with Us and Them distinctions (worthy and unworthy; right thinking and wrong thinking [where such a judgement is thoroughly enmeshed with the moral] ; the enlightened and the unenlightened; and so on); with a kind of epistemic complacency (namely, a tendency to elide subtle distinctions, to ignore complications and tensions, and so on); and with a kind of moral authoritarianism (where the uninitiated are judged in some sense morally suspect for their refusal to see the light, etc. [obviously this is a subset of the Us and Them distinction thing]).
I’m with him on this one. Just because I have an experience doesn’t mean I think that everyone has to have a similar one. The same goes for Christians. The height of pride says, “I’ve found what works for me and now everyone else must find it.” Nope. Sorry. Everyone has their own path to follow. I can’t tell you where yours is and you can’t tell me where mine is. You can talk about your experience, but once you’ve shared, trying to convince me to hop off my path and join you on yours, your treading on taboo ground in my book.