The Scholastics, who were wont to argue about everything, including famously the number of angels who could fit on the head of a pin (Thom, our resident Angelologist, knows the answer), agreed that there was no point in arguing about tastes and colors : “De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum”. But they spent their lives arguing about religion. Not as we atheists and believers do, but from within the Christian, Catholic faith they shared. The “disputatio” was their favorite sport, and they came up with at least fifty shades of grey to every subject under the sun (which, they all agreed, revolved around the earth).
“There is no accounting for tastes and colors” (the accepted translation) because preferences for both are purely personal and subjective, though one could hardly imagine anyone disagreeing, now or even in the Middle Ages, that vinegar is, objectively, as its French etymology indicates, “vin aigre”, “bitter wine”. (It has always shocked me that anyone endowed with even run-of-the-mill taste-buds could not like a classic Single Malt. But we won’t argue about that, especially as I’ve been on the wagon for half a decade.)
We not only argue about Religion. We fight 100-year wars to prove we’re right. Some people dismiss the subject as a waste of time. I spend a large part of mine trying to get Believers on the Brink to recognize how ridiculous religious belief and practice are. Why do I bother ? Because sometimes it works.
No matter how you present or disguise it, I could never and never will be able to eat Vegemite, that Australian ghastly gastronomical garbage made from yeast extract and God knows what else, that some people love so much they imagine I must find it hard to survive in France without it. And I will never, except under threat maybe of having Vegemite forced down my throat, choose to wear a shocking-pink tie. But I do think it is worth trying to get people to see not just how irrational it is to give credence to make-believe myths, meaningless rituals and crazy codes of conduct, but to get them to understand the root-causes of religious gullibility and credulity. It’s not a question of arguing with people convinced they possess divine truth. But those who have already begun to question and to doubt may be open to seeing how silly religion is. Like me, they will hopefully come to wonder how they could have been so blind for so long. Let there be light !