Dogmatic Christians react with intolerance, not Reason.
Internet news articles and the Michael Gallagher radio show have criticized Dan Savage for the speech he gave criticizing the Christian Bible. These critics are irrational and misguided since Savage was brave enough to do the “politically incorrect” thing: use logical critical thinking to criticize the Christian Bible. This is something we need more of, especially in a country that has a free-speech amendment.
Constitutionally, what Savage was saying is protected by the First Amendment’s “free-speech” clause. Ethically, what Savage was saying was justified since he was speaking his mind and opposing Christian verses that condemn his own homosexuality.
There are many reasons why we need more people to rationally critique Christianity and other religions. First, logical critical thinking is independent of the politically correct biases of others, clarifies one’s perception and is therefore a virtue of the individual. Critical thinking prevents us from being slaves to religion or other belief systems. It enables the individual to guide his life by his own thinking—even if it means disagreeing with the mainstream religion.
Secondly, independent critical thinking also enables a public speaker to contribute to the free marketplace of ideas by giving people an alternative view to consider. This is what Dan Savage did. His alternative view was that the Christian Bible has passages that condone wrongful acts.
For example, during his speech, Savage correctly remarked that the bible has passages that endorse severe punishments for homosexuals and the stoning of women who have sex before marriage. Those are a refutation of the Christian claim that the Bible is the “word of God”. It is not. If it were, the Bible would not rationalize the unjust punishments Savage mentioned. Hence, Savage’s criticisms are worth the intelligent consideration of rational people (including rational, independent-thinking Christians—if there are any left these days).
In addition to adding new viewpoints to the “free marketplace”, another reason why more people should critique religion is that critical thinking benefits us the way America’s Founding Fathers talked about: It allows unconventional views to help you. If the unconventional view is wrong you’d at least be able to understand it, refute it, and become more confident in your established beliefs. On the other hand, if you find the unconventional idea to be stronger than your own conventional view then you would have learned something new. Without a diversity of different beliefs—religious and secular—people create a culture of conformity, because then only one dominant religion is continuously heard and negatively influences less thinking–oriented people.