Free thought within an uncluttered an unbiased mind has always been a pleasure for me, so it was with some anticipation, that I recently attended a meeting of Freethinkers.
I discovered that, by one definition, of which there are many, a Freethinker is
“One that forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially one who doubts or denies religious dogma.” What this means is that to be a freethinker, a person has to be willing to consider any idea and any possibility. The standard for deciding the truth-value of claims is not tradition, dogma, or authorities — instead, it must be reason and logic.
Such an opinion was verbally endorsed by a lifelong Freethinker acquaintance of mine, and so it was that I enthusiastically entered the room where the meeting was being held.
I would like to say that, at the end of the meeting, I walked out of the room as a new member of the group, and that I had gained a tremendous admiration for such a cause. Regrettably I cannot say that for all minds and voices present were fixated upon their own particular cause or area on interest. They listened to each other with impeccable politeness, yet took in nothing. They whole heartedly endorsed whatever argument of idea that was presented to them, while all the time wishing the speaker would shut up so that they could have their say.
There was no free thought, and no real discussion, and, as everybody came to the table with a set agenda, no resolution passed, and no emergence of new ideas, and I walked out of the room mentally unchallenged, frustrated and empty handed; but the meeting got me thinking.
Is it ever possible to be a true Freethinker by name or nature, and if everyone freely voiced their own mind, what might be the consequences if everyone had their own say? Might it be that, with the noblest of intentions we are chasing an impossible, if not dangerous dream? How many of us can say, with complete honesty, that we are willing to consider any idea or possibility, or admit that many variations of reason or logic are at hand.
I suspect that most of us would say, yes, of course we can do that. We would quote Voltaire, or allegedly a friend of Voltaire, when he says
But do we really put such words into practice when a particularly unpleasant aspect of life or argument comes into view? I suspect not, in many instances, and in apparent contradiction of my opening statement, I have admit that, on certain occasions my resolve has failed.
I have refused to accept Holocaust Denial, I do find racism, sexism, bigotry, and wanton cruelty hard to comes to terms with, so where does that leave me as a free thinker, a person who is willing to consider any idea or possibility, and who must accept an idea if it is based on reason and logic.
I suspect it leaves me in the same position as all other free thinkers who try their best to follow such a cause. We think as freely as possible, we try and hear and accept other views in the same fashion, and we try our hardest not to shout down someone who has diametrically opposite or, to our mind, thoroughly revolting views
So it is that an uncomfortable compromise is achieved whereby an uneasy peace deal is reached between all parties in an argument, and problematical though that deal might be, thank God, (or whatever might be “up there” Above or around us) that such a resolution is achieved.
Free thought, like free speech, and freedom of movement, is a wonderful concept, but I think of all three as being potentially dangerous, and a being three great forces which have to be harnessed and brought under control. We talk of the dangers nuclear power, nicotine, alcohol, and a whole host of unpleasant products of chemicals, but are they not child splay compared to the issues in hand?
Such dangers are discussed n more depth in -The Paradox of Man-Chapter 3-but before anyone leaps to the defence of such hallowed notions I would ask then to consider what kind of a world we would live in should such freedoms flourish and grow
Normal ending, any thoughts, any views about this post or topic, I would love to know what’s on your mind-Honest!
- The Mark of a Freethinker (atheistrev.com)
- Plight of the “Free Thinker” in Today’s World (reginaldandreas.wordpress.com)
- What is Holocaust denial? (pauleisen.blogspot.com)
- Why I’m Writing about the Holocaust (popjeandme.com)
- Samuel Goetz, survivor who created UCLA chair in Holocaust studies, dies at 85 (sacbee.com)
- Voltaire vs Voulgaris (afkimel.wordpress.com)
- Who was François-Marie d’Arouet, or Voltaire? (boadewunmi.wordpress.com)
- Just Because I Don’t Agree Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Support You (aninspiredapproach.com)
- Candide by Voltaire (suziejenkins.wordpress.com)