Libby Anne did a great post on disagreement the other day – on the value of it, and especially the value of being allowed it. She hasn’t always had that, you see.
Growing up on the line between fundamentalism and evangelicalism, in a family influenced by the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, disagreement was not allowed. Or to be more specific, disagreement simply did not happen. I have to be completely honest, the first time I learned that mainstream couples are okay with not agreeing with each other on everything regarding religion or politics I was shocked. Coming from my background, that made no sense.
As a child and teen, I never disagreed with my parents, or with my church. Why would I? What we had was truth. When I reached college and began asking questions, my parents and my church had no ability to agree to disagree. Why? Because if I disagreed with them, then I disagreed with truth, and that meant I was flat wrong.
And that means you can’t find anything out for yourself (you can only be told things), and you can’t explore.
This is similar to the feeling of claustrophobia and exasperation I always have when religious apologists talk about the questions that science can’t answer but religion can. No it can’t. The answers religion gives aren’t answers; they’re pseudo-answers, and dead ends. They’re not fascinatingly complicated and difficult, they’re short cuts.
When you believe you have absolute and final truth, and that having that truth is necessary to keep you from eternal torture and send you to the bliss of heaven, you lose the ability to agree to disagree. You also lose the ability to look beyond what you have and consider other ideas.
This was one of the biggest problems I faced when I started to question the things I’d been taught. Disagreement was not accepted. It was not okay. It could not be tolerated. This put me on a collision course not only with my family but also with the friends I grew up with and the church I grew up in. I had gone from one of them to an outsider overnight.
It makes me twitch just to think about it. It’s the death of thinking, and I can’t stand that idea.