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The thing that annoys me the most about Dawkin’s (Harris is just as bad) is the very same as someone who is pushing the agenda of an organised religion: they are taking the position of “I’m right about this thing which is unseen and inscrutable and you’re wrong”. Dawkin’s packages this in smugness and condescension, whereas your average religious zealot uses concern or the disappointment one feels with a wayward child as their vehicle.

I consider myself a non-denominational spiritualist. I believe/feel that there is something greater than science and matter — but I express this in my own way, without an affiliation to any kind of church, organisation, club or society. It’s a little scary for many to occupy this space because you don’t have a ‘doctrine’ to lean on or bash people with, a circle of people validating your world view by subscribing to it, etc. Yet there are so many that actually do occupy this space — it’s just done quietly as we don’t have any funds to raise or membership quotas to fill, so we don’t go around banging on about it or trying to convert/initiate people.

As for the left vs right paradigm… I feel a rant coming on here. In brief, my take is that this ideological playing field is one where the boundaries are narrow and set from the top down (deliberately, I fear). As you enter the playing field team jerseys are given out at the door.

This then plays out against a backdrop of human insecurity regarding belonging and validation. There is a vacuum inside of many where an authentic personal identity might otherwise be, which will cause them to run to a ‘team’ or tribe that they can associate with and then from that position of “I’m a proud and loyal _______” they can engage the world safe in the knowledge that they’re *right*, and to their cause will be given due adulation and final victory, or noble defeat. It’s never about the actual policy or ideology, and reminds me of those fierce debates you see over Xbox vs Playstation, Windows vs Macintosh, etc. Erm, calm down people, these are just products, and they work roughly the same anyway! Yet consumption choices become conflated with identity as one searches for a tribe to accept their fealty and grant membership — once membership is attained the War of Small Differences can begin.

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