A thoughtful comment deserves an equally-thoughtful response:

I’m bringing this into its own post, because this is a genuinely thoughtful response, and I don’t like doing this sort of thing in the “comments” section:

Original comment is still there (along with the poster’s handle, if you’re interested):

Assuming Reason to be a faculty present in most humans it is possible and appropriate for them when they reach suitable levels of maturity to interrogate their religious, and indeed philosophical, inherited first assumptions in a way that isn’t suitable to apply to language, clothing or local cuisine.

A few points:

To quote Dr. Nathaniel Branden:

Reason is at once a faculty and a process of identifying and integrating the data present or given in awareness. Reason means integration in accordance with the law of noncontradiction. If you think of it in these terms — as a process of noncontradictory integration — it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could be opposed to it.

Here is the problem: There is a difference between reason as a process and what any person or any group of people, at any time in history, may regard as “the reasonable.” This is a distinction that very few people are able to keep clear. We all exist in history, not just in some timeless vacuum, and probably none of us can entirely escape contemporary notions of “the reasonable.” It’s always important to remember that reason or rationality, on the one hand, and what people may regard as “the reasonable,” on the other hand, don’t mean the same thing.


So, right from the beginning, you have to distinguish between “reason” as an abstract process/attribute of  (most) humans, and what any specific individual has been enabled/permitted to “interrogate”.

For example, someone “raised” in an Amish community has (for all intents and purposes) been essentially isolated from the “world”, at a very basic level:

They are more or less forced to interact with the “English” (IE: non-Amish) on a regular basis.  However, everything about their “community” is more or less explicitly designed to  prevent – or at least discourage – exactly the sort of “interrogation” of “inherited first assumptions” which you mention.

For example: how likely is it that our hypothetical “Jakie Stolzfus” would ever  even encounter (for example) even the kind of “general overview” texts marketed as examining the “religions of the world”?

Exceedingly unlikely (t0 say the least).

Further, even if he did happen to inadvertently stumble across such a text,  one of those “inherited first assumptions” you mention is the – implicit or explicit – assumption that the Amish are “right”, and thus, that all Non-Amish are “wrong”.

(This is reinforced via the “ordnung” (regulations)  – and backed up by their tendency toward ostracism of dissidents, via  shunning:)



So, no. Our hypothetical Jakie Stolzfus will have been “raised” within a specific milieu, which (implicitly) treads all of the subcultural shibboleths – clothing, cuisine, religious indoctrination, “native” language, etc. – as equivalent – parts of a “whole”.

so, it’s a safe bet that (for example) if Jakie begins exhibiting curiosity about (say) Taoism, for example – he will be subjected to a great deal of emotional blackmail (from “mommy and Daddy”, as well as the rest of the “community”).  If he persists in such “deviance”, he will most likely end up being ostracized completely.

The whole subculture is EXPLICITLY DESIGNED to prevent such things from happening (so far as possible), and then to PENALIZE those who *do* dissent.

In other words, even reaching that “level of maturity” you mentioned where such interrogation of “inherited assumptions” becomes feasible involves a great deal of risk.

Now, multiply that to a situation where “unbelief” (or merely asking potentially heretical questions) could get you murdered.

To put it bluntly: too many subcultures are designed around preventing exactly the “level of maturity” (and resultant “interrogation of inherited first assumptions”) you mentioned.

Now, as to your second claim (that such interrogation isn’t “appropriate” in terms of clothing/cuisine, etc.?)

Why not?

For example: is it “inappropriate” for women “raised” Muslim to “interrogate” the “gender”-role (and attendant restrictions) foisted on them, simply because they happen to be female?

What exactly is “inappropriate” about (for example) a woman questioning – – or repudiating – the fact that failure to wear a Burqa in public could very well involve her being murdered – at least in some jurisdictions?


(Same general principle holds for the endless – and inane – “debate” over whether it is “Biblical” for Women to wear trousers, or the various religious head-coverings (such as those typically worn by Mennonite women, for example):

As to the food-thing?  I offer the following:


You get the idea.

I submit that it is entirely appropriate to “interrogate” all such things – especially when they are claimed to involve some sort of explicitly ‘religious” component.

Now, maybe I misunderstood your point.

Let’s continue:

That these views continue to be accepted means that individual reasoners haven’t encountered counter propositions of sufficient persuasive power to persuade them to break with their prevailing surroundings.

If your “community” has resorted to book-burning (or anything equivalent to it), you won’t be able to encounter such counter-propositons.

Moreover, even if individuals do encounter such counter-propositions, they are often met with anything from mere “emotional blackmail” (lip-quivering/”I’m so disappointed in you!!!”-type bullshit), right on up to death threats/being murdered for “heresy”, etc.

So, what’s your point, exactly?  That such emotional blackmail/coercion tactics “work” (IE: by breaking potential dissidents)?

Hell, even the Spanish inquisition knew THAT much:


Now, your next comment is particularly funny, on some level:

But that such a process of interrogation does take place can be inferred from the observable fact that children do not necessarily hold such views with precisely the same level of conviction as parents, grandparents or siblings. The fact of belief alone is an incomplete picture if considered apart from the equally important fact of strength of adherence to that belief.

…..which succinctly explains everything from “Lapsed” Catholics, and  “unobservant” Jews, right on down to “Jack Mormons”:


I’m not exactly sure what point you were trying to make.

If you were trying to point out that many people essentially PRETEND – to themselves and their particular subcultural “community” – that they actually give a shit about the myriad of “subcultural shibboleths” associated with that “community” – then, yeah.  That’s a not much a “point” as a “truism”.

I still contend that the only ones who can genuinely be said to really “believe” a particular religion are individuals who explicitly converted to that religion.

Moreover, the likelihood that such “beliefs” are genuine is inversely proportional to how closely their “new”/current “beliefs”/practices mirror the subcultural shibboleths of their childhood.

In other words: if someone raised in a Hasidic Jewish family/community ends up being involved with “Humanistic Judaism” (for example) – there’s a good chance that the “attenuated” form of Judaism basically amounts to an attempt at the sort of “interrogation” you mentioned earlier, while still trying to retain at least some of the subcultural shibboleths associated with their upbringing.

However, if someone raised in a Hasidic jewish community ends up becoming a monk at a Buddhist temple – this is so far outside of his ethno-religious subcultural “Overton Window” that there’s a good chance that he actually believes in it




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