Charles Taylor pleads for atheists and religious believers to try harder to understand one another.
So what do you lose by that? Well, what you lose by that, of course, is a deeper understanding of human beings and of how they can be different. See, people that have that very reductive view of religion and we just cast it aside, after a while of living within that and talking only to themselves, they have the crudest and stupidest ideas, right. I mean, a lot of believers have crude and stupid ideas about atheists, you see.
And we all are – in keeping with this judgment I’m making here – believers ought to make an effort and open themselves and try to understand why people are atheists. And there’s some rather deep spiritualities – I mentioned Camus and so on – which exist. But I think that there’s a tremendous impoverishment of human life if I only understand one way of being, in this world in which one of the striking facts is that human beings live by very different sources of meaning.
So I can’t understand anybody outside my own little circle, and then I justify that by saying that they’re all wrong or superstitious or crazy and so on, right. And that is a tremendous human loss. On two levels: I mean, first of all, maybe to work out a really mature faith, we need to understand what the options are. And certainly to get on with people of very different faiths, we need to stop caricaturing them, stop thinking that they’re just diminished versions of ourselves.
So for these two reasons I think that kind of narrative is catastrophic in a society like ours.