Saturday, October 4, 2008

You're Either With Me, or You're On the Slippery Slope

The fallacy of the "slippery slope" is an attempt to argue that if we do not remain in a place of safety, then we will inevitably slide down the chute and land in a very bad place (perdition, a bucket full of snakes, etc.). This type of argument is a fallacy because... well, it's really just fear-mongering. If you want to tell someone they're on the road to hell, you need to at least pay them the courtesy of explaining why they wouldn't have the common sense to get off that road at the next intersection.

The slippery slope fallacy is a staple of religious rhetoric. "If you do X, then you will be in great spiritual danger!" is the common refrain. (Fill in your own "X".) It has also become common in politics, especially when religious issues are involved. "If we allow X to be legal, then family life will be destroyed!" This time, Edgy will fill in the "X"; how about "gay marriage," "single parenting," or "card-playing, dancing, and drinking the demon rum!"

We seem very willing to accept such fallacious arguments in politics. Edgy wonders if religion is being used as a training ground to make people more susceptible to bad arguments. In some ways, religion itself is the ultimate slippery slope... the band of true believers will be gathered up to heaven, while the rest will slide down into hell.

Edgy will now be blunt. Slippery slopes are infantile. We are all stuck here together in a world that has problems. When anticlowns grow up, they learn that often you get stuck in situations where there is no perfect solution. There is no use pretending that you can live in a safe place. Instead, you make the best decision you can, dig in, and hold your position. And here is where religion has an opportunity to be most helpful. Instead of teaching us to make decisions out of fear, it should be teaching us how to make decisions that are wise, well-informed, and beneficial for all.