I remember, when I was getting to know Amanda, carefully exploring certain key issues such as this. It actually didn’t take long to find out that we had almost identical political views, and perspectives on science, rational thinking, religion, and so on. (I say “almost” only because there is room for variation, but I can’t think of any actual differences in perspective … only differences in level of attention to various issues).
[a rewritten repost from wayback]
Anyway, here is a piece by Aaron Rowe in The Wired on the topic:
While searching for a soulmate on several online dating sites, I caught myself disregarding anyone who professed their belief in astrology.
At roughly the same time, a friend called my attention to this clip from The Big Bang Theory, which thoroughly picks astrological superstition apart.
Am I being too hard on my New Age counterparts?
In my book, astrology is a silly shortcut for understanding how the world works, but so is judging people by their spiritual beliefs.
Scientists are sometimes guilty of using ridiculous heuristics too! For example, principal investigators sometimes hire graduate students based on grades and standardized test scores rather than their ability to work well in a laboratory.
I think Rowe is too dismissive of belief systems as an indicator of how a relationship can develop, at least for me. Most of my friends are agnostic or atheist, but not all, and many colleagues and acquaintances, some of my students, and co-workers, etc. have various religious beliefs (including astrology, I assume) and this does not interfere at all with our interactions. In fact, since I first penned this essay I have developed two relationships with people who are nominally not atheists. One is an Evangelical Christian whom I chose to believe is an atheist down inside somewhere not too deep, and who has many other qualities that have drawn us into each other’s orbits in mutually helpful and productive ways. The other is a person who is very clear on the concepts of science and medicine but nonetheless possesses parallel new age beliefs. Again, a mutually respectful and caring relationship is not affected by these beliefs at all.
Sometimes annoyances can happen, and one should never be afraid to respectfully point out that no, it is not OK to assume that any “good” person must also be “spiritual, at least” and so on. I don’t hold ignorance about atheism against anyone, any more than I would want a Hindu to hold ignorance about Hinduism against me.
But a pair bond is different, in my opinion. At least for me, there are conversations that I need to have that would be impossible with someone who was religious, astrologically inclined, spiritual, or whatever. This seems to hold at least somewhat true with other loved ones in my life. One of my best friends is an atheistic Buddhist scientist, and we totally love each other and have those conversations, but I think her Buddhism is not even close to a religious perspective, and in her version of Buddhism, the analog to “heaven” is you die and then there is eternal nothingness. Relatives, including mine and Amanda’s, are increasingly religious as you go out from Ego, sort of like a Religio-Cultural red-shift effect. That’s interesting. And I know that if there were conversations that I need to have that would not work with Amanda, I could find satisfaction with others with whom I’m very close.
But on a day to day basis, religion, skepticism, science, the evolution-creationism “debate” and a number of other topics are so important and ubiquitous (for me, given what I do and who I am), that I need to be mated with a person with very similar views.
I am not really of two minds of this, even though I’m on the cusp of Gemini.