Why should I, as an atheist, be expected to show respect for Christian, Islamic or Jewish cultures whose views and arguments I often find reactionary and often despicable? Why should public arrangements be adapted to fit in with the backward, misogynistic, homophobic claims that religions make? What is wrong with me wishing such cultures to 'wither away'? And how, given that I do view these and many other cultures with contempt, am I supposed to provide them with respect, without disrespecting my own views? Only, the philosopher Brian Barry suggests 'with a great deal of encouragement from the Politically Correct Thought Police'.
Imagine a brain in which the visceral sense of knowing is disconnected from centres for logical thought, yet stuck on a given idea. No matter what contrary evidence or line of reasoning is presented that the idea is wrong, that brain will continue to generate a feeling of rightness. We’re all familiar with this behaviour in its most extreme form – those intractable ‘know-it-alls’ entirely immune to contradictory ideas. We must at least consider the possibility that know-it-all behaviour is a problem of neural circuitry, much like dyslexia.