I don't process color well. When I was very small, my parents worried I might be color-blind, because I was very slow to learn the names of colors. When presented, for example, with a red triangle and a blue square, I would call all triangles "red" and all squares "blue." Eventually my parents realized that I was able to see the color, I was just more interested in the shapes. They bought me toy cars identical in all but color, and I was thus able to learn them better.
But I still see color differently than most. I cannot tell navy blue from black unless I can see both at once. Many shades of purple look blue to me, and a few shades of blue look purple. I rarely remember color, and when I do it is often obviously inaccurate color, such as a person being orange. I was in my twenties before I had a dream in color. And most important for our purposes today, I don't see clashing colors. Put purple and orange together, I just see purple and orange, nothing special or significant about the combination.
I don't consider any of this a handicap. Brains are interesting and color is boring, so I'd much rather have an interesting brain-quirk I can explore and compare to how other people's brains work than have "normal" color processing.*
If someone tells me a color looks good on me, I have to assume what they say is true. Likewise if someone tells me I can't wear two colors together: I add it to the list of colors not to combine, and make sure not to buy any clothes in at least one of the colors.
When I and my fiancee both look at a purple-and-orange pattern, we both see the same light arranged in the same way, but she sees clashing and I do not. The underlying material reality is identical, but our perceptions of it differ.
If she were to say, "You see, these colors clash because they generate oppositely charged color energy that interacts explosively to generate clash waves, which sadly you are blind to," I would require quite a bit of proof from her because she is making a claim about underlying material reality, not just her perceptions. Likewise if she said, "Oh, purple and orange are both living things that hate each other and fight all the time." But if she says, "These colors appear clashing to me," I accept that her perception is different from mine. Even if she says, "These colors clash," I know that she's talking about her personal perception.
I suppose, if I wanted to be an arrogant prick,** I could argue that my view of color is somehow more objective, because I don't see "clashing" where it "doesn't exist." As the great Terry Pratchett wrote in Hogfather: "Take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy." We might add, "One particle of clashing." But that's irrelevent. Justice and mercy are human constructs; they don't exist out there but that makes them no less real when we create them in here. Clashing colors are a much more trivial example of the same principle: There might not be any material sense in which a purple object and an orange object clash, but in my fiancee's mind, the perception of purple and the perception of orange create the perception of clashing.
She is describing a real phenomenon. If we knew enough about the brain, we could doubtless pinpoint where and how clashing exists. More to the point, she could take a test on optics or the science of color, and there would not be a single question we could point to and say, "She got this wrong because she sees clashing colors." There is no meaningful sense in which seeing clashing can be said to be more or less objective than not seeing clashing; there is no independently testable question on which a person who sees clashing will reliably have a different answer than a person who does not.
This is why I don't--why I can't--agree with the so-called New Atheists. Yes, some people's religions lead them to believe demonstrably false statements, such as that the Earth is 6,000 years old, you can cure cancer with acupuncture, or prayer can change the path of a hurricane. These people are wrong and should be argued with, as well as pitied. And yes, some people use their religions to justify causing great harm and suffering. These people are assholes and should be opposed.
But most religious people, which is to say most people, don't. Nothing in their religion leads them to believe anything demonstrably false, or that ever could be demonstrably false. There is thus no meaningful sense in which atheism is more or less objective, or more or less correct, than any of a host of religious worldviews, and most of the arguments otherwise are strawmen. True, atheism is more parsimonious, but parsimony is a standard of the scientific method; there is no particular reason to insist on it in other endeavors.
I'm not an acommodationist:*** If someone says something I know to be demonstrably wrong, I will generally argue with them. If someone advocates evil, I will call them out on it, and I will not accept religion as a justification. But if somebody's religion doesn't cause them to spout falsehoods or advocate evil? I still don't accomodate them, because there's nothing to acommodate. They haven't said anything wrong--just provided another fascinating way in which others' perceptions differ from my own.
*For the record, I've been tested, and my color vision is entirely normal. Whatever is going on, it's in my brain.
**I know, I know. "Too late."
***I'm not sure there actually are any; it may well be another strawman.
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