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View Poll Results: Should Atheists be actively Anti-Theist? (directed at atheists)

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  • Yes

    1 11.11%
  • No

    6 66.67%
  • I don't know

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  • I don't care

    2 22.22%
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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb How should Atheists treat Theists?

    I didn't know exactly where to post this, but seeing as it is directed at fellow atheists, I thought here was good as anywhere else. Just to clarify: I am an atheist.

    Firstly, atheists need to establish an ethical system independent of God. There are many possibilities: Humanism, Virtue Ethics, Neo-Kantian ethics etc. I am (Motive) Utilitarian; I will not go into defending this here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism <-- the introduction suffices as an introduction to Utilitarianism.

    Religious Moderates

    Most atheists agree these are harmless, but some suggest they can potentially create extremists. However, moderates often actively slate extremists in their interpretation of scripture; moderates say that literal reading is naive and not how the book was intended to be read; that symbolism, metaphor and cultural relativism must be accounted for. They would agree equally that extremists are dangerous idiots. Moreover, there is no evidence that religion (not some genetic or other environmental factor) is the cause of extreme behaviour. Atheists, agnostics, mystics; all humanity is just as prone to being extremely violent or absurd. I have never seen any convincing evidence to suppose that religion increases the rate of this behaviour.

    Does attacking religious moderates help tackle extremism? No. Atheists criticise moderates for cherry picking from scripture, and for using a bewildering array of interpretive tools (which one wonders as to how they are selected) instead of just either believing it all literally or rejecting it. But this is easily misinterpreted as an argument for Biblical literalism by the religious. Indeed, I suspect that this type of pressure from the atheist community has a negative effect by creating more literalists (who are all extremists). The problem is, psychology isn't simple enough that people will reject their core faith that easily. They're more likely to adapt the facts/arguments to fit in with their core faith. This means adapting accusations of cherry picking by becoming literalist.

    3 types of Anti-Theist


    • The "Richard Dawkins" whom holds religion should be attacked because ignorance is intrinsically bad.
    • The "Christopher Hitchens" whom believes religion is a "force for evil" and "poisons everything".
    • The "Humanist" whom holds that religion should be allowed to do what it wants, as long as it doesn't impinge on the rights of the non-religious. These people often argue for state separation from the Church.



    The "Richard Dawkins" crowd holds "ignorance is bad", which is silly. The "Humanist" crowd talk about rights-centred ethics, which is IMO a self-contradictory theory (and in any case not Utilitarianism). As a consequentialist, I can see their arguments may still have some merit, but there isn't enough evidence, and each situation should be judged case-by-case. I invite "Christopher Hitchens" supporters to supply convincing evidence for their beliefs.

    Atheist Bias

    We would love it if we could prove that religion was in some way damaging and poisoning to every believer. It would mean that not only are we right about God's existence, but we are right in telling other people we are right, we are right in trying to convert religious believers, we are right to oppose religion actively, we are right to not allow Church to mix with State, we are right to try our best to make this country atheist, we are....etc. And the most important of those is the Church/State separation; if Hitchens was wrong and religion made people happier, then we would have to (as Utilitarians) embrace Church entwining with State, due to its increase of happiness. In fact, we would have to shut our mouths and let all the religious go on being that way to make them happier.

    Evidence of modern religion's impact on happiness/sadness of individuals


    1. Psychological evidence is slowly emerging, but at the moment it would be naive to say whether it proves religion as harmful or not.

    2. For many religion gives a strong absolutist moral code, which is great because (excluding extremists) it accords with our laws.

    3. Religion acts as a policing service on bad behaviour, not only with confessionals in Catholicism, but also with an omniscient God and the threat of Hell.

    4. Religion satisfies a basic human psychological yearning for existentialism. Most evolutionary psychologists agree that belief in God is (somehow) in our genes. Fulfilling this need satisfies many people; indeed without God, perhaps a case may be made that the type of people who need this sort of closure will merely find another outlet for their blind faith.

    5. And lets not forget the happiness induced by so many by religion. I'd be happy as **** if I thought there was a benevolent God, who was omnipotent, yet personally interested in me, and who would grant me an afterlife.


    6. What alternatives to religion are there for theists? I think philosophy is great alternative. But not for the kind of person who wants closure and faith; instead it requires critical thinking and a lot of input from the individual. For that kind of person, perhaps Humanism is a better alternative; it offers a (fairly) absolute moral code, a group of people who will be your close-knit secure community and they will tell you what to believe, so you need only supply faith. Yet in all of these respects, religion trumps Humanism; it has a stronger community, a stronger moral code and stronger faith. Science is a great policing force for people who go extreme, but it's too liberal and too open-minded to new evidence and theories.

    Conclusion

    I simply don't think there is any viable alternative to religion, and that (unless the problems of religion are proven to a greater extent) it makes Utilitarian sense to let the religious go on believing. It's not a very satisfying answer, but it's the best I can do with the evidence at hand.

  2. #2
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Moved at OPs request.

    ---------- Post added at 03:41 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:26 PM ----------

    For my part I mostly agree with you.

    For me, context is important when discussing religion. On an instinctual level I argue against it commonly adn that is what I am doing most of the time here on ODN. I'm having a debate with theists about the likely truth of theist claims or atheist claims. While I might be happy if I persuade someone, its not really my aim. I just want to understand their views, and provide challenges to them, while explaining mine and trying to meet their challenges.

    I don't debate religion with religious people unless they broach the subject with me. I don't want to de-convert anyone from a belief that seems to make them happy. If for some reason their beliefs were making their life painful, I might jump in but that hasn't happened to me yet. I will sometimes share my views if they ask about them or have strong misconceptions.

    Where I get public on religion is on political, legal and ethical public issues. There I insist on using secular justification for public issues and I fight against religious justifications for policy and social action. But that isn't attacking religion, its attacking the application of religious belief. Though when they insist their justification is the "ultimate one" I sometimes have little choice but to degrade the validity of that faith in order to undermine their position. Generally that's not a winning argument but there are times when it can be appealed to.

    I think if we really want to promote atheism and rationalism its not going to be by attacking religious people. Those are the folks we'd want to be reaching. Its far better to highlight the best of what we have to offer and let them make the comparison for themselves. People are better at accepting flaws when they are the ones who identify them. Sadly what I see most of the time is mocking religion.

    Not that I am beyond mocking things, but religion is pretty much a person's core identity, so mocking that is mostly just going to create hostility.
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  4. #3
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Thank you for moving the post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Where I get public on religion is on political, legal and ethical public issues. There I insist on using secular justification for public issues and I fight against religious justifications for policy and social action.
    I agree with everything else you say, but I struggle with this. What ethical leg can I stand on when telling people that the state shouldn't be religious? I can go back to the old "religion is evil" stuff, but we both see through that. I can certainly say it would make the atheist community happier, but we're such a minority. The only argument I could make would that the government should not be involved in any religious beliefs, so all the many different faiths can coexist peacefully, making a happier society. But this doesn't mean the government being secular, it really means them being agnostic on the whole issue. Which means I can't really argue against the government spending money on faith institutions (e.g. the Church) as long as it also spends money on Islam, Judaism and all the other religions so that society can coexist.

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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caconym View Post
    I simply don't think there is any viable alternative to religion, and that (unless the problems of religion are proven to a greater extent) it makes Utilitarian sense to let the religious go on believing. It's not a very satisfying answer,[/COLOR]
    Not only is it a satisfying answer, and has been since America's birth, it's one of the foundational principles in the U.S. Constitution, i.e. the second amendment that came from the brilliant minds of the Founders of this country. In fact, it's so satisfying, that millions of immigrants travel to our shores every year and have been for decades, hoping to live here, because America protects and guarantees people the "freedom of religion," the freedom to believe and worship.

    If you think it's not a satisfying answer, bear in mind that America gives you the freedom to hold that view. Whereas in some countries if you went public with your view against the state religion, you could be jailed and killed.
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caconym View Post
    [SIZE=2][FONT=arial]I didn't know exactly where to post this, but seeing as it is directed at fellow atheists, I thought here was good as anywhere else. Just to clarify: I am an atheist.

    Firstly, atheists need to establish an ethical system independent of God. There are many possibilities: Humanism, Virtue Ethics, Neo-Kantian ethics etc. I am (Motive) Utilitarian; I will not go into defending this here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism <-- the introduction suffices as an introduction to Utilitarianism.
    Personally, I think ESTABLISHING an ethical system is the main problem with organizations like religion. People have a built in ethical system that you automatically establish while growing up... some aspects are even in our dna imo.

    Where you run into problems is when organizationally created ethics start conflicting. For example, it is a natural instinct for us to protect our young. Yet, if you read the bible (at least in older texts... not sure if it is in the current texts) it states that unruly children should be stoned to death. Now, I'm going to give the Bible the benefit of the doubt and assume the purpose of the passage was just meant to tell children they shouldn't be unruly. However, in trying to instill that ethical point you have also opened the door to a very horrible ethical distinction that goes against our normally acceptable behavior.

    And why did you do that? Just so you could tell kids they shouldn't be unruly... which is something kids naturally learn as part of the growing process. They might not always follow it, but they know it exists. In fact, if you ever watch some of those parent swap shows... normally the unruly kids turn out to be much happier once they start going with their natural instinct to obey their parents and stuff like that. Or at least that is what it always seems like when I watch the shows.

  7. #6
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by libre View Post
    People have a built in ethical system that you automatically establish while growing up... some aspects are even in our dna imo.
    Hummm, would that mean that the DNA of about 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S. didn't get the ethical system memo?

    US has more prisoners, prisons than any other country
    The U.S. imprisons around 730 in every 100,000 people - the highest incarcerated population in the world * Department of Justice data shows. Once again, the U.S. has beat any other nation in terms of its number of prisoners and prisons. There are currently around 2.2 million people behind bars, “equal to a city the size of Houston,” noted Bloomberg News. There are 4,575 prisons in operation in the U.S., more than four times the number of second-place Russia at 1,029.

    According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” Ample studies in recent years have detailed the swift rise nationwide in the for-profit prison industry.
    http://www.salon.com/2012/10/15/us_h...other_country/
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Hummm, would that mean that the DNA of about 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S. didn't get the ethical system memo?

    US has more prisoners, prisons than any other country
    The U.S. imprisons around 730 in every 100,000 people - the highest incarcerated population in the world * Department of Justice data shows. Once again, the U.S. has beat any other nation in terms of its number of prisoners and prisons. There are currently around 2.2 million people behind bars, “equal to a city the size of Houston,” noted Bloomberg News. There are 4,575 prisons in operation in the U.S., more than four times the number of second-place Russia at 1,029.

    According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” Ample studies in recent years have detailed the swift rise nationwide in the for-profit prison industry.
    http://www.salon.com/2012/10/15/us_h...other_country/
    Do you honestly feel that all 2.2 million don't know right from wrong?

    Just because you know right from wrong does not necessarily mean you are required to follow it. That is part of the point I'm trying to make. IMO, when you create a separate ethical system (especially one that is embedded in story form) you now have additional excuses to ignore the ethics that come naturally. And I think when you back that even further with promises of heaven and stuff like that then even the stuff hard coded into us (like protecting our young) can be overridden.

    I'm not claiming this was the intent of the Bible or any other religious document. I'm just saying that at the very least it seems to be an unfortunate side effect. Thus, atheists creating their own set of ethics imo is a very bad idea. Just like I feel it was for every other organization that has tried doing it.

    Btw, I wasn't trying to imply above that all criminals are religious. My guess is that many weren't religious when they committed their crimes. Just a guess. However, their desire for lust, money or what have you was enough to get them to ignore their natural ethics. Now imagine what they would be willing to ignore if you have a large group of people telling them it is okay to ignore this or that... or if they are promised eternal bliss in heaven, etc?

  9. #8
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caconym View Post
    I agree with everything else you say, but I struggle with this. What ethical leg can I stand on when telling people that the state shouldn't be religious? I can go back to the old "religion is evil" stuff, but we both see through that. I can certainly say it would make the atheist community happier, but we're such a minority. The only argument I could make would that the government should not be involved in any religious beliefs, so all the many different faiths can coexist peacefully, making a happier society. But this doesn't mean the government being secular, it really means them being agnostic on the whole issue. Which means I can't really argue against the government spending money on faith institutions (e.g. the Church) as long as it also spends money on Islam, Judaism and all the other religions so that society can coexist.
    There are a number of approaches.

    1. Peaceful co-existence. As you note this is a common cited reason, and it's often proven itself. There is more religious violence in nations with enforced religious law or where people fight for that than in nations without it. Secular rule and law is a proven model for reducing that particular brand of violence.

    2. The freedom to practice your faith. Were we to have religious law it would then be true that all but a select group would decide what religious belief that law is based on. Those who advocate religious law may well find themselves on the wrong side of it with their faith being against the law. However under secular regimes, this is far less true. They may face some limitations, but they will generally be small so long as we maintain sufficient religious protections for all faiths.

    3. Its in the constitution, a strong argument in the US.

    4. It protects religion from political corruption. The corruption of the Catholic church at the time when they wielded direct political control was legendary. Religion is not about wealth and power in the world, and mixing religion and state politics badly perverts that.
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  11. #9
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by libre View Post
    Do you honestly feel that all 2.2 million don't know right from wrong?
    Relative morality allows one to decide what is right and what is wrong. Most prisoners are incarcerated because they made a choice that didn't abide with the right and wrong of our justice system. So for many criminals and non-criminals too, right and wrong is a moving line.

    You seem to be claiming, however, that morality is in our DNA. If it's in our DNA, is it biased and opinionated as to who carries the moral gene? Also, why can't we measure it?

    Just because you know right from wrong does not necessarily mean you are required to follow it.
    You're assuming here that man knows right from wrong. Where has that been established? How do we know right from wrong?

    That is part of the point I'm trying to make. IMO, when you create a separate ethical system (especially one that is embedded in story form) you now have additional excuses to ignore the ethics that come naturally.
    Separate? What is separate? The story tells about God's laws which are not separate but have been placed inside of us, i.e. in our minds and in our hearts. You can't get any more biologically natural then that.

    I'm not claiming this was the intent of the Bible or any other religious document. I'm just saying that at the very least it seems to be an unfortunate side effect.
    What is an unfortunate side effect?

    Thus, atheists creating their own set of ethics imo is a very bad idea.
    Why?

    Just like I feel it was for every other organization that has tried doing it.
    What does this mean? What organizations have tried to do what?

    However, their desire for lust, money or what have you was enough to get them to ignore their natural ethics.
    Where has it been established that right and wrong are natural and who decides what is naturally right and what is naturally wrong?
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    I just wanted to answer the overall title of the thread.

    How should Atheists treat Theists: With love and respect. (only excepted when you are being treated badly by them)
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Relative morality allows one to decide what is right and what is wrong. Most prisoners are incarcerated because they made a choice that didn't abide with the right and wrong of our justice system. So for many criminals and non-criminals too, right and wrong is a moving line.

    You seem to be claiming, however, that morality is in our DNA. If it's in our DNA, is it biased and opinionated as to who carries the moral gene? Also, why can't we measure it?
    I think you are misrepresenting my position a little. I'm not claiming all morality is in our dna. I'm claiming some of it is. Our desire to protect the young is one example. Humans aren't alone in this either. Many animals have the instinct to protect their young.

    I agree there are some things we learn. However, these are things imo that we learn naturally through interaction with others... also through action and consequence. You aren't going to get a lot of that in a book. Especially if the book is written in such a way that parts of it can be read in vastly different ways. I think the unruly child example is pretty clear. You can read that as though it was meant just to scare children into behaving. Or, you can read it literally that parents should kill their unruly children. That is a HUGE difference. There are also passages that seem to completely conflict with each other. Yet, other passages that it's not clear exactly what was meant.

    All I'm saying is that the natural way we learn these things (via interaction and consequence) seems a ton more reliable.

    ---------- Post added at 08:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:48 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    You're assuming here that man knows right from wrong. Where has that been established? How do we know right from wrong?
    I don't know about you but when I talk about right and wrong I'm talking about what we think is right and wrong. And of course there is the socially accepted right and wrong which matches up with the majority of what people think is right and wrong... that is what makes it socially accepted.

    For us to be talking about any other form of right and wrong would probably require us to have to accept the notion there is something greater than ourselves... such as a God. And it would also require that we know the criteria that entity uses to determine right from wrong. AND it would require that we accept that what that entity feels is right and wrong should override what we feel is right and wrong... even if not everyone agrees what exactly that entity feels is right and wrong. AND THAT in a nutshell is the problem I'm talking about. IMO it just isn't a good idea to have massive numbers of people actively trying to ignore their naturally obtained moral system so they can follow one that most don't seem to even fully understand. Heck, imo it is a bad idea even if you understood. The only exception I could see is if one of your morals didn't match up with the majority of other people. Then I could see maybe questioning that moral to a greater extent than normal.

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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by libre View Post
    All I'm saying is that the natural way we learn these things (via interaction and consequence) seems a ton more reliable.
    I don't think the Bible contradicts this. If you think it does, how so? It's spiritual principles offers the travelers of life useful tools to navigate around the pitfalls of a consequential world in order to help us with our interactions and dealing with the harsh consequences that come to our doorstep.

    I don't know about you but when I talk about right and wrong I'm talking about what we think is right and wrong.
    But where does right and wrong in our thinking come from? What is our reasoning based on? Centuries ago, what we think is right today was thought to be wrong, and what we think is right today, two hundred years from now could be thought to be wrong.

    For us to be talking about any other form of right and wrong would probably require us to have to accept the notion there is something greater than ourselves... such as a God. And it would also require that we know the criteria that entity uses to determine right from wrong. AND it would require that we accept that what that entity feels is right and wrong should override what we feel is right and wrong... even if not everyone agrees what exactly that entity feels is right and wrong. AND THAT in a nutshell is the problem I'm talking about. IMO it just isn't a good idea to have massive numbers of people actively trying to ignore their naturally obtained moral system so they can follow one that most don't seem to even fully understand.
    What is it that you think (assume) most people don't understand? Do you think the masses don't understand: Don't kill, don't lie, don't steal, don't be dishonest, don't commit adultery, don't covet, don't be disrespectful to your parents, don't hate, don't be idolatrous, don't misuse God's light....?

    Heck, imo it is a bad idea even if you understood.
    What is a bad idea?
    Last edited by eye4magic; May 24th, 2013 at 09:06 PM.
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caconym View Post
    [SIZE=2][FONT=arial]

    6. What alternatives to religion are there for theists? I think philosophy is great alternative. But not for the kind of person who wants closure and faith; instead it requires critical thinking and a lot of input from the individual. For that kind of person, perhaps Humanism is a better alternative; it offers a (fairly) absolute moral code, a group of people who will be your close-knit secure community and they will tell you what to believe, so you need only supply faith. Yet in all of these respects, religion trumps Humanism; it has a stronger community, a stronger moral code and stronger faith. Science is a great policing force for people who go extreme, but it's too liberal and too open-minded to new evidence and theories.
    What about looking outside the West to the philosophical systems of the East? They could provide secular alternatives the ethical codes and security religion brings. Confucianism, for instance, has a detailed moral code, does not require much critical thinking, and has served as one of the many pillars of East Asian society for thousands of years.

    Conclusion

    I simply don't think there is any viable alternative to religion, and that (unless the problems of religion are proven to a greater extent) it makes Utilitarian sense to let the religious go on believing. It's not a very satisfying answer, but it's the best I can do with the evidence at hand.
    I agree. Like you, I'm an atheist myself (agnostic to be exact, but close enough), but I think the evidence for the dangers of religion is slim and often poorly argued. Most atheist/anti-theist arguments for the dangers or religion are based on poor understandings of history and theology and can often be easily combated with a reductio ad absurdum. For example, if Christianity is to blame for the Crusades, is democracy to blame for the War in Iraq? If so, is democracy dangerous?

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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    The theists have a phrase; "hate the sin but love the sinner."

    As atheists, our biggest issue with Christians is that they forsake the above advice. Mahatma Gandhi summed it up pretty well when he said (paraphrasing) that it's a shame Christians aren't more like their Christ.

    Douglas Adams once described Deep Thought as having "the air of one who suffers fools gladly" (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Wherever possible, I try to act in such a way that I'm seen as a person who acts thus. I don't reserve any particular feelings for theists. People are people. When they're wrong, they're wrong; when they're right, they're right.

    In general, I oppose being unduly quiet about beliefs. My opposition is to people who would settle intellectual disputes with violence or otherwise academically ignoble tactics. All beliefs should be available for combat in the intellectual arena to be bloodied or martyred or victorious as their merits or lack thereof demand. Senseless battle of the mind--the intellect--could very well be a suitable outlet for humanity's seeming need for senseless combat. The battle between atheism and theism doesn't have to be so angry. It could actually be fun if we separate our emotions from our ideas. We all know this, of course; we all have that one Christian friend who's dead-wrong (obviously) but is still great fun to argue with.

    In other words, I think we should argue with them, but we should do so politely. We should pick our battles and let the small issues pass. An example would be discussing the subject openly if it's brought up at the dinner table, but foregoing it when you're told "God bless you" (although I think the common theist complaints about such vigilant atheists are overblown).

    I think we should ditch the argument about religion ruining the planet. The veracity of ideas isn't determined by the danger with which we associate them. Put differently, even if Christianity or Islam is as dangerous as one such as Mr. Hitchens assumes, that "fact" alone doesn't make those religions false.

    Furthermore, I think those instances in which war and greed has been justified in the name of God, they don't amount to more than justifications--rationalizations--of a pre-existing motive. But any pre-existing motive can be justified without religion. Sometimes appeals to outright greed will do the trick (a cynical view of Manifest Destiny, for instance).

    In particular--and I think this is vital--all atheists should be vigilant about condemning atheists who disrespect or harm theists. While the line between passionate and insulting can be sometimes thin, blatant crossings should be met by vigorous opposition by atheists. If we allow the worst among us--and they do exist--to direct the conversation, then the general public's latent doubt will remain buried and religion won't die the natural death which it is currently undergoing. For instance, it's one thing to call beliefs childish, but it's entirely another to call theists stupid. It happens--sometimes rashly and uncharacteristically--but it happens and it's something that we should all endeavor to avoid. It poisons our message.

    And our message is that we're right.

    We shouldn't have to replace their beliefs. They're wrong. That's all. We've been saying all along that we, as atheists, don't require rigid mental structures to define our actions, so why should we attempt to replace the same rigid mental structures with which we disagree? Oh, sure, humanism and the like rarely act as a rigid mental structures, but the older any ideology becomes, the more rigid it becomes. That's the nature of ideologies.

    But even if that weren't the case, it's enough to have the facts. And the fact is that the afterlife that everyone's after doesn't exist. Neurologically, it's just not possible. And that's a good thing. The last red dwarf in the universe will explode in about 14 trillion years. And that ain't even a percent of forever. Nobody wants that. They just don't get the 400 years it takes to realize how much immorality sucks so a lot of people never learn that.

    The reason I mention that seemingly irrelevant fact is that once we get rid of the notion of an eternal afterlife, the concept of a god ceases to be relevant to us as human beings.

    So treat theists with the air of someone who suffers fools gladly. Hearts and minds will win this ideological battle.

    "Men must be taught as if you taught them not,
    and things unknown proposed as things forgot."
    --Alexander Pope

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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    I don't think the Bible contradicts this. If you think it does, how so? It's spiritual principles offers the travelers of life useful tools to navigate around the pitfalls of a consequential world in order to help us with our interactions and dealing with the harsh consequences that come to our doorstep.
    Does the Bible contradict? That depends on your interpretations of what is in the Bible. And that is my point. I just gave you an example demonstrating this. There are other examples also.

    For example... (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)

    "If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her."

    Now, is that the Bible telling you that rape is okay as long as you aren't caught in the act or the woman is engaged? And that it is still okay if you do get caught and she isn't engage... provided you marry the woman and pay a fee? Or, is that just the Bible actually trying to express that rape is wrong.

    At first one might think the latter. However, there are other references in the Bible that suggest rape is sometimes acceptable behavior.

    It of course still comes down to interpretation... and that is the problem. And it is a huge problem imo considering we learn naturally that rape is wrong. Because most males would naturally know they wouldn't like to be raped themselves... so therefore a woman most likely wouldn't want to be raped. And there of course are probably many other natural ways they would learn this... such as typical interaction with girls. For example, if a girl doesn't want to kiss you unless she likes you (and gets upset if you try without her permission) then what are the odds that she would be okay with you raping her? So, deep down you would naturally learn it is wrong.

    That said, it doesn't mean a male wouldn't still maybe want to do it. But that is a completely different thing from not knowing it is wrong to do.

    NOW, that male reads the Bible and then says to himself... wow, it is okay to do.

    Deep down they probably still know it is wrong but now they have God's okay to do it... or at least they are interpreting it that way. And they probably would interpret it that way more often than not since that particular male wants to do it. The Bible basically helps them override the moral system that we acquire through natural means... and replaces it with what they now feel is God's word/moral system.

    And an even bigger problem occurs when that male still knows deep down it is wrong but wants others to support him in his decision to do it anyway. How does he get that support? He starts preaching it to others. Especially others he suspects want to do it but are still hesitant because they know deep down it is wrong. However, this guy comes in and goes, "hey, the Bible says it is okay." Now, these other people have not only the Bible but someone else confirming what the Bible says. It becomes even easier for those people to override their natural moral system imo. Especially if that person telling them this is someone of authority. The next thing you know it becomes socially acceptable to do this or that. And that imo is why some things that are socially acceptable in the past might not be socially acceptable now... etc.

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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Personally, I would like to see more atheists operating from the assumption that theists, as a group, are not stupid, delusional, hateful, bigoted, ignorant, or intellectually lazy. That would be a great start and a significant change from the majority of interactions atheists have with theists, where those ideas are somehow treated as the default assumption. We are every bit as intelligent, reasonable, and interested in the truth as atheists are, on a group comparison. We just have different ways of analyzing facts, different basic assumptions about the nature of reality, and different standards for evidence of claims than our more materialistic interlocutors. It doesn't mean we are some lower form of life.

    The other thing I feel often gets in the way of good discourse between atheists and theists is a tendency to paint each side with a broad black brush of all the worst deeds and qualities of the opposition. It happens with distressing frequency, especially when one side is losing. Suddenly every Christian is a brainwashed and mindless Jesus freak, was responsible for the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the persecution of scietists everywhere, and is secretly a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. Every atheist is also a Communist, personally participated in the Cultural and/or the Bolshevik Revolution, is a brainwashed shill of Dawkins, an brainless elitist academic snob, and is Hell-bent on destroying our way of life right before they exile themselves to an eternity of Hell.

    It's hardly a great start to a good discussion about deeply held beliefs or convictions.

    Maybe we should start with at least a mutual regard for the other side based on the idea that nobody chooses to believe something for no reason and work from there. Then we can find more common ground. Even our new Pope encourages Christians to work with atheists to make the world a better place. Now if only there were an atheist voice of equivalent stature doing the same. Dawkins and his lot surely aren't doing anything of the sort.
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    Even our new Pope encourages Christians to work with atheists to make the world a better place.
    I recently read about that also. This is a refreshingly magnanimous, and what I think, a common sense, gesture.

    Now if only there were an atheist voice of equivalent stature doing the same. Dawkins and his lot surely aren't doing anything of the sort.
    Excellent idea Tal. I wonder if we should consider nominating Sig for such a mission? Maybe he could write a book called "How Atheists should Treat Theists? and he could tap into some of the things he's learned on ODN. He might even become famous, more famous then Dawkins. Efforts that unify can be very powerful. I think this may be because many people have an internal, intuitive sense that united we stand, divided we fall.
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    I think if most atheists operated from assumption then they wouldn't be atheists. IMO a large part of what makes an atheist an atheist is that they like to go off evidence more often than not. I think many are fine with going off assumption for small things. However, the concept of God is hardly a small thing.

    Btw, when I use the term "atheist" I am talking about what I think officially is called an "agnostic atheist". Someone that doesn't believe in Gods but isn't claiming to know there is no God. I would suspect that most non theists fall into this category and that everyone just calls themselves atheist as a kind of shorthand since most they meet probably fall into the same category. I haven't seen surveys on it though.

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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by libre View Post
    I think if most atheists operated from assumption then they wouldn't be atheists. IMO a large part of what makes an atheist an atheist is that they like to go off evidence more often than not. I think many are fine with going off assumption for small things. However, the concept of God is hardly a small thing.
    I understand that, from their paradigm of materialistic science, very few assumptions are made, as opposed to conclusions drawn from evidence. However, I'm talking about more fundamental assumptions from which atheists operate. Examples of this include:

    1) the assumption that empirical science is capable of explaining or observing any possible phenomenon.
    2) the assumption that if a phenomenon cannot be explained by or exceeds the boundaries of what is currently known or observable by current theories and practices of empirical sciences, it cannot be true.

    That's a good place to stop for now.

    Quote Originally Posted by libre
    Btw, when I use the term "atheist" I am talking about what I think officially is called an "agnostic atheist". Someone that doesn't believe in Gods but isn't claiming to know there is no God. I would suspect that most non theists fall into this category and that everyone just calls themselves atheist as a kind of shorthand since most they meet probably fall into the same category. I haven't seen surveys on it though.
    I believe you're correct in this. I think the idea goes: because there is insufficient evidence to support the extraordinary claim that there is a god, I see no reason to believe that god exists, but this could change if I were presented with sufficient evidence to meet the extraordinary burden of proof for such a claim. Sound about right?
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    Re: How should Atheists treat Theists?

    Quote Originally Posted by libre View Post
    I think if most atheists operated from assumption then they wouldn't be atheists. IMO a large part of what makes an atheist an atheist is that they like to go off evidence more often than not.
    Now see...I have the identical view of atheists. In my experience, most atheists are lacking either a proper education or training in philosophy/critical thinking/logic. Most atheists IMO operate from a state of ignorance in that they simply are unaware of the elementary rules of reasoning and thus make many erroneous assumptions. From my view, the atheist is the one not utilizing the evidence, analytical skills, and dogma.

    It should be noted however, that there is a difference between perhaps a mainstream theist / pop-culture atheist...and that of either who are interested in argument evaluation and truth discovery. But it's been my experience, that most atheists who come to ODN (and attempt to debate online elsewhere), are merely pop-atheists, venturing into uncharted territory, armed only with the fallacious silliness they Googled and found on various atheist blogs or YouTube videos.

    So I agree that there are many theists who merely believe for the sake of believing...but those are not the type of theists or even theism we discuss here since it is the argumentation we are interested in and providing argumentation requires analytical thought and exposure to that which the mainstream theist is simply unaware.

    For example...my wife and her family are "mainstream theists, Christians" for lack of a better term. For them, providing an argument is unnecessary, it is irrelevant, it is uninteresting. For them, simply having faith is sufficient. I do not understand this type of faith or belief (but I do acknowledge it). I can only understand what I can evaluate logically. Their faith, IMO, is one of a psychological nature perhaps...it needs no evidentiary support, but then...it is not the type of position or state that can be properly analyzed logically because it is not dealing with logical arguments. It is not necessarily illogical, it is just outside the category of logic (in a manner of speaking). It's like saying "I love you." It is heartfelt and believed, but it isn't a logical proposition that can be evaluated as to having an objective meaning that describes a philosophy or position to be put forward as superior view in the sea of competing philosophies.

    Here, or elsewhere that religion is debated, arguments are presented and evaluated. As such, the theistic arguments being put forth are not necessarily held by the "mainstream theist" (although they may agree with them, they may simply not use them or forward them). As such, the sort of theism we are speaking of is that which is addressable by argumentation, not mere dogma.

    That being said, almost all the theists here at ODN are familiar or have formal education in philosophy (I myself, having a minor with a focus in epistemology and continuing my formal education at university in philosophy), many have master's degrees, some doctorates. Most atheists here however, simply do not have degrees as far as I can tell. This does not mean that one group is smarter than the other nor does it mean that one group has a handle on the truth more than the other. But it is an interesting phenomena to see our atheist group here (most of whom are pop-atheists, having little to no formal higher learning, particularly in philosophy or religion) make silly statements like "Christians assume, atheists use evidence." From the learned mind (my own and many others), the opposite is true, and objectively so (easily provable, as it has been a number of times in the past).

    I think many are fine with going off assumption for small things. However, the concept of God is hardly a small thing.
    Which is why 0% of Christians here at ODN do so. This is a silly statement to make libre and exposes a lack of knowledge of the type of theism or rather, type of theists, who are here at ODN.

    =============================================

    tldr; In short, I've found that most atheists (here and online elsewhere) are simply lacking an understanding of the principles of reasoning, critical thinking, philosophy and religion. It's unfortunate because they are often the most vocal...but I see this as a result being more emotional than rational. I think most pop-atheists have felt slighted or wronged by religion or its adherents at one time or another and that is why they attempt to lash out when they can on debate boards. This is of course a subjective observation, more speculative than anything else really, I admit. But it is rare that I run across an atheist who properly understands logic or critical thinking...so when I see atheists making these kind of statements, attacking theists (even if indirectly) for "not thinking" or merely "assuming"...all I can do is chuckle...then take them to task using actual critical thinking, that, which most atheists (not all of course), are completely unfamiliar with.

    ==============================================

    To answer the op...people ought to treat people with respect and charity. It is the arguments that ought to be challenged. Whether someone is an atheist, theist, agnostic, etc...Christian, Muslim, Hindu, they are still people. While we may have different philosophies or belief about reality, we are still people...no more superior (intrinsically) than other people.

    ---------- Post added at 07:36 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:21 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    Now if only there were an atheist voice of equivalent stature doing the same. Dawkins and his lot surely aren't doing anything of the sort.
    This is actually quite interesting as it is sort of related to an observation I spoke of above. Many atheists are so vocal because they are emotionally charged...they believe they have been slighted or wronged by religion or its adherents. Atheists...or those who come out and are proud to say that they are...are quite vocal about it. They seem rather emotional...and is why I've asked a few times why atheists are always so angry (compared to other groups of people). Perhaps it is merely the case that being angry makes one vocal and because I have an interest in religion/philosophy, it only makes sense to see more of this type of anger than anger expressed by MADD, victims of the IRS or VA, people upset about their union, etc... I'm not in those "circles" but I am in the "philosophy/religion circle" so I have more exposure to it.

    Just exploring possibilities there of course. But then...if that is the case, that it is merely my exposure...it means that within the groups I'm exposed to (philosophy/religion), of all those groups, atheists are still the most angry (from my perspective). So the question can still be asked. And if they are legitimately angry (more so than other groups in this category of philosophy/religion) then it can be said that it is reasonable to expect there to be more emotions pouring out in argumentation (than reason found in arguments elsewhere).

    Don't know where I'm going with that...just typing as I think it, mind-mapping I suppose. It's a theory that I'm still working on, don't have all the pieces yet...but I'm sure that there is some truth to it to be found somewhere.

    But back to your statement...it is odd that a) there is no such thing as "peaceful atheist" who is vocal (that I'm aware of)...they are all seemingly militant and angry, bitter, hostile, believe that religion is evil and needs to be eradicated, etc... and b) that we wouldn't expect there to be a "peaceful atheist"...it just seems counter-intuitive for some reason. I think Dawkins has hijacked atheism with some pretty bad pr...sort of like the Lindsey Lohan of rationality. I realize that the pop-atheists adore him, but pretty much all academics distance themselves from him and his silly, fallacious arguments, recognizing how bad they are (either through just stupid representation or really bad reasoning).

    I'd much rather have our pop-atheists read Sam Harris than Dawkins as they will at least come out a bit smarter after the read. With Dawkins...I think you lose a few IQ points...
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; May 29th, 2013 at 10:02 PM.
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