K. Tempest Bradford

K. Tempest Bradford

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Atheists: A Repost

Atheists: A Repost

It’s an unfortunate feature of a certain strand of contemporary atheism that it doesn’t treat religious believers as fellow humans with whom we disagree, but as tards who function primarily as objects of ridicule. And ridicule has its place. But sometimes it’s gratuitous. Sure, there are stupid/crazy religious people; there are also stupid/crazy atheists, and black people, and white people, and gays, and straights, and Republicans, and Democrats, and Sixers fans, and Celtics fans, and so on. Focusing on the stupidest among those with whom you disagree is a sign of weakness, not of strength.

It seems to me that the default stance of a proud secular humanist should be to respect other people as human beings, even if we definitively and unambiguously think they are wrong.

Sean Carroll

I would point out the above to some of the folks in this mess but… I need my sanity this weekend.

12 Comments

  1. Josh Jasper Josh Jasper on 04.06.2010 at 17:31 [link] (Reply)

    Agreed. While I do get that atheism is spat on a whole hell of a lot in the US, and that intolerance is generally ignored or glossed over by the public, two wrongs *still* don’t make a right.

    I’m pleased that everyone who’s opinion I respect on the topic, atheist or not, seems to think that “lovesmasher” was being rude.

  2. Alexandra Erin Alexandra Erin on 04.06.2010 at 18:20 [link] (Reply)

    Amen.

  3. Matthew Daly Matthew Daly on 04.06.2010 at 19:08 [link] (Reply)

    I appreciated your words in that thread when I read it last night, and these as well.

  4. Matt Kressel Matt Kressel on 05.06.2010 at 00:10 [link] (Reply)

    Thanks for posting that.

  5. Lori S. Lori S. on 05.06.2010 at 00:55 [link] (Reply)

    I liked your suggestion of the pagan panel, though. I wanna do the Agnostics Tea, as in, “what’s all the fuss about, again? Why don’t we all just have tea.”

  6. Diatryma Diatryma on 05.06.2010 at 10:01 [link] (Reply)

    This is part of why I call myself secular. There is a separation of church and me.

  7. Isaac Isaac on 06.06.2010 at 12:03 [link] (Reply)

    I very much agree. However, since an atheist is someone who defines a theist as someone who believe in fictions, it can be very difficult to come across as respectful of the person while you are being highly disrespectful of the person’s belief.

    This is further complicated by the fact that our culture is hardwired to give automatic deference and special respect to matters of faith and religion, which is something that many theists come to expect and something that many atheists are especially offended by. Determining what is actually fair, respectful, and neutral becomes difficult.

    These conversations are always going to be a powder keg, I fear.

    1. tempest tempest on 06.06.2010 at 13:06 [link] (Reply)

      The thing you’re missing, Isaac, is that theists convictions that your stance is a form of fiction is just as strong. And yet I can still respect your position. That you can’t respect mine seems to be a personal problem on your behalf. Maybe you should work on it.

      This is further complicated by the fact that our culture is hardwired to give automatic deference and special respect to matters of the dominant culture’s faith and religion acceptable to that culture

      Fixed that for you.

      You can’t put all theists in the same basket. By doing that you cut off a swath of people who would actually count themselves as your allies. In America, you will certainly find the dominant culture giving deference to Christians (but maybe not Catholics). That deference sometimes extends to other Abrahamic faiths (Judaism and Islam) and MAYBE to other faiths, religions, or spiritual paths that dominate other cultures, such as Buddhism or Hindu practitioners (I don’t know if that’s the right term.. someone correct me, please, if not).

      But these are not the only theists in the world, or even in America. And I can assure that dominant culture deference does not extend to pagans. We don’t get some kind of free pass just because we aren’t atheists. We’re not likely to find people intolerant of you any more tolerant of us. And this can also be true for the non-Christian groups mentioned above.

      So right off the bat your division between atheists and theists as if we’re all on one side or the other, and you’re all totally oppressed while we are all not, is just wrong. If you would try understanding that, you might well be able to learn respect instead of just writing everyone off.

    2. Josh Jasper Josh Jasper on 06.06.2010 at 13:33 [link] (Reply)

      I very much agree. However, since an atheist is someone who defines a theist as someone who believe in fictions, it can be very difficult to come across as respectful of the person while you are being highly disrespectful of the person’s belief.

      This is further complicated by the fact that our culture is hardwired to give automatic deference and special respect to matters of faith and religion, which is something that many theists come to expect and something that many atheists are especially offended by. Determining what is actually fair, respectful, and neutral becomes difficult..

      For you, perhaps. But I personally have no problem with remaining polite, as long as disagreeing that the supernatural exists isn’t taken as disrespect.

      See how I phrased that? I disagree that the supernatural exists. I didn’t say that people believed in a fiction, because that’s probably going to get taken as disrespectful.

  8. Meh Meh on 14.06.2010 at 14:27 [link] (Reply)

    I agree. If only atheists were NICER about phrasing things when defending themselves.

    Like women. If only women were NICER about wanting equality.

    Why can’t people just be nice? I don’t take anyone seriously who is angry. Like blacks and such, when they get angry at racists, they’re really as bad as the racists.

    All of the above is nothing what I believe, but the equivalent of what you are demanding. Shouldn’t you know quite well that it doesn’t work like that?

    1. tempest tempest on 14.06.2010 at 15:21 [link] (Reply)

      There’s a difference between “watch your tone” and “Don’t treat me like I’m an object of ridicule”. Being angry is not the issue here, nor is being nice. I can be really angry at you without essentially saying that you’re too stupid to live or even be in this argument.

    2. Josh Jasper Josh Jasper on 14.06.2010 at 16:58 [link] (Reply)

      I’m an atheist(*), and I think lovesmasher is being a jerk for reasons that have nothing to do with being oppressed by mean theists.

      (*) In fact, *my* athiesm is backed by 4 years of college study in Philosophy, including some serious instruction by noted theists *and* atheists. These were people who got paid to think about these questions. Some of them believed in God, others didn’t. They all got along fine.

      Also, I’m white, and Tempest is Black. We get along fine.

      Amazing how that works. Sane people are angry at actual bigots. Assholes lash out at someone who happens to belong to the same lawn bowling association, church, or skin color.

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I'm a writer, most often committing acts of genre (fantasy, science fiction, and other stretches of the imagination). You can find my short stories in many and various magazines and anthologies and podcasts. In addition to being a writer I also engage in activism and fandom -- often both at once.

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