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This is a summary of my current thoughts on atheism, and our recent collective behavior. Please, I'm begging you, consider this carefully, and don't downvote on instinct. You may just even agree with me.
It's come to my attention that there's a very strong "us vs. them" mentality when it comes to our dealings with religious individuals. There's a large amount of antagonism present within our community, which I feel is counter productive. Hear me out.
Look, we're treating religion as if its an intellectual problem. It is not. If you consider the matter solely philosophically, then sure. Using pure reason, the illogicality of religion is clear as day, and when this community stumbles across that kind of ignorance, it's very easy to be vehement and condescending. And not without good reason! There's a certain schadenfreude in "owning xtians on facebook", and making rage comics where we can give a particularly ill-thought out reply in defense of religion our collective incredularity. But you have to understand (and this took me a long time to understand, certainly), that religion is not an intellectual game.
When you enter into a debate with a religious person, the argument, from our perspective, is a logical one. We are cold, calculating, and beautifully ruthless. Yes, we can cut apart the vast majority of arguments in the defense of religion easily, and I can understand your frustration when the religious close their ears! But from their point of view, the argument is not intellectual at all. It is emotional. You're attacking an institution that they've grown up with, that's provided them with friends, positive experiences, and general good times. By attacking religion, you're calling all that positive experience baseless. The end result is that the person you're talking to cannot help but defend all those good memories and associations, even if their logicality suffers in the process.
"Humans are not rational animals, they are rationalizing animals"
said Heinlein, and I believe this holds. And honestly, most people do not evaluate their worldview critically and intellectually without great prompt. They will certainly not do so in an emotionally charged environment.
I'm not saying we back down from our positions, but only use a kinder, gentler machine-gun hand, to quote Neil Young.
I admire Richard Dawkins. I do. The man is brilliant. But I do think he's an asshole. It is exactly this specific point that he fails to understand, and he wields his razor mind without the slightest finesse of empathy. Neil deGrasse Tyson raised this exact point with Dawkins, formulated slightly differently.
While I commend him for asking this question, I cannot accept his acceptance of Dawkins' reply. Dawkins, although humorous, is dodging the question, and for a community with such logical skill, I am in disbelief that you would accept this logical fallacy of his. Tyson is right. Dawkins' cutting edge of tongue alienates the religious, it does not persuade them.
You have to remember that in heart, the religious are just like us. Most of them do not believe in the moral absolutism of scripture, and really, are just trying to be good people in the best way they know how. Their emotional intent is sound and secure, it's just that their intellectual worldview is incorrect. I'm worried that we very often cross over the line in our criticism of religion, and are focusing much more on our differences than our (much more numerous) commonalities. If the religious perceive that we are criticizing their intent, the response will be emotional backlash. We will get nowhere. The religious are not stupid sheep, nor are they mindless drones. They're just operating within the system they always have. This is a relatively minor crime, and certainly does not deserve the scorn which we give it.
Please, all I'm asking for is a little more empathy on our part, for everyone's sake.
tl;dr: The religious are emotionally tied to their beliefs, and a purely intellectual assault will only make them defensive. If we want to be persuasive as a community, we need to recognize this fact.
The making of an Atheist implies a mental stimulation and training which brings into play the primary factors of social progress. Joseph McCabe
Originally posted by JustinSee
Lol.[color=gold] I don't see the atheists being jerks here....I do keep seeing religious nuts posting crap on a daily basis.