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Impolite Atheists – My New Role Models

There’s a debate going on among my Sciblings about atheism: is it or is it not a civil rights issue? Matthew at Framing Science is of the opinion that it is not, and apparently thinks people like Richard Dawkins are giving atheists a bad name. Jason at Evolutionblog writes the following:

Atheists don’t face a public image problem because of the books of Dawkins and Hitchens. They face a public image problem because of the bigotry and ignorance of so many religious people. Not all religious people, certainly, as the strawman version of their arguments would have you believe. But a much higher percentage than people like Matthew care to admit. You do not break through such bigotry by polite discussion. You break through it by being loud and vigorous. That’s one of the lessons you learn from the civil rights struggles of the past. Social progress is not made when the downtrodden ask politely for their just due. That women, blacks and gays faced greater oppression than what atheists face today does not alter that fact.

I added the emphasis. Just to, well, emphasize a point that is often a bone of contention here on Thus Spake Zuska.
I say, if not being polite, and using loud and vigorous debate is good enough for Richard Dawkins and the atheists in the campaign for evolution and rationality in science, it’s good enough for Zuska in the fight for gender equity and rationality in science and engineering.
Because if we had a little more rationality, we’d have a little less inequity. If I have to get all up in your face to make that point, it’s not my fault. I blame the patriarchy.

  1. June 30, 2007 at 9:08 am

    “As soon as they start to talk about religion, where they’re completely ignorant of the history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and theology at play, they cease being the side of reason.”
    Look at what you’ve just written. You’re saying they’re not qualified to comment about God because they need to be more immersed in the words and deeds and psychology of men. Theology is, by definition, the study of God, but in practice, it’s the study of the teachings and traditions of men. God Himself does not show up in the real world to be studied or observed or to give any input into religious doctrine. And in His absence, all we have to work with are the socially and psychologically driven perceptions and activities of men.
    I think it’s entirely reasonable for the “new atheists” to treat God the same way they treat evolution. To say otherwise is to concede that God is not real in the same sense that evolution is real. There’s no reason why rational thought cannot inform us regarding the existence of God, except that many people do not like the results obtained when reason is applied to theology.
    If the Christian Gospel were true, and God really were all-powerful and all-loving, then the most fundamental and obvious consequence would be that He would show up to pursue, in person, that personal relationship He allegedly wants to have with each of us. He does not do that for any of us, and atheists are no less qualified than anyone else to make that observation.

  2. bsci
    June 30, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    I see a different parallel between the new atheists and some equal rights advocates. The harm is not how strong you make the case, but more if you don’t solidly research what you say and support opinions with facts you hurt the cause that you are trying to advocate for.
    One research I can’t stand the work of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens is that they barely make a cursory study of religion and then attempt to attack it all. As a quick example, to even say that Christianity and Judaism are antievolution based on 2 chapters of Genisis ignores millenia of theologins commenting on nonliteral meanings of those verses, some which sound surprisingly like evolution. (For a very cursory description see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegorical_interpretations_of_Genesis )
    When someone puts forward an argument based on easily contradicted statements, it both hurts their argument and others who are trying to make the same argument. Similary with gender equality advocates, if someone frequently jumps to conclusions that turns out to be wrong, it hurts the goal.
    When you are right you can be vocal and agressive, but the magnitudes of vocalness should match the magnitude of the confidence that you are right.

  3. jeffk
    July 1, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    What does any of this have to do what percentage of people believe what? Doesn’t it have to do with what’s correct and true and what’s not? If only 10% of the population of the U.S. are feminists, does that make them wrong? I hate to play the definition game, but if you have beliefs that are not founded on reason, you are irrational (at least in regards to some things, maybe not all), and a delusion is “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact”, which, turns out, is also basically the definition of religion.
    I assume a good feminist wants to eliminate all patriarchy, not just the most over-the-top examples of it; this atheist wants all religion gone.

  4. JimC
    July 2, 2007 at 12:35 am

    One research I can’t stand the work of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens is that they barely make a cursory study of religion and then attempt to attack it all. As a quick example, to even say that Christianity and Judaism are antievolution based on 2 chapters of Genisis ignores millenia of theologins commenting on nonliteral meanings of those verses, some which sound surprisingly like evolution

    This is so freaking stupid it’s hard to know where to start. Dawkins in particular goes out of his way to say that theologians dance around and cherry pick this and that but the average believer has no knowledge of this material.
    Harris speaks directly to the types of people. None of the verses sound anything like evolution at all. The theistic evolution is just as full of holes as is the forms of creationism so often attacked. Comments like the one above only show the commentor has a superficial knowledge of the writes he mentions and an even more superflous idea of their actual arguments.

    It’s against all religion. It’s this type of arguement that gives atheistism advocates a bad name:
    20% of a population believes X therefore 100% of the population is wrong about everything else they believe. That argument wouldn’t stand as part of a science study.

    This comment is even more block headed. Atheism is agianst nothing. It’s the abscense of belief, period. The rest of the comment reads like a weak parody of what atheists actually believe and write about and say. An atheist’s base positionis you have no evidence. Funny you toss out a scientific study while apparently not applying the same thought process elsewhere.

    ‘Examples such as the title ‘The God Delusion’ and insistence that religious people are irrational

    They may be deluded in this one area. Embrace the delusion it doens’t mean its so in every avenue of their life.

  5. jeffk
    July 2, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Does that mean that string theorists may be delusional?
    No, because if we look once again at my handy dictionary.com definition, a delusion is “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact”, and since string theorists are physicists – scientists – who may have gotten a bit on the creative side, they would happily denounce their work if it did not line up with observed facts of nature. String theory *does* line up with observed facts of nature or it would be worthless theory – it’s just so far ahead of experiment that it’s not accepted as being a necessarily accurate description of the way things are.
    This sort of obnoxious relativism turns me into a Zuska-eqse firebreathing monster*. As though humanity can make any progress in any way whatsoever if we all just sit back and say, “well, so-and-so thinks this, and I think that, and who the hell are we to decide which is correct? Let’s just throw our hands up in the air so nobody gets their feelings hurt”.
    * A compliment, I swear!

  6. Mark UK
    July 2, 2007 at 7:58 am

    I don’t get it. Why is it such a bad thing to say that a belief in god is irrational? Virtually all my friends are religious. Most are very intelligent, some are highly succesful in science. None, and I mean none, of them has ever argued with me (atheist) that their belief is rational.
    They all understand and agree that a belief in a supernatural god (no matter how that “god” is filled in) is not rational. They don’t defend themselves, they don’t try to argue out of it. They are not bothered in the slightest by my opinions. Their faith is their thing and they’re happy with it. If other people have other opinions, so be it.
    There is no way you can ever claim that a belief in god is rational and based on evidence. But just as somebody who believes in god can be perfectly rational in other parts of his life and atheist can be perfectly irrational or deluded in other parts of his life.
    I think it dangerous to judge people on one part of the personality. Hey, I even know republicans I like…

  7. Mark UK
    July 2, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Freedom of religion is a great thing. If we can reduce and minimize the number of people who believe in supernatural things/gods through education than that is an even better thing.
    I fear we will never completely manage to reduce religion to zero percent but we should aim for it. We should aim for a society where reason and rational thinking guide decisions. We should do that through education.

  8. Mark UK
    July 2, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    People keep confusing religion with the absence of religion. Keep comparing being a christian with being an atheist… It’s the opposite. Being an atheist should mean approaching life rationally. Including the “big questions”.
    Like they say, if atheism is a religion than not collecting stamps is a hobby.

  9. Mark UK
    July 2, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Religion is like alternative medicine. A little bit of a homeopathic remedy because you have cold is not that bad. It does no harm. Right? Wrong. It’s the first step on a path of illogical thinking and potentially leading to damaging results. Education is key.

  10. Mecha
    July 2, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Julia: You know, I just thought about that today when I was doing another post, wondering if they were annoying or not. It’s not a particularly good habit. I just think that capitalization has an entirely different meaning in netspeak, generally, so I can’t use that for emphasis.
    Thanks for telling me. I’ll try to keep it in mind and use them more sparingly.

  11. Patness
    July 2, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Normally I don’t comment here – but this got a top 5 so I’m out here to say my piece.
    Know what “religion” is and define it for discussion purposes – for some people, religion has no definition (in a semester of religious studies we never defined religion, although an absurd number of claims were made about religion).
    But as far as I’m concerned, the cornerstone of religious belief is the human power to be crazy. Bottom line: you can’t stop the crazy. It’s in you :P. Religion is just one manifestation, one memetic sympathy, of many possible.

  12. poke
    July 2, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Mecha: PZ and others are always very careful to state that they’re criticizing religious beliefs and not religious believers. They do so frequently and explicitly whether you believe them or not. In that sense they already are criticizing “the power structure and norms which give religion its normative and social influence and power.” What you seem to be missing is that the central point of atheist criticism of religion is not that religion does bad things or marginalizes people (although it does) but that it is wrong. Given this belief, it’s perfectly compatible to believe that we should only attack the “the power structure and norms which give religion its normative and social influence and power” and that the outcome would be the end of religion (just as one might hope the outcome of feminism would be the end of misogyny).
    To make another analogy: Let’s say that a new notion of Liberal Misogyny became popular. Liberal Misogynists believe women should have all the same rights as men, should be able to pursue the same careers, have the same education and opportunities, and so on. However, they still claim that women are inferior to men. They are, in fact, quite vocal on this point. Now, imagine that not only did this group of people exist, but that the majority of feminists agreed that Liberal Misogyny would be a far better outcome than simply having no misogyny altogether. Liberal Misogyny does nothing harmful; it merely makes false claims without evidence that are clearly motivated by unfortunate social norms. Does this outcome appeal to you? Does it strike you as a more equitable outcome than simply eliminating misogyny?

  13. Mecha
    July 2, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Okay, JS. Just as a warning? You’re specifically being annoying. ‘I’m playing spot the fallacy. BUT JUST WITH PEOPLE WHO DON’T AGREE WITH ME! XD’ Annoying. So I’m not going to be able to strip all the annoyance out of this reply.
    For your first ‘fallacy’, you completely misread. I said all religions. I meant _all religions_. Your disagreement means that you are either mistaken, or that that you believe that, say, a wiccan or satanist would be perfectly electable. I hope you do not believe that. The Judeo-Christians has a power structure of sorts, a norm. I have said this multiple times in my arguments. Your implication that I have not, and your misreading of my statement, created a problem where there was none. Please read what I have said.
    Radical/Militant/Ornery/Whatever they want to call themselves this day/week/month. I don’t care. You don’t care. If one of them is offensive, someone of the group can show up and tell me in a one liner, and I’ll always use it. I asked PZ. He didn’t respond.
    Secondly, just because some groups are a bit privileged does not make them equivalent. Nor does it make all religious enemies. Which is the ornery atheist’s belief: All religion, and religious, is anti-science, anti-right. Furthermore, a number of those religions are explicitly pro-equality. And yet they are assigned to being bad by the active discussion frame.
    If ornery atheists were interested in _equality_ (which was what Nisbet’s original post was about: Atheism as Civil Rights), they would not explicitly say that religious people suck, and need to be converted. They would not assume that religion = irrational, atheism = science (Hey, there’s a big fallacy you don’t point out! Atheism is not science. Reason is not atheism.) or half a dozen other things.
    Again, the assumption of Juedo-Christian comes up! No, not all religions are part of the power strucutre, nor do they build off of it. And I AM NOT THE ONE WHO IS TRYING TO MAKE THE GODDAMN METAPHOR: PEOPLE WHO EQUATE ATHEISM TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND CIVIL RIGHTS ARE. I was arguing with it! Do you even READ what is going on? At all? Or did you just jump into this thread to be annoying? I was specifically saying it fell apart because of a number of reasons!
    Furthermore, choice to be in the minority is not the basis of all minority theory. If there were invented a way to ‘make’ people all straight, or all male, or all white, would suddenly it be ‘okay’ to convert everyone to be straight/male/white? Your attempt to make choice the discriminator of privilege groups also exposes that belief as allowable. And I hope you think it’s wrong. Feminists take that position because it is the right position. Not because they can’t commit genocide. The idea that lack of choice is the only thing which makes tolerance and equal rights necessary is unsupported by minority theory, and the fact that ‘religious freedom’ is written into the US constitution. I’ve seen it multiple places, and in every place it was still very wrong, and displayed a fundamental lack of study of minority theory.
    Sigh. Perhaps you’ve never studied society. But, in fact, calling someone ‘crazy’, or their beliefs ‘crazy’, is an _incredibly effective silencing slur as well as a likely insult_, because of how crazy people are treated in our society. Think about how crazy people are treated. You say ‘crazy’ like ‘weird, out there.’ You call someone else, who is not your friend, crazy? You better hope that they think it’s funny to call people crazy. Please, consider how what people say may be interpreted, and how it can create impressions. Ex: Look at above, where I am called an ‘illogical troll’. Silencing technique much? Absolutely! But hey, illogical isn’t an insult against me or my beliefs, it’s an insult against my… uh… er… religion? Wait, I don’t have one.
    Your theoretical example is very funny. Sadly, you are not society, nor a group in society. You are one person who thinks that he has absolutely no prejudices towards a group which he ‘holds in contempt.’ Either you’re misusing contempt (perfectly possible, I know a lot of people who don’t really understand hate), or more likely you’re fooling yourself.
    But either way, you are not a group. There’s a logical fallacy for you: the comparison necessarily required a group to work. Again: note how you didn’t attack _anyone else’s_ logical fallacies. (Hint: Atheism != Science! Where have you been for the past year, to argue against that fallacy! Hell, where have you been the last 4 days!)
    Your talking about the null set? Uh… there _is_ a specific subgroup. It has appeared. I don’t know how you _miss_ people saying that, yes, religious people are illogical, that yes, ‘The God Delusion’ can be interpreted to say that believing in religion makes you crazy. Your attempts to imply I’m making up a group which specifically showed itself in the course of these discussions is further annoying. Very denialist of you. (“There’s no problem!”)
    I’m not even going to bother with the last thing. You don’t know whether he does or not, but you just chose to disagree with me for… what purpose, again? I enjoy sharpening my points against people, but I’m having to say the same things over and over. If you’re gonna jump in, at least do me the courtesy of reading what I’ve written? I’m only glad you brought up the choice argument, because I hadn’t pointed out how bad it was yet.

  14. jeffk
    July 3, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Mecha, weren’t you going to quit like, oh, 20,000 words ago? These conversations work better if you stay with people and stick to one or two points at a time.
    Anyways, I’m off to start my religion where talking about bitches is funny and calling someone ‘gay’ is a hilarious insult, and if I’m a big enough mysogynist while I’m here on earth, I’ll be greeted by 143 virgins in the afterlife. How do I know this? Because a man in the sky told me so. Better get busy respecting my religion! It’s so reassuring to know you won’t judge me, call me wrong, try to convince me my religion is a bad idea, consider me inferior to you, or call my beliefs out as ‘delusional’, despite their matching that definition perfectly. Ah yes, the joys of complete relativism! I’m completely free from judgement by my fellow human beings, and allowed to do anything I want in the name of religion.

  15. Ruth
    July 3, 2007 at 8:39 am

    “Should it be my goal to stamp out all religions and religious behavior, everywhere? (and by stamp out, I mean through accepted educational democratic means) In other words, should my goal be the imposition of MY set of beliefs and worldview, in whatever friendly and democratic fashion, upon everyone else?”
    Zuska, I think you’ve missed the point. Should it be your goal to stamp out misogyny by means of education? Presumably you believe, as I do, that misogyny is an irrational world view that is only present due to patriarchal indoctrination. Does that mean that we need to introduce anti-mysogyny indoctrination to ‘stamp it out’? Of course it doesn’t. If misogyny is only present because of pro-misogyny indoctrination, then all we need to do is REMOVE that indoctrination, and it will disappear. If god-belief IS a delusion which is only present as a result of pro-god-belief indoctrination, then the removal of that indoctrination will be sufficient to destroy god-belief.
    What the atheists who are calling for ‘the eradication of religion through education’ are actually saying, is that if there were NO indoctrination at all, NOBODY would become religious in the first place.
    They/we see the eradication of religion as an inevitable result of a rational, unbiased education, not a target which we need to bias the education towards.

  16. jeffk
    July 3, 2007 at 10:19 am

    It’s just around until they can get rid of it, religious are just around until they die off and their kids are taught that their parents were crazy.
    Pretty much, except I never said crazy, you did. Could you please stop playing this for shock value and actually tell me why I’m wrong? I want to eliminate a ball and chain on society while obeying the freedoms we’ve established. So do you. Why is it so different?

  17. July 3, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Jeffk, I do believe there is a “measurable difference” between worldviews, if by measurable difference you mean ability to decide that one is preferable to another. I believe a worldview which says that people should be allowed to choose for themselves what to believe is preferable to one that does not, even if in that world some people will choose to believe in a god. A worldview that values reason and rationality more than superstition is preferable to me, because it results in things like vaccines and bridges that are useful and helpful to humans. Another person might feel the same way, and be grateful that God blessed us with such intelligence.
    I am not equating atheism with evangelical Christianity. What I am equating is certain actions and behaviors between two groups. If certain ECs want everyone to think like them, and certain atheists want everyone to think like them, then that is something they have in common. If certain ECs want everyone to think like them, and certain atheists want everyone to use reason and rationality in arriving at their own best judgment about things, then the ECs and the atheists do not have that in common. “Wanting everyone to think like us” and “wanting everyone to use reason and rationality in arriving at their own best judgment” is not the same thing. Reasonable people can disagree. If they didn’t, Scienceblogs would have no comments section.

  18. Mecha
    July 3, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Poke: Again. You say it is. But the frame does not support it. The framework, the language, the invectives, the slurs thrown around all are specifically against these things. The slurs thrown around against framing are indicitive of being defensive to analysis.
    Again. I pull out examples. Rob was derided _as a scientist_ for being Christian. That isn’t respect. JeffK wants all religion gone (and deigns to use legal means to do it! How thoughtful of him! I’ll just make sure that next time I want to create a massive power structure that keeps a minority group down, I’ll use legal means. Like, say, a patriarchy, or a judeo-christian norm, or hetronormative society, and that’ll be _perfectly okay_.) That isn’t respect. That isn’t equality. He says it is. After all, he has to! He has to believe that he believes in equality. But then he wants all religion gone. That isn’t equality. That isn’t civil rights. That’s ‘I can win if I get enough power.’ And every time he says ‘That’s not what I believe!’, he goes right back into making sure that getting rid of religions is exactly what he means. He’ll just do it ‘the right way.’
    Furthermore, again and again, in this thread and others, people assert all religions are bad. Let me point that out again. _All religious are bad_ is the assertion. All of them are irrational (under the assumption that parsimony is the best, of course. Not under actual logic rules, or a reasoning framework of any sort, which work strictly from ‘base principles’ -> ‘consequences’. MarkCC, I think, pointed out that particular misuse of logic) and irrational is bad, damaging, unallowed. All of them dismissed with a broad stroke of the pen. All of them do damage (note Science Avenger’s frequent insults: all religious seem to do in his mind is ruin things. All of them! No universal unitarians! No clockmaker gods!) because of being irrational (the clear implication there is that irrationality is _infectious_. If you believe in religions, you can’t believe in reason! In rationality!) These is the assertions. These are the assumptions. Maybe people have internalized them so much they refuse to examine them.
    Look at people in the recent discussions argue ‘Buddhism isn’t a religion! It’s just a _philosophy_’ You know what that’s a sign of? A frame. Where labels have meanings. Buddhism can’t be a religion. Otherwise it’s bad. Or buddhism can’t be a religion, I can’t criticize it. Quick, it can’t be a religion. Social scientists can’t be scientists. Nisbet can’t be a scientist. Mecha _has_ to be a troll from an ivory tower (That is awesome, by the way. ‘Ivory Tower’ = Insult against academics. Used _by a scientist, against a scientist_, to prove that he cannot possibly know what discrimination is, or have ever felt the pain of being an atheist and isolated from his family and friends and others, or other people around him, or bisexual, and isolated from his family, or other people around him. That he cannot have _possibly_ dealt with the same questions.) Dismissing. Assigning people to undesirable groups so they are no longer worthy of _true_ consideration. Just tolerance. You’ll talk to a religious person, Science Avenger. As long as they agree they’re inferior.
    Think about how on scienceblogs, the worst insult is not that you hate people, or that you are a bigot, or a sexist, or anything. But that it is that you are religious, irrational. That people can’t be scientists, but must be “scientists” if they allow for anything that isn’t agreeable. Think about the language that has allowed this. Think about the attacks that go on around this.
    And since I’m waiting for this process to finish, here’s another framing example. There’s a discussion going on on another blog right now _defining what makes someone a scientist_. Because it’s important to know who the real rational people are. CS? Math? Not real scientists. Social sciences? Political science? Not real scientists.
    At Scienceblogs, real scientists are rational. Good. The ideal of humanity, almost. Only your enemies are irrational. Where does that leave social scientists, like Nisbet, who are told that the theories they study are bad? Who are actually told they are “scientists” who are as _bad as religion_? Do you not comprehend what that means? Using religion as a _slur_? An equivalence to bad, to irrational? Where does that leave non-practicing scientists, like Zuska? The same bucket? Well, she’s certainly been treated like that in the past. Where does that leave Mark CC? He’s a _mathemtician_. Oh my stars and fragging garters.
    That’s not equality. Nobody who believes in equality, in freedom of religion, would use religion as a slur. Would equate social scientists with ‘religion’ to prove they’re evil (let alone mathemeticians.) That’s equivalent in mindset (but not in power) to calling a guy a ‘pussy’. Associating him with something weak. Feminine. _Bad_.
    Does that make it clear to anyone? Is anyone even interested in this conversation anymore, except to troll, or _assert_ that framing doesn’t exist, or to _assert_ that there is no negative frame on scienceblogs towards religious people? Because I have provided support for my positions. The only ‘support’ for the position that all religions and religious are evil is, ‘… but there are evangelicals which say that atheists are bad! But they wouldn’t vote for atheists for president!’ Those are _proof of discrimination_. Those are not proof that religion must be knocked aside, any more than sexism is proof that men must die. ‘But religious people are irrational!’ So is most everyone! Assuming parsimony is truth, assuming that people don’t disappear when they come out of vision, assuming that we aren’t brains in jars. Assuming, assuming, assuming. Always assuming. (Nisbet would call this assumption/heuristic being a ‘cognitive miser’, I think.)
    I have done far more to agree with any activist atheist than has been given to me. I do not argue the discrimination. I do not think that silence is the answer. I support activism. But that doesn’t make every action right, nor does it make frames not exist. It does not make discriminatory language from anyone not exist.
    I sympathize, in a way. Dawkins and such are the first public atheists of the modern era. How can you not want to defend them? But it doesn’t make what they do perfect. And if you can’t critically examine your own leaders, if you don’t even dare study the theories that might imply he isn’t perfect… then you’ve just accepted one authority you agree with in place of another you haven’t.
    I mean, I can see it. He has to be good. He’s in the public eye. He’s your paper mirror. He’s the one who had the same feelings you had. Your hero. The one who has thought of things that you have. He gave atheists _belonging_. A voice. Something to hold onto. (PZ is so very similar.) Atheists wouldn’t be the first minority group to have that feeling. And they won’t be the last.
    But in the process of doing so, he set up a frame of religious delusion that sets up the entire debate as an unavoidable conflict. Religion as crazy. Religion as a treatable disease. Religion as anything but equal.

  19. jeffk
    July 4, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Well, I’m about exhausted. Mecha is mostly simply spewing out 2,000 word posts that could be easily summarized as “oh you evil evil person, how DARE you try to convince people their unsupported beliefs are wrong. They have a CIVIL RIGHT to their IGNORANCE. How horrible of you to say they’re irrational or delusional.” Why don’t you waste less time repeating me with shock and outrage and more time actually engaging my arguments, my analogies? What happened to my religion I invented earlier in the thread – how is respecting it and not calling it into question and not trying to convince me I might be wrong going?
    I’m sorry Mecha, but civil rights don’t stop me from trying to influence people. That sort of action is the basis of our democracy; it is the reason for civil rights – so people can have use speech to change the minds of others. I just go one step further and clearly admit where I’d like to get my exercising my freedom of speech.
    The implication that theists need some sort of protection from big bad atheists like me who want to shine the light of reason on their stone-age bullshit is insulting to me as well as them. You seem shocked, SHOCKED that is legal for me to – oh my god! – have conversations with people.
    Is religion bad? Well, it seems obvious to me, but you know what, I don’t even have to prove that. All I have to show is that it is not true, and I value truth, and I think that valuing truth one of the better things a society can aspire to. Regardless, the discussion over just how bad religion is is beside the point. At this point, I’d call it great to get Mecha to understand how religion is an idea, that arguing with a fellow citizen about its truth value is not only legal but responsible, just as is arguing the case of feminism, and that the religious are no more a valid minority than the Constitution Party – a group of people with a common (wrong or unprovable) set of ideas. But Mecha can’t see religion for what it is, for him, it should have this weird fence around it to prevent it from being subjected to all of the scrutiny of any other idea.
    The upshot is this: if using run-of-the-mill, constitutionally-protected discourse to present to people my argument that their religion is not supported by rational scrutiny is ethically or legally wrong, then so is doing the same in the name of feminism. I don’t believe I’ve been shown to be wrong on this.

  20. Mecha
    July 4, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Science Avenger, you have explicitly said that, and I quote,
    “As for polarization, just check your average pulpit this weekend, where thousands of ministers will be ranting to their flock of how atheists have no morals, and aren’t really atheists anyway, and can’t be trusted to tell the truth, or be faithful, or a whole host of bigoted garbage. Hitchens at his acrimonious best doesn’t begin to come close to that.”
    Your theoretical average pulpit is preaching the evil of atheism and bigotry. Average pulpit. I don’t believe it takes any interpretation to see what you think of the ‘average’ pulpit, the ‘average’ religious person, or the ‘average’ religion. (And that atheists are better, clearly.)
    You are the one labelling me ‘whiner’, ‘troll’, ‘illogical.’ Note how I have contributed to the conversation on this blog, and what Zuska has said. And you have not.
    I don’t think it needs to be made any clearer who’s doing what.

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