Home > Uncategorized > Red Team: The Cracked Article III

Red Team: The Cracked Article III

Part one and Part two

3. There’s an Arrogance to It

Let’s get this out of the way first: there’s arrogance on both sides of this issue. It helps no one, but the simple fact is that it is there. Now if I was dismissing Hill’s argument with, “yeah but they’re arrogant too,” I would be committing the fallacy known as the Tu Quoque (or for those not in Philosophy/Latin: “You’re another”). A person commits this fallacy when they point out that they are only doing the same thing as someone else, e.g. my littering is ok because you are littering as well. The person committing this fallacy is usually oblivious to the possibility that they are both wrong. The further problem, and Hill points this out: is that almost any movement has this problem whether it’s theists, atheists, vegetarians, vegans, Marxists, Randians, etc. In my opinion the most insufferable are the ex-Christian New Agers, but that’s just me. In Philosophy the worst offenders are those that have read Nietzsche for the first time. Yet none of that is the point of this post.

Arrogance is hurting the movement, because the most visible of the so-called “New Atheists” do come across as being pretentious jerk offs. If that’s the way they always are, then so be it, I don’t like their approach but that’s them. What has to be understood is that there are a lot of us atheists in the world, and for the most part we don’t work ourselves up into a frenzy and confront people regarding religious beliefs. Just today, for example, I was drafting up this entry while next to me a man was explaining his Christian beliefs to a younger woman (it was some kind of spiritual guidance thing, I wasn’t paying too close attention to it) and I didn’t knock my hand on the table explaining that his religion was wrong, or simply announce that I was an atheist. I was also in a coffee shop, so nuts to that old joke.

One of the problems is that of perception. Literally, religious people dominate the landscape, especially in the United States and now there is this growing group of people who not only don’t accept Christianity but actively deny that there is any truth to it. To those people who have been in the status quo for so long it will always look arrogant when a new group tries to tell them that they are wrong. But let’s put that facet aside, since it’s not really what he’s talking about. He’s talking about the kind of person that corrects another when they say, “god bless you” after hearing a sneeze.

Again, I don’t care what you believe as long as you don’t care that I don’t share that belief. The problem occurs when one side attacks the other for their beliefs, or lack of belief in my case. What some Atheists don’t understand is that when you attack a religious believer the perception is different than the intention. If I tell a person that one reason that I’m not a Christian is because there is no evidence outside of the Bible of a historical Jesus (aside from the Gnostic Gospels which were rejected for being heretical of course), they perceive that not as an attack on their belief, or their religion, but as an attack on them.

Because their personalities are tied to their belief systems, the ability of them to listen to rational arguments shuts down. This is not an insult, it’s a measured fact. They’ve done this kind of experiment with all manner of beliefs including political ideology where I first encountered the phenomenon (see the book: The Political Brain by Drew Westen). Further by arrogantly condescending you have the added effect of causing the person not to listen but to double down on their belief. If I point out the problem in the Gospels that not one of the four stories of the resurrection have very little in common with another (time, place, who was there, who arrived, the position of the stone, etc.) and the other person replies that it’s a matter of faith; if I reply that faith is something morons say in lieu of actually trying to understand something I essentially force them deeper into accepting the mystery. Arrogance doesn’t work, which is why Pat Robertson screaming at how I’m bringing down not only Christianity but the nation is never going to turn me back.

I am, by trade, in the education business and I know that you can’t force someone to understand only regurgitate. To get them to understand is a very tricky thing. You have to get them on a path where they come to an understanding. I’ve gotten my oldest daughter to understand basic formal logic by rote, but she doesn’t understand; that takes time. I don’t preach on this blog, I’m not trying to convert anyone I’m merely sharing my view as an Atheist on various things. The best I can hope for is someone to say, “I understand your point of view” or “That’s an interesting way of looking at it” I don’t delude myself into thinking that some religious person is going to read it and think, “Now I’m an atheist.”

I don’t think that because I’m not a teenager who is under the illusion that they are the first one who ever thought that there was no god and that religion is man made. In general I think that the billboard series “Good without God” or the ones which try and reassure the closeted Atheists that they are not alone are much more effective than the ones that say “there is no god now go enjoy your life,” in that they are merely addressing concerns rather than attacking another person’s beliefs. All of that being said, I will admit that it’s particularly difficult to remain detached when arguing with someone who still clings to the literal truth about stories like Jonah and the whale (or fish, as if that was the problem). That’s an issue I think all Atheists need to figure out how to deal with.

Smugness is reproachable. It places everyone at a distance. Even I don’t like talking to those kinds of atheists despite the fact that I share their non-belief. Passion is one thing, but pretension is quite another.

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  1. June 16, 2015 at 2:24 am

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