left biblioblography: Why ARE Atheists So Darned Disagreeable? There Are Only So Many Times...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why ARE Atheists So Darned Disagreeable? There Are Only So Many Times...

Let's be brutally blunt here: online atheists (myself included) tend to be...far less polite than most folks. The religious tend to blame it on our epistemology (or lack thereof), but there's some very good reasons for it. I'll nutshell it in one, and expand from there:

Human nature.

Now for the bullet points:

1. There are only so many times that a religious person can refuse to understand your point, no matter how clearly you expound on it. I've had a variety of discussions over the years, where I've carefully laid out my POV, dissected it, and explained it in minute detail (here and on other blogs). Example: I once had a loonngg discussion with a zealot outlining how gay marriage was NOT going to open the door for people to marry their poodles, children, and/or furniture (there is NO STUPIDER ARGUMENT EXTANT). Read it for yourself. What makes it more infuriating, is that it's a fairly common trope among the religious.

2. There are only so many times  you can be told 'we're all the same inside'. The Tu Quoque. This sets my teeth on edge. Sharing a common biology is not indicative of a common ideology. Atheism's a commonality among those who simply don't believe in superstition. Amazingly enough (or perhaps really not), just speaking up against religion somehow makes you religious. May as well claim that speaking against communism makes you a self-loathing communist. It's stupid.

3. There are only so many times that a person can be told that they simply don't understand the POV of the other person, and that if they did, well, hey! You'd change your mind on the spot if you did! It's insulting on multiple levels.

4. There are only so many times you can be told what you actually believe, even if it's so grossly off the mark it's ridiculous. I've had numerous conversations (online and realtime) where I've been told I actually believe in God, I just didn't want to admit, I'm in rebellion, I want to be God, [insert your 'you believe, it's just that...' phrase here], etc.

5. There are only so many times that folks can try to play tricks on you, before you take it personally. The argument from semantics, or Loki's Wager, moving the goalposts, call it what you will. For a clearer example, read this post, where a theist showed up, tried to tie me up in knots in a discussion about physics (at the time, I knew next to nothing about the subject), and it got rather...acrimonious. Later on his own blog, the fellow claimed he thought I was proposing a static universe. (I had no inkling of the topic whatsoever, then)  Allegory is conversation's pollution.

That's only 5. There are plenty more, feel free to share some of your knuckle-whiteners here.

And for the record - the politer efforts have been tried. Robert Ingersoll, for instance, went after the epistemology rather than individuals. And lo and behold, they cooked up a death-bed conversion story! Darwin, Paine, Voltaire, all of these men were set up with a deathbed conversion story. So much for the old 'the truth shall set you free!' trope.

Combine the free-flowing fables cooked up against the opposition (us) with the inevitable discrimination against atheists, and well, courtesy falls by the wayside toot sweet.

Till the next post, then.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


SDR said...

Great post, although I must disagree about your use of the term "epistemology." You say "epistemology (or lack thereof)" as is epistemology has something to do with religion, or as if it's a synonym.

Epistemology is theory of learning. Everyone follows one, even if you never actually think about the theory that you use. Skepticism, one common with atheists, is an epistemology, yet it has nothing to do with religion. It is physically impossible to be a thinking human yet lack epistemology.

It only emboldens the religious bigots when you use terms that are not religious as if they are the domain of religion. They do that enough for themselves.

Editor, Secular Discrimination Report

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey SDR.
Epistemology's definition as follows:
"The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity."
The Britannica defines it as follows:
"Study of the origin, nature, and limits of human knowledge. Nearly every great philosopher has contributed to the epistemological literature. Some historically important issues in epistemology are: (1) whether knowledge of any kind is possible, and if so what kind; (2) whether some human knowledge is innate (i.e., present, in some sense, at birth) or whether instead all significant knowledge is acquired through experience (see empiricism; rationalism); (3) whether knowledge is inherently a mental state (see behaviourism); (4) whether certainty is a form of knowledge; and (5) whether the primary task of epistemology is to provide justifications for broad categories of knowledge claim or merely to describe what kinds of things are known and how that knowledge is acquired. Issues related to (1) arise in the consideration of skepticism, radical versions of which challenge the possibility of knowledge of matters of fact, knowledge of an external world, and knowledge of the existence and natures of other minds."
So, no, I don't consider the word as a synonym for religion, nor a religious term. I view atheism as a worldview - it's more of a mind filter than an epistemology.
As to 'emboldening the religious bigots', I've got a chip on my shoulder in re: to that. This is my language as well, & I'll not submit to the shackles of semantics.