The Well Reasoned Bully

“I have always found that mercy bears
richer fruits than strict justice”
~ Lincoln

I spent a great deal of time on social media, and I have to say that very little troubles me more than the behavior of a number of my comrade atheists.

I’m always being asked “when was the last time somebody killed in the name of Christianity?” Well let’s forget Protestants and Catholics blowing up children in Belfast, the assassination of abortion doctors, the murder of homosexuals in Darfur, genocide in Sudan, Christian Zionist like Bush chasing “Gog and the Magog” through the middle east. You’re missing the point.

I engage theists for a very simple reason… I believe there is a real possibility the world could end within a generation. I believe that the principal threat facing us today is dogmatic theism, both in the form of religious zealots eagerly anticipating the end of the world, but also by way of the denial of science (the unofficial mission of most theistic ideologies with which science regularly clashes) and the denial of global warming as a man made issue within our control.  I also believe that examined belief is the root cause of a terrible amount of suffering.

It goes without saying that any moral agent must oppose this.

But a disturbingly large amount of the opposition I see from fellow atheists does not seem to me to be out of genuine concern or engagement, but rather out of a sense of self-superiority, a search for catharsis by belittling others.

I’ve seen every defense to this–the most common one being that mocking or humiliating the other side is the only way to get some people to listen. This fatuous defense is as unseasoned and illogical as any defense of theism: first, it’s patently false. When mocked, people tend to strengths their beliefs, not abandon them. Even the slightest skills in self reflection (of which some atheists seem so proud) should reveal that the atheist himself, when mocked, shuts down rational thought and retaliates in anger. Secondly, the people making this defense often go straight to mocking, they don’t open with honest dialogue, so even if mocking is occasionally useful, many atheists I see use it as the primary, indeed often as the only, tool in any engagement. Lastly, while there is a case to be made that mockery is, in some cased, an excellent weapon, this is usually only true in the case of dictators. I’ve met many an atheist who counters that Christianity is a dictatorship over the atheist, and that may well be true, but the common believers are not themselves the dictator. It’s wish thinking to argue that their participation in the system forces one to mock them.

For many atheists, Christopher Hitchens was a roll model. He has earned that respect, and he’s certainly a roll model to me. Sam Harris, too, is an incomparable debtor and atheist. But it behooves one to understand how they differ and why.

Hitchens gets atheists off the bench. He gets them to engage, to want to actively oppose atheism. He preaches, not to theists, but to other atheists. He throws red meat out there, and must be credited with doing more for energizing atheists than any other person in history.

But energizing the base is only half the battle. The goal is to end theism, and that is done by engaging theists and getting them to genuinely question their beliefs. And while Hitchens had some efficacy there, he was hobbled by his combative approach. Sam Harris, on the other hand, is far, far more effective at this. His ingratiating manor invites theists to listen, even without their consciously being aware of it. He’s smooth, even keeled, and warm. He doesn’t motivate atheists like Hitch, he’s not as fun or cathartic, but he does the actual work of deconversion.

Further, Hitchens’ bullying tactics were not nearly as blunt as they appeared to the untrained eye. He actively engaged obvious bullies, was precised and practiced, knew exactly how to hit and where, and even did it with considerable charm. I’ve seen no atheist troll on twitter come close to any of these (and if they did, their probably wouldn’t be on twitter).

Another common defense to atheist aggression is, and I kid you not, “they did it first”. This is the defense of a seven year old, and hardly worthy of someone who considers themselves rational. “I treat others how they treat me” is the sister defense, which doesn’t take into account the bias of the atheist against the theist: the atheist wants to be offended. He’s looking for an excuse to engage (again, for the catharsis of it).

In a fight, the blame of the fight is on the smarter person. If the atheist position is that non-belief is somehow superior, the kind of engagement one sees online certainly doesn’t support their position. Indeed, it makes the atheists who engage in online bullying more hypocritical than the theist. The theist enjoys their belief, the sense that they’ve chosen the right god over others, the sense of self superiority over others, the right to judge those who don’t agree with them. The bully atheist both understands these faults, and none-the-less echoes them in his own position. He charges the theist with an inability to reason logically, and yet is just as incapable.

It’s nerve cringing to watch, and it undermines any genuine attempt to overthrow theism.

Rev. Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. epitomized the approach of the truly enlightened individual. He recognized even in those who would humiliate, imprison, beat, or even murder him, a common brotherhood, and with that recognition became one of the most influential men of a generation. To the atheist who would hand me all of these excuses which he says justify the belittling of those with faith, who say that it’s the best way to educate theists, I would remind them of how many times Dr. King was told that. It was wrong then. It’s wrong now.

Theism is rapidly becoming a threat to our survival on this planet. The only moral position of the atheist is to challenge this threat. But that is done through education, engagement, and understanding. The atheist whose toolkit regularly includes mockery, derision, or outright bullying, not only is impotent in the face of theism, but making the problem worse.

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Warren Kincaid
Member

One cannot escape the connotation of the word “Atheist” because it defines your deepest foundational basis in viewing all that is (it is your universal reference starting point). What a person thinks about everything and anything else starts at that point and builds outward. That is an inescapable fact. And that happens whether a person is cognizant of it or not. Hating the term “atheist” may be equal to hating the word “christian” for the same reasons.

Warren Kincaid
Member

I don’t think Abraham Lincoln would have agreed with you. There seems to be something missing.

Edwin Deady
Member

Warren Kincaid One finds ones virtues from one’s parents and peers and society together with an instinctive empathy. The proof is in the bond of families and altruism through the ages. To such virtues religion was very late in influencing. It had to be because if there was not an altruistic etc community already how would the religious ever have had existed? Sadly the good nature of communities allowed religion a hearing that it expanded to control.

Warren Kincaid
Member

Corr Guineacht You absolutely do have that right. And some of them deserve it…. but not all of them. However, condescension might not be the best tactic to a reasonable conversation.

Corr Guineacht
Member

Warren Kincaid Well then, I also have the freedom to be condescending to patently idiotic beliefs, regardless of the comfort it gives those who believe. Ironic how fast they get offended when their beliefs are even questioned; almost as if faith isn’t enough.

Warren Kincaid
Member

Freedom to hear your fears. It’s not naive. It’s was the system we have devised after the oppression found in Europe ushering in the Reformation. Our founders were not afraid that the truth of any world view (religion or lack of it) could and would rise to the top in open public debate and civil protest. That should be good news to Atheists who think their arguments hold water at the deepest levels. Part of “Freedom to” is having to witness something you may not believe in or endorse. It’s then your choice (an exorcise of free will) to think deeper or turn away. It’s a risky system we have, but those who envisioned it thought it was worth the risk. Lincoln said “A republic once established will either maintain its virtues, or loose its liberties”. I wonder where he found his virtues?

Edwin Deady
Member

Bit naive Warren, freedom not to listen to ranters outside abortion clinics, freedom not to listen to muslim crowds baying for the blood of apostates, atheists, gays. Freedom to shut your eyes when the Ten Commandments are erected in US courts and schools, freedom for some to feel excluded when a sports team prays in a public school etc ad nauseum. What are you, ignorant or hypocritical?

Warren Kincaid
Member

“Freedom from religion” is a modern twist on the original concept. It’s mostly used to try to intimidate and silence. The only freedom you realy have is to not listen. The free martketplace of ideas should not have to be afraid of opposing views or try to stifle them. I’m sure Mr. Codex would agree.

Corr Guineacht
Member

Warren Kincaid Freedom of Religion also means the Freedom from Religion. I’m with Edwyn on this one. In America it is worth at a minimum, social discomfort, up to being assaulted, to admit that you don’t believe in a sky daddy.

Warren Kincaid
Member

I’ve never considered myself a bullying theist. But if an attack on an individuals faith is unjustified, I have no qualms at calling it out. That seems to be what the freedom of speech and free exercise of religion is all about.

Edwin Deady
Member

Perhaps payback for the centuries the othe way round. I especially think it right when a whining theist complains about attacks on their faith. Personally I don’t care how they sacrifice to Baal as long as they do not want, as they do, a pinch of incense on the altar from me as well.

Warren Kincaid
Member

I’m not talking about priests and religion. But yes, they do have a universal reference point. They believe in the existence of God. They may be right or wrong building out from there. But that’s where they start. An Atheist starts from a point that there is no God and then works his way out. This is an example of why what a person doesn’t believe in is as important as what he does. Both shape individual world views that impact behaviors and decisions. I’m pretty sure we all know that.

Edwin Deady
Member

And no I won’t be deterred from bullying theists.

Edwin Deady
Member

Back on the universal reference point then? There is certainly no universal reference point for the myriads of religions except that there is the common factor of those who would be priest, they like the inside work with no heavy lifting and the opportunity to control people.

Frank Whitaker
Member

I am an atheist who hates the term. Why do I have to be labelled for not believing in some made up bullshit. I don’t have to be labelled as a non believer in UFOs, fairies or intergalactic pasta monsters, like am just normal, rational and non deluded thank you. By the way there are literally tens of thousands of gods that have been invented over the years and countless different versions of the Christian one, so I only don’t believe in one God more than you.

Robert Jones
Member

No matter how vehemently an atheist argues their point the don’t condone murder in the name of their beliefs

Warren Kincaid
Member

Sounds just like a sermon. Atheism is faith based as a system (no matter what the response is). It has its pastors and priests as well as its congregants. And why shouldn’t it? Aren’t we all the religion of man? We all live within boundaries of our own making. All have our fears and pleasures. But we are all flawed and searching nonetheless. Nothing changes much at a certain level. I don’t think we’re among the last generation though. Numbers may shrink soon, but not vanish. Just as easily, we could rise more.

Warren Kincaid
Member

The Atheist Codex At this point, I think you’d know how I’d respond.

Corr Guineacht
Member

Shaun Philip Hutchings Semantics; evidence is proof, not faith.

Warren Kincaid
Member

Shaun Philip Hutchings Mr. Codex and I have been down this road many times. His denial of the “faith” found in world views tends to shift around some. It doen’t matter though. If language means anything at all, he builds his world view revolving around the basis that there is no existant inteligence/personal entity above the level of man. Something or other must take that place in every person. Our core foundational beliefs are simply that. To deny that “God” exists means that a persn chooses the next thing down as his highest point of life-reference. In doing so, man places himself in several dillemas that defy answers. We all have to start at some ultimate point and build out from there. To say that Atheism is immune from that is disingenuous.

Shaun Philip Hutchings
Member

My defence would be an argument about the meaning of the word faith. For example I have faith in my bicycle brakes working because there is evidence that they work. I don’t have faith in Christianity because I see no evidence. When I argue with Christians they often claim that there is evidence in the form of the Bible. I don’t think that is evidence so I don’t have faith. Not all faith is blind faith. Faith is another way of saying ‘think’. You think there is no God. Christians think there is one. I think that I don’t know and don’t believe anyone else knows either which is why I don’t believe in any religion.

Warren Kincaid
Member

Shaun Philip Hutchings Good answer. Although “Agnosticism” doesn’t answer the largest questions of why we are as we are (and I’m sure you’re good with that if that’s your view). Every human who is functional in this world lives his (or her) life out according to the “grid” they have built internally, both cognitively by what they have seen and assimilated, and by way of the historical and personal pressures. Their faith that this grid is sufficient or even superior is found exactly there. The author of the “Atheist Codex” is so adamant of his faith in his system (and its superiority), he has formed an active organization to promote it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

Shaun Philip Hutchings
Member

You’re faith is the superior value of atheism over theism because you believe theism is an actual danger to humanity. I’m assuming you’re American where religion is taken very seriously and some protestants there want the world to end soon. You think atheism is the answer. A firm conviction in the non existence. Where as I believe that Indifference is stronger. Agnostic indifference has practically destroyed Christian influence in western Europe.

Warren Kincaid
Member

Tone? I do appreciate moderating the tone. It is what it is. It’s a real life observation. I’ve been to sermons. They call for civility and faithfulness to the cause. Your faith is in your system of belief. Just like everyone else’s.

Warren Kincaid
Member

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice”
~ Lincoln. That’s because strict justice is at the hand of God. It’s not our business to strictly judge. In a sense, we are all guilty. Lincoln knew this truth and a deeper understanding of him would reveal that. The same is true for Martin Luther King (as mentioned in the post). God (biblically) calls on a higher virtue of mercy, and that concept is found in reality as well as in God. He offers mercy and He offers judgement. Usually, people ask for mercy, not judgement. And that’s where richer fruits are found. I always admired Lincoln and King. They knew things most of the world today does not.

Darren Nesbit
Member

The Humanist Codex so the wizards have told you they have found these particles and you believe them?

not really science that, is it?

you are still claiming the most complicated book in the world, dna, wrote itself, aren’t you?

because you are insane, hypnotised to believe a lie, like we all were

Gerhard
Member

“All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed; then it is violently opposed; finally it is accepted as self-evident”.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Darren Nesbit
Member

naive, gullible, programmed fools who believe everything came out of nothing with no cause and no purpose. quite insane.

as insane as saying a book will somehow write itself, but you will claim dna code miraculously, spontaneously happened.

totally unscientific and you are primed to fall for the great deception of ‘alien ancestors’ when they show up next decade.

Gerhard
Member

“All truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed; then it is violently opposed; finally it is accepted as self-evident”.
~Arthur Schopenhauer
Top Ten Signs You’re a Fundamentalist Christian

10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 – You feel insulted and “dehumanized” when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” including women, children, and trees!

6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving.”

3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to “prove” Christianity.

2 – You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian. smile

Darren Nesbit
Member

The Humanist Codex where did the multiverse come from? do you have proof of the existence of such theories? are you just talking about the spirit realm, from whence will come the ‘aliens from another world’ that will deceive you and those naive and unskeptical unthinking irrational people who may read your page?

claiming a religion as science, as ever they have done since there was first a nation and cities. do you know the history of how you think

Ian Macnaught
Member

The Humanist Codex So how can God be loving to those who hate Him and the last thing they want is to spend eternity in His presence ? Any ‘loving’ person would grant their wishes, not to be forced to love Him. And that’s exactly what God will do. They will spend their time outwith His company.

Peter Griffiths
Member

I am an atheist simply because I find no basis to believe in mythology any more than I would believe in fairies. Others may have different views which is not a problem to me provided that I am not affected by them.

Ian Macnaught
Member

The Humanist Codex “Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” (Revelation 22:11)

Ian Macnaught
Member

The Humanist Codex It doesn’t change the fact that Jesus never countenances violence against people. Satan can use Scripture to suit his purposes.

Atheist Skeptics against Atheist Believers
Member

I dealt with this so much that I pretty much had to create an entire page about this subject

Atheist Skeptics against Atheist Believers