I just got 200 comments and counting on my local atheist group when I posted this:

"On a matter of self reflection as a group I would like to discuss the idea of us calling anyone inferior or superior based on religion, race, gender, sexual orientation - as there all share the same medal of racism.

I realise that XXX may see this as the promotion of political correctness. I don't support political correctness as a means to an end. I do support freedom of speech. And I like the idea that we are free here to discuss opening about our attitudes.

What concerns me is that in the atheist community (on the many forums and you tubes that I've seen) I have observed what looked to me like, arrogance, prejudice, superiority and dismissive attitudes. 

I realise that we all have our own nature - but I do support the idea that we can all try to act on science and reason - and not perpetrate racism or other harmful attitudes based on false beliefs about superiority. And think it important that we become more self aware of these issues and come up with effective methods that deal with it.

Preferably compassionate - based on the principles of Naturalism, rather than regressive aggression against it."


Is this a very contentious issue?

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Replies to This Discussion

Dogly - it's so true - there are so many more cues when we are with someone in person.  I was wondering why it was the case that people are so much more outspoken online as opposed to in person.

I read somewhere ages ago that body language makes up 80% of our communication - so without it we are really lost - not only body language but intonation and tone of voice.

I don't see any contention in what you say!  Nor do I see much in the way of bigotry among the atheists I know.  Also, whatever their faults, unbelievers never attribute their shortcomings to malevolent spirits or a need to get closer to any god(s) etc.

I agree. 

Tim - good points.

You left out a belief that we are superior based on species.  All things are contentious for atheists because we have only disbelief in common.

Dogly, can you define "superior" for me? I may be reading your comments incorrectly, maybe you meant some have a "belief that we are superior based on species." 

If one is describing hearing, bats are superior to humans; or seeing, owls are superior; or smelling, dogs are superior; etc. 

Joan, of course all creatures are different.  We, humans have inferior nails/claws that are poor for digging.  We have inferior eyesight and hearing when compared with many other species of animal.  We are superior in our use of tools.  We are superior in our ability to preserve our knowledge in writing.  We are equal in our right to live without exploitation in our environments.  We are all earthlings and can all claim an equal right to share the earth on which we all evolved.

Dogly, perfectly stated. I agree, wholeheartedly. 

Dogly - very good points.

Discrimination is a natural process, without discrimination there would have been no cells in the first place. Determining an inside and outside is of paramount importance in the struggle for survival.

Failing to discriminate often leads to death, or other unfortunate outcomes. Calling all forms of discrimination 'racism' (OMFG not this again) is delusional. Going further than this you also have to consider if certain 'racist' attitudes might actually be a positive adaptation (numbers seem to be almost everything). Genetics is extremely important, to the point where you can, if you're so inclined, blame/attribute everything a individual is/does on heredity. That said nurture and the environment can have an immediate (relative to evolutionary time) influence on how the genetic code physically manifests (epigenetics) and over longer periods of time the environment can actually change the genetic code itself. The environment shapes species, and eventually the species shape the environment - forming a feedback loop.

I would just like to add that thinking in terms of 'better or worse' and 'superior over inferior' will not go away as they are concepts central to intelligence itself. Now you can suppress this tendency/intellect, just like you can suppress your sexual urges. Faith, brainwashing, indoctrination, trusting naively in the elite/corporate mainstream media, peer-pressure and medication can all be quite effective... but the underlying natural law will remain. You can bury your head in the sand if you wish, but that won't stop the tide coming in.

If one is devoted to one political theory that has a pattern of booms and busts, causing at least one or more generations to catch up in the recovery phase, then discrimination is called for. 

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