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?
Well, John, with my capacity for understanding, and compassion ----- , just kidding! Men I have known have peopled the whole range of personality and character types, much like the women I have known. There is though, a male culture that does not much reward these qualities in men. Barbara Jordon was the first woman, or the first black woman to accomplish so many things. I don't suggest canonization (though she was a christian), but she she is someone for young people to emulate. Remember, though, she was no great beauty. She was large, black, and a woman. I'm sure she met too many men who showed little understanding or compassion. She was also gay, so she had no romantic affection for men. She was a flawed human, just like us. I wish she hadn't said something that hurt your feelings, and was an example of misandry.
Dogly, I am sure John has enough wisdom to understand Barbara Jordan probably speaks from personal experience. I like your comment about her strengths. In my opinion, being gay isn't a flaw, it is a sexual orientation.
Well, heck! I tried so hard not to offend. I almost wrote that Ms. Jordon had "no use for men", but I knew the firestorm that would engender. :-) I did not mean that being gay was a flaw. It's just that my statement that she was flawed, followed that statement.
Alice, you wrote, "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."
When I read that a football player kneels in prayer before a game, praying for what is anyone's guess. However, it seems to me to be silly. When someone says, "I'll pray for you (i.e. to a cancer patient), so much more is needed than prayer. When someone praises god for healing when vast teams of people from surgeons and nurses, and auxiliary staff for anesthetics, blood work, cardio-vascular, pulmonary, kidney function, and even the people who keep the surgical room sterile, and the janitor and electricians all work toward a common goal and are not "praised", I think the person praising god believes in magic, not medicine, and is offensive. The person can believe whatever they want and is none of my business. But when credit is not given for hard work, deep training, careful precision, dependable and reliable actions based on empirical evidence, I perceive ignorance, arrogance, discounts, trivialization and no earthly benefit to anyone.
Let's just hold the sick baby and pray! Or hold the hand of a sick person and make appeals to a superior being in prayer! Or tell the dying there is a place in heaven if they believe and pray! Or tell a non-believer they are going to burn in hell! Or tell survivors the dead one is in a better place! then I am repulsed, disgusted, outraged,
Or when they say things like, "If you just give god a chance, he'll be there for you." It's enough to make you want to scream sometimes.
so it's frustration?
I don't have much contact with religious people - but I have a sort of step mother in law - who looked after my father in law and nursed him to his death - and she can sometimes say things like this.
I don't feel frustrated - because I know she means well - I take it as the concerned sentiment that it is.....
good to get different perspectives.
I would like to encourage everyone to have more compassion to everyone else.
we can't all be bright intelligent experts in naturalism and the nature of reality.
we are all on a continuum of awareness and knowledge based on luck really :)
Joan, I agree completely. So many people thank their god when it was human action, often over many years, to create and make available the healthcare solution for which they are so grateful. Their gods were non-participants and should garner none of the credit.
Greg, I agree with your statements, "So many people thank their god when it was human action" and "Their gods were non-participants and should garner none of the credit."
To these people, I feel responsible to remind them of the tremendous human effort it has taken to accomplish great skill. I don't let this slide.
I have lived 8 1/2 years longer than my mother and both my grandmothers who all died of heart disease after long, painful suffering until death. They did not receive the heart surgery that I had, and I feel fit, eager to do projects, happy when debating, gardening, cooking, and playing with my great-grandchildren. They had large groups of family and friends praying for them and I received the extra 8 1/2 years.
I'd say that regarding religion atheists can be pretty arrogant, prejudiced and dismissive, although it seems that those who partake in that particular strain of neo-atheism tend to come from secular backgrounds or were raised fundamentalist and now take the opportunity to snub all religions equally. I'm totally guilty of eye-rolling or snorting whenever a Christian opens their mouth, but you have to admit that it's pretty hard not to deride the religious when they say really idiotic things. Sometimes the only thing you can do is scoff, but neither can you carry on a serious conversation with a religious person when they bring insoluble "evidence" (i.e., faith) to the table. However, atheism does have a bit of a PR problem in terms of projecting a positive image, and while we're certainly working on it, we can definitely take steps to be more civil and engaging.
However, as to the rest, I have met plenty of atheist males who are chauvinists. I've yet to meet any atheists who are racists or who are anti-gay.
Well said, David. Maybe we forget that just because we will not agree that beings and things exist when there is no valid evidence of such existence. That may or may not free us from other ways of false thinking, but it seems we're all stupid, foolish, vain, angry, idiots at some times...and at others friendly, fun, loving, compassionate, thoughtful, peaceful, etc. Maybe we should adjust our expectations accordingly
I think it's more a matter of learning to pick our battles more carefully, or maybe just not allowing ourselves to be drawn into every debate with a theist. Perhaps just shutting down a discussion when they start thumping on their bibles or saying things like, "Well, god says ___." You can't have a discussion with that. Of course, when you have people like Rick Perry and Rick Santorum trying to legislate their Christian beliefs, then that's a war we should readily go to with gusto; but at the same time we should learn to recognize the truly dangerous Christian apologists from the majority of idiots (in all due respect).
At the same time, I love what Douglas Adams said about religion: "Here is an idea or notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? Because you're not." I totally agree with we've gotten way too PC about religion, and while it's important to stay civil and polite (after all, no one wants to listen to someone who is rudely attacking their cherished beliefs), we can probably speak out a bit more.