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?
Alice, thank you for sharing the link - I hadn't seen that before. Much interesting information from which I can learn.
your welcome :)
Sorry if I'm a little late to the thread, but I just joined yesterday. I skimmed through the pages and may comment on some of the more, …well, non-rational arguments, …maybe.
Some thoughts on the subject (first post):
"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…"
There are even more; ethnicity, education, wealth, musical taste, hair style, grammar, etc; the list of includable (based on) circumstance/choice could probably go on for pages.
"- as there all share the same medal of racism."
Sort of… But, let's not nit-pick this because it's of lesser importance. Further, some of these things are matters of circumstance, some are just choices. Let's not get mired in this either.
There is a single qualifier in your opening statement that makes things very simple: "calling anyone inferior or superior". This always says far more about the author than the target.
Also, employing either, "inferior or superior"; in regards to human being(ness) is a non sequitur = irrational argument. It's far more productive to support or refute ideas, positions, arguments, by addressing the ideas, positions, arguments; directly.
Both the personal attack (inferior person) and the expression of an entitled special privilege or appeal to authority (superior person) are hallmarks of a logically untenable position; this is probably why this kind of ad hominem ploy is common amongst fundamentalist theists and authoritarian conservatives when they can't offer a logical, rational or justified counter to a logical, rational and justified position.
[jk]In short, let's not be like them, we're better than that.
Richard, I like your approach to this situation, and I can grant you that superior/inferior cannot be decided on variables; however, when one experiences another person's lectures, imperatives, demands, attitudes, values etc. as intolerable, whether justified or not, what "logical, rational, justified counter" lifts us unto a more healthy, pro-active plane?
"Richard, I like your approach to this situation, and I can grant you that superior/inferior cannot be decided on variables…"
I'll add another reason for this approach, the idea that human beings are subject to being labeled as superior/inferior human beings by either, circumstance or choices, gives credence to very dangerous justifications for things like eugenics, genocide, apartheid and all other kinds of nastiness.
"...however, when one experiences another person's lectures, imperatives, demands, attitudes, values etc. as intolerable, whether justified or not, what "logical, rational, justified counter" lifts us unto a more healthy, pro-active plane?"
"Another person's lectures, imperatives, demands, attitudes, values" - actions, ideas, ideologies, opinions, etc. can be shown to be superior/inferior intolerable/tolerable valid/invalid. This does not require that they are either demonized or beatified as human beings.
...whether justified or not, what "logical, rational, justified counter" lifts us unto a more healthy, pro-active plane?
The realization that the only human being one needs to worry about being lesser than/better than …is themselves.
If we allow that Chuckie is less than human, we deny the reality that human beings commit monstrous acts.
Charles Manson is a monster because of his actions (or more accurately, the monstrous actions he directed others to commit), not because he's an inferior human being. Nor is Charles Manson a superior human being to those he directed to commit those acts, just because they fell for his particular brand of monstrous woo.
for me - it's about promoting more education with science and reason - so if we can be none offensive - then we may be more likely to promote science and reason in the world - which IMO would be a good thing :)
I wish it were the way you clearly depict it; however, superiority is what runs the world that I have been an inferior part of for 50 years. The leadership roles always go to the best educated, most aggressive, and as in here most persuasive. I love the idea of equality but it does not exist, so i like my superiors to act in the collective interest without deriding the inferior by proclaiming god like status by abusing the inequality. And I enjoy that you all are superior to me because it is a learning experience, I can not get at the local community college. As for the set up and delivery of your [jk], it is a testament to your wit, making it all the more worth reading.
On the serious side how one should use superiority i.e. with compassion (and not too much, so as not to become condescending or embarrassed in the face of an intelligent comment from the perceived inferior) or with credibility and sincerity.
I saw a you tube of Harris recently - where he talks about how we are all racist - but some of us are better at hiding it than others - whether our reasons are for the good of all or not.
"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 they’re all share the same medal of racism.
I have not yet read all of the comments; I hope my comment is not redundant.
Your point about arrogance and superiority is well taken. If atheists want to be heard, we should be mindful not to speak arrogantly. Also, arrogance and certainty may blind us to new evidence and fresh ideas. If our goal is to promote reason and science, we should never be so certain of a belief that we become dogmatic and refuse to consider new evidence.
That said, criticizing Religion or religious belief is not racist. And when it comes to public discourse, lumping religion in with "race, gender and sexual orientation" is an error. They are not all the same medal of racism.
Race, gender and sexual orientation are immutable characteristics of a person’s biology; they are not opinions or beliefs that can be changed or chosen. Ideas are up for debate, my race isn’t. I can criticize or refuse to accept a belief, without criticizing or refusing to accept the person who holds that belief. I can accept the person without accepting the religion.
Of course, religious leaders want to claim they are the same—and for good reason! Protecting their beliefs from criticism protects them from losing power. It is in their interest to protect the belief, as if it were immutable to the person's biology, because it ensure a stronghold on the minds of followers. Religious doctrines often imbibe followers with the notion that their beliefs ARE their race. This is not so. And just like authoritarian regimes who seek to hold power by eliminating free speech and silencing critics, religious regimes seek to silence dissenters and discredit contradictory evidence (or ignore it) which might open a followers mind to change.
The reality is that some ideas and beliefs ARE superior. Believing what is true is better than believing what is false. Navigating through life on a system of false beliefs is like navigating through a city with an incorrect map—no matter how ugly or scary the map is—we are better off with the correct version. I would rather know that I am in East L.A. after midnight than to believe I was strolling in Bel Air. We must not be afraid to investigate, test and openly critique beliefs to discern whether they are true.
Let’s not fall into the trap of being silenced for “fear of offending”, let’s just be heedful to speak honestly and respectfully. If I am and someone still claims this “offends”, the I will question the true motive behind their claim.
You make a good point. I would agree that we can't change our biology and so this makes those issues different to belief and religion.
I would also like to say that religious belief is passed on as a meme and it is also powerful and not so easy to get rid of. I think we still need to have compassion for religious people.
I support open dialogue and wish to ask questions and get people thinking...
this is different to abusive statements about those of faith.