Atheists: when disbelief does not equal logic or critical thinking.

I've joined atheist forums all over the internet and even started my own local group of free thinkers to get together and have conversations that include logic and critical thinking, but I've started to notice something. A phenomenon that burst my smug little atheist bubble. There are so many articles and book and studies that say atheists are smarter, more logical, more open minded... I've come to understand that this statement is false. That's right.. I said it. Being an atheist does not automatically mean you are talking to a logical, intelligent, or even kind person. There are atheists who don't believe in vaccines, who do believe in ghosts, and will argue against you if they feel their truthiness is right even against facts and logic. I've personally been on many band wagons until I learned more, put the facts together and jumped off as quickly as possible.

One of these bandwagons was the anti vac crowd. I was 19 and I grew up with a friend who hadn't been vaccinated. I never really thought about why until I read some anti vaccine argument online. Vaccines cause Autism?! What a terrifying thought! And, in the anti vac community one tends to forget that without them far more children would be dying than getting autism even if it were true- which it's not. It didn't take much researching to find out that it was a load of bull. The main argument is that the perservative, thermisol, derived from mercury can cause autism. Autism is diagnosed about the same time that the MMR vaccine is given and it's a classic case of corelation not equally causation. Dozens of studies all conclude that vaccines do not cause autism. But one more piece of logic is missing and that is, as I mentioned before, that the sheer number of children who would die from these childhood killers (and they're called killers for a reason) makes any risk or autism completely worth it. The anti vac crowd takes the selfish stance that their child is more important than all the other children who would die should herd immunity vanish.

Another hot topic is circumscision. There is the intact crowd which believes that no child should have their genitals cut up and mutilated and every baby should go home intact. Then there's the pro circ crowd who's best argument is "everyone does it!". I've heard all the argument- it prevents STD's! Cutting up a boy's penis just in case he might get an STD later, or an infection for that matter, is like cuttin out a baby girl's breast tissue because she might get breast cancer later. Not only that, but cut American men get more STD's than intact European men. Condoms go much further than genital mutilation. I've also heard that babies don't feel pain or that it doesn't effect sexual pleasure or performance. 20,000 nerves are cut away. Tell me that doesn't effect pleasure. Women, how would you like to lose that many nerves from your clit? Doesn't sound all that pleasant, does it? Male genital mutilation was originally introduced in order to control masturbation. In some cultures it's purely religious. Either way there's zero reason to do it and much reason not to. And yet many atheists seem to be on the pro circ crowd. They seem to take insult with the term "genital mutilation" when used for males, but not for females. While I understand that no cut man wants to admit that his genitals have been mutilated against his will, mutilation is what it is by definition and it's no different from female genital mutilation.

The last big topic I've seen is veganism. While most vegans tend to be athiests, non vegan atheists tend to hate vegans. Why? Some believe it's because that they don't want to admit that they're doing something wrong. Atheists will abandon logic and jump on arguments like "but it's unnatural!" ignoring the fact that they're carrying a cell phone, typing on a computer, wearing polyesther blend clothing and eating hot pockets with a glass of milk- none of which is natural. Now, I can understand if an atheist says "i dont' care about animals or my health or the environment to screw it". This isn't a rejection of facts or logic- it's just.. well, being an asshole. But the fact is that most atheists assert argue things like: animals don't feel pain, they don't suffer, the death is painless, vegans are weak and unhealthy, it wouldn't make a difference, etc. They get mean and nasty and insulting out of defensiveness instead of being honest. The two best ways of dealing with your vegan friends or family? A. don't attack them every time they mention having a veggie burger for lunch. B. be honest and tell them you just don't care about animals/health/the environment C. listen, research, and become vegan.

When I became an atheist I had the crazy notion that other atheists were all really great people and super intelligent. While atheists are, on average, more intelligent than theists, it's not always true.. and they tend to not apply that intelligence to many things. It's true what they say- you really can't tell anything about a person by their atheism except their atheism.

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Tags: atheism, circumscision, ghosts, logic, vaccines, veganism

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Comment by Susan Stanko on May 7, 2010 at 4:03pm
SUV's are gas-guzzlers.
Comment by Heather on May 7, 2010 at 4:00pm
blackmagicwoman- well at least you're honest although we can agree to disagree as to whether it's shameful or not.
Comment by Black Magick Woman on May 7, 2010 at 2:53pm
Then I shall be honest. I don't mind animals suffering for my dinner. I understand your points and commend you for living your life in a healthy manner. I however don't give a shit if an animal suffers for my dinner. Poor animal was going to die sooner or later, might as well make a yummy meal out of it, lol. Not saying every day and every meal I have is loaded with meat, I'll have a veggie burger with friends like nobody's business, it's just my preference to have meat. No shame in my meat-eating game. =)
Comment by Heather on May 7, 2010 at 2:14pm
John D, thank you but no, I don't think I'd like to argue with you in particular about this. I would if I thought you would be calm and cool headed, but I do not and I'm not putting myself through that.
Comment by Heather on May 7, 2010 at 1:57pm
eep! so many replies to make!

cynical soldier- yes, i'd definitely still rather be around atheists than theists when it comes down to it :-)

John D, the production of animal products has a far greater impact on the earth than cars, trucks, plains, and boats combined so, while most environmentalists drive hybrids or ride bikes or walk whenever possible, even driving an SUV (i don't know any environmentalist who does) is still far better than eating animal products environmentally speaking. And I'm trying to convert you? I've never spoken to you until now. It is the goal of every species to survive- human beings not being an exception to that.. so your little "kill yourselves" bit of venom doesn't work. Environmentalists strive to have as little impact on the earth as possible while still surviving and being happy. It's clear that you are exactly one of the people I'm talking about. I only judge people who go out of there way to hurt other living beings (people and animals alike)

Sacha- i made my reply to John but will delete his comments if he continues being hateful and thanks for the invite- will join! also, if you're vegetarian for ethical reasons i think we could have some great discussions about going vegan ^_^ i was vegetarian for 9 years before I went Vegan. have you seen Earthlings? And yes.. I have seen life after people. I was a bit annoyed with some of the tones that the narrator had, but otherwise thought it was great.

Prog Rock Girl, Being vegan can be extremely cheap :-) i have a great article on how to eat a healthy full diet on $1 a day (and yes, it's vegan). Also, it doesn't waste food. you eat what you buy, you buy vegan- i don't get your point on that. I know vegans who are soy intolerant as well as wheat intolerant so dietary restriction? It makes it harder but not impossible. And the vegan I'm thinking of is on food stamps and still eats soy and gluten free. These are all just some of those excuses I was talking about. While some of them are valid in the sense that they make vegan harder, it's not impossible for anyone who lives in a first world country. Not all vegans are environmentalists, by the way, that was just one of three reasons why people go vegan. There's no logical argument that one can make for ending animal cruelty- but that's where the "be honest" part comes in. Don't argue against veganism saying it's impossible or unnatural or unhealthy (all untrue) just say what you mean- you're okay with other things suffering for your dinner- and i'm not addressing you personally, but rather everyone who makes these arguments.
Comment by sacha on May 7, 2010 at 1:36pm
well said PRG - one can use this argument for a myriad of things. I am all for voluntary human extinction. That will solve all of the problems.

Hey has anyone seen Life After People?

Comment by sacha on May 7, 2010 at 1:25pm
You know I respect you John. We agree on a lot of issues. Re-read your post here:

I tell vegans that they are egotistical pseudo-intellectual tree-hugger pains in the butt. If they really cared so much about the environment they should stop driving cars and live in a fricking tent. Better yet, why not just kill yourself so you can stop destroying the world's resources. And if they cared so much for the innocent animals they should stand naked in a swamp and let the hungry mosquitoes bleed them dry (for, after all, the mosquitoes must be suffering from hunger!)

You don't see this as angry, irrational and baiting? Not all vegans are what you describe, just like not all atheists are rational and use critical thinking. I was vegan for a long time, and I'm not even a liberal.

I do understand that this is not in the veggie group, and I do appreciate your not going there. As I will not go to the Omnivore group. She is young. Yes, she could have worded differently, but you don't know the day to day animosity we get for being veg. It can make one very angry. Give her a break. An old veggie like me can take on the fight if I wanted to. But you know I won't

I hate when we disagree, we are so similar in our views on other issues. I even consider you a friend here.
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on May 7, 2010 at 1:19pm
I learned early on that any group you get into, you will find some kindred spirits and soon you will also find people you can't stand. You make good arguments. My pet peeves other than supernatural-believing atheists are Islamic ass-kissers.

About vegans, I have every respect for someone if they want to do this. However, you are being just as forceful as the "I hate vegans" people by insisting that all people (unless they hate animals, health, and the environment) become vegan. I don't attack people for eating veggie burgers (I eat them too) but how about if vegans stop shunning people who occasionally eat ice cream? There are many reasons that people are not vegan, from being economically disadvantaged (there aren't too many working class vegans), to not wanting to waste food, to already having several dietary restrictions and not wanting to sign up for yet another. I've heard that the connection between veganism and environmentalism may not be so strong, and there are other environmental things that a person can do. For instance, my vegan friends use a gas lawnmower, A/C, and have kids. I may not be vegan (not a huge carnivore either btw), but I use a pushmower, don't own A/C, and because I think overpopulation is the root of all other environmental problems, I don't have kids--yet I don't lecture people if they do.

While it is true that there are some very illogical people among atheists, it's equally annoying when people have this "logic is on my side" attitude where logic can only correctly lead them to one view. Because ethics requires applying logic to emotional issues, people can still logically arrive at opposing conclusions.
Comment by sacha on May 7, 2010 at 12:58pm
You are young. I've been vegetarian for 25 years. You need to choose your battles carefully, or else you will get burnt out arguing. I would ignore John D's baiting and angry comment. You will encounter thousands of those type of comments if you stay vegan. They don't understand the ethical reasons for not eating meat. All they want to do is bait you into an argument. I have found that ignoring them is what works for me. When I was your age, I argued a lot.

Just because you are invited to an argument, does not mean you have to attend. -anonymous
Comment by Cynical Soldier on May 7, 2010 at 11:14am
Very insightful post. Atheism isn't dogmatic but it's easy to believe that it is. It doesn't automatically stand for science and reasoned logic. Atheists come from all corners of the globe, in all sizes, colors and temperaments. Some of us are humble, others are hateful. Some of us prefer reason but still others reject deities and fall into other superstitions. I agree with much of what you have to say, if not all. That being said, even though I know atheists aren't "supreme beings," at the end of the day I'd much rather spend time with one of them than a theist.

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