Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lowder on Mocking Religious Ideas


Lowder is a major voice on the Secular web and their blog secular outpost, where this piece is published.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

American Atheists Billboards and Ridicule of Religious Ideas

Prior to my earlier posts on American Atheists's billboards, an atheist, whose opinion I respect, mentioned his support for the ads. To paraphrase, his argument was something like this.
Religious beliefs should not get special protection from ridicule and doubt. They have had this protection for far too long and this needs to stop. Our society needs to get used to cherished religious beliefs being subject to the same kind of criticism and ridicule as that faced by any other belief. For example, socialists and capitalists regularly use ridicule and criticism when speaking of each other.

I agree that religious beliefs should not get special protection from ridicule and doubt. If by "special protection" one means "special legal protection," I agree. I (obviously) don't think there should be blasphemy laws. My point was (and is) different. Even if/when there is a legal right to ridicule religious beliefs, atheists would be well advised to think twice about whether and when to exercise that right. If an atheist's goal is to increase the social acceptability of atheism, I'm pretty sure that mockery and ridicule of widely held religious beliefs isn't an effective way to achieve that goal. If an atheist's goal is to convince people that atheists can be just as moral as theists, then it's downright stupid to waste $15,000 on a billboard ad which, in the minds of many, will only show that atheists are rude (=immoral).
I actually agree with him that there shouldn't be laws saying "one may not mock religious belief." The way he puts it it seems like more a practical matter of rhetorical strategy not get carried away so they don't turn people off, rather than a moral stricture agaisnt being cruel, I'm sure he has that. There's more to the issue than that. I have quoted atheists from different venues saying "we have to brow beat them into submission with mocking and ridicule"

the comments in response to Lowder's statement reflect the same prudential concern about how they appear to the public not the right or wrong of mocking.

Chris Hallquist 5 hours ago

The problem here is that we're trying to do several things at once.

We're trying to convince people we're not evil. We're trying to have our legal rights respected. We're trying to get people to be more comfortable being public about their atheism. We're trying to convince people we're right.

Billboards making fun of religion will piss people off. As will suing to get the government to follow its own laws. As will billboards with just the word "atheist" and the names of a few atheist groups.

But all those things have positive effects too. In the case of bilboards ridiculing religion: they tell people who've never said those things, but thought them, that they're not alone (and that's just the least-controversial possible benefit, I can think of others, but no need to debate them here).

In response to a statement by a theist "I'm tired of atheist mocking" a poster on carm says:


Wow, it must really suck to be you. How about this, stop caring what other people think about you, or your religion. If you don't want to be thought of as delusional, then you should stop posting/talking about your delusions. If you don't want to be thought of as gullible, then start using some critical thinking skills and stop believing everything you're told or you read in the dogma of your church. If you don't want to be thought of as imbecillic, then don't present imbecillic ideas as objective reality, expecting the rest of us to swallow it whole just because you did. NOTE: I am not suggesting that the author of the OP is any of these things, and I am only responding to the words he used in the OP.

We see the true compassion shining through. This guy has clearly thought it out.

an atheist says:

... the fact is that as long as you're having the discussion about your beliefs in a public forum... people will comment. When those beliefs don't reflect reality or depend on blind faith, then skeptics will point on the logical fallacies. That is simply a fact of the interwebs.

If you're faith gives you some measure of peace, take comfort in that and enjoy it. If you enter into the public discussion about the rationality of your beliefs, expect to see dissenting opinion.
This is a real atheist poster who said this. It's basically saying "unless you surrender and just give in we will continue to mock you." That's a frank admission that they know they are using it as manipulation and they don't see anything wrong with it.

..., as passionate as you are in your beliefs, I am equally if not more so, passionate about my disdain for Christianity and all that it is. If that upsets you, so be it, and yoiu have to live with it. Atheists are in a stark minority in America, and if anything, they are the ones who should be complaining about the constant bombardment of Christian beliefs and dogma....
Just imagine if we told this guy the same stuff the atheists are telling Delong? how would that be? Keep it to yourself, we will mock and ridicule you if say stuff not in accord with our brain washing. that's what they think they are fighting against, yet they wont extend any compassion to people in the same boat.

See the Orwellian aspects of atheism in action? They use a word that has meaning in a clinical setting ("delusion") they alter it to imply that if you don't see things the way I do you are insane. So any view that differs from mine is insanity. The atheist brain washing is defined as "reality." one must be an atheist to be sane. Look at what they are telling him, "unless you march in lock step with us then you are a target of our ridicule.

How any thinking person be part of this hateful totalitarianism? Why should we put up with it? Why should the 90% of bleieve in God allow themselves to be terrorized by this 3% of know nothings?

(those comments were posted on CARM and have been posted here before).

from anther venue, published on the barricades and atheistwatch Originally from atheist website "dangerous talk."

Yesterday I talked about the perception that criticism and mockery is often considered going negative. Today I want to talk about the value of criticism and mockery. Quite simply, it is how we learn.
When presented with an idea (good or bad) we have to think about the idea. Sometimes we don’t do that or we don’t think deeply enough about the idea. This is where someone else comes along and points out why the idea is poor by criticizing the idea. Their criticism may or may not have merit, but at least now we can think about those criticisms.
Sometimes however, ideas become deeply held beliefs and regardless of how valid the criticism might be, we still reject that criticism and cling to the belief. We might even insist that the belief be taken seriously and believed by others on insufficient reasoning and/or evidence.
This is where mockery comes in. When people refuse to take our deeply held beliefs seriously, we might dig in deeper in trying to get people to take our beliefs seriously. The more people mock the belief, the more we are confronted with the criticisms of the belief and he more we must try to deal with those criticism if we still expect our beliefs to be taken seriously.
Mockery is withheld as a last form of criticism for those who refuse to have their ideas criticized. It is more dismissive of the idea and usually only comes in when the particular idea is really ridiculous and worth mockery. It is a message that, “hey, your idea has way too many criticisms and is just so ridiculous that is really isn’t worth taking seriously at all.”

It's clear from what's being said that, if not all atheist, at least a segment have the idea that mockery and ridicle are valid tools for forcing people to agree with you. That's really must a matter of "brain washing." It's a matter of extortion.

Not all atheists agree of cousre. There are dissenting voices that council not to mock and ridicule. Paul Kurtz of the Free Thinking Blog (Center for Inquiry part of the atheist propaganda echo chamber) has some intelligent things to say about it.

It is one thing to examine the claims of religion in a responsible way by calling attention to Biblical, Koranic or scientific criticisms, it is quite another to violate the key humanistic principle of tolerance. One may disagree with contending religious beliefs, but to denigrate them by rude caricatures borders on hate speech. What would humanists and skeptics say if religious believers insulted them in the same way? We would protest the lack of respect for alternative views in a democratic society. I apologize to my fellow citizens who have suffered these barbs of indignity.

His readers disagree:

Randy on Tuesday September 29, 2009 at 4:10pm

Two problems I have with this post:
(1) Nazi reference, already in the second paragraph. Really, do we need to go there every time?
(2) “What would humanists and skeptics say if religious believers insulted them in the same way?” I nearly fell off my chair. This happens on a daily basis, in all media, and usually is not meant as a lighthearted joke either.
The old "they do it to us so we can do it to them." I never hear atheists ridiculed in the media. I think he's confusing general sense of disagreement and cultural unacceptability with actual ridicule.

so though I agree with Loweder in two ways:

(1) It is fair and fine to criticize ideas we don't accept. I don't expect any atheist to hold back form argument making except where it's inappropriate. For exampel I wouldn't want an atheist start bellowing about no after life in the middle of my mother's funeral. But should be no legal protection per se to prevent people from opening questioning any religious bleief. that even goes without saying becuase it's so basic to democracy (although it may be the time to start saying basic things again about democracy). I'm talking about rational intellectual arguments.

(2) I agree that there can't be legal perfection per see to prevent reducible of religion although there should be laws governing when and where and protecting privacy.

It's not just a simple matter of giving some guide lines and thinking all atheists will follow them. The segment of the atheist community (not all of them) who are carried away with hate and ridicule will not stop and will not play fair. There should be some kind of protection for people who are in danger of being extorted into beliefs or out of their beliefs. Those protections can't be just a blanket protection on ideas, they have to be protections for people. For example cyber bullying should be guarded against. Mocking and ridicule of religious belief might at times come under that heading.

one of major purposes of atheistwatch was to shame atheists into shutting up their own guys. It's worked partially but not nearly enough. We see the attitude of "we need to be cool so we don' turn people off" is known to some of them, the ideas of tolerance and fairness are known to some of them, but others don't get either idea.

the nuts on carm think they own the board. they were saying "don't come on here.," as though ti's their board. CARM is a Christian board it's not owned by the atheists. That's a matter for the administation of that particular board.


JBsptfn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JBsptfn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Metacrock said...

Not all atheists are like that. Yet I agree about the internet infidels. I've dealt with them too many times. I find it hilarious that so many atheists are afraid to admit they have a movement.

I was collecting examples of atheists referring to atheism as a movement. I decided not to publish becuase it seems to petty. But after hearing so many of them say "it's not a movement it's just the lack of a belief" then finding so many examples where they are arguing about "how the movement should develop..." Kind of telling.