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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Can one really believe that going to heaven and seeing their relatives would be enjoyable? I think seeing their evolutionary ancestry back through chimp like relatives to fish would challenge their existing self perceptions in the image of an unchanging god that conversely looked like a fish at one time. I think the uncertainty is why Christians do not jump in front of buses to get to heaven: They know it is just a comfort to believe such fantasies. Sadly, some Muslims jump into airplanes pursuing this, fantasied as a reality at best to be given 72 virgins one that looks like Lucy, another that looks like a chimp ancestor, another quadruped, a fish, and so on to a virgin single cell---have fun with eternity.

still looking for a like button in here! LOL :)

Greg, I want my surgeon, aircraft pilot, and educator to have support for their actions based on the best information available, tested through research and experimentation. It is profoundly important to me that such skills have valid and reliable credentialing.


There is a part of my life that relationships that are based on care, compassion, concern, commitment, all of which does not need training or education, but does need socialization. They include, of course, my family, friends, neighbors, people who are different than I in race, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental capabilities, creed, religion, politics, etc.


In the groups I listed above, their attitudes, beliefs, customs, traditions and values are none of my business until and unless they infringe upon my rights and me. If elements of compulsion, hatred, violence, exclusion and isolation, caused by religion, enters the situation, then they become members of society I shall debate, resist, confront and challenge.


I understand being “unwilling to cede anything to religion under any circumstance - we treat it as something to be removed from humanity just as cancer is removed from a body to improve the health of the person.”


I have family members, friends, and neighbors who have profound faith in and dedication to their religious convictions. They are good people with loving and compassionate hearts. They send their loved ones off to missionary work (which is senseless to me), or to war (which is outrageous to me). They are wrong. I do not agree with them and do not support their values. To these, I present my best arguments and thought out positions. I spare them nothing; why should I? I have but one life to live, if I am worth anything, I am worthy to speak my truth, even if it disagrees with another.  

Joan, you say religion and rationality are separate domains. Yet, in the real world, people choose one or the other when faced with conflicts. Reason says take your sick kid to the doctor, but your religion says pray over him instead. In practice, they aren't neat coexisting categories to think about, they manifest as conflicting values with different realf world consequences.

Ruth, yes, that is a good way to put it, "conflicting values with different real world consequences." I am sure that if there were brain scans of two different parents with a desperately ill child, there would be a different section of the brain that is activated. I can't prove it, I have never seen such research, and I would like to. But my hunch is that the process of prayers for healing are very different than the exploration of options that has the highest probability of making the child well. 


Religion and rationality can be two different domains only if religion does need rationality. If this true to your belief, then tell me which is inferior?

Superstitious/religious people, in my, experience do not behave rationally.  Have you ever seem the incantations and weird ceremonies performed by many of them when they misplace their keys?  They have a saint of lost things for whom they perform spells/ prayers.  They turn around a couple of times, repeating the incantation, hop on one foot and ... well, meanwhile I think about where I last saw them with the keys and - magic!!!! there they are!  When it comes to dispelling sickness, their hapless performances are not so funny.

yes but we all do that to some extent - we are all under the illusion of our own limited perception - I grant you than it's a scale and some of us do it more than others - and on a day to day level - the mentally balanced ones get through life just fine - there are theists who are also physicists.  And there are atheists who suffer schizophrenia.

I don't think I understand your premise. 
Let me say, that when I believed there was a personal god, when I prayed, I looked  outward for a source of strength.

When I came to believe there is no personal god, contemplation became an inward activity that uses reason, feelings, intuition, hopes, dreams, and aspirations to create a desired outcome. I sought information, asked questions, compared and contrasted  options, made decisions and held myself responsible for the consequences, good and bad. 

When I had faith that god will reward or punish me, there is an external motivator. 

Knowing there is no god, any good or bad I do will have consequences that I may or may not be aware, but I know words matter, as do actions. I know silence in the face of oppression implies agreement. I know being honest has it's rewards and punishments. I have no one to blame or praise. 

There is no hierarchy of religion and rationality. They are different. 

When I look into a telescope or microscope, I am filled with wonder that could be equated to a religious experience. If I had a brain wave study done while contemplating diversity and evolution of life, I am sure I am in a state of being a participant of all that goes between the two scopes. 
That feeling is different than when I reason my way through a challenge.  

If I had to give up a sense of wonder or rationality, it would be like giving up one of my twins. No, I don't think there is a hierarchy of wonder and reason. 

I think that number 5 is a good definition in this context.  What do you think?

I don't think that religion is inferior to rationality. None of these fit for me. They address a different domain. 

1. and 2. Station and Place implies hierarchy of knowledge or power but has no distinction of task: general of the army or doctor on the battle field have different skills and different sources of authority. A general cannot tell a doctor how to perform procedures, even as the general has power over policy. A general of a battle ready army has different skills than a mother of a family. A skilled general and mother have very different skills; a general with leadership skills and a mother with mothering skills have different tasks; an army is to be aggressive and do whatever is necessary to achieve a victory, a mother is to be a developer of character. A despotic general and mother create problems even as they are in different domains. 

3. comparatively low grade implies all tasks require equivalent talents. A person may have low grades in leadership qualities and high grades in performing tasks. A symphony conductor has different skills than a timpanist and their combined skills require cooperation. The factor of skill is not the issue, shared goals are. 

4. less important puts all human activity on a hierarchy. Does The CEO who earns $1 million more than the teacher who taught him/her skills have more value to society? 

5. performing to a poor or mediocre level implies that those who are incapable of reaching higher levels of performance have no value to society. The easiest example is the Down's Syndrome person who has intrinsic value to a culture and is worthy of respect in spite of poor performance when measured against a norm. The task is to fit an individual to a job that fits one's attributes. 

it's not a value judgement - it's a comparative judgement.




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