I sometime read religious boards and it amazes and disappoints me how much religious zealots and atheist have in common – the absolute and righteous certainty that they at the exclusion of others possess knowledge/revelations that makes them the bearers of the truth.   

Recently on a different Atheist discussion board a lady that had just lost her young daughter wrote about her religious experience and of the comfort she receivers from her faith.  She politely shared her heart breaking story and even offered words of kindness.  The replies were predictably brutal and mocking, barely a shred of compassion for a mother that lost her child.  I made my best to present my atheist point of view to this lady but I did so with respect, compassion and understanding.  I also felt ashamed for my fellow atheists.

I see it here too at nexus, the same hubris and arrogance that at times is such that some individuals proclaim that their philosophies are “my own religion” while others are themselves “…my own religion” and their church is “my flesh and blood”.  Does this sound strangely familiar?  I suppose soon we will have Gods among us. 

Before we all get too heady from over indulging in the advantages of having the weight of evidence in our favor, we should remember that pointing out the irrationality of religion is as-easy-as- shooting-fish-in-a-barrel!  The real challenge is offering something better.

We are no better than those that dismiss us and demean us for being atheist if we dismiss and demean them for being believers. The belittling of others only diminishes us and at the very least makes us as misguided as we see theists to be.

It would serve us all well to remember that before presenting our carefully constructed arguments we could show something very simple – respect – and maybe even modesty.

If you believe that logic and reason offers superior guidance than mysticism and religion then BE the example.   

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Bravo Miguel, but nobody is perfect. People who strive to be perfect is in its own way a little arrogant. What we all need is a little modesty and a little confidence. You can be the best with a hint of both. Too much modesty and everyone will think you are a joke.
The goal is not perfection but improvement especially over those that we criticize.

I think we need modesty in far greater measure than confidence. It is that lack of modesty that makes many people that don't subscribe to our ideology to think of us as a joke.

If not for the scientific implications and negative cultural/political influence of religion I'd consider myself an apatheist.
Indeed I agree with you Miguel.
I would agree except for one very pivotal issue - the repeated and irritating tendency of some theists to invade non-theist boards, groups or discussions with their own personal epiphanies which they are CONVINCED will separate us from our all-too-rational insistence on disbelief in favor of their irrational malarkey. Miguel, I've seen it too often on at least one board I frequent and frankly, my patience went past its limit about 10 squares back. From where I sit, they're not looking for sympathy or empathy in relating their tragedy, they're looking to convert. Further, they fail to respect the point of view of the atheist in the slightest measure, indeed, generally disregarding it as though it were unworthy of any consideration at all.

Frankly, this is one reason why I am growing to prefer A|N over those other places - because the likelihood of a rational argument with a theist on a discussion board in this day and age is up there with the cows coming home in a Cadillac, and I am far more interested in investigating the nuances and subtleties of this field than I am in regurgitating the same old counterarguments again and again and again.

Am I being arrogant? Maybe, but is it so arrogant to want at least a modicum of respect from the other side of the debate? To date, I've seen precious little in discussion boards and precious little more in heavyweight debates involving the likes of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins on the part of their opponents. They rarely even bother to attempt to see our side of the argument, whereas many of us have been on both sides, having been raised in religion and subsequently rejected it. What may be worst of all is the fact that they are less free-speakers than they are robots, spreading the word because their holy book mandates such action from them.

I may speak solely for myself as it comes to this issue, but I speak with conviction: if they want respect - empathy - sympathy from me, they can demonstrate some in return. Otherwise, if they invade my space without invitation or consideration for who and what I am, I intend to fire for effect.

Undoubtedly the “tendency of some theists to invade non-theist boards” is irritating and so it is making the same arguments time and time again. I comment on boards that are open to both atheist and theists and I find myself cutting and pasting the same comments.

There is no shortage of examples of how unreasonable, irrational, rude, threatening, and even violent theists can be to our ideology. I am sure that we all have experience it in some form.

BUT, how well does it serve the contention that our ideology is superior to theirs if our arguments/comments became nearly identical to their own?

Here lies the rub, if we think that our ideology is superior then maybe we have to choose take the higher road – even if it is more irritating and requires greater discipline.

Feeling maligned and justified in lashing out is easy – taking the higher road is harder but change is not easy.
Miguel, your argument ignores the one tenet which was fundamental to my entire post: the issue of respect of space and venue.

A|N is a perfect case in point. Proselytism is not tolerated here ... PERIOD. Believers who attempt to join, then attempt to proselytize will find themselves out of here in very short order. I have willingly helped with this process on more than one occasion. Doubtless there are believers' discussion boards which cater to theists and discussions of interest to them. Were I to emulate their action, join such a board and start preaching the virtues of reason and disparage their belief, I would be as out of line in my action as they are in attempting to subvert Atheist Nexus. Finally, I would suppose that there are boards which may be presupposed to be "neutral territory" or perhaps "open territory," where any topic or discussion is fair game for challenge and debate. Under such circumstances, the "rules of engagement" are clearly far more liberal, and I'm sure the fur flies frequently.

For myself, I am of the school that says, "I don't start a fight ... I finish it." I have no interest in stirring a hornet's nest, but I also will not love my enemy nor pray for those who persecute me. Turning the other cheek has had no other result than getting me two bruised cheeks, and I have neither interest nor tolerance in such practice any longer.

The fact is, I have had at least one real-life encounter, in this case with Jehovah's Witnesses. I was polite from the get-go, but adamantine in my stance and attitudes. Interestingly, that attitude very likely shortened the discussion, as I was determined not to give them so much as the slightest opening. And kindly note, they were on MY TURF, which is to say, the front yard of my home. What will happen the next time the JW's show up at my door will depend on their attitude and my mood of that day. In a public space, the situation may run entirely differently, but again, the issue is respect for venue.

This is as high as my "high road" goes: respect my space, or pay the penalty for failing to do so.
The issue of arrogance has nothing to do with ”venue” or “turning the other cheek”. Standing up for one’s beliefs does not require that we do so at the lowly level that others challenge them from.

I have made no references about theists barging in on this board to proselytize. Still, even in that case “finishing it” as you put it, usually reduces most people to trying to diminish others by braying along with them.

You describe your emotional response, irritation, as a “very pivotal issue”, and ascribe it the status of a tenet. Those that trespass your “TURF” “pay the penalty”. In all honesty does this seem a bit arrogant to you?

The grander of most people’s arguments and their imagined victories only exist in their heads and ensure that both sides look equally idiotic.
You chose to read and comment on my post and you are free not to do so.
The "arrogance," from where I stand on the venue question, stems from the theists' predilection for the invasion of space which I have previously mentioned, despite their lack of welcome or anything new to say. Add to that a frequent presumption that we are ignorant of their bible and desperately in need of their "guidance" and I find myself with a gauntlet arrogantly thrown down in front of me.

And yes, I DO defend my turf, whether it's my own home or a discussion venue initialized by me. I would hope the rules for defense of one's own domicile are self-evident. As to a discussion, if its premise precludes belief and someone wades in uninvited, either preaching the good news or blathering about an experience which changed their life and therefore should change mine, I feel I have every right to counter with all the means and arguments I have at my disposal. Their violation of the rules of engagement expresses their arrogance. If I am arrogant in defending my discussion, then so be it.

And again, as I have stated before: someone ELSE'S turf? 'Nother matter, completely, and I am willing to respect their rules in discussion or debate in their venue. The problem has repeatedly been that the theists give no indication that they are willing to respect our turf or our rules.

Their unwillingness to recognize any rules other than their own create this situation, and I am unwilling to compromise myself in order to placate them. Clear enough?
I can see that “turf” and “venue” is an emotional issue for you but it is something that is only tangent to the point that I was making and maybe a discussion for a later time. Still, I appreciate your comments and indeed they are sufficiently clear.




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