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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Replies to This Discussion

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.

Yes, compassion is the key! 

Mahatma Coat, you clearly are a wiser and kinder person than I. I readily admit my memories and experiences cloud my judgment resulting in powerful biases that, in fact, weaken my positions. That said, I value your comments knowing you stand on solid foundations of care and compassion. Furthermore, I value your challenges knowing they provides opportunity for even more positive changes. 

“Let’s not fall into the trap of being silenced for “fear of offending”, let’s just be heedful to speak honestly and respectfully.”

Oh thank you--that's very nice!  But I assure you my approach is completely selfish.  Its based on self-preservation rather than any sort of kindness, or wisdom, for that matter.   

When I think about the suprression, exclusion of Religious Institutions, I can get worked up and hateful.  But life is too short!  And I dont like wasting my life minutes on negative stuff, unless it is going to produce a clear positive outcome (like protecting myself from attack in a parking lot, then, rest assured Anger is terrific!)

Compassion is the best tool I have found for approaching opposition or threats without internalizing hate and negative emotions.

apparently we have short term benefits to our well-being for selfish acts and long term well-being for helping others - so if we get a balance of doing both we set up a well-being cycle for now and into the future... :)

Alice, I like that thought. 


Very interesting thought that I've not heard before.  Definitely something to think about! :)

Beginning with a full disclosure, I haven't read all 250 comments and I apologize for anything that is repetitive here.

In the end, at the bottom line, I believe naturalism demands that you follow the evidence wherever it may lead.  That entails, based on my understanding of the evidence, that positions that rely on sexism, racism, or homophobia should be countered.  If that premise is accepted then the question becomes one of methodology; what works?  Historically (evidence based), what works has been a multifaceted approach.  Arrogance and humility.  Understanding and being dismissive. 

It all depends on the audience.  If you want to engage a true-believer with an argument, you had better not be confrontational.  As a Supreme Court Justice once put it, shining a light in the eye of a bigot only causes it to constrict.

But, for someone on the fence, someone that really wants the truth, showing the absolute absurdity of a certain position is the most effective way to get them to reevaluate their position.

What does history teach us about it?

We need both Fredrick Douglass and David Walker.

We need both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

We need both Dr. King and Malcolm X.

And, we need both Christopher Hitchens and Chris Moody.

And none of that entails that we give up our own personality; fill the role you're comfortable with (I personally move between the two depending on the argument).  If in the end, your a thorough going naturalist, you'll just follow the evidence and adapt to new information. 

'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 personally have been subjected throughout my life to both overt and covert evangelism from Christianity. By that I mean from bible thumpers to the ingrained religiosity of my (British) social culture. Richard Dawkins has famously and quite rightly in my opinion called for Atheists to 'come out', so that the minority doesn't have a disproportionate influence on the wider society through government.

Unfortunately as in religious groups there exist not only the apathetic who do not see the importance of standing up to be counted, but also the over zealous that seem to think that insulting others and condemming their views is a way to be better noticed.

I agree with you, and am ashamed when I see some of the slanging matches between atheists and believers one sees everywhere. I consider myself as a secularist, that means fairness and equality for all. People are free in the west to believe whatever they want, so by joining with the over zealous religious in embracing 'arrogance, prejudice, superiority and dismissive attitudes' atheists do little to advance the purpose of the 'Out Campaign',

I for one do not wish to dominate, I just want to be free from untruth.

yes the coming out campaign is a good one - in following on from the gay community in the 80's




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