I came to the understanding that I was an atheist about 5 years ago, when I was 30 years old.  I'd had a lot of time to develop my irrational thinking over that 30 year period.

It was then that I came across a Bright's chat group - wow, what a shock - I was notified clearly and succinctly that my comments were ridiculous, out of this world and plain nonsense - that I had probably been mistaken in arriving in the chat room to start with - followed by ridicule, dismissals and general boredom.

I went off the idea of being an atheist for a few months - then due to thirst for human interaction on the rational level - I persevered and found the Naturalists - 


Here I received a very different response.  One of compassion, understanding, kindness and education.  Many thanks to Tom Clark, Ken Batts, Stephen and others for their above listed qualities.

It was in a Naturalism Yahoo Group that I was educated about rational thinking - but mainly about causality, the causal web and determinism.  Not everyone agrees regarding this view of reality - but I find this approach to be way more beneficial to well being and the promotion of education regarding rational thought than the afore mentioned experience afforded me in the Bights forum.

A recent blog post (http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/are-atheists-smarter-tha... ) and subsequent comments led me to the following question:

What is our responsibility as atheists, in promoting rational thinking?

None of us are able to maintain rational thought all of the time - we all transgress into irrational thinking at times.  It takes practice and mindfulness to maintain rational thought.

I think we can be more kind to ourselves, our fellow atheists and the outside community when it comes to promoting rational thought.  Indeed I believe it our responsibility.

I hope that Matt doesn't mind my posting his comment from the blog discussion below in order to demonstrate another frustration that would also benefit from us having more integrity as a community in how we maintain and promote our rational thinking - in a way that is effect in terms of education - which I would argue would include understanding, compassion and kindness.

Comment by Matt VDB on Wednesday

What I mean is that it's easy to say that you're a rationalist and that they have reason on their side - everyone thinks of themselves as rational and with reason on their side. Even creationists think of themselves as rational and intellectually honest. What ultimately determines if you're rational isn't whether or not you say that you are. It's in your day-to-day attitude of checking sources, having respect for the opinions of experts, etcetera...

What is your response to none rational thinking?

What are your thoughts about what we need to do as a community to effectively promote rational thought?

Views: 1319

Replies to This Discussion

I agree with you leveni - in terms of having compassion and understanding of difference.

Is the 7 year old irrational though?  Or is he just rational with the evidence that he has in front of him?

Here is Richard Dawkins telling us why and how to ridicule others:


Here his is again on Q and A being called on ridicule by Tony Burke:


Hi Alice, 

Is the 7 year old irrational though?  Or is he just rational with the evidence that he has in front of him? 

Maybe this is what I should have said. 


I watched the videos, but I don't really think Dawkins ridicules people at all. I think his interpretation of ridicule is not really ridicule. In general people don't base their ridicule on fact. They just mock without reason. 

I think there is a difference between ridicule based on fact and ridicule for the sake of ridicule. I tend to think ridicule based on fact is not really ridicule. Even though the person on the receiving end may think it is. 


I watched all six ABC Q and A, they were interesting. The only time Dawkins seems to have ridiculed anyone was when he raised his eyebrows at Steven Fielding. But apart from that, Dawkins only spoke provable facts. I was Tony Burke who baselessly ridiculed, and he did it to score points rather than speak the truth. 

Thanks for the link.

Leveni - I was proud of what Dawkins said and was just sad that he didn't get the opportunity to say more.

I see what you mean about the nuances of ridicule :)

Dawkins - on ridicule - a little way along in the show:


who baselessly ridiculed, and he did it to score points rather than speak the truth.

Scoring points must be a reason for the redicule that we see here too.

When people use ridicule, do they intend to hurt?

Does not anyway hurt?

complex question - I would say that they wish to fend off hearing any more from a source that they don't support.




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