Atheists: when disbelief does not equal logic or critical thinking.

I've joined atheist forums all over the internet and even started my own local group of free thinkers to get together and have conversations that include logic and critical thinking, but I've started to notice something. A phenomenon that burst my smug little atheist bubble. There are so many articles and book and studies that say atheists are smarter, more logical, more open minded... I've come to understand that this statement is false. That's right.. I said it. Being an atheist does not automatically mean you are talking to a logical, intelligent, or even kind person. There are atheists who don't believe in vaccines, who do believe in ghosts, and will argue against you if they feel their truthiness is right even against facts and logic. I've personally been on many band wagons until I learned more, put the facts together and jumped off as quickly as possible.

One of these bandwagons was the anti vac crowd. I was 19 and I grew up with a friend who hadn't been vaccinated. I never really thought about why until I read some anti vaccine argument online. Vaccines cause Autism?! What a terrifying thought! And, in the anti vac community one tends to forget that without them far more children would be dying than getting autism even if it were true- which it's not. It didn't take much researching to find out that it was a load of bull. The main argument is that the perservative, thermisol, derived from mercury can cause autism. Autism is diagnosed about the same time that the MMR vaccine is given and it's a classic case of corelation not equally causation. Dozens of studies all conclude that vaccines do not cause autism. But one more piece of logic is missing and that is, as I mentioned before, that the sheer number of children who would die from these childhood killers (and they're called killers for a reason) makes any risk or autism completely worth it. The anti vac crowd takes the selfish stance that their child is more important than all the other children who would die should herd immunity vanish.

Another hot topic is circumscision. There is the intact crowd which believes that no child should have their genitals cut up and mutilated and every baby should go home intact. Then there's the pro circ crowd who's best argument is "everyone does it!". I've heard all the argument- it prevents STD's! Cutting up a boy's penis just in case he might get an STD later, or an infection for that matter, is like cuttin out a baby girl's breast tissue because she might get breast cancer later. Not only that, but cut American men get more STD's than intact European men. Condoms go much further than genital mutilation. I've also heard that babies don't feel pain or that it doesn't effect sexual pleasure or performance. 20,000 nerves are cut away. Tell me that doesn't effect pleasure. Women, how would you like to lose that many nerves from your clit? Doesn't sound all that pleasant, does it? Male genital mutilation was originally introduced in order to control masturbation. In some cultures it's purely religious. Either way there's zero reason to do it and much reason not to. And yet many atheists seem to be on the pro circ crowd. They seem to take insult with the term "genital mutilation" when used for males, but not for females. While I understand that no cut man wants to admit that his genitals have been mutilated against his will, mutilation is what it is by definition and it's no different from female genital mutilation.

The last big topic I've seen is veganism. While most vegans tend to be athiests, non vegan atheists tend to hate vegans. Why? Some believe it's because that they don't want to admit that they're doing something wrong. Atheists will abandon logic and jump on arguments like "but it's unnatural!" ignoring the fact that they're carrying a cell phone, typing on a computer, wearing polyesther blend clothing and eating hot pockets with a glass of milk- none of which is natural. Now, I can understand if an atheist says "i dont' care about animals or my health or the environment to screw it". This isn't a rejection of facts or logic- it's just.. well, being an asshole. But the fact is that most atheists assert argue things like: animals don't feel pain, they don't suffer, the death is painless, vegans are weak and unhealthy, it wouldn't make a difference, etc. They get mean and nasty and insulting out of defensiveness instead of being honest. The two best ways of dealing with your vegan friends or family? A. don't attack them every time they mention having a veggie burger for lunch. B. be honest and tell them you just don't care about animals/health/the environment C. listen, research, and become vegan.

When I became an atheist I had the crazy notion that other atheists were all really great people and super intelligent. While atheists are, on average, more intelligent than theists, it's not always true.. and they tend to not apply that intelligence to many things. It's true what they say- you really can't tell anything about a person by their atheism except their atheism.

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Comment by Rob van Senten on December 10, 2010 at 8:17am

Damn it, I've been away for some time from A|N and I happen to miss a discussion on how all caring people are vegan(ist) and all bad people eat meat. Wow, things have really changed around here in the last couple of weeks. 


Anyway, can I just point out that there is a struggle for existence between species. This means that a human will always cause suffering just by being alive. Resources are scarce and to compete with other species for the same food, water, land, air etc. means that some suffering will occur regardless of your diet. 


Now of course this doesn't stop a lot of people from trying to limit the suffering that they cause, which of course needs a certain amount of time and effort. This can be done not just by changing your diet, it can be done in many other ways too. However, nothing is for free and the resources at people's disposal are limited (time, money, energy).


Would it be appropriate for me as a person without kids and without a car to judge people that do as inferior and less caring then me? And what if that person has kids, but an electric car and solar panels? How about if that electric car was powered by Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries? How about that the car was not soundly environmentally produced?

Comment by Colin Sparrow on December 4, 2010 at 11:00pm
Coming late to the fray it sticks me that atheists, like the rest of humanity, arrive at points of view or personal values for many reasons only one of which may be some rational or deductive reasoning. If we are like the rest of humanity then we are as likely to apply some post hoc reasoning for the views we would have adopted anyway and ignore evidence that contradicts our view ( ref Gambrill Common errors of reasoning; Eileen Munro : all her work on systems analysis). Being rational is often less important to us than being right ( though sometimes we are both of course :-). )
Comment by Susan Stanko on December 4, 2010 at 12:12pm
Looks about right.
Comment by Susan Stanko on December 4, 2010 at 11:43am
I would also like to point out that by claiming that we are not a part of the animal kingdom she is establishing a special status for humans
Comment by Susan Stanko on December 4, 2010 at 10:04am
I am confuse are we talking about vegetarians or vegans?
Comment by Jodie Hawthorne on December 4, 2010 at 3:44am
Hi Heather,

something else you might like to see, Richard Dawkins has made a comment that corresponds to the same reasoning that I have addressed below and links the lack of morals/ethics that supported slavery and the progression towards a more ethically evolved people that embrace vegetarianism:

Richard Dawkins on Vegetarianism

“What I am doing is going along with the fact that I live in a society where meat eating is accepted as the norm, and it requires a level of social courage which I haven't yet produced to break out of that. It's a little bit like the position which many people would have held a couple of hundred years ago over slavery. Where lots of people felt morally uneasy about slavery but went along with it because the whole economy of the South depended upon slavery."

also our CSIRO is promoting vegetarianism to help the planet!

and so is Greenpeace:
Comment by Susan Stanko on December 3, 2010 at 6:29pm
I have no intention of breeding at all.I am a meat eater and I make no apologies for that. I do care that animals aren't mistreated but, I am apart of the animal kingdom and don't understand why some people think I should be apart from it.
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on December 3, 2010 at 5:00pm
So not being vegan means not caring about the environment, or veganism is the only way to do something for the environment? The root of all other environmental problems is overpopulation. I don't have children; my vegan friends do. Studies show that living in your own apartment instead of sharing a place with several people also uses up more energy. I live with a group of people; many of my vegan friends live alone in an apartment. I don't think that I am more logical than them. They don't think that they are more logical than me. I understand why they are vegan and I am totally supportive of them, and they don't tell me that I'm a horrible person because I can't stick to a restrictive, lifelong diet. (Whether it's for a more noble cause or not, veganism still has the same obstacles as any other restrictive diet.) What annoys me is the attitude that logic can only lead you to one conclusion--in this case being vegan.
Comment by Heather on May 18, 2010 at 11:16am
There are some comments here which are EXACTLY and to the T what I was talking about which I"ll address in another blog. It blows my mind that the atheists making these comments honestly don't see how illogical they're being- it's ridiculous, hilarious, and infuriating at the same time.
Comment by Michelle on May 10, 2010 at 10:28am
Patrick said: "We are animals and if I put a vegan on a deserted island with no vegetation and only with animals, your animal instincts will kick in and you will feast on all of them. It is in our nature to eat meat. Your body will move on its own and kill enough so that you can eat."
Patrick- I am a vegan. I would eat anotherPERSON if I was stranded on an Island starving and hungry. That in no way justifies eating killing and people on a daily basis and says nothing about human morality. Likewise, the argument you used in no way justifies meat consumption.
Let me provide another example of a similar argument that I find wholly unconvincing: Assume a building is burning down. Inside there is an old lady and a young boy. Which one do you save? Let's use another example. Instead of the occupants in the previous example, there is a human child and a puppy. Who would you save? What does this say about morality? Absolutely nothing. Just because you would make a choice between an animal and a human does not mean that this scenario is even remotely applicable to everyday existence. We consume animals solely for the purpose of pleasure, convenience and entertainment. Do any of these causes justify the means? I think not.



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