An Atheist’s Bad Behavior

I hate it when this happens.

It’s hard enough to find local atheist groups that have entertaining, fun, enjoyable meetings. One of the best parts about those events, though, is having conversations about religion. You can’t always have those kinds of discussions at work and home.

Personally, I like it when Christians come to these events. If they want to have a serious discussion about religion with a bunch of atheists, bring it on. Let’s have some fun and hash out our ideas over drinks.

When an atheist blogger took his wife (not an atheist) to one of these events, he left quite disappointed:

… Even though my wife does believe in god, she has a VERY strong belief that it is her personal belief, and she has never made any attempts to force it on others, or even question those who do not share her belief (in this way she is “better” than me I suppose).

I believed that with this common ground (belief in separation of religion and politics) that my wife would be welcomed into this group, even if there were other differences of opinion. I believed that the members of this group would be respectful of my wife, and focus on the commonalities and not the differences. I believed that nobody would attempt to attack her for her beliefs.

Apparently I was wrong.

But this was not to be a civil conversation on this particular night. Profanity, dismissal, contempt, vitriol… These would be the best words to describe this evening.

Needless to say, my wife is not really interested in going back in the future, but I did feel that with all of the negative attention I give to religion and the religious, that I had to be fair, and point out a personal example of when an atheist crossed the line, and sounded just as ignorant and bigoted at the christian fundies that I so detest.

Of course, a couple bad atheists don’t represent all of us.

But let it be a warning. If an atheist you know is being rude or unnecessarily dickish about it, stop them. Those people make us all look bad. It’s even more embarrassing when other atheists — sitting right there! — don’t make up for their bad behavior.

We complain about the Christian bigots who are always in the media spotlight and how moderate Christians rarely call them out in public.

Let’s not fall into the same trap. Especially when the problem is so easy to solve — if it’s happening right in front of you, take control of the situation.

Same goes for bloggers. If you don’t like what someone is saying, if it’s mean-spirited without making a point, call them out on it. It’s not about stifling their right to express their feelings. It’s letting other people know that you don’t agree with what someone else is saying — they need to hear that.

  • http://www.cvaas.org R.C. Moore

    You have your logic completely backwards:

    1. The man’s wife was treated badly by a jerk, who happens to be an atheist. He is also many other things, especially a bigot. But I don’t like reinforcing correlations that do not exist.

    2. Atheism is not a club. There is no membership, with rules of behavior. Your implication of some standard that applies to atheists, is really just a statement that applies to society in all situations.

    3. No atheist represents any other atheist, any more than one person who does not believe in unicorns represents any other person who does not believe in unicorns.

    That being said, you are completely right. As a practical matter, atheists must band together and form associations. Atheists groups should have bylaws, and enforce good behavior, or they will not be listened to. People who do not agree with the groups rules need to politely expunged.

    I think in this case, having read the original article, I would suggest that a bar full of drunks is not the best place to go if one is offended by overbearing clods. I am bothered by how the blog frames this as an atheism issue, as I think there is a hidden agenda or perhaps a lack of real substance to write about.

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com Bill

    Interesting piece. I recently blogged on a similar topic – namely, the tone atheists take when criticizing religion. I have taken the position that religious beliefs shouldn’t be given any more respect than most opinions. For instance on politics. So I’m pretty ok with harsh words when debating belief vs. non-belief.

    That being said, there is a civility line that probably shouldn’t be crossed. It sounds like this group crossed it on this day.

    That’s unfortunate.

  • mikespeir

    And yet, the offender will likely weave intricate sophistries trying to justify his behavior. You’ll see the same kind of abuse being dished out on a lot of atheist blogs. And don’t you dare try to call people on it! You’ll get shouted down.

  • Brian A

    No matter what the group there are always those people who cannot help themselves and end up acting like a jerk. This does not mean that person (or persons) are representative of the whole group.

    Atheism was not the problem here, it was rudeness.

  • SarahH

    Group mentalities can get really messed up when the loudest, most aggressive members also happen to have the most alienating, oppressive positions. I hadn’t really found my voice yet, as a college freshman, when it came to standing up to people, and the Secular Humanist group I joined often let the conversation simply devolve into bashing the Christian groups on campus. I was still a liberal Christian at the time, and I started to feel really unwelcome, despite the fact that I wasn’t involved in those groups.

    It’s true that atheists are extremely diverse and aren’t a “club” or representative of one another, but in a situation where a group has been intentionally formed by atheists, for atheists, I think it’s fair to judge their behavior accordingly. Whoever coordinated the group that couple attended must have been woefully inadequate at moderating discussion, absent, or participating in the petty meanness, and that’s ultimately where the responsibility falls, IMO.

  • http://neko-zuki.deviantart.com spankyzeham

    I’m kind of curious… I mean I’m pretty sure the atheists did not just start attacking her after hearing she is a believer… I might just be exhibiting a “just-world” bias; however, I’m pretty sure she HAD TO do/say something to cause this reaction… But who knows.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    If I took my wife to an event and somebody attacked her I’d take them to task (though she’s quite capable of defending herself). I rather wonder what hubby was doing while the atheist was going off on his wife.

  • TheDeadEye

    This needs to be in the above post:

    To be fair, the attacks (verbal, not physical) were only from one person, others did try to “keep the peace” to some degree, and my wife did hold her own quite well.

    Without it, the post makes it seem as if the whole group was attacking her, instead of one lone presumed a-hole.

  • Aj

    I don’t think it’s healthy for atheists to seek to bring the hammer down on other atheists for “stepping out of line”. Acting as if one atheist reflects on another is not helpful at all. At least any criticism should be legitimate and not just a means to an end.

    If an organised group of atheists has members that are acting in contrary to their goals i.e. attracting new members then they need to be taken aside or kicked out because once you’re in a group then the members do reflect on that group.

    I think use of profanity, contempt, and dismissal aren’t inherently wrong, although I’d prefer contempt and dismissal to be directed at ideas and actions. The atheist blogger didn’t seem to like his wife being questioned about her beliefs, and I am suspicious when phrases like “christian bashing” and “attack her for her beliefs” are used.

    If you expect atheists to be saints, above their emotions, then you’re going to be disappointed. This was one person from one group at one event, so its not fair for the blogger’s wife to dismiss these events entirely. Perhaps it was a one off from the guy, or some people are just abrasive.

    It should be noted that this is only one side, others did try to diffuse the situation, and the blogger’s wife reacted perhaps escalating the situation.

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    I wanted to chime in here briefly, as it was me (the atheist blogger in question) and my wife who this happened to.

    I consider myself to be a “hard-core” atheist. I debate believers, and I have no problem calling them on their BS when I see it. The reason for my original post was that in this particular situation, I felt that the group should have respected the differences of somebody who believed in a common goal and was there to show support for that goal.

    Hemant,
    Thank you for posting this, as it helps bring attention to what I feel is sometimes an overlooked issue.

    To those who mention it was the behavior of one jack-ass and not indicative of the entire atheist community, I completely agree with you. I don’t blame the group, or the atheist community in any way. I do believe this one guy was a complete ass.

    As Brain A said quite well:

    Atheism was not the problem here, it was rudeness.

    R.C. Moore,

    I think in this case, having read the original article, I would suggest that a bar full of drunks is not the best place to go if one is offended by overbearing clods.

    This event was a happy hour sponsored by a local atheist group I belong to. The main topic we were discussing is separation of church and state, which happens to be a topic that both my wife and I strongly are in favor of. This was not a drinking contest or a college frat party where piss drunk ignorance should be expected.

    I am bothered by how the blog frames this as an atheism issue, as I think there is a hidden agenda or perhaps a lack of real substance to write about.

    If my post came across as framing it as an atheist issue, that was not the intent. On my blog (and other blogs, forums, etc) I regularly “attack” believers when they make unsubstantiated claims (such as the “power of prayer”).
    I also tend to not “hold back” when they make claims of non-believers going to hell, or homosexuals being an abomination, because I feel these statements are ignorant, and offensive.
    This particular post was meant to show that not only believers can show ignorance or be offensive.

    spankyzeham

    I’m kind of curious… I mean I’m pretty sure the atheists did not just start attacking her after hearing she is a believer… I might just be exhibiting a “just-world” bias; however, I’m pretty sure she HAD TO do/say something to cause this reaction… But who knows.

    As best I recall, when we first arrived, somebody asked my wife something to the effect of “is this your first meet-up with this group?” Her response was something to the effect of “Yes, my husband is the atheist in the family, not me”.
    There were one or two other quick questions about why a non-atheist would be at this meet-up, to which we replied that the groups stated goal of separation of church and state is one we both firmly support.

    With this the subject has dropped until near the end of our meal (everybody around the table was eating as well as having a few drinks). At this point the jack-ass in question began to question my wife on her beliefs, at first insinuating she was a christian, then after being corrected questioning her beliefs and explaining quite rudely why they were wrong.
    For a while she tried to politely respond that she felt her beliefs were personal, and did not expect others to believe the same as she does.
    He was unwilling to let this drop, and became more and more abusive.

    Buffy,

    If I took my wife to an event and somebody attacked her I’d take them to task (though she’s quite capable of defending herself). I rather wonder what hubby was doing while the atheist was going off on his wife.

    I tried to step in a number of times, and each time my wife’s response was “no, I can defend myself”.
    I pointed out a few flaws in his arguments, but for the most part my wife did not seem to want me involved in this issue.
    As her and I have had many conversations on the subject of belief over the years, I knew she was capable of handling herself, but I still did want to step in, but my wife kept stopping me.

    One final note. I did consider the fact that being close to the situation I may have a bias in my article, and I won’t deny it is possible. I will just say though, that when my wife left the table to use the restroom, a number of others at the table did give this guy shit for being a jerk, and at least one has emailed me since (without having seen my blog post first) expressing his displeasure with how my wife was treated.

    Obviously you only have my side of the story here, but I did try to be as objective as I could in my post.

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    Aj,

    I don’t think it’s healthy for atheists to seek to bring the hammer down on other atheists for “stepping out of line”.

    I did not write my post really to attack the person who made the comments at my wife. I wrote it because I feel that as somebody who regularly questions believers, and has been known to call them delusional, liars, or mentally ill, that in the interest of fairness, that presented with a situation such as this in my own life, it was only fair to show that it’s not ONLY believers who can act irrationally.

    Acting as if one atheist reflects on another is not helpful at all. At least any criticism should be legitimate and not just a means to an end.

    I also did not mean to imply that this reflects on all atheists, or is general of all atheists. As an atheist myself, I feel this was uncalled for in this situation.

    I think use of profanity, contempt, and dismissal aren’t inherently wrong, although I’d prefer contempt and dismissal to be directed at ideas and actions.

    I agree, my wife claims I am one of the most profane people in her life. And I tend to be quite dismissive of claims of believers, at least until they back those claims up with evidence.

    The atheist blogger didn’t seem to like his wife being questioned about her beliefs,

    I have no problem with somebody questioning her; I do it all the time. What got me was that his demeanor was very aggressive and attacking.

    and I am suspicious when phrases like “christian bashing” and “attack her for her beliefs” are used.

    In my view there is a BIG difference between attacking Ray Comfort when he makes claims about bananas proving creationism, and attacking somebody who comes to a group they are not a member of in order to show support for a common goal with that group.

  • Cafeeine

    Acting as if one atheist reflects on another is not helpful at all. At least any criticism should be legitimate and not just a means to an end.

    That would also depend on whether said atheist was claiming or implying his personal beliefs reflected those of atheists in general.

    One of the problems I find with religions is the “in-group” mentality that allows members of the group to ‘get away’ with behavior the other members don’t necessarily fully agree with. I don’t think it a good thing to emulate that.

  • Pingback: When Atheists Attack « Rodibidably

  • Eric S.

    Atheism was not the problem here, it was rudeness.

    Brian A. hit the nail on the head. My reaction to this post would be the same if it was between Democrats and Republicans or Yankees fans and Red Sox fans. The fact that is was atheists who misbehaved is incidental and in no way reflects on atheism or atheists as a group. You worry that behavior like this gives atheists a bad name yet you are the one making it an “atheist” issue.

  • Shane

    On a different note I find his criteria for allowing others to have beliefs a little strange:

    “I have always believed that other can hold different beliefs than my own…

    * They do not attempt to justify their actions based on those beliefs ”

    So others can believe different things than you as long as they don’t justify actions based on beliefs you don’t agree with?

    “…or treat others negatively for disagreeing with them…”

    I believe I have a right to live and not be murdered. If you disagree with this, I will react negatively–possibly to the tune of 3000 ft·lb of force delivered by 180 grains of copper and lead (strictly in self-defense, of course).

    I can agree with the sentiment of not being a jerk, but found those couple points a little strange. We all HAVE to base our actions on our beliefs (whether it is about the fundamental metaphysical truth or whether we think the milk is sour), and since your actions are dependent upon your beliefs and my treatment of you is dependent upon your actions, my treatment of you (positive or negative) is dependent upon your beliefs.

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    Shane,

    * They do not attempt to justify their actions based on those beliefs ”

    By this I mean justifying things like flying planes into buildings, bombing abortion clinics, attacking gay people, etc…
    I also would not want somebody to justify their actions on a belief I agreed with. Society tells us what is appropriate, when you allow your beliefs in god, or whatever to override that, it has been shown to lead to some very negative actions.

    “…or treat others negatively for disagreeing with them…”

    For this one I included an example of what I was refering to:
    “don’t discriminate against somebody who believes your book is a collection of fictional stories”
    What I was actually thinking of was Prop 8, where people are using their religious beliefs to discriminate against others who do not share those religious beliefs.

    I am curious why you did not read the rest of each of those two bullets in my post. Both of the quotes you chose were followed by these examples, and you somehow failed to comprehend the concepts I was talking about.

  • Ron in Houston

    Personally, I’m a hard core Pepsi person. So every time some tells me they think Coke tastes better, I immediately have to prove to them the extreme fallacy of that belief. What kind of delusional nonsense is it that Coke is better. Haven’t they studied the Pepsi challenge?

    I consider it my personal duty to stamp out this illogical and nonsensical belief that Coke is better than Pepsi.

    In the end not only have I shown my supreme intellectual capabilities but I’ve also shown that my penis is bigger also.

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    Shane,

    To put it another way:

    Believe anything you want, as long as you:
    Do not harm others in any way (or discriminate) based on your beliefs
    Do not excuse your inapropriate actions as being based on your beliefs
    Do not expect others to agree with your beliefs, or try to force your beliefs on others…

    Do you prefer this wording? It’s saying the same basic ideas…

  • http://learninfreedom.org/ tokenadult

    “If an atheist you know is being rude or unnecessarily dickish about it, stop them. Those people make us all look bad. It’s even more embarrassing when other atheists — sitting right there! — don’t make up for their bad behavior.”

    Good point, Hemant. Alas, the comment threads of what is, after all, called the FRIENDLY Atheist blog might be the first place to implement this good advice. I’m really looking for a friendly place to which I can refer my believing friends for a civil discussion of what they believe and what atheists believe. (That wouldn’t be PZ’s blog, for example.) I’m still looking.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Aj:

    I don’t think it’s healthy for atheists to seek to bring the hammer down on other atheists for ‘stepping out of line’. Acting as if one atheist reflects on another is not helpful at all.

    The thing is, the best way for atheists to make it clear that they don’t all reflect on one another is for them to call each other out on their B.S.

  • http://www.meetup.com/beltwayatheists Shelley Mountjoy

    As the Organizer of the group that hosted this Happy Hour, I’d like to emphasize the comments of Hemant and several of his readers.

    The actions of one individual certainly don’t represent a group.

    I did not attend this particular event however I have heard recollections that vary from the account presented here and would question the presence of any similarities on the importance of Separation of Church and State.

    Nevertheless, Hemant titled this post “An Atheist’s Bad Behavior” (emphasis added) – as far as I’m concerned, this is a much more appropriate and relevant title than the original blog title “When Atheists Attack” (emphasis added).

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    Shelley,
    I do agree that this is not representative of the entire group. I thought I had made that clear in my original post as well as my comments. If I failed to make that clear enough, it was unintentional.

    I did not create my post to bash the group. I did it because as much as I do bash religious believers on my blog, on other blogs, on forums, etc, that it was only fair to point to a personal experience where I felt that an atheist was being as close minded as I often point out religious believers can be.

    I also do agree that Hemant’s title is a more accurate depiction of the situation than mine was, but for whatever reason I had some old TV show “when animals attack” on my mind when I titled my post, and it seemed like a good title for my post.

    As for the varying recollections, if somebody who was there feels that I or my wife were out of line, please let me know; I posted about the event as I saw it.

    I am a bit curious about the line “question the presence of any similarities on the importance of Separation of Church and State”, and am curious what this is about. I know that a few of us had discussed this particular issue at the table, and I saw no disagreement on the topic from anybody, and I know that my wife spoke up in full agreement.

  • Aj

    Rodibidably,

    My comment was responding to Hemant, I don’t want you to think I was criticizing you in anyway apart from that I thought that you were upset at your wife being questioned. Now that you’ve cleared that up I don’t think we conflict too much.

    J. J. Ramsey,

    That’s when honesty gets thrown out the window and people aren’t really concerned about what people said rather how it effects them. Coming out harshly against them is a good way to ingratiate yourselves to others, whether its BS or not doesn’t really matter.

  • stephanie

    Buffy Said:

    If I took my wife to an event and somebody attacked her I’d take them to task (though she’s quite capable of defending herself). I rather wonder what hubby was doing while the atheist was going off on his wife.

    When my husband and I were first going out (about 20 years ago), we were in a bar and a guy started hassling me. I started to get angry and the antagonism escalated. At this point, the poor guy actually had the nerve to apologize to my husband and tell him ‘he didn’t want any trouble.’
    My husband responded; “Hey, if you piss her off, I’m the least of your problems. Good luck!”
    That respect and confidence in my ability was probably one of the reasons I fell in love with him. Not every woman needs rescuing.

  • SarahH

    @tokenadult

    I’ve done a lot of looking as well, and I think that – so long as you’re looking on the internet at least – you won’t find a place dedicated to religious/atheist discussion that’s completely friendly.

    Hemant is the “friendly atheist” but the comments here are written by all kinds of people – unfriendly, friendly, uncomfortably-friendly, friendless… the only thing they have in common is their interest in what Hemant has written.

    Still, I’ve found that this blog tends to attract more thoughtful, civil comments than blogs like PZ’s, simply by nature of the posts. Finally, “friendliness” is sort of in the eye of the beholder. Some people don’t sugarcoat things, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. When someone is being deliberately, unnecessarily, snarkily rude, I do think that’s a bad thing. But like I said, I think the ratio of civil:uncivil comments here at FA is on the whole the best I’ve found.

  • Epistaxis

    Profanity, dismissal, contempt, vitriol…

    I, for one, think that sounds like fun.

  • Rick W.

    I was present at this incident. Lest readers be led to believe that this was a pivotal incident in atheist/religionist relations and a major public relations setback for atheists, please allow me to supply a little perspective.

    Many believers have attended our events in the past. There is frequently good-natured banter and an enthusiastic exchange of ideas. There have been surprisingly few punches thrown considering the nature of the debate. Our events are generally free of this type of confrontation. However, it is inherent to our philosophy, and pretty much inevitable, that we are occasionally going to be in verbal combat with someone of the god-believing persuasion. Sometimes it ain’t pretty.

    I think that an aggressive attack is in poor taste in a social setting. In-your-face aggression is more appropriate in blogs or on the steps of the Supreme Court – but it is not unheard of for conversations to get animated whenever atheists and god-believers find themselves in close proximity. Nor, I think, is there a good concrete reason to necessarily avoid all such conflicts. Without such reminders, the terminally superstitious will remain oblivious to the fact that others of us consider their beliefs to be insane.

    Nevertheless, this particular confrontation was aggravated by one atheist who was admittedly pushing a little too hard and who failed to take several fairly obvious hints to STFU. While it is a good idea to be cognizant of acceptable social behavior, stifling conversation is always problematic just because someone might get their feelings hurt. Both parties have equal rights and responsibilities in such a situation to keep such conversations within certain ill-defined boundaries. But there is no Constitutional right to never be offended.

    In fairness, however, it seemed to me that the god-believer in question came to the table fully prepared to fight, with a chip on her shoulder and unwilling to disengage. Further, she attempted early on to immunize her argument from examination or criticism. For some atheist that is like blood in the water. So, one guy, unable to constrain himself in his desire to make a point, insistently dragged the conversation into the realm of the uncomfortable.

    Attempts to inject humor and to draw the conversation back to separation of church and state were ignored by both parties. In other words, there were 2 willing parties in that argument, one of whom eventually angrily exited the debate. In my experience, that is usually the person whose arguments have been systematically dismantled. I’m just saying.

    Nevertheless, this was just a fairly moderate fight between an aggressive atheist and an adamant believer, like we have all seen about a million times. This one only seems larger because the husband has a blog. It is unfortunate that it happened in a social setting but it ain’t the first time or the worst infraction or the last time that’s gonna happen.

    Bad manners and overreaction. It is fair to be upset about a boorish display of bad manners, but let’s not get wrapped around the axle over what is, in reality, a mundane and trivial event. It may have been fairly dramatic to those involved, but most of the people at the table were engaged in other conversations and were unaffected. This incident only involved a very tiny slice of humanity and will have zero negative impact on the atheist community at large. Indeed, I estimate that there are about a thousand incidents just like this going on in the time it takes to read this blog.

    I am not excusing poor behavior, just explaining and putting in perspective. Yeah, no one wants atheists to look bad in public, and it shouldn’t have happened, at least not in that setting, but any hard atheist who hasn’t been involved in a heated debate in public with an adamant god-believer just isn’t trying very hard.

  • mvanstav

    Ron in Houston, you’re my new favorite person in the internet.
    Maybe you, me, tokenadult, and anyone else interested can go off together and start a club for people who aren’t necessarily religious, but still respect and play nice with those who are.

    The event in this post hardly an isolated incident. Most of my atheist friends (and most of the strong agnostics too) are derisive of religious beliefs, to the point that I don’t believe they have any respect for the religious people in my life. Then there was this party I was at the other night. An atheist friend defined god, defined omnipotent, defined atheist, (all of which were her own definitions and not necessarily the only way to look at any of those concepts), then proceeded to say god doesn’t exist, all religious people are stupid, all strong atheists are fools, and all agnostics need to grow a pair and call themselves atheists.
    I felt loved…

    There’s a difference between disagreeing and insulting. Unfortunately so many people on both sides of this debate don’t see that difference, and make very little effort to not be insulting. I don’t care how strongly anyone believes anything, there is no excuse for the amount of time both sides spend trying to piss each other off or hurt each others feelings.

  • NYCatheist

    Where’s that popcorn eating smiley icon, I need it!

    At first I thought this was happening in NYC. Ho ho ho!

    Dear Ron in Houston: RC COLA.

    Game Over Man!

  • http://www.noonespecial.ca/cacophony Tao Jones

    Rick W:

    In fairness, however, it seemed to me that the god-believer in question came to the table fully prepared to fight, with a chip on her shoulder and unwilling to disengage.

    I wasn’t going to but I’m glad to have read the last couple comments on here to have read Rick W’s post. From reading Hemant’s original post, this is what came to mind:

    1. A believer goes to an atheist meeting.
    2. Magic happens.
    3. Atheist is accused to being rude to believer for the simple fact she is a believer.

    It shouldn’t take a David Copperfield to figure out that at least part of #2 involved how and why the believer announced herself as a believer when she went to an atheist meeting.

    And so, I am glad for Rick W’s explanation since my worldview is safe — there is no magic. It’s just cause and effect.

  • mikespeir

    Ron in Houston:

    I quite agree that Coke isn’t better than Pepsi. Only the delusional would suggest it is.

    And then there are people like NYCatheist and his/her RC Cola. Probably even drugs wouldn’t help there. ;)

    Of course, we all know that Diet Coke is what makes life hum along as sweetly as it does. :)

  • http://www.meetup.com/beltwayatheists Shelley Mountjoy

    @rodibidably: My comment was written primarily in regards to the following lines:

    I believed that … my wife would be welcomed into this group, even if there were other differences of opinion. I believed that the members of this group would be respectful of my wife, and focus on the commonalities and not the differences.

    - and –

    The reason for my original post was that in this particular situation, I felt that the group should have respected the differences of somebody who believed in a common goal and was there to show support for that goal.

    Regardless, it sounds like we’re all in agreement that an individual is not representative of the group so I can sit back and share some popcorn with NYCA. I’ll bring the Coke and Rum because Pepsi is only better when alcohol isn’t involved.

    Rick has provided some great perspective here – thanks for posting.

  • Rick W.

    When atheists and god-believers square off, the intensity of the debate is understandable when viewed with an eye on history.

    To say that Coke or Pepsi is superior is a subjective statement of little consequence. To insist that Coke or Pepsi is objectively better and that those who don’t agree and accept such claims as absolute, unquestionable TRUTH is something else entirely. Obnoxious and rude but mostly harmless. But, to insist that such TRUTH is sacred and inviolable and must be forced on the unwilling for their own good and that non-acceptors are subject to extreme punishment is an obvious metaphor for the worst aspects of religion.

    Such ideological absolutism about the Coke/Pepsi question would be worthy of contempt, not respect. We all respect our superstitious friends’ right to believe any dumbass thing they want; we need not, and do not respect the beliefs themselves. Let us not pretend that we do.

    Anyway, atheists have historically fared poorly at the hands of god-believers. It was not enough for the god-believers to have their own beliefs, but rather they insisted on unquestioned submission to the unbearable and compliance with the ridiculous. Free thinkers and non-believers became thought criminals. For the better part of the last 1500 years they hunted us for bounty.

    So, the intensity of our revulsion with such a mindset is understandable and is fully justified. And it explains why the debate sometimes gets intense. When you think about it, and considering the history, it’s kind of amazing that we are as civil and forgiving about it as we are.

  • http://mattstone.blogs.com Matt Stone

    We complain about the Christian bigots who are always in the media spotlight and how moderate Christians rarely call them out in public.

    Well, IMO those complaints are grounded in a large degree of ignorance. Moderates routinely call the extremists out, but the media (and critics) generally don’t find that interesting enough to publicize and pass on. It’s against the script. Sensationalism sells, moderation doesn’t.

  • Brooks

    Of course, we all know that Diet Coke is what makes life hum along as sweetly as it does.

    Everyone knows that Root Beer pwns them all.

  • mikespeir

    To insist that Coke or Pepsi is objectively better and that those who don’t agree and accept such claims as absolute, unquestionable TRUTH is something else entirely.

    Infidel!

    (You, too, Brooks.)

  • K

    So, let me get this right.
    A guy brings his wife, a woman with a, “VERY strong belief,” to an Atheist meeting. According to him, she’s a sweet delicate flower who NEVER, “made any attempts to force it on others, or even question those who do not share her belief,” and yet she was, again, according to him, all verbally attacked by Atheists. At their meeting.
    Um, how did these mean Atheists know of her, “VERY strong belief,” unless she opened her mouth? Obviously not once, but several times?

    You want to confront people with your, “VERY strong belief,” do it on a street corner, don’t treat an Atheist meeting as your personal rutting ground. I’d be furious with some stupid fundie ruining a night I’d set aside for a time and place with no religious noise. An Atheist meeting is suppose to be welcome break in this utterly pathetic superstitious society, not another debate session. She got exactly what she deserved.

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    K,
    If you’re going to quote me, it would be helpful to read the words directly after what you quote, especially when they directly contradict the point you are trying to make.

    Here, I’ll help you out…

    VERY strong belief that it is her personal belief, and she has never made any attempts to force it on others, or even question those who do not share her belief

    Your comments seems to show that you did not read the whole article, but instead managed to focus on three words, taking them out of context, and ignoring everything else…

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    Rick,

    came to the table fully prepared to fight, with a chip on her shoulder and unwilling to disengage.

    Actually she was a bit hesitant to come knowing she would be the only non-atheist at the event. I assured her there would be no problems.
    I do agree that once the argument got to a certain point, she was unwilling to let it go, but the point I tried to make in my blog was that I feel it should have never gotten to that point.

    Further, she attempted early on to immunize her argument from examination or criticism

    If by “immunize her argument from examination” you mean that she stated her beliefs are personal, and she does not expect others to agree, then I suppose.
    But she also did not (and does not) question the beliefs (or lack of beliefs) of others. She made no attempts to tell others they were wrong to be atheists, or tell anybody that they had to accept her beliefs. In fact she repeatedly said she did not expect others to agree with her views or care if they did.

    I do agree with you that this is not indicative of all atheists, or of the group. And I did acknowledge your efforts to defuse the situation (even though they did not succeed).

    I’d also like to mention I did not create my post to knock the group, and I tried to be careful to avoid mentioning the name of the group because I did not want to seem like I was attacking the group.

    Tao Jones,
    I already covered how a mention of her beliefs came about. She was not trying to push her belief on others, and did not expect anybody at the event to share her beliefs, but I do think she expected (and I know I expected) the people at the event to treat her with some degree of respect.

    Shelly,

    it sounds like we’re all in agreement that an individual is not representative of the group

    Yup. I was never intending to come across as if I was bashing the group; I have tried numerous times to explain the purpose of my post.

  • http://www.meetup.com/beltwayatheists Shelley Mountjoy

    Thanks for the sarcasm rodibidably… I did read the whole post here and your blog before posting. It really wasn’t clear what you were saying until you further clarified it which might be why I wasn’t the only person to make the “individual vs. group” observation. That observation was about more than just our group specifically but rather the perception of a group mentality.

    FWIW several people other have given me accounts that are in line with Rick’s observations.

    It was a regrettable incident but certainly not substantial in the grand scheme of things.

  • http://potomac9499.wordpress.com/ Rodibidably

    Shelly,
    I was NOT being sarcastic. I really was agreeing with you.

    I have agreed that apparently I did not make a strong enough distinction in my original post, but I REALLY did not intend to bash the group. I was mearly trying to make a point about an individual, and compare that to how I normally tend to view christian fundies.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    Rodibidably ,

    Thanks for clarifying. :-)


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