We’re Not on Opposite Sides of the Spectrum

(via r/atheism)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Matto the Hun

    looooooooove it!

  • Dan Henry

    Seems like the right column of the first table should show the extremist views as shown on the second table.

    Also, it’s spelled “bigots.”

  • observer

    If fundies admitted that they’re arguing against neutral positions, their bigotry would be more visible. That’s why they make the arguments on the grounds of “the other
    extreme”, they can disguise their extremes by deeming their opponents as the “true” bigots.
    It also helps (the fundies) that the “one extreme” is normal for them, and taken for granted. So for them, the “one extreme” is their neutral stance.

    Btw, which neutral are we talking about: lawful, pure, or chaotic?

  • Conspirator

    I have to admit that I would be 100% opposed to gay marriage if I were going to be forced to marry a guy or only allowed that option.  However since I have never, not once, ever seen someone put forth such a viewpoint I can’t see any reason why I should ever oppose marriage between any two consenting adults regardless of their gender.  Saying it should be allowed as an option to everyone is certainly not an extreme. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/joequincy Jon Peterson

    The entire post is an image from Reddit (as linked). Hemant is not the original source.

  • http://twitter.com/Kohaku_3 Kohaku

    Actually, it shouldn’t. The first table shows what is generally accurate but still gets referred to as the opposite extreme. The second table shows what the opposite extreme actually would be.

    Good call on”biggots”. I skimmed it the first time and missed that. :P

  • Miko

    Note however that since the extreme is a view that no one actually holds, you can define an extreme for any issue in order to make any position be the central one.  E.g., want to make “end social security” the middle position.  Nothing could be easier:
    One extreme: murder old people and make them into food a la Soylent Green
    The other extreme: social security as it exists now
    The neutral compromise: don’t have the government take either stance towards the elderly

    It’s a nice rhetorical device, but it’s not a logical argument.

  • http://twitter.com/arclight arclight

    Perhaps they’re referring to extra large bigots :)

  • MegaZeusThor

    Presents a good argument. Thumbs up.

    It also points out that the U.S. Government should not endorse religion over no-religion. (Think how OUTRAGED some people would be if U.S. money mention there was no GOD.)  

  • Benja

    One extreme: Abortion should never be allowed; pregnant women should be forced to carry every pregnancy to term, even in cases of rape or incest.
    Neutral: Women should be trusted to make their own decisions about their own bodies.
    Other extreme: Pregnant women should be forced to have an abortion if they have more than one child.

  • AtheistNavyVet

     it is bigoted to pretend that there is only one god and this god’s name is god.  Alleged deities have names and the title is god.  Allah, Jeeehobah, Jeeeezuus, Ghost Holes, Krishna, Buddha what ever the alleged god may be, only a religious bigot or incompetent in language capitalizes god as if there is only one and a description is a name…. what fool names his dog Dog ? 843-926-1750 In god We Trust is a total lie on many levels just as One Nation Under god…. god is a meaningless sound without definition or proof of existence…. may as well be spelled gott or gawd @VoteLarryDis114:twitter

  • AtheistNavyVet

     what is a god?  I know of fictional characters in books like Zeus & Thor & Jeeeebush, Jehobah Ghost Holes, Virgin Mary, Allah & Krishna but really what is a god?  Sounds like gawd & gott in German, another gutter word of violent theocracy by Hitler

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    In the original examples, the two extreme positions are logically related, and mirror each other precisely. The neutral positions are the most common, although in each case there is a second neutral position that could be used: use the government to promote all religious views, and nobody can get married.

    In your example, I don’t think anybody would rationally consider that your two extremes are logical mirrors of one another. All three of your arguments appear to be arbitrary and largely unrelated. That’s quite different from the r/atheism examples. They are more than rhetorical devices.

  • Mark Kuykendall


  • amycas

     I would think it’s lawful neutral :-)

  • Cheepak Dopra

    You are my new favorite person.

  • Cheepak Dopra

    Please do more posts like this! It’s better than Time Cube!

  • Miss_Beara

    Another extreme is forcing a woman to stay pregnant even though she is having complications and could die.  

  • AtheistNavyVet

     you are welcome MR/MS “dopra”  Deepak Chopra may not approve however, do you have a real name?  Larry Carter Center out of the Atheist closet since 1978 fighting the lies of theocrats most of my life continuously ever since Walt Disney died, as Einstein & he were my early Atheist hero role models

  • http://twitter.com/Kohaku_3 Kohaku

    what fool names his dog Dog ?”

    My ex?

  • Sindigo

    Absolutely. We all have to follow the rules.

  • JD929

    I don’t think your examples are logical, equivalent extremes. The point is to show the false equivalences being painted. Social Security as it is now is in no way equivalent to murdering elderly people, you might as well be arguing the first table above.

  • Good and Godless

    I am.
    Overpopulation indicates the only marriage that should be endorsed is a non-reproducing marriage. Gay marriage makes the top of the charts on that one.  Not outside governmental authority, government already bans many marital configurations – near relatives, under aged,  mentally incompetent – no reason to issue a “marriage license”  without the future harms to society being mitigated.

    I am.
    you replied to M FaradayTime to try “in no gods we trust” on the money for a few decades.4 months ago
    Atheists pressure city to remove 91-year-oldYou left a commentIn the realm of equal representation Atheists deserve representation on money, in pledges and in anthems.
    “In god we trust and god does not exist””One nation under god without god existing””swear to tell the whole truth so help me god that does not exist”
    So if dropping ‘god’ is unpalatable… just add our viewpoint too.4 months agoIn Missouri, an ‘In God We Trust’ Sign Goes Up and an Atheist Runs for City Council

  • Good and Godless

    One child  is being recklessly  generous. The future compounded ecological damage of even one self duplicating offspring should require a large security deposit, a 1,000 year plan and a heaping pile of liability insurance.  

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    Very well explained and it does reveal who are the true extremists.  

    I have often asked, “What is harmed by same-sex marriage?”   I have never received an answer that didn’t translate to, “It’s an abomination!”  It’s the same as the pro-life argument, it is rooted solely upon religion.  No matter what anyone says, they both have no basis other than religious intolerance.

  • Guest

    Wow, I think I’m out of here.  This blog, despite it’s name, is about on par with a Glenn Beck fan site, or a Jack Chick site.  I mean, it’s like some parallel reality.  Facts, numbers, reality?  Nah.  Not here.  Can you prove it’s wrong?  How can you?  It’s so far off reality you don’t know where to begin.  I suppose those other sites have folks who think they’re smarter than everyone else, but we all know modern atheists love to claim the mantel of intellectual superiority.  Well, after spending a few weeks on this and a couple other atheist blogs, I can say there is more reason to believe that God sat on a cloud and wrote a book in the King’s English than there is to believe in the intellectual superiority of modern atheists.  But then when you have atheists quote Bill Maher (chuckle) without realizing the obvious, you know the whole thing has jumped the shark.  Things like this blog post simply reinforce the obvious. 

  • Bo Tait

    “Wow, I think I’m out of here. “You know, I think he just might mean it this time, guys. Say it ain’t so, Guest. Who’s gonna drop truth bombs on the athiest comunity if you don’t?

  • Sapphire

    Fundamentalist arguments generally come out of van Til via Bahnsen, Rushdoony and Shaeffer (and Aristotle) as well as quoting one of the stories of the sending out of the 12 (or 72) apostles.
    Namely whoever is not for us is against us. In van Til there is no neutral stance.
    It’s a bit like the tolerance thing.  “My view is that all other views are wrong. You claim to tolerate my view but you tolerate other views therefore you do not tolerate my view.  Therefore you are intolerant as well as inconsistent.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

    Is Guest failing to stick the flounce again?

  • Piet

     Bey bey troll, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

    How is that bigoted? If I want to name my imaginary friend Schmoo or Snuffaluppagus, and other people have different names for their imaginary friends, am I a bigot?

    If someone else is having a conversation about me and my imaginary friend, and uses the name that I do for my imaginary friend, is that bigoted against people with imaginary friends they call Harvey who are not participating in, or the subject of, the conversation?

    If religious guy a) says “My people believe in a great being named Nylarthothep.” and religious girl b) says “My people believe in a great being named Yog-Sothoth.” it is not bigoted to talk about Nylarthothep. If a group of people want to use the collection of sound symbols “God” to represent their myth, it is only logical to use the same label when talking about that myth.

    Otherwise it would be like claiming it is bigoted to use the label “Rover” to refer to your neighbour’s dog (which he named Rover), because the guy down the street named his dog “Precious”.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Are you done jacking yourself off yet? Nobody here cares what you think, and we’re not offended by your lame attempts at insults. Leave already. 

  • Gus Snarp

    The whole thing has jumped the shark? What, atheism? Because of what you think of the blogs where you troll? That’s rich.

    But since we all know you won’t stick the flounce, do us all a few favors, would you? 

    1. Pick a name and type it. I don’t know where you’re commenting from, but I don’t have to retype mine unless I’m on my phone. But even there, I do it, so readers can easily associate all my comments here with a single identity. You’re pretty easy to pick out, but it would be nice to know when we’re dealing with “Guest” and when we’re dealing with “a guest”, since your comments all seem to be related and carrying on their own separate debate entirely unconnected to any individual post.

    2. Make a coherent argument related to the post you’re commenting on instead of writing this same general smearing of atheism without even explaining how it relates to the post. For example, here you might want to make an argument as to why you think that not putting anything religious on money or in the pledge is the diametrical opposite extreme from promoting religion on money and in the pledge, as opposed to putting statements that god is not real on the money and in the pledge. Hemant just put that out there without much justification because once it’s stated, it seems obvious to us what the real opposite extreme is. Why don’t you make a coherent argument as to why it’s not?

    3. If you bring up Bill Maher again, how about you make an actual claim? Tell us specifically what’s wrong with Maher, or better, tell us specifically what we’re quoting and why the quote is wrong, since we don’t quote Maher to appeal to his authority, we quote him when we like the specific idea being expressed in the quote. I’m not really all that up on Bill Maher, so I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • NoDoubtAboutIt

    Jesus gives miracle head!

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

     Do you have any arguments? All I see are a bunch of assertions with nothing to back them up.

  • Deathriddle

    The whole concept of a 1 dimensional value to ascribe to a belief is retarded.
    There is no such thing as a spectrum for something like a political stance.
    Beliefs have no opposite.
    For example, “In God We Trust” is as much opposed to, “In Science We Trust”, “In Satan We Trust”, “In God We Find Failure”, “In Fate We Trust”.

  • Randomfactor

     He failed on his second and third words.

  • Lucilius

    Translation: “Waaah! People don’t agree with me! I’m bein’ persa-, persicut-, prostit- … they’re the REAL bigots!”

  • Wild Rumpus

    But Gus, making a coherent argument would require Guest to use logical thought and reasoning which he has yet to show us he can do.  It’s why I have such  a hard time debating theists, they often think that they don’t need logic -  they have god.

    At least rwlawoffice is brave enough, or smart enough to figure out how to, make a user name.

    And Guest, if you want to complain about atheist circlejerks, go to reddit.com/r/athiesm – you’ll get lots of love there.

  • RobMcCune

    The guy whose non-sequiters and word salads are full insults complains about tone? 

    Well good bye, you won’t be missed.

  • Guest

    For some reason this reminded me of this video - http://youtu.be/WwxO_Aq6R_s
    (to which my standard reply is this example: good=giving money to charity, lack of good = not giving money, evil = stealing money from said charity)

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Guest complains that the Friendly Atheist blog doesn’t live up to its name, while during his visits here in the past weeks he shits his bigotry and intellectual dishonesty all over the site.

    What is it about theists that gets them all huffy when others refuse to let them operate under a double standard?

  • Brian Scott

    I don’t understand why you’re upset. If I remember correctly, you are an agnostic. As an agnostic, I would think you would be receptive to considering neutral viewpoints.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    It all boils down to choice: choice to abort or continue a pregnancy; choice of one’s own religious views without interference from the government; choice of whom you can marry.

    It’s like if there were a thermostat in your bedroom and some stranger said, “You need to leave it at 40 degrees… nice and cool! I like it, and so should you!” Advocating that you should choose what temperature to set in your bedroom is not the “other extreme”: that is the neutral position, the one advocating for personal choice. The true “other extreme” would be arguing that the room be kept at a nice, comfy 110 degrees.

  • Coyotenose

    I really need to get a life, because it’s driving me CRAZY to see “Nyarlathotep” misspelled even though it doesn’t matter in the slightest ever. *facepalm*

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    I know someone who is both atheist and anti-choice. Arguing with her is like talking to a brick wall.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    You’re obviously not referring to the post above. So what in the hell are you talking about? Are you just airing your griefs with this blog in its entirety? Why? Why not just go away, shove off, leave the rest of us alone? Go on your merry way, living in ignorance, while the rest of us actually carry on discussing the issues logically and rationally.

  • Coyotenose

     Well I can tell you’re angry,
    But I can’t comprehend it,
    We criticize bad ideas,
    Why are you offended?


    P.S. People who rant about HOW THEY’RE LEAVING FOREVER WAH never do. All you managed to say was, “I’ll be back soon under a pseudonym after I fume for a few days.”

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    How can someone be atheist and anti-choice.  I can understand a person that is personally against abortion for whatever reason.  Then don;t have one.  But don’t tell anyone else what to do.

    Personally, I don’t like the idea of abortions as a method of conception control for those too lazy or stupid to take care of it in advance.  But I would never deny anyone the right to make that decision for themselves.  

    I feel abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

  • Sonorus2012

    But it’s not rare, mostly because those who oppose abortion also oppose contraception and good sex education.  If people really want to reduce the number of abortions they would be FOR education and contraception. 

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    I agree.  It’s too bad they cannot see the irony in that.

    When you consider the religious people, they ignore that between 25-50% of all pregnancies spontaneously abort. (http://www.estronaut.com/a/spontaneous_abortion_common.htm) That makes their god the world’s biggest abortionist.  That IS irony.  

  • onamission5

    So flounce already. You keep making promises, but your follow through is weak.

  • smrnda

    I typically don’t do the ‘two sides’ thing because it assumes 2 binary opposites for a position, but in this case I think they are about as symmetric as can be. 

    The real issue is that many Christians have no concept of neutrality. This goes beyond ones influenced by Dominionist Theology onto people who were just used to cultural hegemony for so long and because of that, see being a privileged class as natural. For many Christians, making appeals to faith at every possible time is such a part of their lives that if they are told, for example, that as educators they cannot proselytize, they feel like they’re being repressed. If they can’t put a monument specific to their religion on public land, they feel like they’re being denied something they feel entitled to. Groups rarely give up privilege without whining all the time.

  • Margaret Whitestone

     So after being an annoying troll for a few weeks you’re going to take your toys and go home?  Promise?

  • Sempai

    I loved this on reddit yesterday :D It has a really good point!

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    At least xe got Yog-Sothoth correct. (Though I’ll admit, I’m a touch nervous about even typing ANY of those Names.)

  • B.B.

    I am offended by the implication that Snuffaluppagus is imaginary.

  • R.T.

    John wayne had a Dog in one of those old westerns, so there will inevitably be others for ever and ever, amen.

  • Painstruck

    erm… in the UK we endorse Darwin on our money, not God… does that make us extremists..?