“This is why everyone hates atheists”

I’ll be honest: The reaction from ACE’s defenders to my last post was not uniformly positive.

It began with this:

Facebook argument 1

At this point, blog regular and former guest-poster Aram McLean chipped in. Now, we can’t remember exactly what he said, because in all the excitement Aram’s original comment got deleted. But, to the best of both our memories, it was something like this:

screen-shot-2013-12-11-at-11-52-461

This was all too much for our ACE-defending hero, who unleashed the fury on both our asses:

Screenshot (1)And he did indeed block me; I had to get a friend to screenshot the last bit, because I can’t see it.

Awesome.

And he was not the only creationist who took offence to my suggestion that ACE’s education might be less than perfect.

Actually, before we look at that, allow me to introduce you to our next character, Mr Red. Mr Red is a full-throttle creationist. This was his response to the question “Does anyone here want to admit to being a young-Earth creationist?”

Anon defends creationism

Of course I’m a young earth creationist… I believe in science. 

I find it rather thrilling to come across such unabashed creationism – a chance sighting of this rare species in the wild. Mr Red is English and lives in England. People say we don’t have creationists like that here, but while they are endangered, clearly they do exist.

His full discussion of evolution is a magnificent thing to behold.

Anon attacks evolution long“LOL”. He doesn’t just believe in creation. He thinks you are laughable for accepting evolution.

So my friend Mr Yellow showed him the post on ACE’s multiple-choice questions, and here’s his response.

Anon attacks me 1Now, the question of to what to extent I cherry picked the examples in my post is a reasonable and interesting one. I’ll probably blog about it soon. The short answer is that I obviously picked my favourite examples, but I think it is absolutely fair to say that ACE is riddled with poorly-designed, meaningless questions.

If Mr Red had stopped there, he might have had a reasonable point, but he didn’t. And then… well, holy crap. “Totally corrupt, vile, twisted, fascist biggotry [sic]… don’t have a brain cell… This is why everyone hates atheists.”

Everyone. Hates. Atheists.

I thought Christianity was about love?

Mr Yellow came to my rescue.

Anon attacks me 2

At some point I should do a post on the best, most rigorous questions I can find in the PACEs. That would be far more damning (though less funny) than a compilation of the worst.

Mr Yellow continued:

Anon attacks me 3

Mr Red had the final say.

Anon attacks me last

This is interesting. To me, Mr Red comes off like a belligerent prick. Clearly, I appear the same way to him. “Good old fashioned atheistic irrational hatred for Christians”.

Christian readers of my blog, do you feel hated? I certainly don’t feel hateful when I link to the excellent blogs by my friends Tim Chastain, Samantha Field, Tamara Rice, Lana Hope, or Hännah Ettinger (actually I haven’t linked to Hännah before. Go there; she’s great), all of whom have Jesus on their friends list. Oh wait, I forgot. They’re not true Christians. My mistake.

When browsing creationist or highly conservative websites, I often find people who will take the example of one individual behaving badly and use it to smear the entire group. So one ‘liberal’ says something off-colour, and immediately it’s “I hate libs. They’re all evil.” Let’s not make that mistake here. This is one creationist. Well, two, including Mr Black. I think this behaviour is widespread enough for this post to be worth making, but we shouldn’t assume this is representative of creationism more generally. (EDIT: Holy crap, check out this message board discussing my post for a case-in-point illustration of everything in this post) (EDIT 2: Holy mackerel, this one is even worse. Nobody comes out of this well.)

Nevertheless, you all know why I’m making this post: Because I’ve seen enough of this kind of behaviour to know it’s not isolated just to these two individuals. I think there’s a link. Of course, there are arseholes in every flavour of belief and non-belief. But I think creationism requires this kind of stubborn mindset in order to survive.

Now, I’m off to submit these quotes to Fundies Say the Darndest Things…

Related posts:

About Jonny Scaramanga
  • http://republicoflagrangia.wordpress.com Mordanicus

    “Everyone hates atheists” suggest that all 7 billion people, including atheists themselves, on this planet hate atheists, which is clearly an empirical false statement. It suffice to find just one person who does not hate atheists to disprove this claim. Bu I guess, this people have learned to think logically.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    I think we can assume he was using hyperbole. But it was still a stupid thing to say.

  • http://republicoflagrangia.wordpress.com Mordanicus

    But even the use of a hyperbole would not justify an utterly absurd statement.

  • http://davidwaldock.wordpress.com davidwaldock

    You’re challenging his in-group belief system and right wing authoritarians don’t cope well with that, particularly when they’re an evangelical fundamentalist right wing authoritarian. They deal with such challenges by denying the factual assertions, undermining the people who make the assertions and redoubling their belief statements, whilst trying to rally fellow in-group RWAs to reinforce their own messages.

    Don’t take it personally, it’s just the way the world works.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Oh, this post isn’t me taking things personally. It’s me being highly amused.

  • http://davidwaldock.wordpress.com davidwaldock

    I didn’t think you.

    Whilst it’s certainly laughable, I’m not sure it’s amusing: incidents like this just constantly reinforce the RWAs fear (persecution) complex, thus further convincing them of the truth.

    I don’t have a particular solution, I’m afraid. So I’ll join you in bemusement.

  • http://hitchens67.wordpress.com hitchens67

    Reblogged this on hitchens67 Atheism WOW!! Campaign and commented:
    I freaking LOVE atheists!!!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Having thought about it a bit more, I don’t think he really counts atheists as people. I’m sure he wouldn’t come here and say “atheists are not humans”, but in his mind, they don’t count. I am a non-person. My views have no value. When he says “Everyone hates atheists”, he obviously doesn’t consider the views of atheists.

    Or, as a Christian, he may well believe that atheists are secretly full of self-loathing, since they are sinners who do not know God.

  • http://republicoflagrangia.wordpress.com Mordanicus

    “I don’t think he really counts atheists as people.”

    I would not surpise if this is indeed the case. Says something about his mind.

    “Or, as a Christian, he may well believe that atheists are secretly full of self-loathing, since they are sinners who do not know God.”

    Also quite likely. But neither of those won’t make sense from a rational perspective.

  • http://bysearching.wordpress.com Pauline

    This Christian thought your whole post is a hoot, but then, am I even a real Christian, what with not being a creationist and reading lots of great blogs written by dirty atheists? I wouldn’t dream of putting my kids in a Christian school, that’s for sure

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Thank you Pauline. Great to hear from you.

    I am trying to work on ways to enlist the help of more Christians with my campaign against ACE, because at the moment some people see it as an anti-Christian effort. It’s not, as your response shows.

  • http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com john zande

    Well, there it is. Really not much else to say.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com Neil Rickert

    At some point I should do a post on the best, most rigorous questions I can find in the PACEs.

    Please do. That would be interesting.

    And thanks for a great post.

  • Carmen

    To answer your question. As a former creationist and current Christian, I love your blog. In fact, I feel a whole lotta love coming out towards Christians, towards the Truth (in a non-ironic way, it is out there) and towards people in general. You are doing a community service. I was vaguely aware that a friend of mine had gone through the ACE system, but now I have a whole lot of sympathy for him that I didn’t have before. I had no idea what sort of dangerous, horrible shucksterism that was being passed off as “education” and as an educator, it makes me sick. As a Christian it makes me sick to see Jesus, and naive Christians exploited in this way.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Thanks Carmen. That’s exactly how I hoped my blog would be received. If your friend’s views on ACE are anything like mine, he might like to join our Facebook survivor group.

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    I always find it ironic that those willing to damn atheists fail to realize the extent of their own; what they attribute to non believers also describes themselves in all manner of non belief they themselves hold in all but a single exception.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anna.hayward.9 Anna Hayward

    Dehumanising the opposition is a common trait of fanatics; In fact the first thing you do, if you’re a despot, is getting your people to regard other people as disposable (Jews, gays, blacks… whatever scapegoats best suit your purposes). The Nazis, for instance, compared Jews to cockroaches and so justified their extermination. In this case, a special set of ‘Christians’ have decided that people who don’t agree with them (ie ‘Atheists’) are not really human and so therefore don’t count in the general admonishments to love your enemy and be kind to people that most Christians are more familiar with in the Bible.

    Difficult to know how to argue out of that one, given that they also won’t listen to arguments from nonhumans either.

  • http://athenafawcett.wordpress.com Athena

    :( I really dislike when I hear these types of things, because well, it is sad to me that people reflect Christianity as they do. However, I am curious about one thing, you said if he decides to believe Jesus is God. That really got my attention as very few doctrines teach that Jesus is God…so I was a little curious about that comment. Most people that I know of really critize someone who says Jesus is God. (at least that has been my experience, as I believe that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh) but not everyone else does. Just curious! :)

  • Sou Searcher

    Hi Jonny, I found your blog a few months ago. I enjoy it a lot because I need to know that their are people like you out there.

    I am a Christian and I did the ACE thing for a few of my schooling years. I thought it was a joke then (back in the 80′s) and after reading some of the stuff you pulled, it is amazing that parents were not up in arms about some of the material. I will assume that they just did not know better.

    My husband left Christianity a year and a half ago. It has been a tough road. It is hard in the beginning to hear someone who was so devout in Christianity call themself an atheist. I think the reason some Christians are defensive, (and yes, hateful at times) is because deep down, where they don’t want to look, they are AFRAID to admit that parts of Christianity or perhaps even the whole of Christianity might be wrong. That is where I am at right now. I AM afraid to let it all go. I still have lots of questions and continue to seek for answers, even if I don’t like them. I am moving away from fundamentalism at a pretty steady clip, but I haven’t given up on God or some of the teachings of Christ.

    It is a tough pace to be.

    I respect your blog because you are respectful and you “have been there.” Keep up the great work.

  • https://www.facebook.com/susan.latimer1 Susan Latimer

    I am a Christian. Remember though Fundamentalists decide for me who I am. So they will immediately discount me and say I am not a true Christian because I do not see everything they same way they do. It is hard to talk with people who are so trained to hate and decide for others. I believe this is a wonderful start in giving people a safe place to go, We will continue to find others of like mind. Big money will continue to push poor education, ACE because control is the final goal

  • Tamara Rice

    I agree with Anna. I’ve read a few books that touched on this idea over the years. One very effective dehumanization technique is to create an irrational fear in people (emphasis on irrational fear vs. rational fear) and give them an enemy to pin it on … and they will start all the loathing and dehumanizing on their own after that. I confess, I tend to dehumanize and make enemies of those who embrace certain blends of Christianity I can’t abide–like those who would use ACE. I think of them as total dark age idiots who’ve never cracked open a real book in their lives … and I know that’s not (entirely) accurate. (We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.) But I know how easy it is to fall into that way of thinking, where someone else becomes an idiot not even worthy of respectful dialog as a human.

    But maybe how we treat one another is the greatest indicator of our true motives and our true selves … our true faith or true ideology, etc. And not just how we treat the people we know IRL who have opposing beliefs/ideas, but also those we encounter online. Maybe (just maybe) the way we treat those we disagree with online is the litmus test. Whew … if that’s true, I know I need to look in the mirror more.

    Thanks for including me on your list, Jonny. I enjoy your blog and I think the work you are doing to expose ACE is important. Of course, as you pointed out, I’m a heretic anyway, so … oh well. :)

    Keep on doing what you are doing. It matters.

  • http://gravatar.com/wjmacguffin WJ MacGuffin

    Catholic and certified teacher/administrator here. Let me know if I can help. And for the record, I see nothing in your posts that have an anti-Christian bias. Anti-ACE, yes. Anti-fundamentalism, sure. But not anti-any religion.

  • http://gravatar.com/wjmacguffin WJ MacGuffin

    It always feels good to defend something you love, especially over the internet where 1) you have some level of anonymity, and 2) you don’t have to get off your ass and actually do something. And yes, that’s what I’m doing right now. :)

    I think that’s the POV of the Outrage Brigade complaining about the author’s supposed anti-Christian bias. At least in terms of the 33 Questions post, there was nothing but a critique of extremely poor test design that’s held as equal to much more rigorous tests. But by misinterpreting the author’s theme, the fundies feel like they’re stalwart champions of Jesus. (Which is actually a great thing to be, when it’s real.)

    Plus, at least here in the States, there’s a meme embedded in conservatism (religious or political) that says all criticism of conservative points is equivalent to a personal attack by evil people. Criticize one part of capitalism (i.e. the Pope pointing out there’s no evidence supporting trickle-down theory), and you’re an evil communist. Criticize how some churches spend tax-free money on political activities, and you’re an evil Satanist. (Or an evil secular humanist, which is the same in their minds.)

  • Mr. Red

    LOL! So this is a response post from the guy in the article above called “Mr. Red”…

    I find it perhaps unsurprising that Jonny has posted the article like this…

    I would like to put some context on some of the statements I made…

    So all the posts were on Facebook – so as far as I’m concerned – JUST between friends, and not intended for a public audience. Although, the guy that passed this on might not be a friend for much longer…

    All of which are largely set as antagonistic banter, joking, winding up the other person, etc.

    So for example, on the creationism thing, I called him irrational for believing in evolution. Obviously, I don’t think anyone that believes in evolution is irrational – because I was completely joking…

    Let’s move on to ‘why everyone hates atheists’ – again – hyperbole and deliberate antagonism for the effect of winding up my so called friend on facebook (which he does to me also).

    Obviously, not everyone hates Atheists, in fact Christians are called to love everyone including atheists, so OF COURSE that isn’t true. The intention was to point out that a sizeable number of people are really put off by some atheists, because they are so rude and damning about other peoples beliefs and traditions, and like to belittle other people for having them. Not all atheists are like this, but some definitely are, and seem to really go out of their way to do that. Hence the exaggerated, deliberately antagonistic and wrong – intended for Mr. Yellow only – ‘why everyone hates atheists.’

    But in many ways Jonny, this entire article, actually personifies exactly why many people feel that way about atheists. Once again I see you left out some of the antagonistic stuff that Mr. Yellow said that I’m sure many people that read this blog would also disagree with, and cherry picked the responses that are only insulting to your alleged ‘fundamentalists’. Then you concluded with your direct insults such as “belligerent prick” to someone who you don’t even know that was chatting to a friend on facebook.

    Unless someone is a public figure, I prefer to contact people directly and challenge what they said. Also, if I’m making a serious point I don’t pick individuals out on facebook without first giving them a chance to at-least defend themselves.

    So in conclusion, OF COURSE the stuff posted in the above article I don’t agree with, I was JOKING for the vast majority of it, or deliberately using hyperbole and antagonism to wind up my FRIEND on facebook. Sadly, that conversation has been taken out of context, cherry picked and chopped up to support jonny’s bias, to finally land a personal insult, to some guy on facebook that Jonny disagrees with…

    Shame…

    Which is why I’m suing you!!!!

    (as usual, I’M JOKING!!!)

    p.s. Please don’t take that last joke out of context and post it in another one of your articles, and claim that I’m now suing you because of what you have posted… LOL!!!!)

  • Aram McLean

    You have a strange sense of humour, friend.

    Ah man, I can’t even be bothered to write another word to you. I already know it’s a total waste of time.

  • Mr. Red

    That’s shame Aram, sadly you only have the above article to base your opinion of me on, if you met in me real life, I’m sure you wouldn’t feel that way…

    It’s a shame when people take out of context private conversations and in jokes, and use them character assassinate others…

    you may think I’m a waste of time to talk to Aram, but I would always make time to talk and listen to you…

    :)

  • Aram McLean

    I suppose if you didn’t hide behind a fake name it’d be easier to get to know you. As it is, you could be from Reservoir Dogs for all I know. Can’t be too careful.

  • http://brucegerencser.net Bruce Gerencser

    Surely you know the Bible says somewhere that Christians don’t have to love atheists and they are allowed to say the most hateful things to them. It must be in the Bible because they all seem to treat atheists this way and these folks are all Bible Believers, right?

    What they are upset about is that they know you know and you dare to publicly write about it. People like us are supposed to keep our mouths shut about what really goes on in Christian Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism. Our refusal to do so brings out the REAL Jesus in those who hate us with a vengeance. Little do they know that they are proving to us that we made the right decision to walk away from the nuthouse.

  • http://www.xanga.com/Amythist_Malaise sheila0405

    Nothing is private when you are on facebook. You should assume that, even when you “unfriend” or block someone. And, you say your comments were taken out of context, but you did not explain the context. Your comments didn’t sound like jokes to us.

  • http://www.xanga.com/Amythist_Malaise sheila0405

    I was raised a Fundie, just to let folks be aware of that who aren’t familiar with my posts all around the internet. Here is where I find extreme Fundie thinking to be circular. We are taught that atheists are vile creatures, engaged in horrendous lifestyles, enemies of Almighty God. When you try to point out that there are tons of really nice atheists out there, who are working to make society a freerer and more civilized place, then you get hit with: “all of our good works are like filthy rags to God.” That statement is somewhere in Isaiah. Having just read the Old Testament again last year, I remember seeing that verse, and I remember lamenting about how it is taken out of context to condemn righteous acts done by average people all the time. It’s so frustrating. I personally find it very rewarding having discussions with agnostics and atheists. I love logic, and they are really logical. I am still a believer, now a Catholic, and I have to tell you that not all Christians are like the haters. Some of us embrace everyone.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Hi Mr Red. I’m glad you commented. I think a rough paraphrase of your comment would be “I was joking when I said post like that are why everyone hates atheists. But seriously, posts like this are why everyone hates atheists.”

    Basically, there’s a ton of confirmation bias at play here. As David Waldock warned me above, this post has basically confirmed for you that I (like most atheists) am an asshole. This bit’s important, because nuance doesn’t appear to be your strong suit: I didn’t call you a belligerent prick. I said you came off like a belligerent prick. I’m sure in real life you have many likeable qualities. I also said that I clearly appeared like one to you, too. I don’t think I’m a belligerent prick. This was an observation about how we appear to other people on the internet, not a claim about what either of us is actually like.

    So all the posts were on Facebook – so as far as I’m concerned – JUST between friends, and not intended for a public audience. Although, the guy that passed this on might not be a friend for much longer…

    Mr Yellow did not “pass on” the quotes. Because I am friends with him on Facebook, they came up in my feed. It was not, in that sense, a conversation “just between friends”. Also I see that you and Mr Blue are not friends either. I admit it is possible that to your friends you are well-known for your sense of humour and they would have interpreted your comments differently from how I did, but nothing about these conversations indicates to me that the other participants were taking them as “just a joke”. I did at least anonymise you. I don’t expect a great deal of credit for this piece of common courtesy, but I didn’t have to do it.

    Let’s move on to ‘why everyone hates atheists’ – again – hyperbole and deliberate antagonism for the effect of winding up my so called friend on facebook (which he does to me also).

    As a native speaker of English, I am aware of the meaning of the phrase “everyone hates X”. I know, for example, that when someone says “That’s why everybody hates Tories” that they do not mean literally everybody, and they do not mean literal hatred. That phrase does have a meaning, though, and it isn’t “Gosh I love Tories”.

    You said I took stuff out of context. Well, how much context do you want? I posted almost all of the original threads. As posted here, the comments have as much context as they had for the original readers on Facebook, apart for possibly Mr Yellow. It’s true that we were lacking in context in that we haven’t known you your whole life, but from that point of view, almost everything we ever see is out of context, isn’t it? Feel free to copy and paste anything said by Mr Yellow (or anyone else) that makes the context of your comments clear. I would happily do it myself, but I’ve looked and I haven’t seen anything.

  • https://www.facebook.com/parsifal.druddle Parsifal Druddle

    Here’s the bottom line: Some folks still need God to get through their lives. Let them have God. Let them worship and praise and do whatever else they need to do. Let those who wish creationism have it. While it may hurt their chances at leading a full and rational life it does not in general harm them nor others. If it does, well, they have made the choice for themselves as is their right. Just don’t ask others to pick up their slack later if things go south.

    I personally think that the exposure of children to the idea of God/Gods by adults is inherently crippling due to the general nature of exposure. I don’t believe that any parent has the right to impede a child’s development, but society says that’s okay at our current level of sophistication, so…

    Religions aren’t evil, per se, but they are distractions. They hide the true nature of the universe and cloud reality. They drain opponents and proponents of energies better used elsewhere for the betterment of our species.

    Never argue religion – if your discussion reaches that point, cease. You will be asked to disprove their fairy tale, their belief in it, their faith in it. They have already deluded themselves into it – how will you rationalize them out of it when they do not recognize rationality?

  • http://www.facebook.com/anna.hayward.9 Anna Hayward

    This is not directed at most of the posters on this blog, but if you are a Christian and claim to ‘love’ me, despite my being a gay, Buddhist, atheist or whatever, just remember that words are cheap. You can *say* all the nice, loving and non-judgmental things (“love the sinner not the sin” etc) but if you act like I’m something disgusting that has crawled out from under a rug, don’t be surprised if I don’t believe you.

    I’ve had a lot of pretty unpleasant encounters with fundamentalist Christians over the years, and I didn’t even have the misfortune to go to an ACE school. I tend to agree with Gandhi when he said “I like your Christ but I’m not sure I like you Christians”

  • http://wideopenground.com Lana

    Outright silly. Your post was not about atheism. It was not. As for ACE, it really is that bad. You never read an ACE pace and go, “man, I’ll have to think about this question more it’s so interesting.”

    Granted, one of my biggest beefs with ACE is its just too fundy, but the other problem is its just boring. Both are facts.

  • http://www.lookatthestateofthat.com latsot

    I can’t decide whether this is off-topic, but my favourite part was this:

    “he wouldn’t know Jesus if He walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder”.

    Where to begin on this? Who would? How would we recognise Jesus? On what basis would we know that someone randomly tapping on our shoulder was Jesus?

    Why would Creepy Jesus be sneaking up behind people and tapping them on the shoulder anyway?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    As Kylie Sturgess commented, “Jesus usually gives himself away by smelling of sandalwood when he sneaks up on you anyway.”

  • The_L

    And let’s not forget that despised argument: “You disagree with my position, therefore you cannot possibly understand my position at all.” Ugh.

  • The_L

    Well, given that literally the only things we know about you are:

    1. you are male, and

    2. you said the things above that were written by the person whose avatar Johnny censored in red;

    there really isn’t any other way to judge your character except by your words. That’s the thing about the Internet.

  • http://www.xanga.com/Amythist_Malaise sheila0405

    Right. And if you read those words with even a halfway open mind, you will see that Jonny is only pointing out his own observations and experiences. You need to look over this blog and read more entries to get an idea of what it is all about. I usually find that atheists are more capable of explaining why they don’t believe in God than a lot of us Christians are in explaining why we do. “It’s in the Bible” doesn’t work very well when the person with whom you are speaking does not believe that the Bible is the word of God.

  • http://gravatar.com/wjmacguffin WJ MacGuffin

    Religion is not “inherently crippling”. It’s the fundamentalist mindset that locks up the mind and refuses to allow for alternative ideas. There is no divide between religion and science–just between fundamentalism and science.

    To be honest, I’m a bit offended by your assertion that I’m harming my son by taking him to church. We are Catholics, but we believe in evolution and dismiss creationism. I won’t waste space here going into the traditional defense of religion, but to say that parents “impede a child’s development” by introducing religion in their lives is incorrect, if not hurtful. People can easily be religious and scientific–it’s been done for thousands of years.

    Your last paragraph, ironically, is rather fundamentalist. You are essentially arguing that you are absolutely correct, and don’t bother engaging in debate with people who disagree with you. Kettle, pot, black.

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    There is no divide between religion and science–just between fundamentalism and science.

    Two things here: the central tenets of all religions (usually) depend on certain fundamental beliefs not subject to adjudication and arbitration by reality… they are simply taken on board and accepted as a set of faith-based beliefs first, making all religions ‘fundamentalist’.

    The second thing is that teaching kids to trust faith-based beliefs (and the causal claims they make about reality) because they are based on accepted faith really does stand incompatible with all other claims adduced from reality’s arbitration of them. In this case we don’t simply assert a belief as true and grant it confidence unless we can justify that belief with compelling evidence adduced after being arbitrated by reality. This is a different method entirely. The problem arises when a faith-based belief stands contrary to an arbitrated belief: which one should the child trust? And here (looking at how we arrive at these different explanations) that we see the incompatibility in all its glory.

  • http://gravatar.com/wjmacguffin WJ MacGuffin

    “Two things here: the central tenets of all religions (usually) depend on certain fundamental beliefs not subject to adjudication and arbitration by reality… they are simply taken on board and accepted as a set of faith-based beliefs first, making all religions ‘fundamentalist’.”

    Nope. For example, Catholics believe in evolution. We take Genesis as a deeper, metaphorical truth, not literally what happened. And just because my belief in God is not subject to verification doesn’t mean it’s untrue. It doesn’t mean it’s true, either. It’s an unknown. Not all faiths are the same, so they are not all fundamentalist.

    “The second thing is that teaching kids to trust faith-based beliefs (and the causal claims they make about reality) because they are based on accepted faith really does stand incompatible with all other claims adduced from reality’s arbitration of them.”

    You are assuming every bit of every religion is always opposed to science and fact. I can believe God created the universe AND that the universe is billions of years old. The two are not mutually incompatible. There are differences, to be sure, and in my opinion, science trumps faith. And as long as faith doesn’t counter what has been proved true or false, then there’s no conflict. Fundamentalism says the opposite; faith trumps science. To me, that POV is dangerous because it requires dismissal of basic truths of math, logic, and discovery. Belief in a God, Goddess, or what have you doesn’t necessarily require that, because there is no proof canceling faith.

    Scientists assume gravitons exist, and that the GUT is out there, waiting to be discovered. Yet there is no proof of either. That’s not a dangerous road, is it? Allowing scientists to have faith in physics and objects that have not been discovered?

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    I don’t mean to derail Jonny’s post and go off on this tangant so I invite you to continue more commentary here if you wish.

    Suffice to say, you don’t understand your own catholicism if you believe it endorses the scientific understanding of evolution! It doesn’t. It stands contrary to it as a natural unguided physical process. This is why we call the catholic version theistic evolution… a hybrid version that tries to allow both natural selection (for which there is overwhelming evidence… even for humans) with divine intervention (for which there is zero evidence) and the claim for an insertion of a soul for humans at some historical moment. In addition, your claim that the Genesis creation account is viewed only as a metaphorical teaching tool is not supported by published catholic doctrine (I won’t give the catholic links here) but stands in conflict with it. Because there must be an historical event that justifies the heritability of Original Sin from a founding couple for which redemption then becomes necessary, your contrary belief makes the historical blood sacrifice by Jesus to be for a metaphorical story… and this is not tolerated inside your faith by its temporal leaders. You may believe your version represents catholic doctrine, but it does not in fact represent published catholic doctrine. The catholic claims are not adduced from reality but stand contrary to modern scientific explanations that inform therapies, technologies, and applications that work for everyone everywhere all the time.

    Again, the point I raise is that teaching children to accept faith-based beliefs (because you like the product) means you are teaching them to accept incompatible methods used to explain how things have come to be and the knowledge we use everyday to function in the reality we inhabit. But only one set of explanations – those derived from the scientific method – produces this knowledge. Faith-based belief – such as a belief that evolution is not unguided but in fact guided by a creative causal agency – produces claims about reality (specifically to justify the need for the guidance of this catholic god) that really do stand in conflict with this knowledge. Your assertion to the contrary does not align with compelling evidence that this incompatibility causes real effect, and very often causes real harm to real people in real life – such as robbing children of a good education where they learn how to think critically and creatively in the name of an accelerated christian education where this kind of thinking skill – and questioning behaviour associated with its development – is vilified and punished in the name of piety.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Thanks for offering an alternative forum for this, Tildeb. I’m glad conversations like this are happening, but you’re right this isn’t really on topic anymore.

    I won’t be joining in, save to say that I think you are making the mistake of assuming that individual believers must believe all the institutional dogma of their denomination. I don’t see why that should be the case. We wouldn’t do it in any other pursuit. If WJ is generally happy to identify as a Catholic but says (s)he (sorry, WJ – I don’t think I know your gender) rejects certain tenets held by other Catholics, that’s fine.

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    I agree, Jonny. I think people are welcome to believe whatever they want for whatever reasons they choose. This is a personal right.

    But I also want parents to be more willing to allow their kids exactly this same right (even if guided). In my mind, reasons to think that what’s good for the goose should also be used to say why the same exercise of this right should be good for the gander. But forcing children to take obedience training classes like ACE (okay, I’m being a but snarky here, I’ll grant you) rather than accessing secular education means the parents have already decided that they should be allowed special privilege to exercise power and authority in the name of religious freedom that they then wish to deny to their children. Something’s not right here. And it smells of hypocrisy.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Couldn’t agree more. But I think MJ MacGuffin is an ally in that respect. He’s no friend of ACE, that’s for sure.

  • republibotthreepointoh

    As a Christian and a former athiest, I have to say that people in general do kinda’ all hate atheists. At least in America. On the whole we (Americans) tend to find them preachy, condescending, tedious, and insulting. Most Americans are at least nominally religious, even if we don’t practice, most of us have at least a nebulous religious concept of some sort or another, and when we see someone carrying on like the late Mr. Hitchens, our first reaction is often, “What a dick!”

    Of course you know and I know and we all know that not all atheists are like that, and in fact Hitchens self-identified as an “antitheist,” not a mere atheist. Atheists in this country haven’t really done enough to distinguish between “I don’t believe in God” and “I don’t believe in God, and you’re a fool and I’ll ridicule you and everything you believe in and piss on things that are of no harm to anyone simply because they don’t meet with my personal vision of ideological purity.”

    When someone says, “See, this is why everyone hates atheists,” that’s basically what they’re saying: Everyone hates “Antitheists.” Which everyone kinda’ does on this side of the Atlantic. Well, not EVERYONE obviously, but the overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove. It’s just considered unacceptable to take a dump on someone’s beliefs. It’s also considered unacceptable when religious people do it. For instance, most Americans hate (Or strenuously disapprove) of the Westboro Baptist Church’s aggressively dickish behavior as well.

    >>Dehumanising the opposition is a common trait of fanatics;[...] In this case, a special set of ‘Christians’ have decided that people who don’t agree with them (ie ‘Atheists’) are not really human and so therefore don’t count in the general admonishments to love your enemy and be kind to people that most Christians are more familiar with in the Bible.<<

    No argument. That's true. There's also fanatical antitheists who've decided that people who don't agree with them (ie 'Theists') are subhuman inbred fools and don't really deserve the basic respect and politeness that everyone else gets.

    No one group has a monopoly on bad behavior.

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    Ah yes, the equivalent argument… except the stats don’t bear this out.

    Atheists on ‘this’ side of the ocean are the most distrusted group out of them all. And the reason? It ain’t because the group contains some dicks; it’s because, firstly, atheists are the out group, the minority, those who refuse to join the herd. Can’t trust such folk; they refuse to submit to god, for crying out loud. Bunch of nihilists ready to rape, pillage, and loot the faithful because they’ve no reason not to unless they fear the wrath of the Lord.

    And secondly, after all, everyone knows that morality comes from god and religious belief gives one access to it. Atheists, it is presumed incorrectly, cannot be equivalently moral people to those who are by religious membership. Ipso facto.

    Atheists are widely despised for their rejection of faith-based belief while still being far more moral as a group statistically than any equivalent religious group. Uh oh. How can this be?

    This cognitive dissonance is the problem from the theistic view, and it’s brought about by those darned atheists. We can’t get away from them. This brings us to the third reason: they are to blame for the discomfort of the religious. No atheists, no discomfort.

    Fourthly, atheists seem to be articulate, intelligent, reasonable, and nice people who also as a group seem to know a very great deal more about all kinds of religious stuff than the average believer. Again, this causes more cognitive dissonance. Surely, the reasoning goes, a believer should know more about his or her religious beliefs than someone who rejects them and offers pretty good arguments why. But religion is good. Uh oh.

    Faced with more cognitive discomfort, the believer retreats into their biases and prejudices because at least everyone knows that these are morally acceptable! And nothing is more acceptable than holding disdain for atheists; everyone does.

  • republibotthreepointoh

    Well, we haven’t spoken before, so I don’t know which side of the Atlantic you’re talking about, but there’s some truth to what you say. I think you’re unnaturally limiting it by making it a ‘shirts versus skins’ conflict, though. Humans evolved from predatory pack hunters. Clan identity is very important for animals like that, it was important to our ancient ancestors, and hence there’s some legacy of it in our own psychology. Our own sense of self is in large part dependent upon the group we belong to. To some extent we’re wired to distinguish “Us” from “That bunch over there” simply as a means of ego defense. This is a legacy of 3 million years of evolution, and we can’t just wish it away because it’s inconvenient. Nor can we pretend it’s the purview of only ONE group of humans.

    So to that extent I agree with you: the presense of “Other” is always going to discomfit one group or another. The part where I disagree is that our definition of “Other” is generally rather random, and if there isn’t an immediately obvious distinction within a group, we’ll CREATE one just so we can exclude people. Case in point: Racism is deplorable. Racism is generally thought of along racial lines. But if you’re in a situation that’s only got caucasians in it, you’ll just pick one group and decide they’re not caucasian enough (Italians) or the wrong KIND of caucasians (Irish) or whatever, and it’s all just basically a capricious distinction to pump up whatever group YOU happen to belong to. (I don’t mean “You” specifically, obviously, just too tired really dicker with my grammar. Sorry.)

    Or take the subject of religion: you say religion is bad. I say religion is good. You say my group pillories your group. No doubt we have. I can also point to plenty of examples of the opposite being true. And yet what are we fighting about here? What is the basis of exclusion and “Otherness?” Is it race? Social status? Language? Nationality? Nope, it’s just an idea that may or may not be true. If that ain’t arbitrary, I don’t know what is.

    Majority/Minority conflict and discomfort is…only questionably universal. My dad grew up in Canada in the 1930s/40s. There was no anti-black racism to speak of not because there were no Canadian black folk, but rather because their numbers were small enough and concentrated enough that majority society didn’t feel any threat. And it was much easier to hate the French. Or take American Indians like my wife: back in the day, they were hated and oppressed. I personally hung around with the A.I.M. for years, so I’m pretty well aware of their plight. But they exist in such trivially small numbers now that they pose no threat at all to majority society, so the Majority isn’t discomfited. In fact, they think the minority is kinda’ cool, despite knowing nothing about ‘em, and the minority frequently having politics that are radically opposed to the majority.

    Likewise, very large minorities (Like, say, Germans in the US in the 19th century, or Hispanics and Blacks now) don’t trouble the majority much. So there’s thresholds involved on both ends. I don’t think you can simply say “We make them feel bad so they hate us” or “We make them question their stupid beliefs, so they hate us,” or “They’re dumb and we’re smart, so they hate us.” I think it’s more like you said, a case of simply refusing to belong and hence being excluded.

    “Hate” and “Exclusion” are not entirely the same thing, by the way. There are plenty of groups that are designated “Other” but aren’t hated. Hate is more often attributed to behavior or rhetoric, such as Mr. Hitchens dickish “Everyone’s an idiot except for me” aggression. He doesn’t speak for all atheists, nor even all antitheists, but he kinda’ pretended to, and Theists kinda’ believed him.

  • http://gravatar.com/castille360 castille360

    Frankly, I don’t trust people who believe their morality is a result of their religion. Anyone who only does the right thing because they believe someone is watching requires constant watching, you know?

    But that bit about not exposing children to religion. I was thinking on that. I feel the opposite. I never hesitate to take my kids to religious events or services, and have brief discussions about the core beliefs of different faiths and what differentiates them from others. Understanding what a group believes exactly, before getting pulled in by their welcome, I think is especially important. The kids should be well versed in the faiths of our culture, since these things are going to come up again and again in politics, literature and social interaction. I want them to be wholly literate in this way. We talk about what we agree with in a particular faith and what we don’t. I stopped being a ‘believer’ when I was in middle school, and I’ll tell you why. I actually read the bible during those long during Sunday services. The whole thing. And it was eye opening. I’d like my own kids to have the same opportunity to really see and examine critically what these faiths are and why people might participate in them in order to find their own paths.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    Welcome to the blog, Castille360. It’s good to have you here, and thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  • republibotthreepointoh

    >>But that bit about not exposing children to religion. I was thinking on that. I feel the opposite. I never hesitate to take my kids to religious events or services, and have brief discussions about the core beliefs of different faiths and what differentiates them from others. Understanding what a group believes exactly, before getting pulled in by their welcome, I think is especially important. The kids should be well versed in the faiths of our culture, since these things are going to come up again and again in politics, literature and social interaction. I want them to be wholly literate in this way. We talk about what we agree with in a particular faith and what we don’t.<<

    I'm in complete total 100% agreement. I'm a Christian, but I've never hesitated to expose my kids to different religions, religious services, religious ideas. I got two different translations of the Koran on the shelf behind me and an Adi Granth, the Gathas of Zoroaster. Religion is cool. Religion is fun. Religion is interesting. Even ones I don't believe in are pretty neat. Granted, I'm evidently rather unusual in thinking that, but still….

    (This part isn't directed at you, Castille)

    I also think it's unreasonable to expect a parent who's a believer NOT to teach their kids about what they believe. I mean, if a parent TRUELY believes in something, and TRUELY believes that their kid will go to hell without it, what kind of parent WOULDN'T feel compelled to pass that on to their kid, along with other important information like "Fire is hot" and "Don't drink and drive" and "don't pick fights?" A good way to check the logic of stuff like that is simply to turn it around.

    Someone on here said essentially 'it's ok to believe there's a God if you have to, but it's wrong to pass that on to their kids.' Ok, so what if a believer were to say 'it's ok to disbelieve in a God if you have to, but it's wrong to pass that disbelief on to your kids.' That's just silly.

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    catille360,

    I too think that learning about all the major religious belief systems and their practices are very important for all the reasons you outlined. What I am against is exposing children not to comparative religious studies but to religious indoctrination… presenting religious tenets as if true.

    Like you, reading the bible was a real eye-opener, especially when people presumed it was a doctrine of moral behaviour; later comparing and contrasting various versions another popping eye-opener. I always found it remarkable that the most pious believers generally seemed to know the least about these source documents. This was a clue I thought important…

    What could be more important than finding out if this god or that were actually true, actually real, that these scriptural rules from this one but not from that one were essential to living with divine sanction? If god were an active interventionist causal agency in the world then I wanted to know something about it, but all my studies kept providing me with more and more clues that something was rotten in the state of Denmark: no religious source could provide me with an independent way to determine if a claim were actually true. I couldn’t honestly and satisfactorily answer the question, “How do I know if this claim is true?” In the span of a single year I had seen faith in action in apartheid South Africa and seen faith in action at Auschwitz and seen faith in action in the Six Days War and seen faith in action in Soviet Russia and seen faith in action during the fall of Prague and knew without a doubt that faith of any kind acted upon as a means to justify an action was a guaranteed way to fool one’s self into believing stuff that interfered with coping well with reality.

    So my criticism against indoctrinating children has to do with teaching them how to be gullible and credulous: by learning that belief alone can justify action and that this is a supposedly a virtue when all of reality stands contrary to this assertion. In addition, acting on faith-based beliefs causes real victims, causes harm to real people in real life. Teaching children to think this way, to empower respect for faith-based beliefs, I think isn’t just a travesty about how to function well in this world but actively supports a way of thinking that causes harm to everyone it touches. And I call that kind of teaching child abuse.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    I agree with you that if it were true you can go to hell for not knowing Jesus, it would be negligent not to tell your children. This is why the unhelpful and arguably unbiblical concept of hell needs to be banished.

    But I wouldn’t “pass my unbelief onto my children” (BTW, I prefer ‘non-belief’ ; unbeliever is a term used by fundamentalists to smear their critics). I would raise them as neutrally ad I realistically could. That’s what all the secular parents I know are doing too.

  • republibotthreepointoh

    Look, as a general rule, Fundamentalism doesn’t work. We all agree with that, right? I’m a Christian and a former fundamentalist, and fundamentalism drove me out of Christianity altogether for a long white. For some people – we’ve all met ‘em – it might be the only thing holding them together psychologically, but for most it’s needlessly strict and its worldview is often at right angles to observable reality. There’s no argument there.

    “Indoctrination” has a much more negative connotation than what I think is going on in most houselholds, though. Granted, I’m probably more of a free-thinker than most Christians, owing to my years of wandering, but in most of the households I grew up around, the basic teaching was more along the lines of “You are special because God loves you,” not “God’s going to send you to hell for not putting the cap back on the toothpaste tube.” “Indoctrination” makes it sound so fascist, and with (obvious) exceptions, it’s really not.

    Lemme give you an example: most Americans grow up believing America is the greatest country in the history of the world. That may not be true, but it’s a harmless belief most of the time, it makes us feel good, so where’s the harm? Most Americans grow up thinking a sense of social justice is really important. Now, from an evolutionary concept, there is absolutely NO basis in “Social Justice.” We all agree it’s a good thing, of course, but it’s something we humans made up, which doesn’t exist in nature. We all believe in love, though love has no observable reality, and is just a bunch of hormones, mating behaviors, social programming, and eventual conditioned response. It ain’t real. And yet it’s the only thing that makes life worth living, isn’t it? We all grow up with a favorite baseball team, and love ‘em or hate ‘em, few people change affiliation. These are harmless, and in some cases (Social Justice and Love) they’re beneficial. We’re not “Indoctrinated” into these, we pick ‘em up by osmosis. It’s human nature. We instinctively build communities, and communities are based around certain shared basic assumptions and codes of behavior. Many of these are admittedly arbitrary, but so what? If you’re fighting against that, you’re fighting against a behavior that evolved over millions of years and has some obvious suvival value.

    IE: a community is more likely to survive than an individual, and a community is more likely to protect one of its own members than it is someone who doesn’t belong.

    Look, I couldn’t give two shits about (American) football. I just don’t care. Never did, never will. My folks never attempted to “Indoctrinate” me in it. I found out on my own, however, that people talk about football a lot, and expect me to be able to talk about it too, as I’m a guy, and if I can’t, I’m weird. So eventually I realized that I had to feign interest. I check the scores, try to remember who won what, and leaned to repeat some frequently-heard sports mating calls like “[name] is a lousy coach” or “is the best quarterback in the NFL.” I can fake my way through conversation. Should I HAVE to do this? No. But it’s a social lubricant. It gives you something to bond over and talk about (Or pretend to talk about in my case), and gets me invited to parties. Granted, they’re boring football parties, but, hey, free hamburgers.

    Likewise, most people in America are at least nominally religious, and perhaps a third are more than nominally so. Being conversant is a social lubricant, it avoids conflicts, it helps you spot a fanatic from a more normal believer, and gets you invited to parties. Again they’re pretty boring parties, but, hey: free hamburgers.

    The overwhelming majority of ex-Christians on this site is testament to the fact that regardless of their “Indoctrination,” people are free to leave Christianity at any time. People do it all the time. *I* did it. So I don’t really understand the concept of Christianity as Though Police.

    Now then: off to church…

  • http://creationsciencestudy.wordpress.com creation science study

    I believe that atheists should be rounded up and executed. They’ve chosen to reject the salvation of Jesus and are going to Hell anyway, so why not get them started on the path early? http://creationsciencestudy.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/should-we-stone-atheists/

    I’m Jim Solouki, and I’m a True Christian

  • http://www.kevin-long.com Kevin Long

    Morning Jim. I’ll keep this short as I’m literally out the door and on my way to church right now. Suffice to say that there is nothing in the Bible to support your genocidal ideas. In fact, quite the opposite. Jesus says quite clearly that we should allow the wheat and the tares to grow up alongside each other, and he’ll separate them after death or at the final judgement.

    Way to give us a bad name!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism jonnyscaramanga

    It’s satire Kevin. Up to you whether you like it or not, of course.

  • http://www.kevin-long.com Kevin Long

    Ugh. Stupid me, I fell for it. Sorry.

  • http://gravatar.com/prairienymph prairienymph

    Ahh! My in-laws have used that one many times. They forget that we used to preach the same things they do. We couldn’t have really believed it, since we no longer believe it.


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