A sneaky double standard

For the last seven years scarcely a day has gone by when I didn’t wind up sparring with somebody claiming god exists.  In that time I have come to realize that the only tool in their arsenal more plentiful than excuses for why they do not need evidence is conversation-stoppers – things that are supposed to get us to be quiet.  These are things like insisting that criticizing them is unmannerly or “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

But Michaelyn wrote a post the other day in which she identified one I’d never caught, but should have.

Here’s why I hate starting arguments with believers: When atheists start arguments with believers, they’re seen as assholes. When believers start arguments with atheists they’re seen as good people trying to save our souls. This should change.

And quite so.

When we say faith is flimsy and dangerous to a shared world, we are the ones who just can’t seem to live and let live.  However, when those commanded to share the good word obey, they are noble servants of the lord.

It’s a double-standard that needs to be done away with, but not by asking that everybody live and let live.  No, everybody should jump in and contribute to the conversation.  What I believe dictates the way I interact with the world, how I vote, and how I treat my neighbors.  My beliefs are the business of those they affect and I’ll not pretend otherwise.  People should try to change my mind.

Likewise to the other side.  Their beliefs are my business once they step out of their home or church.  This environment, where ideas are scrutinized and made to be defended, is lethal to faith.  Which is why conversation-stoppers exist.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.