There seems to be some who have the attitude that religious people are BAD people. If a religious person does anything good in their life it is seen by some that they are only doing it for their eternal life not for the sake of doing something good. As if the only thing they live for is their eternal so-called reward in heaven. 

Is it black and white?

Are they bad people just because they believe in God? There are many good people who are believers. Many. They may not have fully thought through WHY they believe in God or the evidence that supports that there IS no evidence for a God or they would be Atheists. But just because they haven't walked the same journey you have in life, or were born in to a religious family, does this make them a bad person?

Some of you seem to think that just because a person believes in a God, this somehow makes them bad. If you truly believe this I have a questions for you:

Who are YOU to judge another person like that? Are you not then just as judgmental and closed minded as the very people who you say are bad people? Does this make YOU a bad person?

Think about it.

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Very well and wisely said. Thank you, Milos.

As a pragmatist, I judge (and we all judge) others by their actions and words.  This, however, becomes complicated, as our society (whether one claims to be Christian or not) is heavily influenced by Christian dogma--such as the belief that we, as humans "can't help ourselves" and we will do bad things because we are "imperfect".  This belief stems from Christian doctrines, and is entirely FALSE.  In fact, we all have the ability to make our own choices--and we can choose to make the right ones.  It's as simple as that. 

Society has become screwed because of this belief--and the only way to save humanity is to change the way we think. 

I agree, Cathy.

But some of us won't change the way we think. We will save only some of humanity.

Hm-mm, which "some of humanity" will it be? And what will the reasons be?

Are religious folks 'bad people', NO, not as a class. As in any class/group you find variation. I expect a few are 'in it for the money'. A few for 'power'. Many for 'principle'. Many for 'fellowship'. Many for 'nothingelse better to do'. And many more 'too happy to change'.

Do you really think people are either bad or good?  To my mind, people are both.  Some people allow their negative side to flourish, some don't.  Some face obstacles we couldn't even dream of and remain pleasant.  Others can meet a minor hiccup and react as if the world has come to an end.  That's just how people are.

I think religion is dangerous and sad at the same time.  It is dangerous because the power and authority it enables gets abused too frequently.  It is sad, because it prevents people from realising their full potential as humans, and encourages the abdication of responsibility.  But "bad" and "good" are not appropriate terms to describe people.

Actions (verbal or physical) can be negative in their social effect, and there is a tendency to utilise religion as some kind of authority to enable prejudice.  This is predominantly because religions developed from tribal communities, where any non-member would have been considered a potential threat to the tribe's continuation. 

I will judge who I please, when I please.  It is not relevant how I judge people.  It is only relevant if I allow my judgement to lead me to carrying out some kind of action (verbal or physical) that has a negative effect on others.  I am aware of my actions, and I choose to limit the negative potential in me.

What I think you are really saying, and do correct me if I am wrong here, is that you feel that the atheists on this site are not warm and welcoming to theists when they come here.  We don't attempt to coddle them into releasing their beliefs.  And part of that, is simply because they need to think for themselves.  If we acted like a replacement center for their religious community, they would potentially be swapping one kind of obedience for another.  There are sites set up to specifically help those who need support for their loss of religion. 

If a theist comes here, they are already aware that we are atheists.  Some of us react in a gentle way, some of us in a vehement way.  But we are not stereotypical - there is no such thing as a stereotypical atheist.  Each person here will agree with some points others make, and disagree with other points - sometimes quite outspokenly.

In the end, there is no "group motivation" to de-convert.  I do not have a problem with theists or deists that don't feel they want to impose their belief system or inherent prejudices on me or on others that do not wish it.  Were I to attempt to de-convert someone who is happy in their theism, that would make me as wrong as those people who attempt to convert me.

Theists ask - we explain.  Theists tell - we refute.  Theists preach - we respond however we feel motivated.

Do you really think people are either bad or good?  To my mind, people are both.

Exactly. Everyone has a little of both in them. It's therefore unfair to say that a person is bad just because they believe in God.

What I think you are really saying, and do correct me if I am wrong here, is that you feel that the atheists on this site are not warm and welcoming to theists when they come here.

I think that theists are welcome here if they behave properly. I felt welcomed yet challenged and I got my ass kicked at times but it made me a better person for it. I'm really saying that I see a prevailing attitude on TA that makes me think that people do not like "theists." Whether or not that actually comes out of their mouth is irrelevant, whether or not they say "it's the religion I don't like, not the person," or whatever justification one can make for their behavior, I do see a strong bias and almost knee-jerk reaction against people and an assumption that they are bad just because they believe in God. I've seen it and I'm pointing it out. It's been on my mind for a while and I just hadn't ever said anything because I knew it might ruffle some feathers. Remember I'm coming from very recently having left a religious perspective that I was extremely devoted to and believed with everything I had and some of those beliefs and/or ways of life haven't disappeared. I believe this allows me to see the world through BOTH perspectives. And I can tell you from the perspective of a theist, atheists can be hateful and condescending. I'm pointing out to the "old timers" and anyone else who feels very strongly about the subject that they would be wise to be careful, or their so-called altruistic intentions of making a theist wake up and smell the roses may (and in many cases will) result in a person being thrust further into their delusional beliefs than before. It almost happened to me. I'm not trying to even talk just about TA. I'm talking about any interaction we have with another human being. On facebook, at work, in real life...I'm challenging people. That's all.

So Belle, what would you suggest, as an alternative?  I agree that atheism hasn't got its act together in this regard. 

"Everyone has a little of both in them...."

An American theologian / political activist, Reinhold Niehbuhr (1892-1971), put it this way (approx):

There is enough good in the worst of us, and enough bad in the best of us, that it behooves none of us to talk about the rest of us.

Tom - I agree.  On a related note, from the Buddhist psychotherapist, John Welwood:  

"The word compassion literally means “feeling with.”  You can’t have compassion unless you’re first willing to feel what you feel.  Opening to what you feel reveals a certain rawness and tenderness—what Trungpa Rinpoche spoke of as the “soft spot,” which is the seed of bodhicitta [kindheartedness]." 

People who really know themselves can understand others better.  People who can admit their badness can understand it in others. 

It's not "atheism" that hasn't got it's act together. It's the prevailing and growing attitude propitiated by Dawkins and others (I only mention Dawkins since I included his video on the thread) that theists must be treated with ridicule and contempt. It's people even on this site who whine about being mistreated for being an atheist while forgeting they just called a theist mentally insane.

It makes me ashamed to see theists mocked and ridiculed with no effort made to come together for understanding. If it weren't for those truly TRULY kind hearted, altruistic, atheists who actually cared enough about me as a PERSON who got to know ME and be my friend and really explain what it means to be an atheist and why it is a more mature position, trust me, I would have walked away from TA believing even more so in an invisible God. Had I not looked deeper than face value I wouldn't have seen the truth behind the hurtful words.

I'm not suggesting people change. I'm suggesting people think about it. That's all. Just think about it. And stop classifying all theists as bad people. They are people. Treat them as such and you may find out that they actually listen to your position more openly. But to mock them or ridicule with contempt (Dawkins words, not mine) - is certainly NOT the answer.

Richard Dawkins doesn't know when to shut up.  In my opinion, in his position, he should be more responsible and just use his brain more.  If I've come up with an alternative - he should have done the same, it wasn't difficult, and he's much more brainy than me. 

Belle, I think it's up to you to present some kind of alternative position which other people can learn from and follow.  If you've got the ideas - you put them together, since no-one else is going to.  That's all that RD does.  His ideas aren't even particularly good.  He just has a big mouth and lots of money.  He's in a position of authority since he went to Cambridge and is a famous scientist, and is very brainy.  Well, we all have a brain and a computer.  It's all about the D.I.Y. action.  

I like some things about Richard Dawkins. I like his God Delusion video for example, A LOT. Again..he's not all bad, LOL!!! There's a LOT of good to him too. But see here's the difference:

I can say that....and not feel like I'm betraying any rational position of mine. I actually really DO like Dawkins. But I don't like his approach to theists in the video I linked above in this thread.

How many atheists I wonder could say the same thing about a theist. Let's name a few: Dr. James Dobson, Chuck Swindoll, Alistair Begg, John Lennox...I wonder after I post this comment how many people are going to come back at me and say how many bad things there are about these men just because they are theists. On the other hand I would be pleasantly surprised of some people spoke up and said a few things about them that are admirable. That would shock the socks off me. But no, I anticipate that the usual will probably go through people's minds and the argument against the injustices of religion will prevail above the ability to recognize the positive attributes of these men.

What if being a free thinker involved the ability to identify with religions to the extent that you could refute their claims based on their own language? It would require some humbling and empathy. But it would go a longer way in allowing atheists to be heard for what atheism really is as opposed to turning people off with contempt and ridicule. 

I am not going to suggest anything further on this thread because it is not my place. My only position at this time is to make people think. That's all. If I can at least do that then I have succeeded. 

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