Have you ever noticed how much fun it is to preach to the choir? When everybody agrees with everything you say you can walk away confirmed that you are right with the world. Lately I have been irritated with the news and talk radio hosts. They have been preaching to the choir so much that they all just pat themselves on the back and agree with each other. When someone calls in to dissagree with them they are short with them or cut them off and talk about their own stuff. So all the callers have become people with the same religion talking politics in the same way day after day. They have cut the diversity out of talk radio. I love to hear what other people are thinking, especially about religion and especially if they are going to include their religion into politics. The politicians who reveal their religious beliefs are putting up a poster that says " If you don't have the same religion as I do then don't vote for me"

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It is easier to cut short the voices of dissent than to debate with them. The problem with theists is that they only reaffirm their beliefs by meeting people with the same beliefs rather than reaffirming them by having them challenged. They only tolerate like-minded people to get their biases confirmed. If they had to deal with challenges then they would end up becoming Atheists!!

I wrote an incoherent response to this last night, but somehow it turned into a mini-rant about Ann Coulter, and she's not really worth discussing, so I removed it and went to bed.

Still, the basic point I wanted to get across holds true. I can see past the circle-jerking itself without disdain; it's when it turns into a pity party and self-victimization that I start to condemn. You end up with these festering delusions that dissenters are merely intolerant of the group's views -- trying to silence the circle's free speech --, ignoring any and all possibility that what dissenters are really pissed off about is the actions of the group which harm others. It's just cowardice in the face of reality.

 Reaffirmation is one factor learning new info/arguments is the other. It's no different than me listening to an Atheist podcast or even interacting with a site such as Think Atheist.

 You are doing the same as they are with this post. And when people come to this site with a difference of opinion then they get about the same treatment.

 "when the nail pops up it gets hammered down."

-Mac Lethal

It becomes a question of degrees and perhaps principle. When people with differences of opinion come to TA, they do not get summarily banned, and while there is invariably some name-calling or uncivil behaviour, legitimate dialogue does occur. Even amongst the in-group of atheists, free-thinkers, agnostics (et al.), there can be a considerable amount of dissent on issues big and small. There are trends in views here, but no group policy or ideology.

The same can be said of many religious people and groups as well, I am sure, but I don't think the OP was addressing merely finding communities of like minds. Theists on this site will be arguing a minority opinion, and that will be taxing and likely result in most theists giving up on the site eventually (few are banned). Incidentally, theists will not be common on this site though there is no prohibition to their membership. That is different, however, from creating an environment where only like ideas are permitted, and dissent is rejected not on the basis of reason, but rather the superiority of numbers or as a matter of doctrine.

 "It becomes a question of degrees and perhaps principle."

"when people come to this site with a difference of opinion then they get ABOUT the same treatment."

 I do understand your point but what I was trying to illustrate was that it's human nature -it seems -to do that. I don't want to hear what those jackass' have to say in defense of their make believe God. I could care less if they were banned from this site. They most likely won't change their minds after having visited this site. Get'em out of here for all I care. 

 I don't have anymore desire to call in to a right wing religious program than I have to go into a Klan rally to try to reason with them... That would be idiotic of me. Why? (among the obvious reasons) It would just annoy me. Then I'd have to come complain to like minded people for reaffirmation.

What I am saying is that they do NOT get about the same treatment.

They are not taken seriously. They may as well be hung up on. "a question of degrees" I summed in one word: "About".

Nonsense. "Dr. Bob" is a recent example of a theist who has not been 'hung up on'. Even if he has been called names or is not always appreciated in threads, there has been lengthy dialogue with him which is far from outright dismissal. If you want me to dig, I can find more. Threads started by theists are often the longest with plenty of members who are champing at the bit to both answer and present challenges.

Kris – you point about groups feeling victimized by dissenters is valid. Many cults like Jehovah Witnesses produce pamphlets about “the rise of New Atheism”. This is done not so much to show followers that other people may not hold the same belief as they do, but to reinforce an “Us and Them” mentality. Why would people of faith be so upset if others don’t believe? To answer my own question, it is because the need to reinforce the differences to give more credence to their own. It makes them feel special and in turn makes them almost intolerant of those who don’t believe.  If you win the lotto, why be so upset with people that did not? (maybe a poor analogy).

So between the sense of elitism engendered by holding their beliefs and the sense of victimization created by having to protect them from unbelievers they become increasingly intolerant. We are not dissenters as they wish to portray us, we just don’t believe what they believe. The see our passive disbelief as an aggressive assault……like that “sleeping furiously” quote by  AC Grayling

When theists come to this site and post in a respectful and civil manner they are almost always welcomed. We welcome the challenge. I am open to discussing anything with them. I have tried to politely comment on a few Christian forums in the past. The vitriol and abuse that comes from them is not short of vile.

Jared - an Atheist listening to an Atheist podcast on an Atheist website is not necessarily a case of reaffirmation. It might be though if they refused point blank to listen to anything else. I have yet to meet an Atheist like that. I have however met plenty of believers that will not engage with anyone with a different viewpoint. So even on the first page of this post we can have 3 Atheists with 3 different viewpoints. That is why I return. Not to have my views given a hug but to have them given a kicking. I am sure you are the same…:-). Imagine that on Christians Radio!!

The thing is I can't imagine that on christian radio. Because it is just that: "christian radio".

I hear a lot of people complain about being accosted by Christians who just want to argue with them and beat down their views then they eventually go on to criticize Christians for not wanting to hear their views. I think people are just nit picky in general.

I also said "Reaffirmation is one factor learning new info/arguments is the other." Yes I do all of these so called atheist things for both reasons. Sometimes I'm on a train of thought and I just want to know if it holds water. Other times -yes -kick my butt...

 I'm honestly not trying to be a jerk (perhaps it's natural) but I'm not going to show up at a golf tourney and be upset (with questions about it) when they don't want to play football.

"The vitriol and abuse that comes from them is not short of vile." Now you know. So do you still do this? Did you come here annoyed with questions as to !why! they do this?

 There is radio out there for everyone. I don't get this because I don't for a second misunderstand their agenda. "Oh perhaps they'll let me go ahead and politely tell them my opinion."

 We know that these ppl believe some crap because it makes them somehow feel better, blah blah blah -we know all of this about them.

 There really isn't much that someone can challenge me with once I decided I don't believe and more so that it is not helpful for me to consider.


Actually. I'm wrong. I do have a solution for this though: Let's call them and simply ask them to change their format!

“The vitriol and abuse that comes from them is not short of vile." Now you know. So do you still do this? Did you come here annoyed with questions as to why they do this?

No, I don’t but I was invited to join a Christian Forum by Christians because they claimed to want different opinions. I was surprised at how disgusting many of them when it came to basic civility. I never once made a negative comment. I only asked a few questions about the role of prophecy. But I was not annoyed, even though I did expect something more intelligent and polite. I am around too long to be irked by sheep.  I refused to sink to their level of abuse which only served to make them worse. So I asked them what they thought of 2 Timothy 2: 24-26

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

I should have kept the transcript of the replies...it was hilarious.  Jesus Wept. Then I forgave them and left. :-)


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