I had a small thought earlier: that there is no such thing as a christian, because there is no such thing as god.
This sounded strange, even in my own head, and so I examined it, and tried it out on things that are already acknowledged as false:
Then things began to make more sense to me.
I think there might possibly be something to this, because of the way people interact: we always, by default, try to match our logic to the arguments of the other side. If we consider all people to be simply people and don't acknowledge their fan clubs to their invisible friend<s>, they will be forced to try to present themselves in such a way as to justify their fan clubs (and by extension, their funny hats, facial hair, arm bands, and policies on genocide). This would, in effect, stop bringing the argument to their terms, and force them to look at themselves.
Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Tell me what you think.
Belief in The Force wouldn't make somebody a Jedian, they would be labelled as somebody who thinks they are a Jedi. The same goes for anybody who speaks elvish and professes that it is the true tongue; they think they are an elf.
Whether or not belief in the christian mythology has a name, it does not need (and indeed, does not deserve) one- the same with the belief in the Quran, etc. we should instead have people who think the bible is true and so on. Labeling each belief with a separate word gives an undeserved sense of recognition to each religion, and this is something I would argue against. a blanket term? sure- Theism works, lets use it! - but individual names seem to be special liberty, and completely undeserved.
I think there might possibly be something to this, because of the way people interact: we always, by default, try to match our logic to the arguments of the other side.
I don't think we match our logic to the other side. We have to meet their arguments and claims with our logic and facts.
Aha! The habits of my past creep into the present. I am more accustomed to the theistic reality of having a group of 'believers' who act according to a central doctrine.
It is encouraging to know that this is already happening; I would suggest that any atheist who is not doing this actively, who sees fit to do so, begin doing this.
To be more clear:
My habits were (are): of thinking of any belief that I hold as being the beliefs of a group that will cluster around a solid argument.
By "we" I was (unthinkingly) referring to all atheists, as if we were a group.
Lastly, in reply to the question "In what sense do we not do that now?" I wrote the second half of my reply: "It is encouraging to know that this is already happening; I would suggest that any atheist who is not doing this actively, who sees fit to do so, begin doing this."
I find the wording doesn't quite work. As Nelson has pointed out, there's a clear semantic issue. That said, I think the underlying concept is fair.
It's hard to wield though. I hit a point in the same-sex marriage debate where I thought to myself "Enough is enough. God isn't telling you to be a homophobe. This much is clear because there is no God." It can't be used as an effective argument in debate though. If I declare that there is no God, I have to back that declaration up. That's not really a debate I want to have.
It is a useful mindset to have though, and my understanding is that's what you were getting at. When someone tries to bring up religion as a defense for their position, I tend to hack that bullshit off at the knees (although in some cases it's not doable). There's no need to placate imaginary deities because those deities will never fight back. I don't really need to placate the people making religious arguments because, again, there's no deity actually backing them up. In line with your thread title, I find the trick is to make religious arguments irrelevant to the conversation as early as possible and shift the focus straight to real arguments. "If... but... maybe... God..." nothing.
broadly speaking, i think western culture (at least the secular-humanist aspects) is set up in such a way as to do just what you suggest in the final paragraph. it's what the principle of separation of church and state is all about anyway. when someone commits a crime their belief system has nothing to do with how they are treated by law (ideally anyway).
people are entitled to believe what they believe, but if i think they're wrong, or insane lol, i'm gonna tell em if they start pushing their bs in my face, and i'm going to fight them when they try to take control of the system. insane or not, as has been said, and unfortunately so, there are a great many irrational, and in my view basically insane, theists (can you be a rational theist? i guess there are plenty of mostly rational people who are also theists, but they're not really the ones that are causing the trouble i suppose) who have a great deal of influence in the world. so i guess we are forced to deal with them.
How is what I am suggesting truly different from what you have pointed out? If you commit a crime, your belief system does not matter (again, ideally); Theism is, in a very real way, a crime against logic and common sense, and should not be acknowledged as a valid world view when it is compared against logic and facts.
People will always believe what they want to, but the biggest barrier I see to people realizing they don't really believe anything is habit, not active thought; I am suggesting that we stop acknowledging their habits as valid or useful in the hope that they will see that the habits are not so, and in the hope that being boldly confronted to a more logical world view will force them to think, and ideally, come to a logical conclusion.
I think I may understand what Choscura is trying to say. I will give you an example from my life which I think applies to this. The thing is that Christians are still pretty rational people outside the scope of their religion. The trick is for them to apply their rationality on their religion willfully and cause a clash.
Example: GRANDMA: Did you pass your exam?
ME: Yes, I did.
GRANDMA: Oh, thank God! I prayed you would.
ME: You should have told me you prayed. If I knew, I wouldn`t have wasted my time studying.
GRANDMA: No, no. You must study, otherwise you will fail your exams.
ME: But you just said that I passed because you prayed to god (my god being without a capital letter). Either I have passed because you prayed to god and then it doesn`t matter whether I studied or not, or I have passed because I studied and would have passed even if you didn`t pray for me.
GRANDMA: God can help you but He will only do so if He sees you trying.
ME: But if he expects me to do something before he would help me, why would I ever expect him to help me when I have learned to do it myself?
GRANDMA: There are things you can`t do yourself.
ME: But if there are things which I can`t do myself I would rather to not be able to do them than I would for someone else to do it for me because it would not be something that I have done myself through hard work
ME: Isn`t it unfair to people who try their best but failing because they haven`t prayed?
ME: You must admit that I have passed because I studied.
ME: And since I did not want anyone`s help, I wasn`t given any.
GRANDMA: Yes. But I prayed for you.
ME: God certainly wouldn`t give help to people who do not want it nor pray for it.
ME: Then there was no need for you to pray. And if I failed, it would have been because I hadn`t studied enough and not because I hadn`t prayed.
GRANDMA: I guess you`re right. You have to be responsible and accept the consequences of your actions. You shouldn`t rely on prayer as an easy way out.But if praying helps me one way or another...
ME: That`s another point completely. But I am glad you understand you cannot rely on prayer for things.
GRANDMA: I guess it would be irresponsible. Hmmm... you really have a point there.
This is a very condensed summary but the prevailing mechanism was that, as the dialogue progressed, my grandma increasingly used rational criteria for assessing strictly religious behaviors with the degree of my intervention constantly decreasing. Point being: a very large percentage of religious people are responsible, rational, believe in free will, etc. You just need to make them try applying those criteria to the things which are usually outside their jurisdiction
This is long and drawn out and frankly a bit more brutal than anything I have in mind, but it is more to the point I was making than it is against it.
The process of realizing your religion is false is unpleasant enough on it's own, and the unpleasant attitude of many atheists is a contributing factor to the unwillingness of most religious people to listen to reason, even their own reason: When all the pink fuzzy mists are stripped away and the stark cold reality occurs to people, it is disarming and unpleasant, and every event in your life takes on a new, usually sour, perspective: all the friends you have lost that you vaguely planned to see in heaven will no longer be waiting for you, all pledges of loyalty to your religious 'tribe' seem to be in vain, and worse, you see yourself as abandoning the tribe. To be welcomed into this newly awakened world view not by somebody who understands and is willing to be there for you and talk with you, but by someone who considers you an idiot for ever having been metaphorically asleep, is to invite the defensive reaction- again metaphorically- of hitting the snooze button and rolling over to return to a pleasant dream.
I know what you are talking about. However, there is no way to go around the "unpleasant attitude" things. I practically put forth an ultimatum: either I need to study because there are no other working alternatives to passing an exam, or prayer can influence things and therefore I am not responsible for doing my best and working hard for a grade. The thing is that I took my position for granted, e.g. I talked about atheism as if it was the natural attitude to hold (and it is). There is no way to make religious people seriously consider atheism if it doesn`t get on as a plausible, more coherent, and a more natural attitude towards things (which, again, it is). If you act more "you have your opinions, I have mine" you are far less likely to get into a conflict and infinitely less times likely to produce any lasting effect on their attitude.
This doesn`t mean you must show disrespect towards the person or to not give her an opportunity to state her opinion. But it does mean that you must show disrespect to irrational, deluded, incoherent or logically implausible beliefs by exposing them for what they are. The religious person must realize that the belief with which it identifies with is not an inseparable part of who they are but rather like an appendix, or, what would be more appropriate, a benign tissue which does not do anything, but if left unsupervised it might become malign. The reason why believers take any attack on their religious attitudes so personally is exactly because they find it a core part of their identity. We must explain that falsifying someone`s claim is not the same as embarrassing that person by calling her an idiot. Unlike religion, atheism can only be called a part of someone`s personality to the same extent as the absence of a belief in a Flying Spaghetti Monster can.