My interactions with some Atheist has lead me to believe that many put more emphasis on showing how "smart" they are instead of being "smart."  I can see why Christians and other "Theist" who haven't figured out that superstition ain't the way, get turned off by "uppity" folk who seem to talk down to them because their reference is usually a 2000 year old book filled with contradictions.  The Atheist I know, especially many of the white ones, are trapped into a techno intellectual mode that I think serves no real purpose but to their own ego because communication is sharing ideas, not vocabulary, the "art" of rhetoric, or enjoying mental masturbation. OK so you know god doesn't exist, now what?

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Comment by CJoe on March 26, 2012 at 12:33pm

So now many of us want to fight for the rights of all humanity, and even animals or the planet at large. With our religious now glasses removed, we can see that women have only ever been subjugated because of what religious books have said about them; we can see that no race is inferior and that no human is obligated to be another's slave/servant; we can see that we don't have dominion over the animals, but should learn to live in harmony with them and protect their habitats because their health is in direct correlation to our own.This universe wasn't created for us so we have to learn to be respectful of its limitations, not act as though we are entitled to all its resources.

Obviously not all atheists will come to the same conclusion, but the bad attitude some project comes from a desperate frustration with religious fundamentalism that blocks human rights, animal rights, and actively damages the planet. Christians mainly believe they are the crown of God's creation, and that they are superior to animals... instead of seeing this as a responsibility, they appear to think they are entitled to rape the land. Many have this attitude that the universe was created for their pleasure, and they can waste and pollute it... because, ultimately, "the end" is near anyway so why bother living more responsibly? Their self-centered arrogance is literally destroying the plant. Atheists don't have a right to be infuriated by their destructive habits?

Should we not feel morally superior to priests who molest and rape children, and those that turn a blind eye and allow such an atrocity? Should we pretend that we respect this barbarism? Should we really treat them as intellectual peers when their actions are so heinous? Should we be expected to tolerate their blood lust? Should we not stand up and defend education, which empowers us to preserve the planet, children, women, minorities, etc?

I do not believe ridicule is an effective tool in conversation, but I also don't believe I should be expected to respect a belief system that is truly immoral and causes us to backslide into the Dark Ages. I generally try to speak respectfully to those I engage, but some people are not always able to keep their cool or check their tone when debating with someone who thinks rape is okay because the Bible says it is (which was an actual argument I overheard at the Reason Rally).

Most religions deserve to be mocked. I do, however, wish people would refrain from ridiculing the people. If we're trying to have a real dialog with them, attacking them personally will certainly fail. It's entirely possible though, that communication is impossible between two such contrasting worldviews.

Comment by Gary Mueller on March 26, 2012 at 1:09pm

I suppose I am an elitist in this regard.

When a person in the western hemisphere in the 21st century holds to a belief in talking snakes, magic fruit, flying zombies, genies, mud men and rib women, condominium fish, flying Jewish zombies, foreskin covenants, telepathic communication with spooky ghosts, blood wine and flesh cookies, 6000 year old earths, I find it impossible not to speak to them without derision and bemusement.

Its all very cute when your 6 and Santa and the elves are an important part of your life but an adult with a personal relationship with the tooth fairy or gods is just below contempt

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 26, 2012 at 1:35pm

I am an elitist and I should be.  I hold the sharing of ideas and facts in very high regard and look down on anyone who cherishes illiteracy or clings steadfastly to ignorance.  Not everyone can be a scientist - I'm not a scientist - but we have access to so much information now that to spurn it, those who provide it, and those who pursue it, and to specifically try to undermine it by calling it all a conspiracy, is nothing less than to reject humanity and embrace the wild, paranoid mind of small wilderness mammal.  If you aspire to be a badger, don't expect me to engage you in the civility with which I greet a dinner guest.

Comment by Robert Karp on March 26, 2012 at 1:39pm

Some can be elitist for sure. Just like some can be racist, bigoted and/or assholes. Atheism does not mean anything other than you lack a belief in a god. It does not indicate in any way the type of person you are. I think it would be accurate to say many atheists are humanists however, that is by no means the standard. Cara's first paragraph reflect what that means.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 26, 2012 at 1:44pm

But Robert, can you honestly say that you can look a person dead straight in the eye with 100% respect when you know for a fact that they believe science is nothing more than a giant conspiracy put together by people who 'hate god'?  How about when they rave like spoiled children saying something like, "well your facts aren't my facts!"

Comment by Robert Karp on March 26, 2012 at 1:48pm

Heather I absolutely agree with you. I didn't mean to say I respect anyone with delusional thinking. I was specifically referring to atheist.

Comment by kris feenstra on March 26, 2012 at 2:54pm

It's hard to say when speaking in such generalized terms.  Are some people elitists or are others too complacent?  I'm going to say, on balance, societal standards are appallingly low, and the supposed elites are actually quite average.  

If the current trends in communication were improving language or keeping it at the same lavel, I'd probably jump on board.  In my opinion, the overall effect is degradation.  Language, specifically, is becoming less expressive, less subtle, and less precise.  We're heading toward voluntary Newspeak.

Comment by Unseen on March 26, 2012 at 2:58pm

I do find that a lot of atheists have a strawman view that all theists are either stupid or evil, but I grew up among theists, many of whom remain so. They are neither idiots nor devilish in any way, and in fact embody many of the better aspects of Christianity. And...where is the Atheist General Hospital anyway? Christians do SOME good, and if you can't admit that you are blind and prejudiced and, yes, an elitist.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 26, 2012 at 3:27pm

Atheists tend to think deeper about the bigger questions in life because we don’t believe everything can be answered with “goddidit”. We use our reasoning skills and intellect rather than just faith and blindly accepting what we are told. Theists claim to possess the ultimate answers to these bigger questions but cannot produce even a shred of evidence for arriving at those answers other than claiming that faith is all that is required.

Intelligence is a trait common to all humankind. It is what defines us from other species. We have the ability to learn from many different spheres of human understanding, all of which fall under the umbrella of Science or the arts. Science is generally a no-go-area for Theists, especially the fundamentalists. It is viewed as unnecessary or even dangerous to ones faith to go down that road.

However Atheists are compelled to travel these roads for their whole lives. We never claim to have all the answers. But we enjoy the journey and have no intention of leaving the road. We enjoy the intellectual stimulation we get from asking questions. Wee process the EVIDENCE of the answers and then we progress a bit further. We see it as a type of evolution of the mind and we don’t get tried asking more questions. We sharpen our critical thinking skills by doing so and we can think more deeply and gain a deeper understanding of the human condition. We can see how unimportant each of us really is – “in the grand scheme of things”. We were lucky to be born and live long enough to be able to contemplate this life and its meaning (whatever you want it to be). Most of our species never even gets that chance.

So when I meet a person who starts telling me that everything I perceive is all part of his gods plan for me and it will all make sense if I just take his word for it or that I will burn forever in a next life if I don’t – I automatically think to myself “So that is how far you mind has evolved”. I wish he would snap out of the delusion. Not for me but for himself so he could really appreciate the beauty of this world and could appreciate it even more if he was to became a mature adult and figure it out that we only live once.

So I don’t feel Elitist when I meet a Theist – I just know he will have difficulty keeping up with me. It may appear like intellectual snobbery but if you still believe that God made you and is watching you always or that you will live forever when you die because you believe that to be the only truth worth knowing then you and I are not in the same park. Mine require a membership test but no card need be carried. If you don’t believe in god you can enter this park. I have never yet met an Atheist who did not feel smarter within a few months of shedding religion. That is because it holds back you intellectual development. Thinking Atheist expands ones mind.

Comment by Arcus on March 26, 2012 at 3:31pm

What's wrong with elitism?

By definition it is being among the top performers within some area. The problem isn't the elite, or elitism, it's the dumb masses which reject the accuracy of the elites, adheres to the Jante Law, and substitute their own ignorance for the intelligence of those who have meritocratic achievements.

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