If you have to be Genius to be Atheist, We are in Real Trouble

 

Over the past three years I have been using Stumble Upon as a resource for atheist sites. I have read thousands of blogs and arguments between atheists and “christians.” I know how frustrating these debates can be because there is clearly no convincing some christians that what they believe is completely ridiculous. Regardless of how frustrating debates with “believers” can be, my deeper concern is that most of the current population does not have the opportunity for higher education and because of this, most don't have the chance to become critical/skeptical thinkers. Unfortunately, the tenor and attitudes that some in the athiest community have aren't helping this situation. Instead of being open-minded and debating in a civil fashion, many christians are instead ridiculed and berated by athiests—eventually causing many of them to leave these debates feeling “non-bielevers” are rude, hostile, and arrogant. I see this as a missed opportunity.

 

I work and volunteer with the rural low income populations. Most are christian and probably will never be open to atheists perspectives—but I believe many other may, if presented the right information, in the right way. I believe many of these people are open to skeptical thinking (not towards religion) but towards the system that represses them. People begin to see the injustice around them, and start researching facts in hopes of improving their lives. Learning facts develops leadership and many community groups are being developed by low income people focused on gaining evidence and facts that exposes how they're being exploited or ignored. This type of critical thinking isn't far from the very same skeptical thinking necessary to understand the faults in their religious beliefs.

 

What I observe in many (but not all) atheist sites is atheists boasting about their high levels of education, and belittling others who don't have the basic knowledge or even education to even understand the argument. I also observe harsh judgment on grammatical errors, this prevents people from asking questions and communicating: and when there is no discussion there is no learning. Because of OUR inability to discuss atheism with those less educated, less fortunate, I believe we miss a great opportunity to show that atheists are NOT snooty and snobby elitists who look down on the dumb and blind masses. I think its time we atheists take a different approach.

 

Personally, my own transition from catholicism to atheism many years ago was not an easy journey. I spent years in transition, mainly because I wanted to continue a relationship with my family, who are die-hard catholics. Growing up in a very religious, blue-collar town, I did not become an atheist because someone smarter than me explained how ridiculous being catholic was, nor by someone who berated my spelling and grammatical errors; I did not become an atheist because I went to college and became impressed with the minions of intellectualism; I became an atheist because I realized innately (as many do) that something just wasn't quite right about everything I had been told growing up about religion and life. That spark of skepticism led me to research even further. Luckily, I completed this transition to atheism before I ran across any super-elitists bent on pummeling me about my ignorant ways and the stupidity of my improper grammar. Had I been ridiculed and laughed at by a puffed-up atheist interested in his/her own superiority, I may have taken many more years to “open up” to the ideas of atheism.

 

We as atheists need to ask ourselves who we have turned away and what opportunities we might have lost to open eyes and minds? How many poor, rural Indiana girls have we chased away? You don't have to be a genius to be an atheist or a skeptical thinker. Perhaps its time to re-evaluate our language, intentions, behavior, motives and whether a different approach might have different results.

Views: 9606

Comment by Andrew Hall on April 11, 2011 at 1:48pm
There are class issues within the movement, and that is the dirty secret no one talks about.
Comment by StaticMotion on April 11, 2011 at 2:42pm
It seems that you fear alienating people. That's nice and commendable. But shouldn't you then rethink your profile pic? It's funny but it might offend someone, doesn't it?
But it has been said before: There's no right not to be offended.

Don't get me wrong, usually I'll do my best to show common courtesy, but there's time and place to ridicule strange beliefs.
I don't recall a lot of boasting about higher education. Care to provide some links to back up that assertion?
Comment by StaticMotion on April 11, 2011 at 2:45pm
I forgot: I for one like being notified about my grammatical & orthographic errors. That way I can improve. Obviously, typos don't invalidate what had been written.
Comment by Mo Trauen on April 11, 2011 at 4:44pm

I certainly agree with your general sentiment.  You should know, however, that usually when atheists are rude and critical of believers it is because the believer was rude and critical toward the atheist.  I have had a number of very bad experiences with believers.  Even when I tried my very hardest to get along with them, I found it virtually impossible.  Believers are the type of people who pick their "facts" based on how they feel about them.  They do exactly the same thing when confronted with an atheist.  They pick on us mercilessly.  Consequently, when one of the religious with intellectual pretensions comes to a site like this one to "teach us a lesson", I have no qualms about abusing him as much as possible.

 

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2011/02/bias-against-non-b...

 

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2011/01/tolerant-of-intole...

 

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2011/02/tolerant-of-intole...

 

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2011/01/pat-condell-on-res...

Comment by Craig A. James on April 12, 2011 at 3:29pm
I wrote a very relevant blog back in December that your readers might find interesting: Is Evolution Only for Smart People?.
Comment by Mo Trauen on April 13, 2011 at 6:18pm
I think it might be more accurate to say that if you are a genius, then it is almost impossible for you to be religious.  The intellectual prowess to understand that religion is false, however, is not that high.  Almost anyone can understand the logic of it.  Some people simply refuse to do so for illogical reasons.
Comment by Andrew MacVicar on November 12, 2011 at 11:17am
Great piece. Very true. It is a real challenge because the facts at the core of non-belief often require a higher level of knowledge, hence
making atheism a "harder sell" than the ease of faith.
Comment by Craig A. James on November 12, 2011 at 1:29pm

I wrote a popular blog about these a couple years ago: Is Evolution Only for Smart People? You might find it interesting.

Comment by Danny Sanchez on November 23, 2011 at 7:43pm

As a person with no formal education I agree with your grammer police observation.

I don't think the arrogance and condescension is from Atheist but rather a symptom of intelligence that most Atheist have. My mothers side of the family is mostly of above average intelligence and they are religious. I can definitely say there is no lack of arrogance and condescension there.  I call it the "Gomez Arrogance"(my mothers maiden name). I know I have inherited this trait along with the intelligence and I fight it everyday(I fight the arrogance not the intelligence). My mother raised me to believe that we are better than most and to take pride in our family. As I grew up I figured out my mother was wrong in many ways and I rebelled. I made friends with those my mother considered very little of.(Drug Dealers and Gang Members) I discovered that intelligence comes in many forms and I met some of the most loyal friends a man could ever have. And I got in trouble way too much and found out my mother was right about some things.

Comment by Suzanne Olson-Hyde on November 24, 2011 at 3:42am

This is a very interesting blog. I am fairly new to TA, and this is the first site I really analyzed. I found the majority of people who make comments are better educated than I, and far more articulate than I could ever hope to be. This site has been a real education for me, with the likes of Heather Spoonheim especially. 

When Heather gets into a 'discussion' it is a real treat. I just wish I was as articulate, and funny, but I just blurt, and get emotional.

I think a lot of 'rural low income populations' around the world are religious, simply because it is a support for their plight, and religion gives them hope.

For the average xian, I feel sorry for them, that they live in fear.

I really think, and hope Atheists know this. I don't judge people from where 'they live', or their education status. And I think they have been indoctrinated and brain washed from a very early age, plus the religious community they live in, makes it very difficult if not impossible to 'get out from under'.

But I don't think these people are on the internet, or go into Atheist sites to debate.

I found that the xians that come here, are just proselytizing and they really think they can change an Atheist's mind, and go into diatribes pages long. The mistake that these people make, is that the Atheists who do comment know the bible. That is one of the main reasons people see 'the light'.

 

I think generally, that xians that do come onto this site are treated with great respect, until they start getting patronizing, and superior. Atheists know the injustice in the world, much more than the average xian. Just read what some of the Atheists in this forum had to go through, and are still going through, when they even suggest to family or friends, that they are Atheist. Truly horrifying.

 

This is a huge site with many different groups to cater for all. Discussion and videos are really inspiring, and the videos of xians are truly abhorrent, and can be very depressing. Lets see how you feel after you have watched what Westboro are getting up to next,, about the 80ft critters taking over, and the 'piece de resistance of frigging 'How to be a Man' and 'Acquire the Fire' where teenagers are tortured into "believing".

 

I did see one bloke get attacked because of his spelling etc. English was his second language, and I thought he did really well, and I wanted to ask the bloke who did the attacking how many languages did he speak?????

 

Other than that one, it is very civilized, or at least, I have found.

 

I was having a 'discussion, with a xian. The aliens were taking over. He really believed that. I was very civilized. He would in NO way listen. He didn't know the bible, and it went on for days. When a xian believes god buried dinosaur bones to 'test' people, what does one say?

Xians push so hard, it is really hard NOT to degenerate into a bit of a slanging match. :) 

But I did pinch a saying from Heather :););), which was a classic.

But, if the xian stays civilized, most Atheists do too. Next xian that comes aboard for a 'discussion' I would like to see how you handle it.

I agree with Gregor, it's not about intelligence snobbery, but I investigated-and you didn't snobbery. If it was all about intelligence, I wouldn't be allowed on this site. lol.

 

It is totally different from face to face discussion.

 

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