I find myself having mixed feelings about this idea of “criticize the ideology, not the person” when discussing religion.  I guess it’s politically correct to look at it that way, but I wonder if it’s unintentionally disrespectful.  On the one hand I get that people are usually born into their religious communities, indoctrinated from a young age, and experience serious difficulties rethinking that whole worldview.  I have been through that, as have many people on this site.  We have used evidence and reason to arrive at the conclusion that belief in gods cannot be supported.

But on the other hand, if we did it, why can’t they?  Why do we not credit them with the same capacity for reason and self-examination and change, and therefore hold them responsible when they don’t use it? 

When we say we should criticize the ideology and not the person, aren’t we in effect saying, “Don't blame them; blame their holy book instead.  Those poor simple people just don’t have the mental ability we have or the strength to follow through.  They are unable to think for themselves or act on their own behalf.  They are victims.”?

It seems condescending.  It seems arrogant.  It seems like a back-handed way of congratulating ourselves for being more clever and superior. 

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I won't take this thread off topic and tell you why i think it's wrong to call anyone a bigot or retarded but I agree with you in principle on everything you said. 

After turning my own coffees to curds mentioning Steve Hickey so early this morning I picked back up on a project in progress for two years now.  I'm compiling a list with links and videos of every stupid thing said buy fundamentalists and conservatives against gays.  The criteria for them is where the original premise  of an argument gets rhetorically sodomized by a later sentence like Hickey's statement.

Michelle Bachman made an argument that boils down to gays need to start being more tolerant of intolerance.

See it to believe it.


I will relent on my wording a little. I generally use the word "hypocrite" as opposed to "bigot" but I will call it as I see it.

"I INSIST they defend what they say and believe and I do it relentlessly"....Got time for a few cold beers man....:-)

same here Reg.  Lots of people like to hope I will forget something indefensible they said and move on.... mmmm not NO but HELL NO.  If you spoke the words you have to back them up otherwise people go around saying and believing things that are indefensible. PERIOD END OF ISSUE> as far as I'm I'm concerned.  They can apologize for it in which case I'll get in to a discussion of what apologies really mean and let them  explain it to me which almost always ends up with them essentially asking permission after they've committed a crime, and not accept responsibility for saying something they cannot defend.

The objective is to make the feel the weight of saying things they cannot defend and become more cautious about doing it... Words should be built on substance otherwise we are writing oral checks and spending words the same way the US government does with money.... they become cheaper and more worthless each time the account is is overextended.

Yeah it's an old fashioned idea... BUT... if WE start doing it and demanding those around us do it before long many people besides me and a few others will get pissed enough to call out politicians, religious leaders and and all the extremists left and right on  it and end the rhetorical shit slinging festival that is tearing nations apart

You can change the world one person at a time. .. but that's another topic.

There is a greater chance of a Rottweiler letting go of a trespasser than there is of me allowing a theist off the hook when start telling me that something they believe is the truth or that something I have said is not correct. I will (hopefully)  admit when I am wrong and be glad to have discovered something new. It is called being open-minded and it is a term that many theists misunderstand. But it must be a two way street.

you and I would make a fine team then Reg.  I liked the video and bookmarked it.  Here's a link you may like.  very short parable.  fifty words maybe.


Reg, Take a nerve pill before you read my latest comment above. hahahaha!

More power to you!

Why not encourage multiple approaches? I'd rather see if I can help them with their critical thinking, and it's okay with me if they come back for more discussion. This shouldn't be a tribal atheist thing, where everyone follows a leader and does things only one way.

For me hat I have experienced through life as an individual, even what my parents did to me , such as doing forced surgery on me a month after I was born, hoping that it would not effect the rest of my childhood, and what they did was right with god. I have realised, it is not their fault, but the reason they did it was because they were indoctrinated by religion. I found the analogy of a zombie virus to best describe religion, and if you  were given the opportunity to save humanity, and allowed to work in a laboratory with almost endless resources at your disposal, you could create create a nuke to kill all the zombies, or you can work to create a cure that would kill the virus that would stop people turning into zombies. The same goes for religion and theism.  I am the individual that would target the ideology rather than the individual that has been infected by it.

While I disagree with these Catholics and the actions that ensue from their disgusting ideologies, I would also criticize them directly to their pious faces and have no qualms about doing so.

We all get emotional about a particular topic; however, the Western world has been using the rules of Aristotle to debate for centuries.  To aim one's vitriol at an individual rather than their belief systems, violates basic aristotelian logic. Please refer to this website http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle/#Log

Why vitriol?  Does criticism necessarily have to be bitter? 

Many religious live in a comfortable bubble where not only are their beliefs never challenged, THEY are never challenged as to their reasons for believing.  Unless challenged, they never consider that their need to believe indicates something lacking or missing in them.  Maybe they need to hear that side of it too occasionally. 

I don't think criticizing the person would do much good unless you can do it without the bitterness and vitriol.  Otherwise it's just an attack, and attacks cause defensiveness.


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