How Atheists Can Overcome a Reputation of Arrogance

By Herb Silverman

 

I can empathize with religious groups whose mission is to convert everyone in the world, since I think the world would be better if everyone “saw the light” of secular humanism. But whether religious or secular, I believe the best form of proselytizing is to lead by example. I think Matthew 7:16 had it right — “By their fruits you shall know them.”

What follows are two lists that relate to atheist’s interactions with religious people. The first suggests ways we can change people’s views of atheists, and the second is about how, on some fronts, we’re not all that different from religionists.

Rather than seek converts to atheism, I think we atheists mostly want our worldview to be respected in a culture that has at least two pretexts for disliking us.

The first is that you can’t trust atheists because they don’t believe in a judging God who will reward or punish them in the afterlife.

This allegation is foolish and demeaning. I’ve been asked in conversations and on talk shows, “What keeps you from committing rape, murder, or anything else you think you can get away with?” My response is, “With an attitude like that, I hopeyou continue to believe in a god.”

The second pretext: atheists are arrogant intellectuals who belittle well-meaning Christians.

I acknowledge there might be some truth to this allegation. Here are some thoughts on what atheists can do to change this view:

1. We shouldn’t gratuitously bash religion or become atheist evangelists. We can answer questions about and communicate our naturalistic worldview without trying to convince others to adopt it. If questioners are open-minded enough to consider our views thoughtfully, some may convince themselves that atheism makes sense, as many of us did.

2. We should respect the right of every person to believe what makes the most sense to him or her. However, this does not mean we need to respect the belief itself — or condone harmful actions based on beliefs.

3. We ought to recognize that worldviews of religious people are usually more vital to them than ours are to us. For example, some theists believe that this life is just preparation for an eternal life — which is literally more important to them than life itself.

4. We should seek common ground with religionists and work on projects of mutual interest. We are more likely to be measured by what we do than by what we say.

Here’s a personal example that led to common ground. In an op-ed in my local paper, the Charleston Post and Courier, I referred to our “Godless Constitution” and offered $1,000 to anyone who could find the words God or Jesus in it. I knew my offer would spark interest and that my money would be safe.

The newspaper’s former religion editor, Skip Johnson, wrote an op-ed trying to make a case for collecting the reward because the Constitution was signed “in the year of our Lord” (the standard way of signing important documents in the eighteenth century). He also argued that elected officials must take an “oath or affirmation” (not necessarily to God, but to uphold the Constitution). We wentback and forth a couple of times and then readers on both sides wrote letters to the newspaper about our exchanges. People assumed that he and I were bitter enemies, so I suggested that we write a joint op-ed for the paper about points of agreement.

79 COMMENTS

  1. I really do not buy into the mindset behind this article. The mindset appears to be to say that they are calling us names therefore we should change to suit them.
    Well I don’t accept this. Atheists are not arrogant. Then why are we being called arrogant ? Because in the mindset of theists through the ages, Atheists are godless heathens who should either be silenced or stay silent.
    We as Atheists have had to endure global aggression and dominance by theists. Today in the 21st century we have churches on every block, where theists meet and preach their religious views and those against Atheists every day of the week, several times each day. We have politicians preaching their religious views. We have the media pushing christianity constantly.
    Yet when we, a small group of Atheists raise our voice to say that we dare oppose their point of view we are suddenly vilified as ‘arrogant’. We are only arrogant in comparison with the ‘silence’ that they have had thousands of years to force on us !
    I say therefore that we should completely and utterly reject any idea of being sucked into the concocted fantasy criticism. We have every right to our views. We have every right to express them. We don’t have any churches to preach in every day of every week of every year. We do not have media multinationals to promote our views. So when we individually speak about Atheism, how on earth can any rational people criticise us for being arrogant ?
    We should continue as we have been doing since our great new generation of unapologetic Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens stood up and said no more. If they think we are arrogant, then so be it. I would suggest that it is a complete myth to suggest that being labelled as arrogant will somehow act as a discouragement to theists who may try to overcome their handicap and ‘convert’ to freedom of thought. That is really nonsensical.

  2. I like Herb’s articles and generally agree with him. Here not so much.

    A couple of reasons:

    I’m open to disagreement on this one but I find the term Arrogant ridiculous in this case. To my mind to be arrogant to to assert something with force with undue confidence. The asserting with force is considered rude because your level of confidence is unreasonable. The dictionary definitions go something like…
    1. making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights.

    characterized by or proceeding from arrogance: arrogant claims.

    Case 2. seems relevant to the accusations made against us.

    Let us take a moment to pick this apart. Atheists make one claim, that the assertion that Gods exist is unproven. For this to be considered an unreasonable claim you must present a single piece of verifiable evidence that God/s do exist. As this has never happened we can dispense with that part of the claim in fact as the opposition has for thousands of years demanded on pain of death and torture and threat of worse on death that all bow down before their God/s we can certainly claim that the assertion of arrogance is on the other foot, just look at St Peters or the way the pope dresses. So so much for claim one. We do not for example claim that the whole universe has been made for us. As most atheists consider humanity to be ‘evolved from microbes and muck’ to quote Sagan, and that we are a tiny short lived speck in a vast universe of often destructive energy on the knife-point of annihilation forever I fail to see how our position can be considered arrogant. I take great pride for example in our species (some members of it) having worked out through reason, observation and experiment that we know that we don’t know what 95% of the universe is made of. This is not an arrogant claim it is a highly accurate assertion of exactly how ignorant we are. We do not claim the right to tax exempt status, we do not claim the right to force others children to listen to our claims in public schools, we do not demand that people of different sexualities be refused rights afforded us. In short our position if understood is simply withholding of belief until any evidence at all is provided.

    What Herb refers to as arrogance, is just stating strongly that the position the religious hold is poorly supported. Herb I assume would not object to similar tone being used against Flat Earthers? Yet their position is exactly as well supported (not at all). Atheists generally in the past have kept their heads down and their mouths shut because they were likely to loose them if they spoke out. Religion has been now weakened to the point where they can only causally discriminate and hold back secular society through political manipulation and attempting to keep the general population as ignorant as possible. Now is not the time to shut our mouths or whisper so quietly so homosexuals can continue to be discriminated against, so health care can be dictated to us through the filter of make believe and wishful thinking (at the cost of many lives and the unnecessarily painful endings of many), so our knowledge of how the world works and how better to manage our place in it is repressed. Now is the time stand up and demand high standards of proof before society is further retarded. And that is not arrogance.

  3. ” 1. We shouldn’t gratuitously bash religion or become atheist evangelists. ”

    Sorry Herb, but I can not resist the former. The later?!? Do non stamp collectors evangelize about non stamp collecting?

    By ” atheist evangelical ” do you mean atheists that expose the foibles of religion, the illegal excess of religion or the social costs extracted from us all by the religious. I have never been approached by two men in white shirts and black ties that want to talk to be about atheism!

  4. I think we are on the cusp of a many thousand year old struggle to have decisions made about our future on the basis of reason and evidence. The Dawkins / Hitchens voices are responsible for a tiny falter in the juggernaut of religious foot steps. The start of the replacement of faith with evidence. The giant won’t topple over until the ground on which it stands becomes unstable. The rational of the world must continue to dig away at the foundations of faith and move it to where it rightly belongs. ‘A practice of consenting adults in private.

    It may be that some faces have had to be slapped to get the worlds attention, but I would not want the momentum gained in the last 20 years to be quietly sidelined, for it most certainly will be, if you let religion back into its privileged position at the high table of decision making.

    By all means be polite and civil and do not abuse. But do not go quietly into this dark night and let religion again rule unchallenged.

    • …I would not want the momentum gained in the last 20 years to be
      quietly sidelined…

      This is a very important point. In the UK especially, religion is gradually becoming less relevant to ordinary people and I envisage a time in the (not-so-distant) future when it is no more than a polite social club with a significant but ineffectual membership.

      However, in order to maintain the momentum and reduce the religiosity of our society, we need to continue helping people to see that it’s perfectly acceptable to have an atheist standpoint. If this means that we come across as arrogant in the conviction of our beliefs then so be it.

      Herb’s 4th point “We should seek common ground with religionists and work on projects of mutual interest.” would be contrary to maintaining the momentum. I believe that this kind of approach would only legitimize religion and prolong the time before which it becomes sidelined and irrelevant to everyday life. Yes, it will take many years, possibly even millennia, but at least we’re heading in the right direction.

  5. There are two sides to this. What Mr. Silverman suggests, being civil and respectful, can work with a family member or neighbor but not with religious leaders. With leaders of the Abrahamic religions, respect is not a two way street. They must demand respect but they will not return it because they can’t. To show respect for secular society would be their end and they know it. Even “liberal” religious leaders are hostile to humanism with its intellectual foundation because religious faith is anti-intellectual. Further, and this is the problem, they are anti-social. They divide us, not just into believers and non-believers, but also into the thousands of splinters of the Abrahamic religions which are always in conflict, –too often murderous conflict.

    • Religious leaders should have respect for secular society. It’s a guarantee that some other religion doesn’t gain control and oppress them.

      (mmurray57 the user once known as mmurray until RDnet admin lost my 8 year old account)

  6. I do agree with a lot of what he says in this article, but I am not sure why it needed to be said. I just treat everyone the same whether they are religious or not. If I don’t agree with one of your views then I will challenge them and it’s regardless of religious belief (but I tend to disagree more frequently with those that are religious).

  7. As is frequently the case on this site this advice is very culturally dependent. Or maybe it is just intended to be for US readers only ? In Australia, where people don’t typically ask each other about their religion I have no idea if I am working with religious people. I assume I am.

    • As a New Zealander, I am inclined to think likewise, that Prof. Silverman’s article is aimed at a US readership. Where I live, general society is irreligious, and it is considered odd or even ill-mannered to talk about one’s own religion in an irreligious setting (that is in most times and places). Even so, I am in agreement with the general tenor of the points that Prof. Silverman makes here, and I sympathize with him and his fellow US atheists in having to take such care to improve the reputation of atheists in their religion-besotted country.

      • I sympathize with him and his fellow US atheists in having to take such care to improve the reputation of atheists in their religion-besotted country.

        Oh I agree completely. The things I read here in the articles and posts from atheists in the US just appall and amaze me.

        Michael

    • While I don’t necessarily disagree with you that there are differences, I think this issue might still be universal, and that cross-cultural differences are more a matter of degree rather than kind. In the UK, for instance, I’m not aware of any of the lunacies that are commonplace in the US, and people generally don’t talk about religion if they can help it. Even street proselytisers – at least, the ones I see – are quite polite and generally wait for you to come to them and ask. The general policy seems to be “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

      On the other hand, we have faith schools, are regarded as a “Christian country” with official religious institutions like the Church of England, and positions such as the Queen’s Defender of the Faith, as well as our history steeped in Christianity, which is awkward for people of other religions, if nothing else. Also, there seems to be a “faitheist” attitude in many quarters, as in “I’m personally not religious, but I can see why other people would follow one, and I will defend them if they are criticized”. There’s an obvious distinction between non-religious people and atheists as well, as in some consider the latter with the usual “arrogant atheist” stereotypes, especially when contrasted with a tendency to confuse religiosity and spirituality with some degree of ethics. Lastly, the press rarely have a good word to say for someone like Dawkins, who openly challenges and disagrees with religion in principle.

      I’d be hard-pressed to think of a country’s citizenry that views atheism as a stronger position than any religious alternatives. The best we’ve got at the moment are irreligious majorities in places like Scandinavia and Western Europe. I would also stress that these places are among the least religious on the planet, so goodness knows what it’s like in Africa, Central and South America, Central and Southeast Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.

    • I’m in the U.S., and I assumed he was speaking to a British audience. 😉 (Or at best a liberal East-Coast-of-the-U.S. audience.) In my part of the country (Texas, to be specific), it’s not uncommon to see scriptures on wooden plaques in business offices, hear prayers on the loudspeakers before football (and other sports) contests, see religious bumper stickers and T-shirts, drive past anti-abortion billboards along the highway — with more scriptures, and so on. There is rarely any question that someone might NOT be a Christian.

      There is some cultural shame in “admitting” otherwise.

      • In my part of the country (Texas, to be specific), it’s not uncommon to see scriptures on wooden plaques in business offices, hear prayers on the loudspeakers before football (and other sports) contests, see religious bumper stickers and T-shirts, drive past anti-abortion billboards along the highway

        Maybe one day an eminent historian will be able to explain to me how America got stuck back in the 1950’s and never progressed. How did the rest of the world continue on a process of civilizing itself, and America got stuck in a 1950’s Ground Hog Day. They still think they are fighting communism and the cold war. Science has dismissed almost everything the religious claim, except maybe the first Planck second of the big bang. Not much of a job description though. A cosmic switch flicker then 13.8 billion years of boredom.

        Yet Wil, as you report, they’re going nuts in Texas on scripture. I’d like to have an advert agency to soak up some of that religious money.

        Come on America. Catch up. We need you guys on the side of freedom, justice and the American way.

      • Wil Sep 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm

        I’m in the U.S., and I assumed he was speaking to a British audience. 😉 (Or at best a liberal East-Coast-of-the-U.S. audience.) In my part of the country (Texas, to be specific), it’s not uncommon to see scriptures on wooden plaques in business offices, hear prayers on the loudspeakers before football (and other sports) contests, see religious bumper stickers and T-shirts, drive past anti-abortion billboards along the highway — with more scriptures, and so on.

        http://www.atheistmemebase.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/080-So-Much-truth.jpg

        There is rarely any question that someone might NOT be a Christian.

        http://www.atheistmemebase.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/043-Fundamentalism-For-Ya.jpg

        http://www.atheistmemebase.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/011-Average-Person-Logic-650×650.jpg

  8. I want to introduce a strategy that could possibly prove effective in helping with the theism vs atheism fight.

    The naturally religious.
    The natural Christian.
    The natural Muslim.

    The naturally religious identify with whatever religion that particular society says is representative of its good morals, but base their scientific thinking on reason and not faith. The naturally religious regard the supernatural elements of any historical religious text, as examples of poetic ancient historical archiving / storytelling.

    I am aware of the immediate red flag of handing over morals to the religious, even if done for hypothetical back bending purposes, but I wonder if the end purpose of using this label instead of “atheist” is justification for its use. The discussion that this label is meant to provoke, addresses what we gave away, the morality issue, as well as the other great lapse in critical thinking, the reason vs faith/warped supernatural logic.

    Also, I dont think we should cringe at the idea of identifying with any particular religion, because we’re merely agreeing to take on a meaningless label for the more noble purpose of encouraging critical thinking.

    In practice it should work to help atheists engage theists, because the first thing the theist assumes about the atheist, is that they lack a moral foundation. Thus with “natural Christian/Muslim” you are claiming the moral part of the equation, and now their first impression of you is minus the moral handicap.

    The conversation might go something like:

    Are you religious?
    -I’m naturally religious.
    Are you Christian?
    -I’m a natural Christian.
    Why do you say you’re a “natural”…
    (Here you present the reason vs faith argument)
    Well if you dont believe “God” is real, then there is no basis for your morals. So how can you claim to be moral?
    (Here you explain the lapse in critical thinking behind believing that religious elements are necessary to defining or explaining morality)

    In my opinion, these are the two major roadblocks

    Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that we proactively claim this label by initiating an engagement under that guise. I feel the same about the atheist label. Neither label possesses any principles that are proactive in nature. They are merely reactionary positions.

    Also just to be super clear, this is not a philosophical position I am trying to introduce, it is just a tactical tool one can employ to help

    • This article stinks of the kind of apologist sensitivity talk that stems from an irrational hands off type respect for religious “sacredness”. It’s the irrationality of that respect that also warps the true significance and purpose of religious freedom.
      Religious freedom doesn’t protect the religious, it protects those that are not of the religion in power. This is because it is supposed to prevent the irrational elements of religion from having any privilege or effect in the secular world. Separation from the state.
      What this means is that what is protected is localized to the ideas in one’s own brain. Once that thought or religious belief manifests itself outside the brain, it is subject to the same laws as everything else, the laws of the land, the laws of physics, the laws of reason.

      • I have to refine my comment “Religious freedom doesn’t protect the religious” in case it gets twisted.
        Religious freedom manifests itself in two different ways but for one purpose.
        On the individual level, the religious person is protected to believe whatever they want, but only to believe; meaning, that level of absolute freedom is only afforded to the individual’s act of thinking. This is fundamental for the second way religious freedom shows itself, which I previously commented on.

  9. Honestly, you know that bit where the author says we should accept their right to have their beliefs even if we don’t agree with them? The same should apply to their belief that atheists are arrogant. They can believe that if they want and we should accept that they feel that way, but in no way, shape or form should we ever agree with them and serve platitudes to get them to change their opinions of us. Unless we happen to know that we’re being purposely arrogant and pompous when talking to them.

    I’m a firm believer in what somebody dislikes in another person says more about them than it does about the person they feel that way about. Religion teaches people to become judgemental and isolationist in many aspects of their life, while secular humanists on the whole are far more accepting and inclusive. Don’t placate them by changing your approach; feel empathy and sympathy with their lifetime of conditioning to behave in that way towards another person.

    Then shout “I’m right, you’re wrong” as you exit their company.

  10. Herb :

    We shouldn’t gratuitously bash religion or become atheist evangelists.

    Oh come on Herb ! Aren’t we allowed any fun ?

    You are free to pussyfoot around the religios if you like. Obviously context is important. I don’t feel the need to do that. If “arrogance” is calling out nonsense, then I’m guilty as charged.

  11. “What keeps you from committing rape, murder, or anything else you think you can get away with?” My response is, “With an attitude like that, I hope you continue to believe in a god.”

    This is exactly the type of illogical, emotionally based response that Dawkins criticized in his tweets about rape and pedophiles.

    If Dostoevsky and Nietzsche, among many others, could produce some of the world’s great literature based on that very subject matter, what makes you think you can dismiss the question with a trite little comeback? This could be perceived by some as arrogance.

    • “This is exactly the type of illogical, emotionally based response
      that Dawkins criticized in his tweets about rape and pedophiles.”

      It was a response to the supposition that without the threat of post mortem punishment there would be no ethical structures or moral standards of behaviour. Absurd, demeaning and based upon an emotive appeal to an existing mindset.

      It’s ‘a trite for a trite’ from Herb.

      He could as easily have said ‘what makes you suppose that religion has any connection with ethics other than the furtherance of ancient bigotries? You think Dostoevsky and Nietzsche would have disagreed?

      • I respectfully disagree. It is not absurd or demeaning but a very deep question that deserves more than a shallow answer, even if you think religion provides shallow answers itself. I am an atheist, but I tend to struggle with questions about the meaning of life and our purpose, if there is any. This sometimes causes us to go places in discussions that make us uncomfortable – what is a human life worth (a poster on this forum recently stated that perhaps a human life is worth no more than an animal’s), why and how should criminals be punished, why are things like eugenics or social engineering considered wrong? These areas, like rape and pedophilia, are uncomfortable subjects, so we don’t want to ‘go there’ and when we are forced to, we often give emotionally-based responses.

        If I asked you, like Plato did, what you would do if you had a ring that could make you invisible, you shouldn’t get offended, but rather think what, in your ethical framework, would divert you from committing thefts, taking revenge on enemies, etc. I would rather see atheists engage religious people in such conversations rather than become offended and hurl tit for tat ad hominems. I think it is seen by them as avoiding the question and thereby reinforcing the idea that we really don’t have the answers in this area.

        • “What keeps you from committing rape, murder, or anything else you think you can get away with?” My response is, “With an attitude like that, I hope you continue to believe in a god.”

          “It is not absurd or demeaning but a very deep question that deserves more than a shallow answer”

          The question is absurd because of the assumptions implicit in it.

          It is demeaning of atheists because it denies that ethical standards, and morals evolved from them, can exist without an external invigilator ; that one can be ‘good without god’. Ethics derived from scriptures are not as portrayed by the assumption of the questioner. Rape and murder are licensed by the Talmud, Bible and Koran, given suitable permissions from an imaginary entity or his human proxy. He is saying that the only thing stopping him from committing concealable crimes is the fear of supernatural retribution ; that he has no innate moral compass, natural compassion or social values. And he asks why Herb isn’t like that? That’s just plain rude (and stupendously arrogant).

          “If I asked you, like Plato did, what you would do if you had a ring that could make you invisible, you shouldn’t get offended, but rather think what, in your ethical framework, would divert you from committing thefts, taking revenge on enemies, etc”

          Obviously the highly superstitious Tolkein thought it would be, to say the least, bad for you. To act well when one is unaccountable for those actions is deemed laudable only to the degree that one need not have acted so. Individual standards of behaviour are worthy only insofar as they are voluntary. Authority and inevitable punishment remove any moral worth from our actions.

          An ethical system, to be a system, needs principles of judgement together with a clear understanding of the applicability of those principles, not an authoritarian catalogue of incomparables, fraught with contradiction and empty of rationale.

          Fear of retribution is an age-old nostrum against immorality and is increasingly seen as an ineffective approach. The spirit of revenge lives on however and the areas of our lives over which we can assume we have ‘free choice’ are the ever-shrinking targets of that spirit. Early conditioning is recognised as crucial to many behaviours. The death penalty turns out to be an ineffective deterrant to murder, and life imprisonment equally so. Perhaps we should revisit Dostoevsky illuminated by B.F.Skinner. ‘The word of authority is more unyeilding than the facts of which it speaks’

          “I tend to struggle with questions about the meaning of life and our purpose”

          My present purpose is to answer your points. As to “the meaning of life“. Tell me, what is the meaning of stone, or water? (it’s a leading question – ‘meaning’ assumes intention – by whom?).

          “I think it is seen by them as avoiding the question”

          …and a riposte is no answer, eh? (though helpful to fence-sitters). But how do you get them to question their own motivations and received values? Herb’s comment (admittedly something of a cliche by now) was designed to do just that.

  12. To further riff on Reckless Monkey’s point near the beginning of the comment thread (I loathe the new reply functionality and also the lack thereof regarding the notify buttons that haven’t worked since day one and which the mods brush off to the tech staff whom we can only guess they do not directly or indirectly communicate with and who MUST be busy doing other things), Dawkins once said the following during an interview. The question was in response to RD’s statement in his previous response that “just about 50 percent of the United States of America, is intelligent and atheistic.”:

    ****It’s interesting that you link those two words — intelligent and atheistic. Are you saying the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be an atheist?***

    There’s a fair bit of evidence in favor of that equation, yes.

    That sounds like an elitist argument. Do you want to cite that evidence?

    *It’s certainly elitist. What’s wrong with being elitist, if you are trying to encourage people to join the elite rather than being exclusive? I’m very, very keen that people should raise their game rather than the other way around. As for citing the evidence, a number of studies have been done. The one meta-analysis of this that I know of was published in Mensa Magazine. It looked at 43 studies on the relationship between educational level or IQ and religion. And in 39 out of 43 — that’s all but four — there is a correlation between IQ/education and atheism. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to be an atheist. Or the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be an atheist.**

    RD makes a salient point here. The atheist movement is inclusive by nature. And those who tend to join and include themselves tend to be more intelligent for reasons I would hope would be obvious to most on this thread/forum.

    • Steven, it has nothing to do with “brushing off”: We have absolutely no influence whatsoever on the site-design issues you and others are raising.

      If you go to the bottom left hand corner of any page on the site, you’ll see a white question mark in a blue speech bubble. Clicking on that brings up a message box that allows you to send your feedback direct to the technical team. We strongly recommend you post your site-design-related comments there. We have been assured that messages received via that route are read first thing every day.

      The mods

  13. Steven007 (quoting RD):

    The more educated you are, the more likely you are to be an atheist.

    You can see why some might (incorrectly) regard that as arrogant, but it’s true! Not only is it self-evident when you look around the world but it can also be backed-up by evidence. Perfect.

    There is also evidence that the poorer you are, the more religious you are likely to be (from the ‘Religiosity Index’ last year). Of course, there’s probably quite a link between being poorly-educated and being poor.

    So our goal is fairly straightforward; forget appeasing Herb’s “well-meaning Christians” and focus on spreading the wealth and ensuring everyone gets a good education. If only it was that easy…

    • I concur. I actually thought RD handled the question well, particularly in emphasizing that he wanted to encourage people to raise their game and join the perceived elite. Of course as you noted in your lead sentence the inference that raising ones game in general assumes that it needs raising in the first place can obviously be construed as arrogant, but it’s also self evident for most of us gathered here.

      I like nearly all of Herb’s pieces but he’s going a bit soft here IMO. As a short digression I have a dear friend that just entered Hospice. She is clear headed and knows the end is near (ovarian cancer). She is a devout Christian and her last post on social media announcing her Hospice stay was level headed and sober. She believes she is going to a “better place”. Most of her friends who commented on her post are of a similar mind and the comments were full of Jesus, heaven and the like. I’m just glad her suffering will end (she’s been fighting this for years). I have other friends that are faithful. They know where I stand and respect that, just as I do.

      I can sympathize with Herb’s desire to reconcile the rough edges of our differences (between believer’s and non believer’s), particularly if he has friends of faith, but to me it seems like a slippery slope that’s headed in the direction of Gould’s non overlapping magesteria.

      • I’m sorry to hear of your friend’s suffering but it sounds like she has plenty of support, which must be a comfort. It’s good that others respect your position on heaven and the like but it’s obviously a very tricky time to be an atheist.

  14. From the OED: “ARROGANT. Adjective. Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.”

    Of course we could debate whether or not the atheist worldview brings about an ‘exaggerated sense…’ as opposed to a ‘realistic sense…’ but I would suggest it’s not possible to be an atheist without being labelled arrogant by the ‘believing’ community. The very fact that the atheist considers we humans to be the known universe’s highest form of intelligence is arrogant by definition. The believing community bows to a higher being – in whatever form it may take – so is therefore forced to assume a more humble position in the known universe; which means anyone who purports to be above that humble position is seen to have an exaggerated sense of importance.

    I would suggest you will just have to learn to live with it. The believing community also endures its fair share of derogatory labels.

    • @Cumbria

      I have never heard an atheist claim that we are the highest form of intelligence in the known universe. Of course many would claim that we are the highest form of intelligence (so far) to have evolved on this planet. And our limited exploration suggests we are probably the highest form of intelligence in the solar system. But there is a lot of universe to explore.

      We would indeed be arrogant to believe that we are the highest form of intelligence in the known universe – though not as arrogant as those who believe that not only are we humans the highest form of life, but that the whole universe was created specially for us by a supernatural being. Some are even arrogant (or deluded) enough to believe that they were created in the image of said supernatural being or even that they have a personal relationship with this creator of the universe.

    • Hi CumbriaSmithy,

      but I would suggest it’s not possible to be an atheist without being
      labelled arrogant by the ‘believing’ community. The very fact that the
      atheist considers we humans to be the known universe’s highest form of
      intelligence is arrogant by definition.

      History of religion is roughly as follows:

      the world is created by a deity for one species, in most cases one religion of gender of on race of that one species. The universe circles around the Earth for the purposes of lighting that earth for one religion of one race of…..

      Atheist version.

      We are but one short lived species out of millions that we know about (note this is an admission of our current ignorance not an admission of how special we are). We live on a knife edge of survival both on our own planet and more universally we are aware of the fact that in the vast gulf of time we will be but a short blip unnoticed by the rest of the universe. We could as over 95% of all organisms before us become extinct and no-one from on high will do anything to stop this, we are alone. Our galaxy is vast containing hundreds of billions of stars (although we can only approximate between about 200 and 400 billion) our galaxy is one of over 100 billion galaxies containing comparable numbers of other stars. We now know that most of those likely contain many planets. We know this may well be that there could be Billions of other intelligent species out there but we have no current way of knowing or even reasonably doing more than working out how me might approach calculating the odds of this. We know with some precision that about 95% of the matter is unknown to us. So the average atheist knows the whole universe was not created for us we know we will live briefly then die forever in a universe that will not remember us or think about us any more than we remember our great, great, great grandparents. We know we are a speck of a speck of a speck on a speck.

      That we don’t know of any other life-forms is not a declaration of arrogance it is a declaration of ignorance in-spite of how uncomfortable that may make us feel. It is an admission that we should not lie to ourselves that is all.

      • That we don’t know of any other life-forms is not a declaration of arrogance it is a declaration of ignorance in-spite of how uncomfortable that may make us feel. It is an admission that we should not lie to ourselves that is all.

        Nice post. LIKE.

    • “The very fact that the atheist considers we humans to be the known universe’s highest form of intelligence is arrogant by definition”

      Let’s break down the irrational thinking behind this sentiment.
      First, there is a difference between claiming a fact to be true versus claiming an opinion. If one was to say humans are the coolest things in the universe, or humans are the most awesome, then I could see your arrogance point.
      However,
      intelligence is a claim on fact because it is conditional to brain development and evolution. Where there is normally no value opinion to the truth of scientific facts like best eyesight in nature, or most massive, or most intelligent, you have allowed the deeply ingrained things you’ve been brainwashed to believe about atheists, to influence the way you think about intelligence. Also bad philosophy.

    • CumbriaSmithy Aug 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Of course we could debate whether or not the atheist worldview brings about an ‘exaggerated sense…’ as opposed to a ‘realistic sense…’ but I would suggest it’s not possible to be an atheist without being labelled arrogant by the ‘believing’ community.

      Unfortunately using “faith-thinking”, you have uncritically accepted this often preached, very dubious inaccurate claim.

      The very fact that the atheist considers we humans to be the known universe’s highest form of intelligence is arrogant by definition.

      This is also a projected strawman, not a “fact”, as it is a Xtian claim that humans are the universe’s highest intelligent life-form.

      Astrobiologists are quite clear, that we do not know if there are other more intelligent life-forms or not, while evolutionary biologists would regard terms like “more highly evolved” or “highest life-form”, to be meaningless oxymorons.

      The atheist part of the scientific community take no such view of humans, other than that humans are one of the species on Earth with complex brains showing intelligent capabilities.

      The believing community bows to a higher being

      On these issues it is the Xtian projection of their man-invented god-delusions, characterising men as their god’s pet “chosen creature”, which is egotistical arrogance. Science refutes claims of humans being a central feature of the universe.

  15. Herb, When Jesus said “By their fruit you shall know them,” he was not talking about things like kindness and generosity. The scriptures teach that all our best deeds of rightness and justice are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Unfortunately, according to Christianity, a man’s good fruit is measured by how many people he wins for Christ.

  16. The assertion of the arrogance of atheists bothers me no end. For a lifetime we were told emphatically that this is THE truth, no doubts about it!…and we held our collective tongue. Now we have the temerity to openly state our lack of agreement on this issue and we’re considered arrogant. It’s arrogant and rude to assert that you know something when you don’t know at all. It’s guesswork! An assumption! No-one has been to the ‘other side’ and come back to tell the tale, so it amounts to wishful thinking and a gut feeling, nothing more. The various texts have no authority, being the work of very human, human beings.

  17. “What keeps you from committing rape, murder, or anything else you think you can get away with?” My response is, “With an attitude like that, I hope you continue to believe in a god.”

    Herb should know by now that continued belief in a god is no guarantee that someone won’t engage in “rape, murder, or anything else you think you can get away with”

    Many extremely pious figures in history have done exactly that. Pope Innocent VIII and his pitbull Grand Inquisitor Tomas De Torquemada have committed torture and mass-murder on a grand scale and have gotten away with it.

    I like Herb a lot but I think his reply is bit thoughtless. I know it’s just a joke but his humor is usually wittier and much more to the point. Personally I respect everybody’s right to believe anything they want but the last thing I hope for is that they “continue to believe in a god”. Both for their sake and ours.

    By saying this to a Christian, you somehow confirm to her that belief can make her a good person. And that’s a counter-productive move, street epistemology-wise. Even if it’s told in the context of a joke, the underlying message is still there nevertheless.

  18. “Arrogant intellectuals”. So what you’re saying is a person, who might be atheist, is smarter or at least more educated than another person, who might be religious. Those two people have a discussion. The religious person’s points are wrong. The atheist person calls them out on it. And voila! Arrogance!

    I don’t think you fully understand how that works. Arrogant behavior is derived from an undeserved sense of superiority, not from simply being right. For example, insisting that the earth is 6000 years old in spite of a very impressive mountain of evidence to the contrary is a pretty good example of arrogance. In fact, everything about organized religion is a manifestation of pure arrogance. “We are God’s chosen” “Do you have a moment to talk about the lord Jesus Christ?” “Let’s send some missionaries to another continent to convert the heathens.” “Everyone who doesn’t believe as I believe is going to hell!” “Let’s have ourselves a crusade!” and the very worst offender of all, “I’ll pray for you”. What part of organized religion is not the embodiment of arrogance?

    Holding your tongue when you know better, well, that’s just apologist behavior. What I hear when I read things like that is “I’m so sorry that my atheism and empirical thinking makes you uncomfortable. I’ll try to do it quieter.” You (or whomever you’re commenting on) has the idea of arrogance absolutely backwards.

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of faith. If a person wants to pay homage to some metaphysical (read imaginary) being, that’s their prerogative. Some people claim that their lives are enriched because of their faith, and they’re probably right, even if it’s a simple placebo effect. I have no interest in denying them that.

    I do have a problem with it when too many like-minded people get together and bounce their particular brand of insanity off each other often enough that they begin to think that their beliefs are superior to everyone else’s, and the only solution is to spread that message far and wide. They’re going to deliver the word of God to you whether you want it or not, and they’re going to do everything in their power to repress any contradictory message, whether it’s supported by evidence or not. THAT, my friend, is true arrogance.

    I don’t apologize for having a world view based off measurable data and observable evidence. If I hear someone make a statement that is chock-full of errors I absolutely will try my best to correct them. That doesn’t make me arrogant. That makes me a dutiful fellow human being.

    The bottom line here is this: all human beings on this planet, every single one of them, has a sovereign right to live the life they want to live so long as they’re not breaking the law or causing uninvited harm on others, and they have the right to do it without being judged, persecuted, or discriminated against. And that’s it. That’s where it begins and that’s where it ends. If everyone else has the right to live as they choose, that means we do not have the right to inflict our beliefs on them.

    It’s important to make the distinction between beliefs and knowledge, though. As has already been famously quoted, “You have the right to your own beliefs. You do not have the right to your own facts.” When someone clings to information that is clearly false, regardless of their beliefs, we are duty-bound to correct them. If they want to believe that hooie in the privacy of their own homes, whatever, but they don’t get to spread it like sour butter across society, and we are not required to apologize for doing what we can to stop them from causing measurable harm.

    • Exactly,

      No one thinks to go into the cockpit of an airliner and tell the pilot trained for years and at great expense how to fly the plane what he/ she should do. “Say captain, the GPS on my phone says that we could get to the airport quicker if we flew through that dark cloud over there, why are you flying around it?” The pilot if such a person gave him idiotic advice would say something like “No I can not fly through that thunderstorm the difference between the up-drafts and down-drafts are sufficiently high to tear the wings off the aircraft now back to your seat sir” (presumably he/she would then call security). The idiot can comfort himself that the pilot is arrogant, elitist, full of himself if he likes but it is not an accurate description.

      To make the assertion of arrogance you first need to assert the person making the claim is wrong and therefore arrogant. If they are right then you cannot accuse them of being arrogant. They may fail to protect your feelings, but putting out the demand that the whole world agree with you no matter what you say or no matter how poorly founded are your beliefs is both arrogant and petulant. Before I accuse others of arrogance I need to be extremely careful that when I am pointing the finger I stand on absolutely solid ground because otherwise there are three more fingers pointing straight back at me.

        • No, look up the definition of arrogance. Nothing to do with being right or wrong.

          I have and there are many, which is why I have been very clear in my first post to define the sense in which I understand it to be used in.

          arrogance (usually uncountable, plural arrogances)

          “The act or habit of arrogating, or making undue claims in an overbearing manner; that species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation, or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree; proud contempt of others; lordliness; haughtiness; self-assumption; presumption.”

          I will pick out a few points here that speak to my claim.

          or making undue claims

          this can only be based upon facts – therefore right and wrong.

          self-assumption; presumption.

          Again based upon facts. Below is a definition of presumption

          Presumption: a belief that something is true even though it has not
          been proved.

          Again based upon facts and being right and wrong.

          Of course there are multiple definitions so context is important. Typically when a religious person makes wild claims with no proof then accuses the Atheist (who simply corrects or asks for sufficient proof before they blindly accept statements without question) of being guilty of arrogance. If you think it means something else then please define what you mean and we can agree or disagree on that.

          I would also argue that even those definitions which do not mention proof directly when unpacked imply my meaning. Such as:

          an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

          an attitude of superiority – What does this mean? IMO it means you unreasonably think you are right by default. If you are in fact right you are not displaying superiority you are simply asserting facts. To display an attitude of superiority it implies you do so irrespective of whether or not you deserve to or not. Someone who assumes that every religious person is wrong by default on every thing they say is arrogant I have yet to see this from the likes of Dawkins, Harris etc.

          or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

          again presumption refer back to definition above. This is founded on the evidence. If you are making presumption you are making statement that is not fully or sufficiently backed up.

          Hence I feel my comment stands. Certainly every time I have been accused of arrogance in a religious discussion it has always occurred when I have pointed out something that the religious person in question finds distressing, unable to argue against or find extraordinary that I should be so bold as to disagree with their public utterances. I do not find this an act of arrogance on my part.

  19. Other than not believing in subsets of god which require incorporating a supernatural basis for god’s existence, is anything else required of an atheist? Must an atheist think critically? If not, can a person be a bigoted SOB and be an atheist?

  20. I do have a bit of a gripe.

    I don’t have a problem per-se with the article – the author is essentially saying “Don’t be a dick”, and that’s fine.

    However, opponents to atheism, who would keep us marginalized are very good at “tone-trolling” – in other words, any time we speak up, express rightful anger at mistreatment, etc. we end up being accused of being too strident, too militant, or too obnoxious, and that those who would hear our side are turned off.

    Except the problem is that while they would have us think there’s a scale that looks like this:

    |—– Too quiet —–||—- Just right —–||—- Too strident—–|

    their scale looks more like this:

    |—–Too quiet—|========|–Too strident —–|

    where there is no “Just right” in the middle, and you can be too quiet and too strident at the same time. In other words, there is no acceptable way for us to express ourselves in their views, and they use the tone argument as a way to shut us up.

    In such situations, it’s better to be obnoxious and stop giving a crap about whether fundamentalists are freaking out.

  21. With all kinds of regarding respect you have some serious logical mistakes in your explanations.

    You mention that the allegation that atheists are less trustworthy is foolish and demeaning only to say one sentence later we have to work on not being seen as arrogant intellectuals. The first claim must appear arrogant to a “true believer” – I’m sorry!

    Not respecting a belief but respecting the belief a person has is impossible, for believers identify themselves with their beliefs. The ones convinced of their beliefs cannot distinguish between themselves and their beliefs.
    I cannot see how a belief in an afterlife should be more vital for a person than the idea that this life is all we have and that it is good to live it exactly this way!
    I seek common grounds with every person who gives me the chance and who is willing to do the same with me …
    I’m no bitter enemy for anyone. Hating people is like eating poison and hoping the other one will die! (the Dalai Lama)

    I agree with you that the search for common grounds, for peace is at last the best way. But if ideas are wrong ignorance is not always the best way to react to it.

  22. Hmm, duality, supremacy, mutually exclusive terms, we vs them, black or white… How is one side any different from another? In reality, do you really care so much for what people think of your beliefs? Isn’t “none of your bizwax” valid any more?
    How about, we all tend to our beliefs, as we see it fit, get to work and stop these pointless debates? World is benefited by actions and fruits of work, not by dabates.

    • Adam Aug 11, 2014 at 1:14 am

      Hmm, duality, supremacy, mutually exclusive terms, we vs them, black or white… How is one side any different from another?

      Anyone who cannot tell evidenced science backed by reasoning from word-salad mumbo-jumbo, is incapable of useful debate.

      In reality, do you really care so much for what people think of your beliefs? Isn’t “none of your bizwax” valid any more?

      People act on “beliefs” – often to the detriment of others. Shrugging of differences for a quiet life, is simply abdicating community responsibility.

      How about, we all tend to our beliefs, as we see it fit,

      Ah! CHOOSE what we want to believe – like these people:-

      https://richarddawkins.net/2014/08/how-people-consume-conspiracy-theories-on-facebook/#li-comment-151919

      get to work and stop these pointless debates? World is benefited by actions and fruits of work, not by dabates.

      Jumping in with both feet, before debating issues and establishing facts, is usually a VERY poor move – with consequences! ( see link above)

  23. I am pretty much appalled by Herb’s accommodationism. I won’t go through it all but I could write an essay about each of his points on how the religious, too often, continue to fail at improving our collective lot. By having one eye on a wish fulfilling afterlife, by have sacred no-go areas on the strength of faith alone, by having too often a sense of intellectual completeness, the religious fall short of being the good citizens they otherwise would have the potential to be.

    In matters of fact, as people have observed in their different ways, arrogance is a property more often associated with an insistent ignorance. In matters of morality, however, it is a more difficult call. And yet it is matters of morality that make the religious most objectionable to me and are most likely to bring out the arrogant in me. I think arrogance on matters of morality is something I am most prepared to risk, after all, religion’s claim to be the very author of morality is the very root of its own arrogance, the very poison Hitch spoke of.

    Wherever the religious person backs off in moral debate, her thinking either prescibed or proscribed by her religion, I want her to feel a twinge of inadequacy, of moral failure. (Atheists without these excuses, who fail to morally engage should get worse though…)

    Now my accommodationism. Some religious people get it right, in un-fettered moral thinking or at least identifying they are in a religion that needs hauling up by its bootstraps into moral decency.

    Before, I have pointed to Quakers as moral exemplars. (Friends have known some Quaker stinkers, but on the whole I like them a lot.) They feel obliged to do the daily moral due diligence of using their own informed feelings to judge the morality of things. Humans are to be the moral authors of human society and such authorship is their daily duty. Though some Quakers have a belief in God and many use Christian metaphors to frame their secular attitudes, their Enlightenment thinking can put many atheists to shame. Arrogance might quickly turn into egg on face.

    Morally advanced Muslims excite me mightily. Recently I pointed to the Kurds and thisshowing the great strides promoting democracy and the rights of women. I would not dream to exhibit the least arrogance towards people making such moral progress. It is the direction and speed of travel not the place on the journey that should win accommodation. I will make no accommodation for the static and self satisfied, religious or not. I will, though, make common cause with those concerned to reduce harms here and make better now.

  24. Arrogant Atheists, like arrogant theists stroke their own ego by humiliating, denigrating and disrespecting people with the opposing mindset.

    In my experience I’ve seen Atheists, Christians and Muslims pick fights or otherwise deliberately provoking a response from others.

    Example 1)

    An atheist decides to start a conversation about religion at my college cafeteria during lunch. He immediately started to make fun out of “believers”, and basically pulled facial expressions and gestures implying that the victims of his interrogation-style questioning/mocking were stupid, with a low IQ. To the credit of most of his victims they did not draw out the conversation and went about their business.

    Example 2)

    My physiotherapist, who is christian (born again) started a conversation about religion (his religion) that ended up with him telling me I should bring my priest to a hospital, so they can go into what sounded like a competition to see which religion was better at healing the sick.

    Example 3)

    A pair of muslims passing out pamphlets outside an Anglican church started to have a loud conversation between each other about how everyone was so racist (???), ignorant and stupid for not talking to them about how Islam is the superior faith. No one took the bait, thankfully.

    If one feels strongly about their beliefs, or lack-of. Good on them. Their choice. Just don’t start anything. If you do, then, judging by my past experiences, I think you’re not intending to have a good discussion; it’s really just a d***-measuring contest.

  25. David Dec 1, 2014 at 7:16 am

    In my experience I’ve seen Atheists, Christians and Muslims pick fights or otherwise deliberately provoking a response from others.

    I think you are right about it being inappropriate to pick fights” in social situations like the examples you give.

    Arrogant Atheists, like arrogant theists stroke their own ego by humiliating, denigrating and disrespecting people with the opposing mindset.

    However, the accusation of “arrogant atheism” is usually a preached ad-hominem, as indoctrination to the faithful in the absence of atheists, or is the response to well informed atheists/scientists challenging asserted ignorance, magical mythology, pseudo-science, or charlatan “faith-healers”.

    It is of course difficult to overcome an indoctrinated false claim of “arrogance” in the mind of a “faith-thinker” who uncritically accepts whatever is preached to them by theist authority figures, because they lack the objectivity and reasoning skills to correct such errors.

    Viewpoints need to earn respect, so ridiculous viewpoints deserve ridicule, – especially when they are asserted to an audience contradicting well evidenced reasoning. All opinions and viewpoints, are NOT equal! Expert opinions trump asserted stupidity!

    When the likes of Ken Ham wilfully concoct dishonest Young Earth drivel to con the uneducated, they thoroughly deserve pubic ridicule as a counter to their mischief-making.

    It is frequently the ill-informed arrogant egotist, who projects their own egotism in claiming a valid opposing view is “arrogant” when their own lame arguments are demolished!

  26. Viewpoints need to earn respect, so ridiculous viewpoints deserve
    ridicule

    This exactly why people are so disillusioned with politics at the moment Alan. I don’t want you (read politician) to point out what the opposition are doing wrong. Just tell me how your idea is better and let me make up my own mind. People in power should not be squabbling like children. Makes for less dynamic viewing but if I want entertainment I’ll go to a show. Failing that, make your presentation dynamic. That is why people like Attenborough, Cox and Tyson etc lead the field. Even Hawking made me buy his book when I had hardly no training in physics at all.

  27. Hi Herb,

    Agreeing with many other posters here: Arrogant!, us!, surely not? Compared to the religious, definitely not, though two wrongs wouldn’t make us right even if that were true. Setting aside this inconvenient fact (that one of your premises is open to question) my response is:

    Herb: 1a. We shouldn’t gratuitously bash religion …

    They key word, gratuitously, makes this self-evident. Bashing religion can be fun, but we should not do so unless the situation calls for it and we should avoid putting people on the spot.

    But, if we interpret your rule too strictly, we could be made to think we can’t intervene at all. I cannot accept this rule, it is too proscriptive. Better: We should restrict our interventions to politely asking the religious to explain themselves when the situation seems to either be appropriate or urgent. We must learn to listen.

    Herb: 1b. We shouldn’t … become atheist evangelists.

    Evangelism is a word that straddles two possibilities: Preaching versus persuasion. It is a matter of bad taste to attempt to convert someone with belief A to belief B. So far, so normal. Be sociable, be gracious where possible. That leaves three caveats:

    One, atheism is not a belief. I don’t think this means that atheism gets a free pass – we should follow the social convention even though, logically speaking, it doesn’t apply to us.

    Two, de-conversion should be our aim in conversation, whenever the opportunity arises, because faith-based reasoning is faulty.

    Three, no preaching allowed. We absolutely must attempt to address the Theist’s beliefs where those beliefs are held through faith. We should attempt to understand all the theists we meet and engage them in conversation to help them see why believing in things they don’t know is a bad idea. The World has too many urgent problems to allow belief through faith to continue. Be thoughtful, not zealous. Listen and respond, not too eager. Ask questions, don’t offer answers. Offering answers is where the true arrogance lies.

    Herb: We can answer questions about and communicate our naturalistic worldview without trying to convince others to adopt it.

    Why attempt to find truth, then ignore it? Why should I accept that I must live with ignoramuses? Why must I sit and watch the World be destroyed by people pretending to know things they don’t know? People vote and protest when they are persuaded. No convincing argument = no support. Thank goodness Christopher Hitchens never followed this advice.

    Herb: If questioners are open-minded enough to consider our views thoughtfully, some may convince themselves that atheism makes sense, as many of us did.

    True. They won’t always ask. We have limited time. Why not address the closed minds too? Why not help people to understand fallacies, logic, reliable epidemiologies, facts versus made-up thoughts and, and, and …

    Herb 2a. We should respect the right of every person to believe what makes the most sense to him or her.

    We should certainly respect the right of every person to their opinion where they have based that opinion on good reasoning and evidence. To accept a lower standard is to accept relativism – I absolutely will not do that. The evidence clearly shows that this is the single biggest problem with the World today; bigotry, fundamentalism, dogma, received wisdom, these are poisons in our politics and in our society. Therefore, where I see signs that logic has gone on holiday, or authority is venerated above reason with little or no cause, I will question another person’s beliefs. Fallacy, lies and deceit are rife – I will remain actively involved and continue to seek out dialog with the faithful.

    Herb 2b. However, this does not mean we need to respect the belief itself — or condone harmful actions based on beliefs.

    Too little, too late. The vote happens after the belief is shaped. Change the person, change the politics, change the society in which you and I have to live. For the better. Now.

    Herb 3a. We ought to recognize that worldviews of religious people are usually more vital to them than ours are to us.

    Why? Until this is explained to me I refuse to believe this, I refuse to be censored by the religious because they have a false sense of their own importance and an inflated belief in their own significance. Health warning: I have lived with religion on my back for many years and I believe this view to be wholly and demonstrably wrong – if not actually dangerous. We wouldn’t let a convicted Conman stand for election – no matter how deluded he was in his belief that his scams have helped people. Why give a self-confessed delusional a free pass?

    Herb 3b. For example, some theists believe that this life is just preparation for an eternal life — which is literally more important to them than life itself.

    If people are conned then they are a problem – socially speaking – and that makes them my problem, because I have to live with that. Don’t expect me to take it lying down. This is a situation crying out for my active intervention (the above caveats on not preaching remain valid).

    Herb 4a. We should seek common ground with religionists and work on projects of mutual interest.

    Stating the obvious.

    Herb 4b. We are more likely to be measured by what we do than by what we say.

    All the more reason to intervene in faith-based reasoning whenever the situation allows.

    Good luck, Herb, with your non-interventionist bend-over-backwards, accommodationism.

    I have never been more persuaded that my active interventions are more needed.

    Peace.

  28. The basic problem, is that many theists will see the very act of a “mere” sentient human, dismissing their (infinite, timeless, omnipotent, all-knowing) god (delusion), as “arrogance”! –
    Furthermore, it is likely they have been repeatedly “authoritatively” told, from the pulpit, that an atheist view IS arrogance, so faith-thinking will require no actual objective observations of atheists, or any understanding of material reality.

    Accommodationism with all the world’s conflicting religions, is of course impossible. Their dogmas are in constant dispute with each other!

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