Monday, June 23, 2008

Is Atheist “Dismissal” of Theists Wrong? Convo with a Christian.


I had a nice exchange with a “half way realist” Christian recently. I say “half way”, because he has accommodated science with his superstition, as many liberal Christians have been doing. He accepts Evolution, and I sense he questions the efficacy of modern day belief in miracles, and the mystical aspects of theism, but just can’t quite make the final step into reality yet.

In the course of our exchange he decried the tendency of atheists to:
1. get angry at Christians, and
2. dismiss Christians / believers out of hand.

What follows is my response to him:

I only get angry when Fundies try to dumb down our schools with Creationism / ID; or when their moral dictates from their supreme being impinge on the freedoms of Americans; or when they distort genuine science / invent pseudo-science in an attempt to justify myth; or when government picks my pocket to suborn religious organizations. Otherwise, I just make fun of them as a hobby ... no anger.
As for being "dismissive" of others life's experiences / choices, that then give rise to their "beliefs" or lack thereof, allow me to elaborate.
I am dismissive of people who invest their lives in conspiracy theories that are unsubstantiated;
people who believe Area 51 houses alien corpses or those who think the US government contrived 9/11 for some nefarious purpose. I am dismissive of people who to this day believe we never landed on the Moon, that the pyramids were built by aliens, that witches are real, that sorcery exists, or that the Earth is only six thousand years old.

I imagine that you dismiss many if not most of these things as well ... in spite of whatever experience, instinct, rumor, or enthusiasm may drive these people's beliefs. You may reject these examples as being dissimilar to YOUR religious belief and thus think yours is less deserved of dismissal. But, to one who sees all fable, myth, flights of fancy, and inventions of the mind the same way there is not one iota of difference to me.

Do they have the right to these absurd thoughts and beliefs? Absolutely.
Do these beliefs deserve my respect? Nope. They warrant only ridicule, or disgust, or at best, dismissal.

Your religious belief is no less deserved of my dismissal than any other unsupportable, un-provable, un-testable, un-substantiated belief / belief system grounded in fantasy. I owe it no more respect, and it deserves no less dismissal, than would a modern day practitioner of Aztec sacrifice to the Sun God, or someone who believes that Athena sprang from the head of Zeus.

That you, and many other Christians have been able to accept science and logic and incorporate it into your belief system, creating a hybrid as it were between total dependency on supernatural, and acceptance of reality is a good thing. I welcome and commend it. I see it as a step in the evolution of religion that began some 300 years ago with the advent of the scientific age.

But, that you must still retain that illogical grasp on supernaturalism, and can't just acknowledge the teachings attributed to Jesus as a refinement of morality and good guide for civilization, is tantamount to why we still have a vestigial tail, and body hair. Eventually, that too will pass.

3 comments:

Joyce said...

And ...

this exchange took place on this Christian's blog! Whoda thunk? It has been much fun and very interesting.

If you want to read the entire conversation, you can go to my blog by clicking on my name or type in www.rejoycing.blogspot.com. It is under the entry title "Lakeland Revival?" (Sorry for the shameless plug! Well, no ... not really. hehe)

It's really been a thought-provoking exchange and one that I have enjoyed reading and participating in.

Unfortunately Jon is heading down to Cornerstone Festival (www.cornerstonefestival.com -- I will be there myself!!! Jon oversees the seminars and is a speaker as well) for a bit and won't be around to continue this conversation, but I'm sure that our Camel will be engaging us all with more in the future!

I do, however, take issue with this comment though:

"Do they deserve my respect? Nope. They warrant only ridicule, or disgust, or at best, dismissal."

Does that mean that no Christ follower, including myself, is respected by you? I understand that you don't respect my beliefs, but that you don't respect Christians just because they are Christians bothers me. And you made a point to emphasize the your response. You didn't say "their beliefs warrant ... etc.". You said *they* warrant only ..."

Do you really feel this way? Is not the way I live my life respectable? Or am I (and others like me) only deserving of ridicule, disgust, or dismissal?

DromedaryHump said...

Ah, Joyce your point is well taken.

In deed, my statement was not clear. Yes, it is their belief that warrants my dismissal...not the person themselves. Heck, "some of my best friends" (and relatives) are theistically infected, but it doesn't diminish the love and respect I have for them.

Glad to see you read my blog so carefully and critically. I shall correct the sentence now.
Good catch, and thanks.

Joyce said...

Thank you. :)