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Are We Arrogant
Thank you Skeeve for this.

In the in the "interesting articles, videos and shows" forum was posted a video of a rabbi David Wolpe. He makes the point that atheists tend to be contemptuous of theists. I think he has a point. I will totally disagree that that contempt of religion has anything to do with the bashing of Palin but that is a very different matter.

In making this argument he made me think of several arguments I have had with my older child's girlfriend. Mostly about politics but also to a certain extent about my comments on religion. It should be noted that this woman grew up in a very christian household but is now an avowed atheist.

My rather basic attitude is that theists are stupid. The political arguments have mostly started after I have said that most of the american public is stupid and that explains why they routinely vote against their own self interest.

I think we on this site probably share both those views. I would ask does that make us arrogant and does it serve any good purpose.

It is easier for me to make one of her points on political matters. The last (rather heated) argument was about the top down nature of most political activities. She made one point about the feminist movement and the absurdity of that being led by men. I did not truly understand the significance of that argument until very recently, frankly not until watching that video and thinking about it a bit. The general point she was making was that political movements cannot be led by those who find the people they are trying to lead not capable of doing it themselves. Remember that the early stages of the feminist movement was not too long after there were several well known instances of women complaining that even in radical movements they were frequently relegated to making coffee and servicing the male leaders.

If those of us on the left find the great mass of americans to be stupid it is unlikely we can speak to them in any way that they could find meaningful.

After watching that video I realized another thing. My casual comments about theists being stupid implies to her that I think of her youth as being stupid. Something that might make anyone unhappy.

So are we arrogant in our own dismissal of theism and does that do any good for atheism.

I will admit that this is much different then politics. I only bring in the political discussion because it was much easier to explain the hierarchy point.

If atheism is presented as a superior way of being, and those who are not atheist are stupid, how many will that argument convince. I do not mean to say that we should not continue to point out the flaws of theism and the adverse effects on society. I do not mean we should suffer the theists who come here and make their silly bible based arguments. But in the general world I would suggest a different attitude.

I would also suggest that I/we try to keep this kind of arrogant thinking out of our heads. It can poison the ability to make a difference in the world.
I have never stated that I think that theists are stupid as a whole, although some certainly are (as are some atheists; even a broken clock is right twice a day). I used to be a theist myself, as many of us were, and I don't think I was stupid. Unenlightened, perhaps, and credulous, and giving religion a free pass in regard to critical thought after being conditioned by relatives and society in old appeal through popularity. There are many intelligent theists, but that doesn't make them right about religion.

It's a PR problem. "Sugar draws more flies than vinegar", as the old bromide goes.

In short, JohnH, I agree wholehrartedly.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
I've never thought that theists were stupid. I have a few devout xtian friends that are of average intelligence (like myself), but like almost all theists they have a way of compartmentalizing their beliefs and knowledge. Like Catman said, they seperate their religious thoughts from the rest, evidence for their religious beliefs is not held to the same standard of true/false as everything else in their lives.
Hi, I'm too dumb to dfollow this and just posted unneccesarily.

Translated by Seeker
Edited by seeker on 11/04/2008 12:18
Moved this thread as it didn't fit the purpose of the Debate forum.
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
I don't think arrogant is the word, though I do come across as arrogant- not just with religion but various other things, mainly because of my association with theatre. They say the difference between arrogance and confidence is simply another person's point of view.

I don't think, as a whole, Theists are stupid. Naive and gullable spring to mind though. Theists work in areas of science, the arts, education, medicine and therefore cannot be stupid.

When you are more intelligent than someone else and are having a discussion/ debate with them, then sometimes the intelligent person may come across as arrogant. I'm not saying all Atheists are more intelligent than all theists, though I do think from time to time Atheists do play the intelligence card and that causes offense.

I can't help god made me so smart and made them all so stupid.Wink
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
Skeeve, You may ignore my question in the technical problems section but you might guess why I could not think of where to post it. I would never have thought of this section, to be honest.

I think some of you are hung up on my choice of words. I agree that characterizing theists as stupid is a gross simplification. If it is unfortunately the term I will use among like minded people.

My main point however is that I believe that atheists tend to give off an air of superiority, and in the wrong places let that feeling be publicly know. I again refer to the video in the first post. Apparently Sam Harris said something like "mormonism is even more implausible then christianity because it is christianity with some more stupid beliefs". One could argue this is true. One could argue that in front of the right audience it could get a laugh (which apparently it did). One could argue that that kind of comment made public does little to serve atheism or atheists.

I again ask do we have to be careful not to make others feel like we look down to them. Again I will refer to politics, can one successfully organize if one insisted that they be the leader because they had superior knowledge.

edited to avoid further comments from grammar nazi's
Edited by JohnH on 11/03/2008 22:47
Hmm, I think giving your opinion on something will always get peoples backs up if they disagree with it. I've heard Fundies make similar, of course, opposing claims to that of Harris.

It's very much a case of swings and round abouts. I think some of the Athiest arrogance comes from the fact that certain religions refuse to accept scientifically proven facts.

And not just within religion. A Biologist might get annoyed and condascending toward a Primary School Science teacher if that teacher refuses to accept valid, proven scientific fact regards to biology and they may well appear arrogant and obnoxious. You don't necessarily need to be Atheist discussing with a Theist to be considered arrogant. (hmm, looking back it's not the best analogy).

Also, most of the time it is those with opposing beliefs such as religion or agnosticism that would consider an atheist arrogant.

Maybe we are arrogant, but that's simply due to thousands of years of rule by religion which is finally being overturned, it's now ok to openly criticise religion and people don't like that. If you're right about something and can prove it, who really cares if some people think you are arrogant. I'd rather be arrogant and intelligent, than calm, collected and with a pre-school mentality*.

(* not aimed at Theists in general, just another badly worded analogy..... it's late damn it!)

JohnH wrote:
I would never have thought of this section to be honest.

I'm not really sure what this means. Any and all forums are equal in their "honesty". The only difference is topical.
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
I once had some topical cream. It didn't go very well with the strawberrys.
I find a lot of christians treat atheists and any non christian of another religion as stupid. I find a lot of christians behave arrogant in their belief in their bible just as there are some atheists who behave arrogant or just come across that way. So it's a door that swings both ways.

I will admit that I do think believing fairytales is a stupid thing to believe, especially when it comes to adults. Yet at the same time I can understand the need for some people to turn to something that is make believe in desperation. Such as with the death of a love one. I understand people have a fear of death, the unknown and don't know any other way to deal with it. I don't think it's right for atheists/atheism to put people down for that .

However, I also think it's important for atheists to show the same compassion, empathy for theists during such a time just as we do/would do for each other.

Also if I were to tell theists publicly I think it's stupid for them to do .... and they are stupid for doing....such and knocking on my door to preach to me, teach creationism in Schools, give passing grades to students who answer only according to their religious beliefs on tests when the other students actually studied or believe in an ancient book that contradicts itself and then only cherry pick what's convenient for them, IMO they shouldn't feel insulted.

Theists have no problem being arrogant towards anyone who doesn't believe what they believe. Did it hurt If an atheist comes across as arrogant in a public speech, seminar it's usually because of that person's personality not because they are an atheist. Why do I say this? because they are rebutting the forcing and arrogant preaching, etc etc being done to them and others, not promoting a belief and trying to force that belief on others. It is quite arrogant to force beliefs on everyone else. I don't consider calling a belief, idea, thought, and pushing religious agenda's stupid as being arrogant. When theists learn to stop forcing themselves, beliefs on others then they may not be called stupid or their beliefs called stupid by public speakers. Is it not good for atheists/atheism to do that in public depends on how it's said and what context it's being said. Is ad hominem? calling that person stupid I would most likely consider an Ad Hominem...except when calling that persons thinking when comparing to your own thinking as being stupid is just not the same to me, especially when the theists claims and has the attitude that the person who doesn't believe what they believe are going in a burning fire of hell or are evil and not considered a good citizen of society.
Must admit, John, that I've not come across any greater incidence of arrogance in what I know of the atheist community than in any other sphere. If anything, there is probably more humility in those who accept their mortality and their insignificance to an indifferent universe.

Little can be more arrogant than believing there is an all-powerful god who takes a personal interest in you and is likely to suspend the laws of nature to your benefit if you ask, or to condemn anyone who disagrees with that view to eternal torment.

Perhaps certain atheistic scientists, scholars and philosophers may sometimes assume what could be considered a 'superior' air. Then again, they do tend to be superior, so I've no real beef with that.

Cheers. Neil
Just watched the video again, by the way, John. Wolpe himself, of course, though criticising Harris for getting a cheap laugh, does not accuse atheists of 'arrogance' but does say that there exists a case of 'the sophisticated vs the simple-minded'. Often in debates, this does seem to be the case, doesn't it.

And that's why Wolpe told Oral Roberts that folks don't so much 'hate' his brand of Christianity as 'hold it in contempt'. Roberts was, apparently, taken aback by this news.

Wolpe himself is anything but simple-minded and could even be described as quite poetic in his approach, but I did comment when the video was first posted that if you listen to it more than once, it seems as though Wolpe is actually making a sound case for atheism.

Sorry to have strayed a little from your point, John.

Edited by neilmarr on 11/04/2008 02:51
I think that you do have to be careful about labels. Theists aren't inherently stupid but some of their beliefs are irrational
I've not watched the clip, I can watch tv, type and pretend I'm listening to mrs willie, but not watch youtube as well, so sorry if this is not pertinent.

Given what humanity knows (and all we know about what we don't know) about the universe, I think it supremely arrogant to believe humans are special in the eyes of any god. Of course no one fully understands the universe, but lots of people explain the universe with their own 'god'. The 'arrogance' of the atheist stems from the perception that atheists know more than 'god' and therefore, in the eyes of theists, every explanation of the universe.

I should write speeches for Donald Rumsfeld.

JohnH wrote:
Apparently Sam Harris said something like "mormonism is even more implausible then christianity because it is christianity with some more stupid beliefs".
I would say that is like describing one pregnant woman as more pregnant than another.
Edited by willie on 11/05/2008 05:54
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