Totally cheating here.

Okay, guys.

It looks like for a number of reasons (including an unusually busy week at work and a healthy case of writer’s block) I won’t have an original post this week. Brandi’s got one she’ll post in a day or two, but I’m definitely gonna have to give up the ghost until next week.

But I don’t want you cats and kitties to have nothing to read today, so I’m gonna do something I haven’t done before – I’m gonna re-blog. Follow this link, my children.

http://www.cracked.com/article_15759_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

This article by Cracked.com editor David Wong is a HUGE favorite of mine. And while I can’t ask too much of you guys (seeing as how I took the lazy route this week) I would LOVE to see some comments about this one. Does this article realistically address ways in which Christians and atheists can find common ground? Is it useful for bridging the gap? Or is it way off the mark?

Also, in case anyone wonders after reading this article, yes – Cracked.com is a HUGE influence on my blog. I would write for them, if I was funny enough. Geniuses, these folks.

Anyway, like I said, I love this article. I hope you guys enjoy it. I’ll see you next week with more original content!

– Dan “Cap’n Nilla Smooth” Mitchell

Advertisements

About Daniel Mitchell

50% of "What the Faith?!?!", a blog about two skeptics who turned to God for no apparent reason. View all posts by Daniel Mitchell

5 responses to “Totally cheating here.

  • NotAScientist

    You want comments, I gots comments.

    I’m an atheist, by the way.

    “1. You Can Do Terrible Things in the Name of Either One”

    Wrong.

    ‘Atheism’ doesn’t work that way. Atheism is a single position on a single issue. You can’t get to ‘terrible things’ without having something MORE than atheism.

    Theism (the opposite of atheism) is the same way. You have to have something more than just theism to get to doing terrible things.

    Christianity is more than just theism. Stalin’s version of Communism (for example) is more than just atheism.

    So, I can agree that people can do terrible things in the name of most if not all worldviews or ideologies. But if your two categories are ‘Christians’ and ‘atheists’, then I have to disagree.

    “2. Both Sides Really Do Believe What They’re Saying:

    Agreed.

    “3. In Everyday Life, You’re Not That Different”

    Agreed. Depending on the specific people and the specific types of atheists and Christians, of course.

    “4. There Are Good People on Both Sides”

    As I’m of the opinion that most people are good people, I can’t disagree.

    “5. Your Point of View is Legitimately Offensive to Them”

    Sometimes. I’m not at all offended by liberal Christians. I think they’re wrong, but they don’t offend me.

    “6. We Tend to Exaggerate About the Other Guy
    7. We Tend to Exaggerate About Ourselves, Too”

    Yes. But this is a human trait.

    “8. Focusing on Negative Examples Makes You Stupid”

    Only if you’re using the negative examples to make points in the general.

    If I focus on negative examples, it’s because those examples are what I have a problem with.

    “9. Both Sides Have Brought Good to the Table”

    I would tentatively agree with this. It depends, of course, what ‘brought to the table’ means. It might be mostly semantics, but there is a difference between encouraging good things and originating good things. You can get credit for one without necessarily getting credit for the other.

    “10. You’ll Never Harass the Other Side Out of Existence”

    Again, this is probably just semantics, but it depends what you mean by ‘harass’. Religious-themed humor is one of the things that led me down the road to becoming a skeptic and an atheist. George Carlin didn’t make me the way I am, but he does have some responsibility. If no one made fun of religion, fewer people would probably be atheists. Not because of the humor, but because humor can be an avenue to truth.

    And one final comment:

    “Atheists, same thing. you want to show me that atheism is the key to a balanced, satisfying, confident life? Show me.”

    I don’t want to show you that. Atheism isn’t about how you live your life. It’s about the nature of reality.

    If I want to show you anything, it’s that I think you’re wrong. And since I care about whether or not the things I believe are true, I want other people to believe true things as well.

    I have a balanced, satisfying and confident life. But my atheism doesn’t really have anything to do with that.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Go figure that the single meatiest comment I ever got on my blog is because of another blog! Ahhh, such is life. 🙂

      Thanks for joining the conversation! I have a hard time justifying disagreeing with any of your points, for a couple of reasons.

      1) I didn’t write that post, so I don’t feel obligated to defend it.

      2) Your arguments are in pretty safe territory – it’s hard to argue them point-for-point (even if I wanted to, which again, I do not.) Your points are rightfully identifying flaws in David Wong’s argument.

      But I would like to drill down a bit on that, because I do think that it’s indicative of a theme that is larger than just “this argument is flawed here.” If I were to base my belief system entirely on logic and arguments, I would be an atheist. I say that out of respect – I’m a fan of a well-formed argument, and I’ve carried on a love affair with logic for most of my life. And I’m certainly not in the business of trying to convert atheists – God forbid. I often find more in common with atheists than I do with Christians, which is why I enjoy David Wong’s article. No, the larger theme that interests me is the idea of a pure atheism. Atheism, by itself, is just a statement of belief, with no greater power than any other. If atheism and theism stopped simply at “I believe in X” and “I believe in Y”, I doubt there would be a conflict between the two groups.

      However, in my experience, most atheists hold a clear, logical argument about their statement of believe in their heads – and this clear, logical argument can be more or less free of emotional baggage – but when they go about their daily lives, where the rubber meets the road, the average atheist’s decisions aren’t made out of simple rationalism. To whit, when I was flirting with atheism and condemning Christianity, I had many logical reasons that I could use to explain why Christianity was flawed. If asked why Christianity wasn’t for me, I would list those reasons, and I would use reason and skepticism as my justifications. However, at the end of the day, I wasn’t picking on Christians because their beliefs weren’t logical. I picked on them because I resented them. In fact, I disliked them intensely. If you had asked me if I was anti-Christian because of my personal feelings on the matter, I would say that feelings had nothing to do with it.

      I think it’s more likely that a “pure atheism” which is untouched by the dirt of the human condition is about as unlikely as a “pure socialism” that doesn’t find itself corrupted by the nature of the good, old-fashioned humans participating in it. I imagine most atheists are like I was – pure rational in theory, but just as subject to my emotional whims as anyone else. If my point is correct, then your argument against David Wong’s first point is strictly semantic – sure, pure atheism doesn’t cause conflict, but since it doesn’t exist, why talk about it?

      Now all of this is to say, you may not be the atheist “target audience” that David Wong is writing to. While I see the same flaws in his article that you see, I think that his underlying point is still valid, if possibly not for everyone. In a similar fashion, I know lots of Christians who wouldn’t really see this article as being all that relevant, and possibly for reasons similar to yours. David Wong’s points, I believe, have greater relevance to the masses of people on both sides of the war than they do to some of the people who just happen to have picked a side, but haven’t picked up a weapon.

      One last thought – I’ve known many atheists who would say that there is no war (even acknowledging that I don’t use the term literally) between Christians and atheists. They would say that it’s just something imagined by the hot-tempered, superstitious, overly-imaginative Christians, who are just exhibiting their typical knee-jerk reactions to any idea that differs from their ideas. Speaking from personal experience, I said those things too, all the while hating Christians. Denying the conflict in this way was, for me, just another weapon in my arsenal as a rational skeptic. I’d like to think that most atheists are nicer than I was. And maybe they are. Here’s hoping.

      Hey, thanks for the comment! Answering you was a LOT more fun than work!

      Cheers,

      Dan

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Also, I just checked out your blog – you should do more with that! I learned about water bears today! Although, since my favorite animal is “la chupacabra,” I’m not sure yours is all that much better. Yours can survive the vacuum of space, sure – but how many episodes of the X-Files were dedicated to it? Huh? Yeah, I thought so.

  • NotAScientist

    “Go figure that the single meatiest comment I ever got on my blog is because of another blog!”

    Clearly you need to cheat more. 😉

    “but when they go about their daily lives, where the rubber meets the road, the average atheist’s decisions aren’t made out of simple rationalism.”

    A few things.

    First of all, when I said that ‘this is all that atheism is’ I didn’t mean to imply that ‘this is all that atheists are’. Obviously an atheist has more to them than just their atheism.

    Secondly, many decisions aren’t made out of simple rationalism. I don’t deny that. I’m irrational all the time. Just ask my fiance. It’s almost certainly part of the human condition.

    That said, I find that coming to conclusions about truth claims (meaning things that science can show us, for example) and not being rational leads to far more harm than benefit.

    “I picked on them because I resented them. In fact, I disliked them intensely.”

    Why?

    Certainly there are a fair number of Christians that I don’t like. But when I don’t like them, I don’t like them because of the harm they seem to be causing to other people. Their existence as Christians by itself doesn’t bother me.

    Why did you resent them?

    “sure, pure atheism doesn’t cause conflict, but since it doesn’t exist, why talk about it?”

    Because he’s not being specific enough and it’s harming his argument.

    He should say what he means. ‘Christians and atheists who are vocal about their beliefs.’ I might still argue with him, but his argument would be clearer.

    “have greater relevance to the masses of people on both sides of the war than they do to some of the people who just happen to have picked a side, but haven’t picked up a weapon. ”

    I think it might have relevance to the LOUDER people on both side. But I sincerely doubt they are the majority of either side.

    “I’ve known many atheists who would say that there is no war (even acknowledging that I don’t use the term literally) between Christians and atheists.”

    There is a ‘war’ between certain brands of Christians and atheists. I just think that automatically considering both sides in a conflict as equal is a mistake.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      “That said, I find that coming to conclusions about truth claims (meaning things that science can show us, for example) and not being rational leads to far more harm than benefit.”

      Agreed.

      “Why did you resent them?”

      Christians in the United States, as a generic whole (and less accurate for that, but there you go), tend to have a love affair with evangelism. I don’t like evangelism, and I used to get angry at it. I felt that they were less intelligent than I was, and I had personal baggage about people who I didn’t respect intellectually telling me how I should live my life. Still something I’m dealing with, in fact.

      “Because he’s not being specific enough and it’s harming his argument.”

      Agreed, but again, his argument goes deeper than semantics, I think. I don’t think he was trying to win a forensic competition, but to move people on both sides who needed to hear the message he was trying to give. Sometimes you have to “dumb it down” to reach a wider audience. Just ask Michael Baby. Or don’t, I’m pretty sure every time he talks something explodes.

      “There is a ‘war’ between certain brands of Christians and atheists. I just think that automatically considering both sides in a conflict as equal is a mistake.”

      Also agreed. But where labels happen, mis-labeling happen. Personally, even in my days of hating Christians, I had some friends that were Christian that I really bonded with. Maybe the change has to start with me, eh? That’s certainly an idea that anyone can get behind. 🙂

      I’ve enjoyed this conversation!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: