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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Atheists Disrespecting Respectful Theists

I'm still working on my Free Exercise post, but I thought I would cover some DisComforting Comments from Ray's blog, and also some sentiments of his own: that atheists are often disrespectful while Christians are often respectful. I have planned this post for a while (I in fact wrote it several weeks ago), but decided to finally pull it out again when I saw yet another comment on a slavery post over at the Raytractors. The cliche goes that atheists should be more respectful, but sadly, most are very rude, profane, disrespectful, etc:
You guys are honestly making me rethink that the atheist/non-believers only reasonable answers to Christians are to attack them verbally with cruelty.
The original comment which prompted this post was from a Christian poster to Ray's blog I found one night:
So far, the many (while there are some who have respectful blogs)atheists blogs I have been on are degrading, and un-respectful,,,towards Christian's in particular.
In the thread where I found this weeks ago, I counted, at the time, 7 uses of "atheist" and 4 uses of "Atheist." Ray has written that it is a sign of disrespect to improperly not capitalize "Jesus" or "God" (when reference the god of the Christians). I would imagine, then, it should also be taken as a sign of disrepect when any variant of atheism is improperly capitalized.

Besides the possible ulterior motives for doing such, this is pedantic and I doubt it is to what the commenter is referring with regard to disrespect towards the opposition. Or what of the popular "atheists have potty mouths" such as Sower Benjamin says: (thanks to Captain Howdy for the heads up)
The topic of decorum within the constraints of the "Blogosphere" is one that has been on my mind lately... If you've been reading the comments on my particular blog or those of any Christian on the Internet who is attempting to carry out Christ's Command to "seek and save that which is lost" you have no doubt, encountered the venom of the atheist.

[...]

It's difficult to really decipher what you are trying to say when your posts are so riddled with profanity... Perhaps science has come up with a pill for that or something...
If you have included yourself in the "atheists all use profanity" or anything along that line and juxtapose it with the nice, clean Christians who don't, you are either blithely regurgitating something you hear other sheltered Christians say and/or you've never had many experiences with atheists yourself.

There are plenty of "respectful" atheist blogs who don't have "potty mouths." These aren't obscure blogs; they are fairly well known in most atheist circles:

About.com Atheism / Agnosticism
Daylight Atheism
The Atheist Blogger
de-conversion
Atheist Ethicist
Friendly Atheist

I could go on, but that's just copying the first few out of my Google Reader which have new posts. And what of dirty, disrespectful Christian bloggers? Except for the first one below, I don't care to read them, so I don't, but I have a few I remember visiting recently:

Debunking Atheists
Debunking Atheism
Debunking Crap

The list could go on (or perhaps simply replaced with "Westboro Baptist Church"), but the point is that there are disrespectful atheist blogs but as are there disrespectful Christian blogs. Not only blogs, but disrespectful Christians in general. Take a look at some of the emails to PZ Myers, or even death threats. You can find Christians being nasty in blogs, forums, and chats, using profanity, and issuing threats.

You can also watch the popular TV show, The Atheist Experience, which I do recommend for Christians as it is aimed at non-atheists. On here, I can't count the number of Christians who call in and one way or another insult the hosts or threaten one. In one segment, after the host has dismantled him for ten minutes, the good Christian concludes with "why don't I come down there and punch your fat face in..."

I hope that my blog is represented in a respectful manner, as that is how I conduct myself in person and what I aim for here. For those Christians who comment here, I respond to them as respectfully as I do the atheist commenters. I certainly do not call them fools as Ray calls atheists, or fiends as Terry has called me, or baby-eaters as Dan has called us. I have been told here on this blog that I fabricate stories, I am arrogant, a muckraker, a pompous ass, and write mindless drivel.

That isn't to say that Christians aren't respectful. Some are and some aren't. The same with atheists. There are those Christian blogs which are meant to vent frustration for Christians and mock the opposition, as there ought be. There are those atheist blogs which are meant to vent frustration for atheists and mock the opposition, as there especially ought be. We shouldn't make the mistake of using them as the basis for characterizing either atheists or Christians as representing disrespect.

7 comments:

Benjamin - The Sower said...

I am not aware of those who have come before me, either demanding or even requesting respect for themselves because they profess Christianity.

At the same time, I did not make the claim that "atheists all use profanity" in my post - in fact, the section you omitted from your post is where, using the Oxford English Dictionary, I provided the definition that is provided of what an "atheist" is...

I left all references to scripture out of the post I made, and concentrated on my personal opinion that the words that were being used only weakened their point, rather than strengthened it.

Just wanted to clarify because this assertion, for whatever reason, has been made on several blogs I've seen, and the outcome was never my original intent...

The Amiable Atheist said...

I don't see either side as being more or less disrespectful and I'm not sure who made that insinuation. But I know this is a false stereotype that many believers have of atheists. One more reason to try to prove them wrong.

But the disrespectfulness of your opponents is a lousy excuse to become disrespectful yourself and it seems like a lot of people want to use that as an excuse to "take the gloves off" so to speak.

When you speak in an insulting and profane manner you are doing more of a disservice to yourself because your words will not be taken seriously.

So let's not all retaliate because we feel disrespected. It doesn't do any of us any good.

DisComforting Ignorance said...

Benjamin:

I skipped over the definition because it's incorrect. You can consult a broad range of dictionaries and encyclopedias for it.

Austin Cline is somewhat of a big name in the atheism crowd, so you may want to check out his blog as he has made numerous posts on the definition of atheism:

- Definition of Atheism: Dictionaries, Atheists, Others Define Atheism
- How Modern Dictionaries Define Atheism
- Online Dictionary Definition of Atheism
- Definition of Atheism in Reference Books

And, of course, you can visit most atheist websites to find how they define atheism. It certainly includes those who believe there is no god/gods. But it also includes people like me, those who don't believe there's a god/gods (and also don't believe there's no god/gods).

Further, I don't see what the definition of atheism has to do with what this post was about (which is why I skipped it).

To the point, though, if I misunderstood your post to be a generalization of all atheists, I do apologize. The common sentiment I find, though, in comments to Ray Comfort's blog and in Christian blogs to which I subscribe is this "atheists are disrespectful" or "atheists use profanity." When I said "all atheists use profanity," I certainly didn't mean that as the entirety of atheists; I meant it as most, nearly all atheists use profanity. With that being said, I took it as a post on the disrespect/profanity of atheists because you preface it to Christians that they have likely encountered the "venom of the atheist."

The point was, though, that, like Amiable Atheist, I don't see Christians or atheists being more or less disrespectful.

As you'll notice if you read this blog, I use no profanity, I try to be respectful to my commenters, and I try not to spew too much of my atheist venom all over the place.

DisComforting Ignorance said...

@Amiable
I agree entirely. I really liked your comments over at the Raytractors regarding the Christian proponent of slavery.

To me personally, I don't find anything at all offensive about profanity. I don't think it indicates anything about the person's intelligence. Use of profanity, though, is often used in conjunction with poor thoughts.

If it devolves into insults and bashing, I fail to see the benefit. It does not serve you and it does not serve the other person.

Two nights ago I was watching a documentary segment on the Phelps family where a journalist lived with them for a while. In one part, the family was at a corner with their God Hates Fags signs and a car drove by and hit a kid in the head with some sort of drink. It may have made that individual feel good, but all it did was strengthen the fervor of the family and reinforce their notion that the outside word is evil.

I liked the post over at Bridging Schisms entitled Confounding Stereotypes. You shouldn't act a way contrary to what you are. But if you are reputable, clean, and nice spoken, your mere presentation confounds the serious stereotypes a lot of Christians have of atheists in this country.

onscrn said...

Hmm. Your list of comment instructions is disrespectful, actually; but it's your blog, and it doesn't really hurt anyone, just shows the contempt you feel for those with religious beliefs. Doesn't it?

I (theist, former atheist) recently on my blog made a post called "Conversations in the Clubhouse of Truly Smart People," which mainly deals with my experience in the comment section of an atheist blog after I had invited people there to read another post of mine. Most of the commenters were respectful, or as respectful as they could manage to be with a convert to theism I guess. Not what you'd call real respect, though, in most cases. I hope I was respectful, but it may not have seemed that way; hard to know. Anyway, it's somewhat relevant.

Bringerofmorning said...

It is best to be respectful partly because it's nice, also because it makes you look more authoritative and finally because civilty in the face of rudeness is really annoying.

Anonymous said...

If more atheists were tolerant and respectful (and decent people in general), religious people would respect and trust atheists more, and the world would be a MUCH better place.