Atheists on belief threads. Why?

(411 Posts)
DioneTheDiabolist Thu 21-Mar-13 22:55:59

While there are sometimes interesting threads where atheists and believers discuss and debate religion, it seems to me that increasingly atheists only come onto threads here to poopoo or disrespect the beliefs of others.

Am I right about this and if not then what is the reasoning behind the posts where atheists call the beliefs of others rubbish etc?

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:10:54

I'm an atheist (of the live and let live variety rather than the Dawkins variety) and I find religion and theology fascinating. I read a lot of threads in this section but tend to post only if I have a question or think I have a genuine contribution to make to the thread.

I strongly dislike atheists who sneer at people of faith, but then I also strongly dislike people of faith who sneer at atheists.

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 10:11:18

I'm an atheist and I used to come on religion threads to have lovely discussions with people of faith, from which I learned a lot.

Unfortunately I also learned from some other atheists a lot about just how arrogant and ignorant their loudly touted disdain for religion is, and how willing they are to attack caricatures of faith, or the stupidest and wickedest variations of faith, instead of engaging with faith at its best.

In fact it was the joint power of Richard Dawkins and Mumsnet combined that made me ashamed to be an atheist and so forced me to rein back and revise some of my own thoughtless dislike of religion.

I wouldn't go onto a thread for prayer, or a daily gratitude style of thread, because those seem best left respectfully to practitioners of faith. And I'm reluctant these days to go on more discursive threads precisely because of the dulness of the same old static atheist hostility that just reiterates anger and has nothing much else to say.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:12:49

I'm an atheist. However, I studied Theology and Philosophy of religion and view religion as an academic subject to be studied and debated. I will discuss religion and my point of view is just as valid on spirituality threads as someone who has faith.

The problem with faith is that you can't argue against it, any more than you can argue with someone who believes they are being controlled by aliens. It is the reality that the person lives with so to them that is all the proof they need. It doesn't have anything to do with being rational or logic, and any discourse about the validity of the belief is seen as an attack.

My advice is to enjoy the debate and stop getting fraught with people who do not agree with you posting their opinions on a thread. By saying "they want to make themselves feel superior" you are resorting to a very simplistic way of shutting down any view that disagrees with your own.

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:14:32

I disagree WhenShe, I think people offering to pray for me mean it kindly. To me it's no different to someone saying "I'll be thinking of you" and that's not meaningless. I do understand why others think differently.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:15:14

Also, regardless of whether you are an atheist or a religious believer, there are people on both sides who can be pleasant or unpleasant. Such is life and its hardly limited to this one topic.

greengoose I am so very sorry to hear of your loss.

I am also very sorry that Christians made you feel worse at that terrible time.

I am a Christian. I hope that I never add to anyone's burdens by making thoughtless comments or making life harder than it already is.

Thank you for sharing your story. It does help to remind us, Christian or other religion/belief or faith or none, that sometimes our actions and words can be very insensitive.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:16:42

I never go on threads which are clearly for believers...."Please pray for whatever". I do go on threads where questions are being asked.

Are you seriously suggesting that only answers that support the beliefs of the person asking are acceptable?

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 10:17:24

I agree, Joyful. It's just a different language of love and concern. Of course it can be used in a passive-agressive way. But then so can secular expressions of goodwill.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Fri 22-Mar-13 10:19:28

joyful I agree that when someone says they will be praying for you it is best just to take it that they mean I'll be thinking of you.

I try to take it in the spirit it is meant but often I just think - what the hell do you think that will achieve. It would be like someone saying it will all be ok because I've put £1 in a wishing well for you.

dawntigga Fri 22-Mar-13 10:19:44

Could it be the threads you are talking about aren't I believe this but nobody else has to threads? Or are they I believe this and it's terrible other people are allowed to be different threads? IME atheists are very good at questioning what you think if you suggest that yours is the only way.

PaganAndProudAlthoughYouBelieveWhateverYouLikeTiggaxx

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:22:15

I'd also like to point out, knowing perfectly well that I'm probably the most outspoken atheist on these threads, that I have never sneered at anyone. I have never called anyone stupid or thick. I have addressed the beliefs & justifications for those beliefs only - in return I've been called all sorts of names.

If something is wrong, stupid and illogical then there's no reason why that shouldn't be pointed out.

ouryve Fri 22-Mar-13 10:25:15

I'm an atheist and really can't be arsed discussing it. Religion/faith is simply something that's not in my life and I don't need to substitute for it. I can't speak for all atheists, though. Others may want to make their thoughts heard. Others may be exploring what they do believe. There is as much of a continuum amongst those of us who have no faith as there is amongst those of you who do.

I don't appreciate generalised sneering at atheists as if we're a homogeneous group with a hive mind any more than Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans or anyone else would appreciate it applied to them, tyvm. OP, I know this isn't you, but there's plenty of it in this thread. Respect needs to go both ways, no?

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 10:26:13

There's a nice piece here about atheism that is positive and empathetic towards religion, by the late US philosopher Ronald Dworkin.

If something is wrong, stupid and illogical then there's no reason why that shouldn't be pointed out.

Rude, sneery and nasty. Perfect example of the type of atheist I was talking about. And the reason I don't engage in religious discussions because, quite frankly, it's akin to trolling and I don't feed trolls.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:29:16

You're perfectly right, Walter - that makes LOADS more sense. Someone says X is true when it's not. But we can't say it's not because that's unfair on believers - it's sneery to point out logical failures hmm

I think accommodationists annoy me more than believers.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:33:32

And the reason I don't engage in religious discussions because, quite frankly, it's akin to trolling and I don't feed trolls

Someone says something you don't personally agree with - so they are "trolling"?

Grow up.

How is it rude, sneery and nasty walter?

You can believe what you like but the fact is that atheists have science, logic and reason in their debating arsenal. Believers have faith. Blind faith.

And that's why they get so prickly and defensive so quickly. Because in the age we live in, with all the knowledge we have there is simply no reason to believe in mythical divinities.

Rather than ignoring trolls your response sounds more like the online equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing la la la loudly when you don't like what you hearing.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:35:58

"There, there.......please don't be horrible to people with faith by pointing out that they don't understand science when they talk about the BB or evolution. That would hurt their little feelings".

Gross and patronising.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:36:56

Walter how would you view the statement "I believe religion is illogical and that there are no rational arguments to back up the faith of a beliver."

babyheave I would say that is absolutely your prerogative and you are as entitled not to believe as anyone else is to believe.

We can agree to disagree and remain civil and adult about it.

Your arsenal of debate has no place in the type of thread OP was talking about, which renders your rants a little pointless here don't you think bunny?

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:41:08

Ellie what's an accommodationist?

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:46:20

An accommodationist is someone who doesn't believe themselves, but won't argue about faith with a beliver in case it upsets them.

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:50:31

Ah, thank you. I'll happily argue about it if the believer wants a debate (I have spent some very interesting evenings having these discussions with friends) but don't try to convert anyone to my way of thinking. smile

ubik Fri 22-Mar-13 10:59:56

"accomodationist"?

you see this is the sort of rhetoric that pisses me off about some atheists. Same as " religious apologist" which also pisses me off.

I have some good friends who are church going committed Christians whom i respect greatly, they are good company and contribute to society etc etc There is no way I would challenge them on their beliefs unless they brought it up.I don't want to upset them, and we never discuss it.

BUT I will challenge aspects of religion which i find abhorrent online - the treatment of women and homosexuals for one. On a discussion forum this stuff is fair game. In the context of personal relationships - with people you know, like and respect - confronting these uncomfortable subjects is far more problematic.

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 11:02:40

There's an analogy with the problem that affects some of the conversation on feminist threads. If people start a discussion from within a religious viewpoint, about some nuances of faith, and someone who is an atheist enters the discussion simply to challenge the religious viewpoint on which the discussion is premised, it is very like the cases where someone who is not a feminist derails a discussion from within a feminist framework of some particular nuance or implication of feminism. It is tiresome to have to keep on readdressing the grounds of your feminism/faith in discussions which were established for something different.

Of course there are also other discussions in which atheism versus faith is the topic, just as there should be discussions on the feminist board in which feminism and non-feminism engage. But there is a time and a place. It is simply rude and derailing to turn a thread around to faith versus atheism if it is a discussion about a particular issue within religion.

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