September 20, 2020

Divided We Fall

cooperate and connect

Suppose that there was a group of people in power that was very interested in maintaining the status quo. They oppose whatever changes you or I might consider progress. While some merely oppose change of any kind, others would prefer to roll back much of the progress we have made on a number of issues (e.g., separation of church and state, same-sex marriage, reproductive rights). Some of them even long for the days when atheists were so hated that we might be assaulted for criticizing their preferred religion.

If you were a member of that group, what would be one of the most effective tactics you'd have at your disposal for accomplishing what you wanted? That's easy! You'd take advantage of any opportunity that presented itself to create division among those of us who were working for the sort of change you opposed. You'd know that as long as we were fighting among ourselves, we'd present no threat to you. We'd be rendered ineffective. This divide and conquer strategy is not new, but too few of us recognize it because it can be done so effectively in covert ways (e.g., social media).

September 18, 2020

Too Weak To Be An Atheist?

Atheist Cat

You've heard the saying "ignorance is bliss." For many people, it rings true. Perhaps not everyone is cut out to strike out on one's own and pursue truth no matter how unpopular it might be. For many people, moment-to-moment comfort, even false comfort, is far more preferable. I suspect most of us would agree that it is easier to adopt the position of the majority and refrain from questioning it as long as one can. If we are sufficiently motivated to "go along to get along," it is easy enough to turn on the TV and let others tell us what to think, shut down our minds, and refuse to dwell on the difficult questions. Some of us might not be successful at doing this for long, but others manage to pull it off for their entire lives.

It is not my intention to suggest that these people are necessarily weaker than those who do not do this. In some ways, I envy them. They seem to have at least one ability I lack in that they are able to quiet their questioning mind when the questions become inconvenient.

September 16, 2020

When My Outrage is More Important Than Yours

seagulls

Theories, especially political theories, are a dime-a-dozen and probably not worth much more than that. With that said, I've got a very brief one to share. I suppose it doesn't really deserve to be called a theory, so I'll refer to it as a hunch. Here's my hunch:

When you see people on social media complaining about how sick they are of Trump-related news and opinions, I suspect that they are leaving something out. I think they are tired of hearing Trump-related news and opinions shared by others and not necessarily the stuff they continue to share.
I am not holding this up as an example of hypocrisy. If it is one, it seems like a sufficiently trivial one that I'm happy to hand out free passes to those who do it.

September 13, 2020

Overcoming Anti-Christian Bigotry

angry argument

Between the ages of roughly 17 and 24, I would have been quick to agree with anyone who suggested that Christians were stupid for believing what they claimed to believe. If someone claimed that Christians were delusional, I would have agreed. I probably believed these things, at least to some degree; however, I was doing a lousy job of critically examining my beliefs. I was convinced I was right and was content to leave the critical examination to those I thought were wrong (e.g., Christians).

What I needed at this time in my life was someone who would push me to examine my beliefs. For example, I needed someone to point out that every single member of my family and most of my friends was Christian. Were all of them stupid and delusional? If so, what did that say about me? Had I had someone push me in this way, I think they would have gotten through to me and made real progress. I was reachable; I just wasn't doing the kind of thinking I needed to be doing on my own. Prior to 18, I did not have any contact with other atheists. Between 18 and about 23, I had contact with other atheists but almost all of them held the same views I did about Christians. When that started to change as 23 neared, it did not take me long to modify many of these beliefs.