Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Should you respect the feelings of someone you believe is being deliberately ignorant?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) September 26th, 2011

Let’s say there is common knowledge out there that any one can access. Say, for example, information that the world is a sphere, not flat. Yet someone ignores all that information and insists that the world is flat.

You think the person is an idiot. Worse, a willful idiot. When you talk to this person, should you respect this person? In what way should you demonstrate that respect? Should you avoid telling the person they are ignorant? Should you avoid saying anything that might hurt their feelings?

If so, why? Why should you care about the feelings of someone who prefers to remain ignorant?

Let’s say this person is running around proselytizing to others that the world is flat. Let’s say other people are listening and agreeing. Does this change whether you respect this person’s feelings? Or can you still respect the person while attacking their ideas as “stupid” and “ignorant” as long as you do not attack the person in this way?

Our community manager has asked that we try to remain cognizant of the feelings of the person whose ideas we are attacking, and to respect that person. I’m not sure that is doable if you believe the person is being willfully ignorant. Is it possible to attack a stupid idea without the person who has the idea feeling like you think they are stupid?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

156 Answers

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

One should always ask themselves why it is so very important that other people agree that they are right.

When I am determined to make someone agree that I know the truth and they are ignorant, I am usually acting out of a weak need for approval.

Blackberry's avatar

I can respect their feelings and them as a person, but I can’t respect beliefs that laugh in the face of simple logic.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @Imadethisupwithnoforethought

Yep, it’s either ego swelling to monolithic proportion or a streak of sadism. lol
I like keeping my head away from brick walls.

I’m not going to expend my energy trying to convince a pedophile that molesting kids is not just another form of freedom of sexual expression.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not sure anyone is truly “willfully ignorant”, unless someone is playing games. But, that’s a different issue.

People believe what they believe. If it’s flat earth or Jesus horses, just smile and nod. It’s not your responsibility to educate the masses and bring them over to your way of thinking. Or maybe it is. If it is, do you really care if you are offending them? You are already calling them willfully ignorant.

mazingerz88's avatar

Yes, people who choose to ignore things still deserve to be respected as far as their right to be ignorant goes, imo. Problem is when ignorant people makes decisions that lead to a lot of deaths. That should never be respected and must be condemned if not rectified.

Jaxk's avatar

Any legitimate debate is about the issue not the person. If you feel you must call that person names, you’ve shut off any debate.

BTW, are you trying to tell us the world is not flat? Who’d a guessed.

tom_g's avatar

@wundayatta: “Should you respect the feelings of someone you believe is being deliberately ignorant”

It depends.
Here on fluther? Yes!
In the “real” world with real people making real decisions, like the president of the US? No. If my dentist believed that cavities were created by mini fairies drilling holes in my teeth, I wouldn’t respect his feelings when I told him how wrong he was. Why? Here’s a guy who went through the process of learning how cavities are formed, yet he believes it’s really the fairies.

But, here on fluther, I feel that respect is a necessary component of holding something like this together.

augustlan's avatar

Yes, you should. You may not respect their beliefs, but they are still a human being. If their beliefs are not causing harm, why would you want to hurt their feelings? In addition, calling in to question their intelligence is really unnecessary. Plenty of extremely smart people hold beliefs that may not be rational to you. That doesn’t make them any less intelligent, overall. We all have our blind spots, and emotionally we are not always rational. That doesn’t mean you have to ridicule people for it.

And yes, there is a way to ‘attack a stupid idea’ without making the holder of the idea feel stupid. Don’t call it stupid in the first damn place. Don’t use words that inflame. Use words like “illogical” and “non-factual” and “mythical” instead of “ignorant” and “ridiculous” and “tooth fairy”.

Why is that so damn hard?

Jaxk's avatar

Here is an example of a well done debate.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@augustlan I think, when people are out of control inside, they attempt to bully others, especially when they have numbers on their side.

It is a way to make themselves feel good. As if, convincing everyone that some people are ignorant negate’s their own character faults.

tom_g's avatar

Ok, @Imadethisupwithnoforethought, this “convincing everyone that some people are ignorant negate’s their own character faults” bullshit is more inflammatory (and also pseudo-science unsupported claims) than people supposedly not being entirely sensitive to people’s feelings. Can we not start playing therapists?

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@tom_g I am happy to let all this stuff go.

tom_g's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought – That’s fantastic. If in the future you have some studies that show that people who try to affect change in the world are acting out of “need for approval” or trying to “negate their own character flaws”, I’d love to see them. Until then, enjoy the fruits my friend.

lillycoyote's avatar

I would be generally be respectful for basically three reasons and depending on what my “endgame” was and those reasons are:

1) it is generally my nature be be respectful though I don’t always succeed

2) the only weapons I have in my arsenal against ignorance, willful or otherwise, are truth and reason and if someone is completely impervious to truth and reason I see no point in wasting my time with them. Insulting and disrespecting them is pointless in my opinion, really; and I don’t find it particularly satisfying or rewarding and getting all bent out of shape about that kind of thing only ruins a possibly otherwise good mood. I would prefer to simply walk away and spend my precious time and energy on other things

3) if I thought there was actually a chance of changing the person’s mind, of persuading the person that the world was indeed round and not flat, or at least getting them to consider it, the very last thing I would do would be to be disrespectful, to imply that they are stupid and ignorant. I just think it’s extremely counter productive if one is trying to change someone’s mind. It makes people defensive; puts them on the defensive and makes them even less willing to listen to me and my arguments.

If you want to simply be right then go ahead and insult and disrespect people; if your intent is to actually change people’s hearts and minds then I would advise that you be respectful. I may not be right about that but that’s the way I see it and that’s the way I try to do things.

Cruiser's avatar

I give them a chance to redeem themselves and when they become a genuine nuisance I call them out. I have very little patience for someone who is deliberately ignorant.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Is this really what it’s come to for you @wundayatta?!

Berserker's avatar

No matter what the person is, ignorant or intelligent, they’re feelings are real. I denno how much that means you gotta respect it though. Who would want to respect Hitler’s feelings? But unless you choose to ignore it, you should probbaly attempt at teaching them something, if you truly believe they are being ignorant. We ain’t gonna make it in this world if we just disrespect shit based on our own interpretations lol.

chyna's avatar

We all know this is a thinly veiled question about the people that are theists. “Should you respect the feelings of someone….” No, you should treat them like crap, make fun of them, call them names, and disrespect them. What the hell do you think? You know the answer to this. You want to be a bully? You want to be disrespectful? Go ahead Wundy. You will not change anyone’s mind on their beliefs, but you will solidify what they think of you.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
GladysMensch's avatar

@chyna “a thinly veiled question about the people that are theists”.
I thought it was a thinly veiled question about tea party members.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
CWOTUS's avatar

I attack stupid ideas as stupidity. I’ve done it frequently in this forum, and I’ll do it for as long as I’m here. Bring it.

Blackberry's avatar

On a lighter note, some of our fellow human women were given the right to vote today. I’m just so glad that culture found it in their hearts to allow this, it totally makes me respect them even more now. Well, not that I didn’t less before, because those are people behind those beliefs! :D

SpatzieLover's avatar

And @Fluther, Is this what it’s come to for you?!

DominicX's avatar

Depends on what that ignorance is about (yes, I’m well aware that this question is really about theists). If someone holds a belief that I think is ignorant but this belief doesn’t affect or harm people, then I’m going to respect them and their belief as much possible. If that ignorant belief (such as a belief that homosexuality is a disease, for example) does affect people and lead to harm, then I will not respect it nor will I respect the person who holds that belief.

Oh, and this does not mean that I will refrain from disagree with or debating person A. Having a belief does not make it immune from criticism or questioning, as I’ve said hundreds and hundreds of times…it’s becoming almost a slogan for me.

Blackberry's avatar

@SpatzieLover What? Discussing something besides bread for brain sandwiches lol?

This is good stuff, and we’ll be a stronger Fluther for it. Lol. :D

GabrielsLamb's avatar

You just attacked the stupid, and the ignorant in the most seemingly “tactful way” I think I have ever seen? *Usually by taking a position of logic, by putting it into the form of a rhetorical question

but the question is, and was, and remains as it stands, Which one is wrong? The person who attacks, or the person who is ignorant and aren’t ALL forms of “attacking” for any reason “Ignorant”

“Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

In my opinion, albiet it ignorant or not, *Personally I could care less *So Im immune; Wrong, is always going to be the person who strikes first, if that be in a back handed, ingenuine way or directly, and loud or rude, and incendary. Attack is attack and intent isn’t always obvious. The instigator is always wrong. Tactics do not make a man right, right action within the self for the self, makes a man right.

Why do you care if someone is ignorant? And why can’t you find something other than one premise to be the deciding factor as to what makes them “Ignorant” as a whole or “stupid” as a whole based on the validity or error of one opinion on one issue out of billions.

I mean if they’re dumb for days… That’s different. As Ron White says “You can’t fix stupid.” But I think ignorant however is always worth the discussion, worth the attempt in the very least and solutions and instruction merits conversation, that’s the only way it is ever going to work.

So the one who attacks, no matter how stealth or quietly, or in opposition loud or rudely… The initiatior of the incident is always the fool because intentions can’t be proven logically.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Blackberry Yes, I was going to post a question yesterday about Saudi women being given the right to vote but I didn’t know how to word it so that it wouldn’t get modded. Would they might have let me get away with something like “Would you all join me in congratulating the women of Saudi Arabia on this great day?” I don’t know. I did post something on Facebook about it though.

Buttonstc's avatar

I really dislike it when people are purposely disingenuous in order to obfuscate the real issue.

Enough of this shilly-shallying around the issue. Let’s call a spade a spade (and I’m referencing garden implements by the use of that phrase).

There is a HUGE difference between the objectively proven fact that the Earth is flat and whether or not a God exists.

You just can’t conflate the two without looking extremely foolish yourself.

The objective fact is that NEITHER side of the theist-atheist debate is objectively factually able to be proven at this time. Absence of evidence is not proof. So it’s a standoff and people on either side of the equation are free to believe what they wish. And anyone is free to resist their proselytizing without either side being proven ignorant.

The flat Earth theory is easily disproven by the FACTS shown by a space flight. The two issues are totally different.

You have stated flatly on other threads that you are baffled by how anyone who is a college graduate can possibly believe in the existence of God. They must be “willfully ignorant” according to you.

I would love to see you go toe to toe with Francis Collins. I imagine he would just look at you with pity.

Don’t know who he is? Well please don’t continue in your ignorance. Go look him up.

Then come back here and try to convince us how stupid or ignorant he is. Go ahead. Make your case.

Or else, just stop assuming that you are so intellectually superior to everyone else who happens to be a theist. Put up or shut up.

Convince me of the stupidity of Francis Collins (and PLENTY of other scientists like him who have reached a different conclusion on the issue from yours).

I need a good laugh tonight.

GladysMensch's avatar

I still say this question was about the tea party.

DominicX's avatar

@Buttonstc For the record, I’m an atheist, and I completely agree with this. Flat earth is not a valid comparison theism. I really hope this thread doesn’t turn into an us vs. them thing, but judging by religious questions as of late, I won’t be surprised if it does.

lillycoyote's avatar

@GladysMensch I disagree, the question is clearly about The Flat Earth Society and their kind. :-)

Buttonstc's avatar


I have absolutely no intention of trying to convince anyone at all that God either exists or doesn’t.

I’m just fed up with the insinuations (and flat out statements) that ANYONE who believes in any type of God in any form is automatically ignorant.

Something like that should not be allowed to stand. And when someone is informed of that by the CM they sidetrack the real issue by comparing Theist to those who believe in a flat earth.

Heck, I don’t even believe in the Young Earth theory of which so many Fundies are enamored. It’s just logically untenable.

But just because I reject Young Earth Creationism, does not oblige me to reject a Creator.

tranquilsea's avatar

When some has some flawed logic going on I find it interesting to find out why they think the way they do. I’ll ask questions to get at why they believe it but I generally won’t try to change their minds. If they ask me what I believe, though, I’ll tell them.

Life would be boring if everyone believed the same things I did.

Coloma's avatar


Playing therapist aside, @Imadethisupwithnoforethought makes a valid point.
Often what we find the most offensive in others springs from our own denial of the same traits within that we do not wish to examine. Hating ignorance in another contains a component of fearing our own ignorance.

Buttonstc's avatar


Why the hell does everybody keep automatically accepting the assertion that all Theists are automatically ignorant ?

What the hell (in which I don’t believe) is the matter with all you people who keep throwing around the word “ignorant” as it it’s justified.

No small wonder Theists refuse to participate in these discussions. Total waste of time. I can recall only one which was basically civilized started by JCLeslie and that’s because she stated that’s what she wanted. But even Sleepdoc got sideswiped towards the latter part. And HE is an MD, for crying out loud. And people were shocked that someone with his level of education could possibly believe in a Creator. Good grief. I guess he must be as ignorant as the rest of us are presumed to be. I was just too stupid to realize it ~ ~ poor little me. I guess I don’t realize how deficient I am ~~
I wish Collins could weigh in on this thread.

But unfortunately he’s much too busy with his daily job as head of the NIH. And prior to that he was heading up the HGP (that would be the Human Genome Project BTW)

wundayatta's avatar

@Buttonstc Collins pretty much busts Occam’s Razor with his leap of faith. I have to wonder if the razor split his bicameral mind in two and that’s why he broke it.

I’m pretty disappointed that people seem to be demonstrating that respect for others has pretty much gone by the wayside despite what they say. I had no ulterior motive for this question. Yes, it came out of the debates about belief in God, but this is a question of interest to me in its own right. I want to know how you respect someone you think is being willfully ignorant.

I want to know how people manage to respect others that they believe are being harmful. Surely you all have people you believe are harmful to the world. How do you go about respecting them? Hell, use me, for example. I’m pretty sure you think I think I’m high and mighty and righteous and a knowitall and surely a bunch of other sinful things. So how do you care to try to be respectful of me?

It really doesn’t matter to me. So feel free to come out and say it, or even insult me, if that’s how you feel. Maybe Auggie won’t allow it, but I don’t mind. I won’t say it won’t hurt, but I think I can take it. I’m more interested in knowing what people really think, and seeing whether they care about respecting people even if they don’t respect points of view.

Personally, it is very difficult for me to know how to talk about ideas that I think are uneducated (is this truly any different from ignorant?), or show a lack of logic (is this different from stupid?) We’re talking about trying to respect people’s feelings, I think, but I think that’s window dressing. Everyone knows what the code words mean. If I tell someone that their belief is probably a good psychological tool, but it doesn’t go beyond that in terms of passing the test for scientific evidence, everyone will know I’m saying it’s a stupid idea. Anyone who doesn’t get that may also have had difficulty on the reading comprehension portion of the SAT.

Yes, I have little tolerance for ignorance. No, I do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but there comes a time when I feel like people are doing something that is too dangerous to let stand. But I don’t think I go on the attack until it seems like individuals are taking generalizations I make personally. When someone takes it personally, they attack me, and then I respond once or twice. Then I tend to bail out, because believe it or not, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m much more interested in relationship issues.

In any case, I think this is a case where the Emperor has no clothes. We can act as if we are being respectful, but that is driving the anger and fear underground. Everyone knows (or should know) what is being said. People who can read between the lines will know, and as far as I can tell, everyone here is quite adept at doing so, except when it comes to humor. (That’s a little joke, btw). The problem is the internet, and I think if people were with each other in person, things would be quite different. I doubt we’d be having many of these conversations. It is painful to witness the impact of a lack of knowledge of basic means for seeking knowledge.

In any case, while I think it is natural for people to personalize things, I hope people will resist that urge. I freely admit that this question has personal meaning for me, and I am perfectly willing to take any attacks anyone wants to hand out, but I hope people will focus on the issue in the question, not the motivation for the question.

Buttonstc's avatar

But upon what are you basing your assumption that Theists MUST BE ignorant ??

There is no proof for or against any type of God. At all.

And if you can point out to me where I ever called you sinful please be sure to let me know. That doesn’t happen to be my job to judge who’s sinful or not. I’ll leave that to those much better qualified.

Sinful, no I never even suggested it.

Assumptive, dismissive and downright disrespectful toward any others daring to disagree with you—most definitely. And I’m not the only one.

And to respind to your Q specifically, who or what gives you the sole authority to decide exactly who is being willfully ignorant if you have absolutely no proof of that whatsoever ?

( it’s no small wonder that your wife feels hurt by your judging her. Guess what? YOU ARE.)

DominicX's avatar


I don’t think “everybody” is accepting that; a whole lot of us aren’t.

Blackberry's avatar

@Buttonstc I really don’t think all, or even most theists are ignorant. I don’t even think anyone thinks the notion of god is ignorant, because it’s not. The notion of god is the last of the beliefs I would see as ignorant.

CWOTUS's avatar

I didn’t think it was about the theism thread at all. Still, attacking ideas and statements of fact (or misstatements) and logic (or illogic) is what debate is all about. I don’t think it needs to be – nor should it be – “personalized”, but sometimes that’s difficult to avoid. Boy howdy do I know that.

Coloma's avatar

I happen to think science and spirituality are not incompatible theories.
Note, I said spirituality, not religion.

tranquilsea's avatar

yikes I posted in the midst of a theological storm

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma I happen to agree with you about that. Very strongly. Of course, our notions of spirituality may or may not be similar. But perhaps that doesn’t matter. Perhaps none of it matters since I find that most people never stop to define terms (as a good scientist would) and thus people generally make all kinds of assumptions about what the other person means, and most of those assumptions are wrong. I’m just as guilty of that as anyone else, I’m sure. That’s where things go crazy, because if we have no idea what the other person is saying, we’re all shouting into an empty box. No wonder people will get their feelings hurt.

Buttonstc's avatar



So that’s your assumption? That Collins has a broken mind? That’s really the best you have to offer?

So, I ask you. Should someone with a “broken mind” be in charge of the NIH?

If you sincerely believe not then you should definitely write a letter to Obama who appointed him and begin at once to organize a movement for his recall. After all, peoples lives depend upon his judgement. We certainly can’t have a broken ignorant mind in such a position of authority, can we?

(Hint: you may find it rough going as many people are convinced he is a brilliant scientist.) but I’m sure YOU know better, of course ~~

nikipedia's avatar

I guess I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. So I think it’s important to respect everyone on that level.

And if someone is being willfully stupid, being disrespectful seems like a good way to guarantee they’re going to stay that way.

So if you can find a nice way to respectfully disagree, you stand a better chance of educating the other person, and you get to take the moral high road.

But I do not see any reason to suffer fools. If people insist on being wrong, and it doesn’t affect anyone else, I guess you have to just walk away and let them do it.

On the other hand, if they chase you down (e.g., trolling your fluther threads) and shove their ignorance in your face, I say let them fucking have it.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Buttonstc No one should ever assume that theists are ignorant. My mother was a fairly devout, but certainly not dogmatic or doctrinaire, ELCA Lutheran. She also had a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in chemistry, a master’s in mathematics, an M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education (it took her a while to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up :-)) and was an Associate Professor of Statistics and Research Design in the Doctoral Program of Nursing at the University of Maryland. She was most certainly NOT ignorant, most certainly NOT brainwashed, most certainly NOT irrational, most certainly NOT an idiot and most certainly NOT anti-science. She could have eaten of lot of less intelligent and less well educated atheists for lunch, but she just wouldn’t have. She believed what she believed and was not without her doubts about all sorts of things but she never would have tried to imposed her beliefs on anyone, sought to convert them or tried to imply that she was absolutely right about anything at all; well, except for a lot of the math stuff; much of that is pretty damn clear cut; provable and all that. She was not only too decent for that; she was way to smart and way too well educated to ever believe that she knew everything to the point that she had any business telling other people what to think or what to believe.

wundayatta's avatar

@Buttonstc You might want to read, Julian Jaynes’ “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.” It was a bit of a joke, which is to say that you are basing your argument on an appeal to authority without actually providing any evidence for the argument. If you knew anything about Collins, you would know that his belief, self-admitted, is based on a “leap of faith.” Clearly it is not scientific and not reproducible, therefore his belief is not based on evidence.

Since he is a scientist, he must be a bit schizophrenic in order to apply the rules of science in one part of his life, while accepting the idea that “faith” is a legitimate way to knowledge in another part of his life. It is logically inconsistent to apply two different and incompatible standards of evidence.

However, I will give him this. He uses “god” as a way to answer certain questions that are basically matters of opinion, such as what is the meaning of life, and how did the universe get started. As long as he limits his belief or faith as a means to finding answers to those kinds of questions, then there is no incompatibility. Then I only have a problem if he tries to argue that he knows better because God told him the answers. Then I have a big problem.

But this is the problem with this whole debate. Most people don’t know what science is. Most people don’t know the different ways that knowledge is created. Most can’t compare the validity of the two. Most don’t even have the sense to separate the domains in which the different methods of inquiry are valid.

This lack of understanding or even knowledge of how knowledge creation works strikes me as being unconscionable and deliberate ignorance. They teach the scientific method in every school in the land… well, maybe not religious schools.

People believe all kinds of things: crystals and astrology and palm reading and life after death and souls and heaven and hell and god knows what else (did you note the irony of me saying “god knows?). In general, I might question these things lightly once, but then I disengage on the topic because I know they don’t know anything about science.

It appears that many scientists seem to apply different standards of knowledge creation. I don’t know how they do it. It would be an interesting study to see how they think and how they reconcile these differences. It does disquiet me. I suspect that Collins was picked as the person to run those agencies for more political purposes than for scientific purposes or even managerial skills. Obama is known for that kind of namby-pamby decision-making. He tries to kill too many birds with one stone.

Anyway, if Collins is your poster-boy, you haven’t won any points with me. I don’t respect rhetorical techniques such as an appeal to authority. Notice that I didn’t say I don’t respect you. I said I didn’t respect your rhetorical technique. Does that make you feel better? I’m genuinely curious about that. I wouldn’t feel better. If someone attacks a tactic I use, to me it’s the same as attacking me. But maybe others see it differently.

lillycoyote's avatar

@wundayatta you said:

If you knew anything about Collins, you would know that his belief, self-admitted, is based on a “leap of faith.” Clearly it is not scientific and not reproducible, therefore his belief is not based on evidence.

That, obviously, is the nature of “belief” and of “faith.” You should perhaps refresh yourself on the definition of the term belief or use another word in your arguments. Many people who believe, many people of faith actually understand that it is a belief, that it requires “a leap of faith”. It is you who do not seem to understand that about believers and people of faith.

1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
3. confidence; faith; trust: a child’s belief in his parents.
4.a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.

Buttonstc's avatar

@DominicX and others objecting to my use of the word everybody…

You’re right, of course. I should have said “so many people on Fluther” and that would have been more accurate.

It was just getting to me how easily people on Fluther toss that word around so frequently on discussions of religion. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.

Are there ignorant people attempting to abrogate others rights (gays, etc) using their religion to cover their prejudices, but that has little to do with tons of others who are Theists and vehemently oppose that ignorance.

And when I qualify my statement with “on Fluther” that’s because I’ve had friendships and long discussions with PLENTY of atheists/agnostics in real life without encountering that demeaning attitude.

That has been my honest experience. I’ve never encountered the degree of rancor toward Theists that I’ve seen here on Fluther. And this is why I mostly stay out of those type of threads.

SpatzielLover and others have had similar experiences and have said so.

In the years I’ve been on Fluther, I’ve really only seen the prosetylizing type Qs by 2 people (both very young) which irritate atheists so. But anyone who mentions God positively gets flack for it even if they’ve never once been obnoxiously trying to convert anybody.

So tonight I just had my fill of people accepting the whole ignorance bullshit and the way Wundy was slinging it lately was just too much. He gets modded about it and still comes back spouting the same stuff in disguise. And a few other people spotted the BS prior to me so I’m certainly not the only one.

If anyone can point to where I have tried to proselytize anyone then I’ll retract everything I’ve said. All I’ve ever done is answer a direct Q if I felt that the person was being sincere and not just Theist-baiting.

But after reading through the previous thread (which prompted this Q) I certainly won’t be participating in many more. It’s just not worth the time.

Blackberry's avatar

@Buttonstc Definitely understandable, the frustration. Although, when I criticise religion or a particular belief in god, most of it is directed at the external influences. This is why I was initially confused when fluther theists become so flustered. I know I’m on fluther when I say this stuff, but in general, it is aimed at things happening outside of fluther. Most of us know there’s no one even close to fundamental on here, although occasionally, I see some dissonance that surprises me on here, but I’m not angry or frustrated with anyone on Fluther, I just get kind of taken aback by some things people say, and it’s like some witty remark just flies out like a reflex, sorry :/

DominicX's avatar


I understand, it’s just that theists aren’t the only ones frustrated with all this “all theists are ignorant” talk because, let’s face it, it makes atheists look bad and it’s disappointing to see that’s the reputation we’re getting around here when we don’t all think like that. I don’t really understand why it’s so prevalent, though; I don’t come across it this much in real life either and I know a lot of atheists…

lillycoyote's avatar

@DominicX Absolutely. I’m sort of an idiosyncratic deist and most of my friends are either atheist or lapsed Catholics and I have never encountered anything but live and let live in my real life, among my friends and family. It’s simply a non issue. We don’t care, we don’t argue, we don’t talk about it. Everyone is who they are, believe or don’t believe whatever it is they do or don’t believe and it is simply no big deal. However, we do all share a distaste for any kind of religious fundamentalism or radicalism and oppose any attempts to rewrite history and base law and public policy on religious doctrine.

Blackberry's avatar

I would like to think most of the rabid debaters on fluther aren’t like this in real life. I never get in these kinds of debates at all in person either, and if I did, I wouldn’t even be this combative.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Blackberry What do you think it is then? That makes people go off the deep end here?

Blackberry's avatar

@lillycoyote Where else can we share such a wide range of “emotions”? We can’t do this at work, school, family gatherings etc. There definitely is the anonymity factor, and there is also the venting factor. There are some people on fluther that always seem to be calm and relaxed, and I’m not sure how they do that. Is it possible for a person to be tranquil online and in person? Most likely not.

mazingerz88's avatar

Wow, maybe aetheists today are reincarnations of people who have been slaughtered and tortured in the name of religion? And there’s so many. Maybe they are blinded by revenge and would take it to anybody who subscribes in these religions even though they were not directly involve with those killings. Now that would explain a lot. Ok, you may now ask what I’ve been drinking. I won’t be offended. : )

@blackberry All these seemingly painful exchange of posts, nasty or not are nothing compared to what could happen and not happen out there. Blood could spill out there and for real. Still think Fluther is loaded with good people who say harsh words sometimes but I dont know, I still say with confidence that I haven’t met a single bad jelly here.
And @wundayatta, you are correct when you think someone is stupid or ignorant, by your well explained and expressed standards. I feel you don’t use those words lightly and viciously intend to hurt. But you don’t have to use them, really. It’s also a matter of kindness, an issue of emphaty and it should never be put aside even in debates about science and especially religion.

JLeslie's avatar

@tranquilsea I have found that in the asking some people feel attacked.

@wundayatta If it becomes obvious the person is not going to change their beliefs, why antagonize them. Anyone who believes something and does not want to listen to arguments against the idea is simply set in their ways. When it comes to religion, many people feel they are not ignorant, they believe they have thought it through, seen evidence of God through miracles, etc. You are the one who won’t open his eyes. Their perspective of the world, the Universe, and God, is competely different. Think of it like a cultural thing. The person in his own culture sees perfect logic and reason for the various etiquette rules, mores, etc. An outsider is not going to tell them why they are wrong so fast.

Plus, I am pretty sure a huge percentage of the American population doesn’t know the definition of ignorant.

augustlan's avatar

An important point about the word “ignorant”. While it does have a specific meaning, in practical usage it has become an insult. It’s disingenuous to pretend like we don’t know that, and to insist on using it anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan I agree it is taken as an insult. I think people can use it for themselves, but not say it referring to others without being offensive. However, if someone called me ignorant, I would probably clarify with them what exactly they are accusing me of. If they explain they only mean to say that they think I am unaware of some information, I would realize they don’t mean stupid, and are using the stricter definition of the word.

cookieman's avatar

As much as I enjoy the level of intelligent debate here at Fluther, I gotta say, between this and the recent theist thread – many of you don’t hang out with enough average joe’s.

@JLeslie almost nails it in her last response. Throw in some apathy and a more pressing need to discuss last night’s game and you’ll get to where most people fall on being “willfully ignorant”.

Whether we’re talking religion or politics or homosexuality, most folks I know believe what they were taught to believe by the parents, family and friends. Perhaps not blindly, perhaps not unquestioningly, but enough that it’s good enough for them.

Family and local/regional tradition, guilt, and peer pressure pretty much motivates most people I know in their beliefs. Sure they’ve “thought it through”, but only within the confines of a criteria they feel comfortable with. Assuming they even know what it is, the majority of people are not going to apply the scientific method against their beliefs. They don’t want to open that can of worms because they’re unprepared for what they might find. Most people want answers, not more questions. They have to sleep at night after all.

Ultimately, if it brings someone comfort or a sense of understanding (and they’re not harming someone else because of their beliefs), what the fuck do you care if they’re being “willfully ignorant”? Most folks would call that just “getting through life”.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie and others… there is an extremely fine line, if any line at all, between calling someone “stupid and ignorant” and saying that what they believe is “stupid and ignorant” and I don’t have much patience with people who seem to think they are entirely different things.

and @cprevite you are doing both yourself and other people a disservice in assuming that people come to opinions that you disagree with out of brainwashing or thoughtlessness. What is the harm in giving people the benefit of the doubt? In at least considering the possibility that they have actually thought through things? I disagree with all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons but I try to approach them with the attitude that they might have actually thought things through, that they might have minds of their own. I always use that as a starting point until proven otherwise. You might consider giving that a shot sometime, instead of approaching people with your preconceived notions and stereotypes.

And this is not directed at you, @cprevite, but so many people, of varying belief systems seem to think it is their place to challenge and confront what other people believe. It is not, in my opinion. What gives any of you the right to tell me what I should and shouldn’t think and believe? I don’t want in your face Christians trying to convert me and I don’t want in your face atheists trying to convert me, I don’t want anyone at all, Christian or atheist trying to tell my what I should or shouldn’t think, what I should or shouldn’t believe. I have a mind of my own, thank you. I think what I think and and I believe what I believe because I have thought it through. To imply otherwise is the height of arrogance and an insult. Mind your own goddamn business and leave me alone.

cookieman's avatar

you are doing both yourself and other people a disservice in assuming that people come to opinions that you disagree with out of brainwashing or thoughtlessness.

@lillycoyote: I never said they were “brainwashed” or “thoughtless”, simply that they (in my experience) either don’t care that much about it or are content with what they believe in with little or no introspection.

And where did I say I disagree with them? I actually didn’t state my opinion.

You may wish to reread what I wrote.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote Part of what is missing ftom this discussion was when ignorant was used regarding belief in God on a different Q, the specific point being argued was science and scientific method, and that science does not try to disprove something it proves hypothesis through evidence and being able to consistently repeat an outcome. So when thiests try to argue science has not proven there is no God, to a scientist or researcher it sounds like the person does not have knowledge of how science works. That they are “ignorant” to the terminology. But, the lay person is using prove with a different definition, or not using the scientific definition. I think the scientist does not really get what the thiest is trying to say, and the person who is not very knowledgeable about how research works (of course there are thiests who are) doesn’t understand the scientists objection.

I have used ignorant all over fluther about myself. It is my admitting I don’t have a lot of knowledge on the topic at hand. If a thiest says to me, I know science has not proven there is a God, but I choose to believe because of various experiences in my life, and then explains what has brought them to their beliefs, I completely accept that. But that is not scientific evidence it is anectdotal. I think various things are true based on my experiences and anectdotal evidence, we all do it.

lillycoyote's avatar

@cprevite Please explain to me how saying someone believes in something “with little or no introspection” is any different than saying they are simply thoughtless. I certainly could be wrong, but that seems like a matter of semantics to me.

JLeslie's avatar


One example is I use ignorant in an answer here you can see it the second answer on the Q. I don’t think I am stupid, I think I don’t know about that particular thing. I have little experience with it.

I have used ignorant to describe my knowledge about events in the middle east, because I feel I lack significant knowledge regarding its history and even current day. That is why I ask questions about it. I don’t feel my ignorance reflects my intelligence at all.

I am only speaking to the intention of the person using ignorant. Willfully ignorant is a step further though. It accuses the person of not seeking or being open to knowledge, which I would say is a negative accusation and offensive.

cookieman's avatar

@lillycoyote: I didn’t say they were incapable of introspection, they simply choose not to engage in it because the reasons “why” they believe in something is not that important to them (in the face if their day to day concerns).

You do realize I’m actually defending this position and think that calling them “willfully ignorant” is rude??

lillycoyote's avatar


I can only reference my post above, the one to @Buttonstc which read:

“No one should ever assume that theists are ignorant. My mother was a fairly devout, but certainly not dogmatic or doctrinaire, ELCA Lutheran. She also had a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in chemistry, a master’s in mathematics, an M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education (it took her a while to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up :-)) and was an Associate Professor of Statistics and Research Design in the Doctoral Program of Nursing at the University of Maryland. She was most certainly NOT ignorant, most certainly NOT brainwashed, most certainly NOT irrational, most certainly NOT an idiot and most certainly NOT anti-science. She could have eaten of lot of less intelligent and less well educated atheists for lunch, but she just wouldn’t have. She believed what she believed and was not without her doubts about all sorts of things but she never would have tried to imposed her beliefs on anyone, sought to convert them or tried to imply that she was absolutely right about anything at all; well, except for a lot of the math stuff; much of that is pretty damn clear cut; provable and all that. She was not only too decent for that; she was way to smart and way too well educated to ever believe that she knew everything to the point that she had any business telling other people what to think or what to believe.”

Do you think that my mother was unfamiliar with the scientific method? Do you think that you, with your level of education, could have held your own with her in a conversation, let alone a debate about chemistry or mathematics? Or about religion? If you do, think again. I really doubt you would have had a chance. She also would have kicked your ass if you tried to talk to her about music too, though as mentioned, even if she could have, she would have been much to decent and gracious to do so. She would have only tried to share her love for math and music with you. The only prosthelytizing she might have done would have been to try to get you to love math and the music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as much as she did.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I am not explaining myself well to you I guess. First of all I never say all thiests are ignorant, not ever. I never say they all lack knowledge of science. A close friend of mine is a bioligis and a thiest, a Christian. I would not accuse your mother of being ignorant, but your mom would probably never argue she needs science to disprove God, because she is a scientist. She certainly cannot be lumped in with undereducated religious people who prosthyletize and cannot understand why people have objection to people pushing their religious views on others. And don’t even try to say I am calling thiests undereducated or uneducated, I am only talking about those who are, and there are plenty of people who aren’t religious who lack education also. You are taking offense when we are not even speaking of your mother.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote Let me add this. The 13 year old who works on cars with his dad has more knowledge and understanding of the mechanics of a car than I do. My college education does nothing to help me. Formal education does not mean someone is smarter. Whether someone is knowledgeable about something only has to do with how much they know on a particular topic, and cannot be generalized to other topics.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie Perhaps I have misunderstood you and your argument and I apologize for that, but I am “taking offense” because people very often are speaking of people who are like my mother; people who are religious, and therefore are very often assumed to be simply ignorant, when those people making those assumptions actually know very little, if anything about any particular individual and that individual’s beliefs and particular circumstances.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I think more often than not people don’t mean all religious people, but we, I take responsibility in doing this also, when talking about religion and politics generalize for shorthand in a conversation. It’s like when the media talks about the “Jewish vote” I know not every single Jew votes the same way, the media knows it too. “Christian right,” nobody means every single Christian is the same, I don’t even mean every Christian is part of the Christian right. But, to clarify in every single sentence in every conversation becomes tedious. I try to do it to make sure I am understood.

Buttonstc's avatar


You might be interested in one of the few Qs on Fluther which addressed these issues (in the context of Creationism and Evolution) originally asked very respectfully by JLeslie and subsequently reposted by Rarebear because some nitwit derailed J’s thread by inserting nonsense about homosexuality. You’ll quickly realize that she is a welcome change to the usual superciliousness of many Fluther atheists. Not all athesists but many. I think you’ll enjoy it.


I think you’re being way too generous by far. It’s one thing to prefer the scientific terminology. It’s quite another to conflate Theism with believing in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause or a Flat Earth as Wundy has repeatedly done on the thread prompting this Q and here as well.

The intention is quite clear. Theists are “less than” and purposely ignorant.

That’s precisely why I referred to Collins. I was curious to see how persistent his arrogance would be. Well it speaks for itself.

I certainly was not expecting to change his mind about atheism. It’s pretty funny to me that he would think so. I’ve certainly never attempted to do it with anyone else on Fluther. Why on Earth would he think I’d start with him?

It’s unfortunate that all of his snideness on the other thread was modded off so I can’t lift any exact quotes.

But I think references to the Tooth Fairy rather speaks for itself.

And for the record, I’m not participating on this thread because my feeling are so hurt (but I can’t speak for others).

No, my primary reason is regret that he has most likely succeeded in squelching any further desire and likelihood for many other Theists to answer Qs posted by sincere askers like yourself about why they hold the beliefs they do.

The original Q on the previous thread was SPECIFICALLY asked of THEISTS.

So of course that was the signal for Wundy and any other atheists with an ax to grind to jump right in and let us know how deficient we are. If the Q is not addressed to you, why do you think you simply MUST convince any and all of how deficient are the answers of all respondents who are attempting to answer ? Is it really necessary to AGAIN drive home the point that anyone who acknowledges a belief in any type of God, no matter how nebulous, basically chooses to believe in “fairy tales” ?

And then try to claim that they really didn’t mean to be insulting and expect anyone to buy that BS? Please. I was born at night but it wasn’t LAST NIGHT. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, guess what? IT’S A FRIGGIN DUCK (otherwise known as a snide insult)

And I’m going to paraphrase cprevite’s observation in the previous Q. After we had years of Dan Ackroyd saying “Jane, you ignorant slut” how can anyone seriously try to maintain that the word ignorant is anything but an insult ?

Why would anyone in their right mind want to subject themselves to any any more of that nonsense ? It’s a total waste of time and I’ve wasted enough time on this to last for a good long time.

So even tho I didn’t choose to say anything on the previous thread, the ridiculousness of this one was just too over the top.

If somebody has to ask if they should treat someone else with respect…..well….that’s pretty obvious.

choreplay's avatar

@wundayatta I didn’t think you liked Questions with hidden agendas?

tom_g's avatar

@Coloma: “Playing therapist aside, @Imadethisupwithnoforethought makes a valid point.
Often what we find the most offensive in others springs from our own denial of the same traits within that we do not wish to examine. Hating ignorance in another contains a component of fearing our own ignorance.”

I can see you and @Imadethisupwithnoforethought making this assertion. I am curious – do you have any evidence to support this? Maybe you could word it in a more personal way (“What I find the most offensive in others springs from my own denial…”).

Seems to me it’s merely playing therapist and making assertions about the intentions of others – with no evidence at all. It appears to be ad hominem.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc I did agree it is offensive, that @wundayatta went too far. I guess it is frustration maybe, not that I defend his wording or support completely his thoughts on the matter. He kind of went on a rant, which isn’t going to go over well. I think on that same Q @wundayatta asked for people to explain it, to explain why, why do they think how they do. Have we had that done yet? Have the thiests explained why, or is it mostly a matter of just because? I am fine with just because, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. I think people like Wunday, although I don’t want to put words in his mouth, have trouble with just because, but they still are willing to listen to an explanation if people want to offer some up.

I have many times said that lack of proof does not mean something doesn’t exist. I line up with the thiests on that. I have medical problems, and I have a very strong hypothesis, I’ll go as far as to say belief, regarding what causes my problem. Doctors generally don’t accept my idea, because they don’t have any proof. I see all sorts of “proof” in my observations regarding what helps me feel better, the particular medicines that are effective.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc Regarding the tooth fairy, which I do think is obnoxious; I can’t tell you how many Christians, including Catholics, talk that way about the Mormon religion, and the teachings the Mormons follow like it is believing in the tooth fairy. Hypocrisy is annoying. Why is the Baptist’s belief more legitmate than the Mormons?

CWOTUS's avatar

@JLeslie & @Buttonstc and others (like me) who want to see civil discourse, no matter how vigorously prosecuted:

I also have no problem with “I believe just because” – I like that wording and ‘reasoning’. Where I have major problems is when people want to base public policy off of their beliefs – which is really acceptable, also, for people to want their society to conform to their beliefs – but they base that whole desire on ‘just because’. That’s where I leave the rails, too.

Buttonstc's avatar

Firstly, it was not Wundy who asked the Q in the first place. He didn’t ask any Q at all so I’m trying to figure out why you think he has the slightest interest in why much less any semblance to a sincere open minded one. He’s the one who tries to insist upon how sincerely he wants to know. He’s selling but I’m not buying.

You and Rarebear? yes I buy that totally because you’ve demonstrated that in your attitudes.

If someone sincerely wants to know, they don’t accuse people of believing in fairy tales, and when modded for it keep persisting by likening it to those who believe the earth is flat. I’m not the first nor the only to call BS on that not being related to the previous Q. Oh, but it’s really about people who are silly enough to believe the earth is flat.

I’ve never met ANY people who believe that have you? And I’ve never met any Theists who believe it either.

Come on. You’re a logical person. As am I. Why on Earth would I waste time trying to explain anything about what I do or don’t believe to anyone who insinuate that I’m gullible, deficient, or willfully ignorant ?

You certainly have read enough of my responses to anyone who sincerely wants to know how or why I view various spiritual beliefs. And it’s there for anyone to search on also. I’ve never had a problem with having the reason for my beliefs questioned and have answered as straightforwardly and thoroughly as I can.

It’s the crappy attitude I have absolutely no interest in engaging. Why should I ?

In real life, have had tons of give and take challenging conversations with plenty of humanists/agnostics/atheists and learned a lot. But even tho there was challenge, it was absent of insult and assumptions. Fluther is the ONLY place where I’ve seen this degree of repeated rancor over and over again.

And I’m not referring to it being directed to me personally because I don’t waste a lot of time participating with that crap. But I read. A lot.

CWOTUS's avatar


I don’t know about “Flat Earthers”; I haven’t met any of them yet. But I have worked with engineers – that is, college-educated, degreed Professional Engineers – who believe that the Earth is around 6,000 years old. And when we’ve had that discussion, the guy was not drunk and/or joking, because he never drank and he had no sense of humor.

So those people are out there, and they’re apparently making their way in the world and spreading that kind of nonsense.

Buttonstc's avatar

And do you think I’m somehow not aware of that?

And why would anyone assume that I’m one of them or that I agree or support that viewpoint?

Yes there are ignorant people in the world who use their religion to justify those views and I disagree just as vehemently as you do with them. And I have written plainly about it numerous times on various Fluther Qs.

But the difference is that I’m unwilling to throw the baby out with the barhwater. To me it is simply far more logical to believe that there is a Creator than a void of nothingness.

And I also acknowledge that I have no objective proof. But neither has any atheist ever managed to prove the opposite. And I’m fine with that. I don’t have any overwhelming need to vehemently disagree with an atheists point of view.

It’s the crappy supercilious attitude. (which I honestly have yet to encounter in real life)

I’ve gone to talks and meetings at the Ethical Society when I lived in Philly and had many interesting conversations without snideness on either side. Just lots of good conversation.

They managed to realize that I’m not stuck in some unique archaic bubble of superstition simply because I found it more logical to believe in the existence of a Creator. But somehow the majority of the ones on Fluther just can’t seem to make that leap. Good grief.

nikipedia's avatar

@Buttonstc, if you want @wundayatta and other atheists to be respectful, I think it’s only fair that you not call him and others arrogant, or say things like “the crappy supercilious attitude.”

CWOTUS's avatar

@Buttonstc I can’t speak for @wundayatta or anyone else, but the fact that you and others believe in a Creator is perfectly fine with me. I don’t think anything badly about you because of that belief. It would be objectively true that you are ‘ignorant’ (in the most fundamental meaning of that word) – but so am I; so are all of us.

If you claim to know what is in the mind of a perceived Creator, what the Creator ‘wants’ from us, how we should worship (or even that we should worship) the Creator – and attempt to enforce that as public policy and law, then we have major problems. If you want to believe any of that privately, or even announce that you believe it, that’s perfectly fine, too. It’s the idea that “the Creator wouldn’t like it if we allowed x, so we should have strong laws against x” that I have problems.

Coloma's avatar


What I refer to is called “splitting” or “projection” in psych terms. This is a well known fact in the science of mind.
There is a vast amount of “proof” as to this in psychiatric research/literature.
Attributing ones own issues to another, in varying degree. This is “factual” based on the science of psychology.

This also does not mean the issue that is difficult for another to address is going to be exactly the same. I loathe liars, not because I lie to others, however, I might look at ways I might lie to myself.

The second possibility is that once one has attained a fully integrated psyche, they may be aware of feeling a sense of lack of relating to the issue presented, but, their reaction is greatly subdued and is more of an observation than an interaction.

I think “willfully STUBBORN” is a better description than “willfully ignorant” which is subject to the accusers concept of what constitutes “ignorance.” That is subjective at best.

Your reference to “ad hominim” escapes me.

tom_g's avatar

It appears to me to be an ad hominem attack because it’s saying, let’s not investigate what the person is saying – let’s instead make claims about why he is saying it (“from our own denial of the same traits within that we do not wish to examine”, “I think, when people are out of control inside, they attempt to bully others, especially when they have numbers on their side.”, “It is a way to make themselves feel good.”, “convincing everyone that some people are ignorant negate’s their own character faults”, etc).

So in playing therapist, we’re in a situation in which you can throw terms like “splitting” and “projection” around, without any evidence that this is what is going on when person x makes a particular claim. You’re not anyone’s therapist here.

“The sky is blue!”

(pats head kindly and speaks in a sweet voice)... “There now. You just relax. What we’re experiencing here is projection….”

It’s a conversation-stopper.

Coloma's avatar


I never said that is exactly what’s happening, only a possibility.
Just an extra potato in the soup pot, so to speak.

The more upset an ego gets at not being supported, the more offense at not being able to control anothers POV, the more likely this is a component.

That’s all.

tom_g's avatar

@Coloma – Ok. It had come after (and with reference to) @Imadethisupwithnoforethought‘s post, so I assumed it was in support of the post. My bad.

For the record, I would love to discuss the possible psychological origins and evolutionary psychology’s hypothesis about the need to posit a god. However, it would have to be the topic of discussion, and not an excuse to ignore legitimate claims.

Coloma's avatar


Well..I WAS supporting his words. lol

Again, just stirring the pot a bit…as always, there are many “truths.” ;-)

tom_g's avatar

[Takes large mixing spoon from @Coloma and mails it to a youtube commenter.] :)

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blackberry This is good stuff, and we’ll be a stronger Fluther for it. Lol. :D
Yes, Fluther will be a nice strong atheist community.

@tom_g Your ego is showing.

tom_g's avatar

@SpatzieLover – I only fluther in the nude. Everything is showing.

Coloma's avatar


So you’re saying you are totally transparent? lol
Gimme back my spoon! :-D

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Basically the question originally states “Delibrately ignorant.” Meaning stupid… If someone is being stupid on purpose, isn’t it best to allow evolution to take care of them? Eventually…the stupid will all become obsolete because they only want to sleep with each other. Voila! Problem solved. *Thanks again to Darwin and his cuddly Galpagos Iguana!

wonderingwhy's avatar

Heh, I clearly missed a big part of this, but just going to what I feel is at the core of the question. Should one choose to respect the feelings of people they feel hold outmoded beliefs even in the face of counterevidence?

To me this is a golden rule thing, treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. If I hold a belief and continually make assertions based on it that everyone feels is ignorant, I’d want to know and more importantly I’d want to know why they think that. Also, if someone is soliciting opinions on their beliefs I’ll tell them truthfully what I think and why – again because I would want the same, otherwise what’s the point of asking opinions.

In both cases, if that hurts your feelings, too bad. Somewhere along the way we seem to have put the feelings of others ahead of everything else – everyone has to be PC PC PC, be careful, don’t offend. I disagree with the idea that attacking someones beliefs is necessary but if you can’t disagree or express your opinion simply out of fear that someone is too thin-skinned that’s plain ridiculous. Learning is about challenging beliefs if we stop doing that or set aside certain things as untouchable how will we ever grow.

You can respect someones beliefs and still challenge them. You can even respect their feelings with adroit use of tact. However respecting their feelings to the extent that you don’t challenge them seems a needless and worrisome concession when they are soliciting opinions or making you the focus of their prosthelytizing.

Blackberry's avatar

@SpatzieLover I don’t know what it is, were some people actually offended down to the core due to this barrage of religious questions lately? I understand the frustration, but was anyone deeply offended? I can become frustrated like anyone else debating online, but I’ve never been actually offended on Fluther I don’t think.

I do forget that some really don’t have as thick a skin as I assume, and that’s my fault.

DominicX's avatar

I’ve wondered that as well, @JLeslie, about how Christians view other “unusual” factions of Christianity; one of my closest friends, who is a Presbyterian, says the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are “freaks” for believing what they do and finds their beliefs laughable. It seems like it would be hypocritical of her to then be offended if someone said her own beliefs were “ridiculous” or something along those lines…

SpatzieLover's avatar

I do not intend this just for you @Blackberry, but for every one using the “thick-skin/thin-skin” anology: It’s ridiculous to think individuals aren’t taking it personally when you call them thin-skinned when their core values are under attack.

Others say “attack” is the wrong word and they mean to “scrutinize” or “make people think”.

Then there’s the “ignorant, delusional or the unintelligent”: those are all rather slanted words directed at individuals and their core beliefs.

@Blackberry It has more to do with jellies forgetting their are real people behind these avatars. These real people have real reasons as to why they chose to believe and/or put faith in some higher power.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Let’s not pussyfoot around the issue like we don’t know what this is really about.

Essentially, this is what it boils down to- you think theists are complete fucking morons because of their belief in a higher power. You think theists are brainwashed into believing in a magical, invisible being. You think theists are nothing more than a group of ignorant fucking psychotics who should medicated because of their delusions and removed from society because they are dangerous.

You want to despise the religious extremists? More power to you, I can’t stand them. But to slander and insult anyone who believes in a god, simply because of that belief is where the true ignorance comes into play.

Tell me why I’m dangerous. My belief is not a danger to you, nor is it a danger to anyone else. My belief is MINE and it has nothing to do with you. Have I bombed buildings in the name of my God? Have I killed anyone in the name of my God? Have I done anything evil in the name of my God? Have I, personally, ever “shoved my beliefs down your throat”? The answer to all of those is emphatically NO, yet you continue to sit on your high fucking intellectual horse and shove your beliefs down my throat, just like the other extreme atheists on this website. Ever hear of the phrase “Pot calling the kettle black”? Well take a long, hard look in the mirror, my friend, because you’re a darker fucking ebony than I could ever be. It’s not my fault that you’re in denial.

More than a handful of people on this site share your views on theists, and it makes me literally sick to my stomach and my whole body shakes with fury over your proclaimed “intelligence”. If you were so damned intelligent, and I was so damned stupid, just because I believe in something through faith, you wouldn’t feel the need to demean me, and others like me. You would be secure in the knowledge that you were right, and you wouldn’t make such a big deal out of the whole “there is a god/there is no god” issue.

What a lot of people here fail to realize is that I have a knack for seeing the face behind the facade people put forward. I see through people quite easily, and what I’m seeing on Fluther lately (that’s only getting worse) is very ugly. The hidden face is conceited and cowardly. You want to see what “dangerous beliefs” will get you? Keep an eye on yourself and your own “anti-belief” agenda that you keep pushing.

Why should you respect me, since I’m an ignorant moron who believes in God? Give me one good reason why we should respect you, after the way you’ve behaved here. And make it a believable reason. You know, something tangible that I can see. And touch. So that I have hard proof that I should respect you, instead of just taking it on faith that you’re worthy of respect.

JilltheTooth's avatar

This whole Atheist vs Theist thing going on here has gotten pretty ugly at times over the last few weeks, and some voices have been louder than others. I have a conscience on this site, @KatawaGrey. It matters to me what she thinks of me, in fact a lot of what I do
and how I behave in the world is about wanting her to think well of me. I am a better person for that check on my systems. I’ve let these threads diminish me, I have posted responses that I’m not proud of, I know my daughter sees them and I’ve been ashamed of that.

@wundayatta, let me just ask you: is this really the person you want your children to see? The one who judges such a massive and extremely diverse group, (anyone who believes in God), so harshly (and calling a huge number of people “ignorant” is very harsh, you know that it is rather pejorative in this context) that you need to say it again and again?

I am a theist, you are anti-theist, but you know what? You may call me ignorant, but you can’t answer the very questions that led me to believe. An amusing irony, that.

I’m not following this or any of those other threads anymore as I want Fluther to be a place that I enjoy, again, not the place that makes me angry. There’s enough stuff in the real world to be pissed off about, I don’t want that here, too.

Blackberry's avatar

@SpatzieLover I hope I’m not starting something that was already established, I seem to have a bad memory with some of this stuff, but…...Why is it so important? I have beliefs, too, but even someone saying my beliefs are ignorant and stupid wouldn’t cause me to feel such reflexive chagrin. I would assume it would be something opposite, like passiveness due to one already having such a strong faith in their beliefs.

Kind of like “These are my beliefs so it doesn’t matter what they call me, anyway.” Or maybe retorting in a combative or even playful manner to stir up a nice debate. But instead it’s simple “I’m offended”.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Blackberry consider the following, respectfully.

The OP stated in his Q that people are being willfully ignorant. Guessing at people’s psychology.

I suggested that it may have more to do with the OPs psychology than a deficiency in others.

@tom_g became irate that I would play psychologist, and requested I stop making personal attacks.

People are saying nasty things, then as a form of apology, saying you just have a thin skin. I can see that as an agnostic.

DominicX's avatar

@Blackberry That just seems like differences between types of people, more than it has to do with beliefs. If someone told me my atheism was ignorant, I wouldn’t be offended, but I would probably say “Can you explain to me why? Because I’m prepared to argue against you.”

Blackberry's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I guess it’s hard for me to understand since I’m so passive. An insult is an insult, but it’s also important how one handles an insult to me.

@DominicX I agree with that.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Blackberry People are insulting people. People are saying it is starting to hurt.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I have shared too much on Fluther in the past and have learned from my mistakes.

All I will say now in hopes that you can try to have you understand is this:

I see God in everything, everywhere.
For me it is impossible to remove God.

Further, I’m not a passive person. It would be difficult for me to feign passiveness. It, therefore, is next to impossible for me to see Fluther friends continually badgered for their faith.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Blackberry There’s an old saying that goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s a crock of shit, because words have the power to hurt infinitely worse than a few bruises.

Blackberry's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, so I’m most likely really clueless. But regarding this particular vein, why does it hurt so bad?

wundayatta's avatar

@lillycoyote wrote: That, obviously, is the nature of “belief” and of “faith.” You should perhaps refresh yourself on the definition of the term belief or use another word in your arguments. Many people who believe, many people of faith actually understand that it is a belief, that it requires “a leap of faith”. It is you who do not seem to understand that about believers and people of faith.

These things are so tricky. I don’t believe in belief. Seems like a contradictory statement, doesn’t it? Yet I am using believe in two different ways. The first “believe” is a conclusion based on evidence I have seen. The second “belief” refers to a position taken on the basis of no scientific evidence.

So when Collins uses his leap of faith to believe in God, it discredits his thinking process for me. I don’t understand belief. I don’t see how people could use something so precarious and unsupportable (scientifically speaking) as a way to make decisions about life. It seems wrong to me and poorly thought out.

Now a gazillion people probably wouldn’t engage in a practice if it didn’t offer some benefit. Clearly it doesn’t offer a benefit in understanding how the world works. So it must offer some other benefit. I think it offers a psychological benefit. I think it comforts people when they don’t know things. In other words, it is a kind of placebo. It helps people believe they know something about the world, when that something is of dubious practical value.

However, there is evidence it has a psychological value. On the other hand, there are other practices that do not require belief that have the same value.

The problem, as @CWOTUS suggests, is that people want to make public policy based on their beliefs, and this is a serious problem. It is dangerous. It hurts a lot of people. It leads to cuts in science budgets. It leads to the watering down of science education in public schools. It causes people to make statements about God punishing gays or various peoples who are hurt in Hurricanes and other such events and it prevents us from planning properly for future problems.

These things are hard to see because we can’t see alternative futures. Still they are logical conclusions when one looks at history.

It is very frustrating to talk to people who don’t know how science works. We seem to end up talking right past each other. People don’t want to deal with the issues. They say if you compare God to the tooth fairy you are insulting them. With that kind of reaction, how can you have a conversation? What imaginary creature can you compare God to in order to have the conversation without insulting someone?

If you say God isn’t imaginary, then you have to define it so we can talk. Once we define God, we can then talk about evidence to support the idea, unless of course you deny the idea that evidence matters. If you posit an idea, but offer no evidence for it—no scientific evidence, then either you don’t think science is useful, or you must have some other reason for not providing evidence.

If we don’t agree on the same standards for judging the reliability of knowledge, what is there to talk about? We should be talking about standards, but we never do. We keep going back to the ostensible argument. This is the willfulness that upsets me. Why can’t we talk about how we gain knowledge instead of arguing about things where we are talking right past each other? What motivates people to avoid this conversation?

@WillWorkForChocolate I don’t think I have claimed to be intelligent very often. In fact, I think that I have claimed just the opposite far more often. Indeed, look back at any discussion about intelligence and about IQ, and I’ll think you’ll find I state that I am probably below average. Would you care to dispute that?

Clearly, there needs to be a way to say what we think without insulting people. Yet, it seems to me that people will read an insult into what I say no matter what I say. You’ve heard me say something that sounds insulting before, so why would I change?

Someone mentioned me being moderated for intemperate remarks before. They question why I continue to talk about this topic. I do admit that I was intemperate, but it was hard for me to resist the provocation. There are people here who seem to attribute the worst to me at all times. They seem to assume I am the worst person ever, and hope I will go away. That’s fine.

I believe I have the right to make judgments even on fluther. I know that other people feel free to make judgments about me. You can just look at this discussion to see that. I have tried very hard not to make judgments about anyone, and to discuss people’s ideas, as our community manager has suggested. I’m not perfect and surely will be moderated a gazillion times over, but I honestly don’t know how to convey my thinking without insulting people who take my criticisms personally. I can’t control how other people think or behave. I don’t even want to.

I am sorry for hurting people’s feelings. I’m sorry if I said things in ways that people felt were insulting. I really do respect people, but I really hate some of their ideas. I have a problem, though, when I think someone is dangerous. It’s hard to separate a person from their ideas and hard to keep my feelings about their ideas to myself. So I don’t know what to do. I could stop talking about anything that raises this kind of controversy if people would prefer.

There is no reason why anyone should care about what I say. Certainly, no one is being forced to pay attention. These are things I care about passionately, and also where I don’t think I am going to change anyone’s mind. I learned that ages ago. So, as always, I write to see what I think, as much as to try to share my ideas, which so many people can’t stand. I am willing to censor myself if people like, though. In any case, I’m not complaining about the responses. Makes my back get all tense, and I get a little headache. I guess that’s what they call seeing red, but it’s my choice. I don’t have to pay attention, either.

And I’m perfectly willing to admit that I am highly ignorant, too, if that helps. I know I’m ignorant. I know I’m not very smart. I make lots of mistakes when it comes to other people and relating to them. I’ve been socially inept all my life. The world doesn’t run the way I think it should, and I hurt more people than I ever wanted to because of my ignorance. Sigh. I’m sorry I’m such a clunky guy. I’m trying to learn, but obviously I’m not very good at it. Again, my apologies, and I beg your indulgence as I try to learn, and to understand it is difficult for me, since I am so stupid I have to ask questions like this that no one takes at face value. I will say this: it’s hard to learn how to be nicer if no one will talk about practical things, and insist on talking about what they think is my secret (or not-so-secret) agenda. But then, I suppose, no few have any good will for me (all my own fault, I’m sure), so I shouldn’t be surprised. Well, I remain unrepentant about my own stupidity. I’m doing the best I can.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Blackberry because it is more important to them than to you. They are repeatedly saying this is important to me, please treat it with respect.

You don’t think it is a big deal, so you play with it. It makes them think you fundamentally don’t respect them, even if you say “C’Mon, no big, it is not that important”. They keep saying “Dude it is really important to me even if you don’t care.”

I am saying “You” in response to your question, not to put all the blame on you.

Blackberry's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Makes total sense, so I guess I’ll leave it at that. I’ll take it easy on religion/god for awhile and move to politics I guess lol.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@wundayatta “Clearly, there needs to be a way to say what we think without insulting people. Yet, it seems to me that people will read an insult into what I say no matter what I say. You’ve heard me say something that sounds insulting before, so why would I change?”

People will read an insult into whatever you say, because a lot of the time whatever you say IS an insult. Clearly, there IS a way to debate about beliefs without being a jerk, it’s just that few people here actually make an attempt to do so.

And by the way, posting a question like this is hard proof that you do not “really respect people”.

If you have a problem with “dangerous” people, you should leave me and most of the other jelly theists the fuck alone. We’re not dangerous. We’re just people going about our business, like everyone else. Our beliefs are not a danger to you, unless you truly believe that we are talking in hushed whispers, behind your back, planning an attempt on your life, or conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic.

My beliefs endanger no one, regardless of whatever twisted idea you have in your head.

I never received an answer to these parts of my comment:
1. Tell me why I’m dangerous.
2. Give me one good reason why we should respect you, after the way you’ve behaved here.

And since we’re all about “blind faith is ignorant” here, I need a solid reason that can be proven. Perhaps, if I’m dangerous because I believe in God but can’t prove his existance, not being able to actually prove you’re worthy of respect makes you dangerous.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate You personally are not a danger, but this becomes religious minority against Christians; or, athiests against thiests out in the real world. Or, at least in the USA. We need more Christians to be vocal against the Chrisitans who want to change policy and create laws akin to having a theocracy. The Christians who do speak up are dismissed by the Christian right as being liberals, or not really Christian. You say your religion is yours, I like that, become vocal about telling other religious people their religion should be theirs. Maybe you do already, many Christians on fluther are not afraid to voice it. But, not enough Christians are doing it in the real world in my opinion.

It’s not like you can only look at the athiests and say they can be horrible, rude, and offensive. Look at so many thiests around me who were horrified Obama in his innaugural speech included thiests among Christians, Jews, and others in our great country. How so many thiests truly think negatively of athiests, that they lack morals, are untrustworthy.

Athiests feel on the defensive. I realize Christians do too.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie Athiests feel on the defensive. I realize Christians do too. Then when we’re in the same boat, why rock it?!

I have no respect for anyone, (and folks, I’ve seen athiests with these same arguments) saying homosexuality is a mental illness, deformity or a choice.

I do not desire any sort of public prayer.

I vote only for politicians that are concerned with the greater good.

What more would you desire I do to take a stand?

Blackberry's avatar

Maybe we should just face it, guys. Everyone on Fluther is a moderate, and I think most Americans are moderates even thought they vary on the political spectrum. But we are all being pwned by people that aren’t moderates in the real world lol.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@JLeslie I agree that both sides can be very offensive, my issue is basically that most of the atheists I “know” on this site are offensive for the wrong reasons. You can disagree with my beliefs, you can say that you don’t like Christian extremists, and so on. The problem I have here is that I’m told, not just that someone disagrees with me, but that I’m ignorant and delusional, quite possibly schitzophrenic, that I’m immature and stupid for believing in “fairy tales”, and that “theists are dangerous”.

I despise the reasons that are given by so many for why they hate theists so much, because the reasons given are inaccurate. If I’m to be grouped in with all other theists, I want a solid reason as to why many of us are disliked for our beliefs, when we aren’t, and have never, hurt anyone with our beliefs.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blackberry Yes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease especially when it comes to politics. That is a topic I know way too well

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yes, why rock it. Good point. As I said many Christians on fluther, and in my personal life for that matter do speak out against the right wing Christians and vote for what I call the greater good also. I think we don’t hear enough of it in the media.

nikipedia's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate, cool it already. Sheesh.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I think people are not lumping you in with other thiests; you are. I see why @wundayatta‘s comments made you feel that way, but for the most part athiests could care less what someone else believes as long as they don’t do anything to interfere with other people’s belief or lack there of, I think possibly you are as guilty as generalizing as @wundayatta. I am not saying you are using using offensive wording, I am only speaking to the generalization.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie The Fundamentalists have way too much control over the US media.

Blackberry's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’m sure you have probably seen it, but you should see some of the things I see daily on another forum I go on. The population is way more conservative, so it’s easy to pick something nice for you to see lol.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@nikipedia I need to cool it? Out of everyone on this thread who’s been going back and forth, and the person posted this thread to begin with, I’M the one who needs to cool it? Oh, FFS.

@JLeslie It was more the wording of the question that made me go along with the generalization. @wundayatta wasn’t talking about disrespecting only the extremists, he was talking about disrespecting theists, in general, and I fall into that category. I’m just saying that, as a theist, I want a good reason why theists are disliked specifically for their beliefs, instead of crap reasons that don’t always apply.

nikipedia's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate, actually, he asked a general question about how to respond to people who you believe to be willfully ignorant. At some point this turned into yet another debate about god, which I don’t think was necessary, but whatever.

At no point did you answer the question. You came in, guns blazing, accusing @wundayatta of things he never actually said, and deliberately insulting him, even as he was careful not to return fire.

So yeah, cool it.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blackberry I have seen and heard much ignorance. It hurts me too much. I get sick over it.
@nikipedia Wundy’s question was a God question. It was a spin-off off from another thread where he was modded for his attacks.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@nikipedia His question was all about whether or not he should respect theists, because he believes them to be willfully ignorant. Let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? I came in, guns blazing, to call him out for his shit attitude towards people that are not hurting him.

And if anyone here needs to cool it, it’s the OP himself, who keeps poking the Fluther theists on purpose and insulting them at every turn.

nikipedia's avatar

@SpatzieLover, I understand that it was instigated by a god question, but if @wundayatta wanted to ask, “Hey, can I be a dick to people who believe in god?” he would have just asked that.

The question at hand is an interesting one. People believe all kinds of shit that is easily disproven. I think the question of how to deal with that—which is, in fact, the question that was asked—is much more interesting than, “are people who believe in god stupid?”

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Thank you for that. :). I am not trying to blame the individual Christian for not doing more. I just want a little understanding for the attack the rest of us are under. Not just atheists, but for everyone who wants religious freedom for all in the United States. I know you understand.

@WillWorkForChocolate Did he talk about respect? I agree how he has worded some things of late come across disrespectful, but in his last post not far above he is trying to explain himself and how he sees the world. He just doesn’t understand the thiests point of view. Why not explain why you believe, what your beliefs do for you, instead of being combative. You are making all sorts of generalizations about him that don’t fit if you look at his overall personality and answers on fluther. He has been incredibly humble many times. He doesn’t speak of being better or more intelligent, and many times shares his challenges and his faults. Take the opportunity to tell him why he is wrong, but do it calmly and not in a defensive mode, even if he “started it” so to speak. When someone generalizes something about me and I disagree, I try to just explain why, clear the air.

The question he asked at the very top seems to me an attempt to figure out what is ok to say and ask regarding when he perceives ignorance from his point of view. His example of the world being flat is just an example.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@JLeslie “Did he talk about respect? I agree how he has worded some things of late come across disrespectful, but in his last post not far above he is trying to explain himself and how he sees the world.”

It’s the question itself that chaps my ass, not his above comment directed to me.

“Should you respect the feelings of someone you believe is being deliberately ignorant?”

“You think the person is an idiot. Worse, a willful idiot. When you talk to this person, should you respect this person?”

“Why should you care about the feelings of someone who prefers to remain ignorant?”

“Our community manager has asked that we try to remain cognizant of the feelings of the person whose ideas we are attacking, and to respect that person. I’m not sure that is doable if you believe the person is being willfully ignorant.”

Those are all his exact words from this question. (And a few things I’ve mentioned in previous comments, are actually insults he has personally vocalized at other times, in regards to theists in general.) I did not put words in his mouth; I didn’t make any generalizations about him. I replied to his frustration with my own frustration.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] I respectfully ask that everyone take a deep breath and calm down. Deeeeep breaths, folks.

wundayatta's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Would you try for a second to believe that those questions represent your feelings about me. Then try to answer the questions. Assume that I am being willfully ignorant (I hope this is not too much of a stretch). Assume you think I’m an idiot, willfully so. Should you respect me? Why should you care about me?

If you believe these things about me, is it possible for you to remain cognizant of my feelings? Is this doable? If so, how?

It seems to me that you likely believe you can do it. I’m willing to listen about how you can do it. I don’t think I can do it, but I would like to learn. I listen to good ideas no matter where they come from. I hope you can stick to the issue at hand instead of leading it off into a direction I had no intention of going to, whether you believe that or not.

I am not picking a fight with you. I don’t need to. There’s plenty of that on other questions. I hope you can focus on the issue at hand for just a moment, please.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought said it better than I ever could and I agree 100%. I think you should respect the feelings of those that you consider to be “willfully ignorant” providing they are not hurting anyone with their beliefs, but not in the sense that you have to agree with them. Simply walking away from a situation that may lead to a fruitless discussion (which, especially during certain topics, always end up getting too heated and defensive) is respectful enough. However, if you don’t intend on being respectful to them you had best be sure that your opinion on the subject is 100% the truth.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@wundayatta What does it matter if I think you’re willfully ignorant? That has nothing to do with you as a human being. My husband’s uncle is a flaming idiot, but I certainly don’t tell him that. I never talk down to him either. Whether he is an idiot or not, I still talk to him like a human being, instead of looking at him like some creepy insect that needs to be squashed.

I’m perfectly capable of having a calm, rational conversation with you, until you insult theists again. The only thing is, when it comes to conversation- I’m seriously no dummy, and I’m good at reading between the lines (just like I can plainly see the thinly veiled sarcasm dripping from your most recent comment to me, which others will likely ignore), even when other people want to point a finger at me and say I’m accusing you of something you didn’t do.

It’s not difficult to respect you as a human being, even though I dislike your opinions. And if you had asked this question in a less insulting manner, I wouldn’t have been so abrasive about proving yourself worthy of that respect. I don’t think you, yourself, are an idiot; I think you have ideas in your head about theists that are inaccurate and insulting when vocalized.

And it’s difficult for me to stay completely focused, when it seems like taking up my sword to fight back in a never-ending fluther battle makes me the bad guy; it diverts my attention.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m addressing this to all of the non-believers who keep insisting that it’s impossible to question the BELIEFS of a Theist. And that the Theist position must be stupid because they can’t defend it.

I would appreciate you taking the time to read through a previous Q posted by Rarebear in which he did precisely that, and he did it very well and thoroughly, and actually did it dispassionately and logically as well as respectfully to ALL involved both Theists and non-theists alike. And that applies not just to him but JLeslie and others in that thread as well.

Unfortunately, I can’t post links from iPhone but hopefully someone subsequently can.

Just please don’t post the wrong one originally posted by JLeslie because someone else derailed it totally off topic. The SEARCH will bring up both.

The Q posted by RAREBEAR was: Creationists, how do you handle transitional fossils? Or something along those lines.

Please DO NOT CONFUSE this one by RAREBEAR with a very similar one by JLeslie which (through no fault of her own) degenerated into some dimwits rant on gay people. THAT IS NOT the one to which I refer so please don’t link to it.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t respond to Wundy’s latest disingenuousness because I’m so terribly hurt. I’ve developed a very thick skin and I’ve gotten plenty of flack from Christian fanatics as well.

But what really gets me is that the overwhelming attitude of atheist superiority displayed effectively shuts down further discussion on these issues because many people are hurt needlessly. And I can understand why.

I learned quite a lot from Rarebear and others in that thread and didn’t find it objectionable to have my beliefs questioned because there was a noticeable absence of the obnoxious attitude typically displayed by SOME Fluther atheists.

The questioning was thorough and academically rigorous but not insulting. So why was that ? Was it magic? Did Rarebear cast a spell? Does Rarebear possess some unique talisman or something?

No. He simply possesses decent manners (most likely taught by his parents) and he does not choose to abandon them. Why can’t Fluther atheists take a page out of his book instead?

The type of discourse on that thread is what I have experienced and participated in for a good portion of my life as I search for truth. Why is is practically impossible for that to exist on Fluther?

I understand why that crap exists on a Fundy Christian site (not that I agree with it) since many of them do choose to stick with their brainwashing.

Somehow I’m expecting more from Fluther. Am I so horribly wrong in that expectation?

I’m not trying to talk anyone out of their beliefs nor attempting to legislate against anyone else’s rights and I honestly have yet to encounter any Fluther Theists who do. So why do so many Fluther non-theists keep flogging that dead horse? Do you honestly believe that constantly raising that red herring is going to change anything or that anyone will learn anything from it? Really?

I can’t control what right wingers of any religion do in the real world. I can only be responsible for my vote (for Obama) on issues as is true for any other Theists here. Do you really think that constantly insulting our intelligence changes anything at all?

I enjoy discussion and debate on many issues but have come to the conclusion that trying to discuss even the most basic issues about the possible existence of any kind of God is a total waste of time and effort. And I’m sad about that.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Buttonstc <applause> <standing ovation> Perfectly said. And yes, Rarebear is a true gentleman when he debates.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Buttonstc Here is the link to the thread you requested.

Buttonstc's avatar

Thanks for posting that link.

NOW for all the befuddled atheists who keep asserting that they simply have no idea how to rigorously question the beliefs of any Theist without offending them, here is a textbook case.

One of you managed to do it and do it thoroughly and without a snide tone of
intelectual superiority (even tho he most likely is :)

I fond it sad that it’s unlikely to happen any more on Fluther because some atheists seem to feel that they have the right to treat others beliefs contemptuously.

And here in the US that is basically true. You do have the right to say what you want with any attitude you choose.

But does that automatically make it wise? Does anyone learn anything (other than Theists have faulty reasoning) ?

I would maintain that the answer to both is NO and Flurher discussions will be poorer for it. But all the atheists with an ax to grind won’t have any of those annoying Theists around to gum up the works.

But the atheists who don’t have any axes to grind and would really like sometimes to see how the other side ticks will just have to get their lopsided info from the rest of you.

And that’s unfortunate all around.

Blackberry's avatar

Well, I know I could definitely handle myself better. I won’t become Rarebear anytime soon, but I’ll make an effort for fluther.

bob_'s avatar

I didn’t really read everything everybody wrote, ‘cause man, some of you guys can be quite thorough, but I’d like to ask, if I may, does anyone feel better?

Berserker's avatar

@bob_ No. And I barely wrote fuckall lol.

nikipedia's avatar

@bob_, sometimes feelings aren’t the end game. I definitely have a better understanding of specific people, and of a perspective many people share. That seems worth some frustration and disappointment, no?

bob_'s avatar

@nikipedia Right. I guess I meant “feel better” in a more general way, as in, “you know, maybe things got out of hand, but now I understand this and that better, so it’s cool”.

nikipedia's avatar

@bob_, sure, I feel better in that sense. But you know what would make everyone feel better?


wundayatta's avatar

I find the comments the theists here have made to be very hurtful. I see no effort to understand my point of view. Just pure defensiveness and righteousness that is designed to attack me in not very subtle ways. I don’t think a single theist has made the littlest attempt to demonstrate any understanding of how science or religious thinking are used to create knowledge; nor does anyone seem interested in comparing the methods. I can’t even tell if any theist knows how they create knowledge because no one seems open to talking about it.

But what’s worst is the constant accusations of disingenousness. It demonstrates a complete lack of faith in my efforts to gain knowledge. No theist seems to think I am capable of listening, nor that my idea that if you don’t understand the scientific method, then you can’t understand how humans know things.

It’s also hurtful that no matter how I craft a question, the theist cabal says I’m asking about the same thing all the time and they take umbrage at it all. I feel like they just want to attack me and tear me into little bits with their vicious fingernails if they ever catch me. I just don’t know what to make of it when someone tells me they respect me as a person, but they hate my ideas. How is that possible? Do you hate Hitler’s ideas and yet respect him as a person? I don’t think so. It’s an untenable idea, as far as I can tell. Yet people either don’t see the contradiction or… well, I don’t know. How is it possible?

I don’t think it’s possible to separate ideas from people. And I have no problem if people hate me for my ideas. Clearly people do, no matter how much they might deny it. But then we are all abjured to act nice or we’ll be kicked off fluther. So it places me in an impossible position. I can’t say a thing without people reading disingenuousness into it.

I don’t think it’s possible to have certain conversations any more. I don’t think many people are actually interested in understanding others. Or maybe it’s not possible to understand others when you use language so differently and think so differently. Obvioiusly I don’t believe that or I wouldn’t be putting so much energy into this, despite the fact that the vitriol and visceral hatred being spewed are quite fearful and scary to me.

When this started, I bore no one any ill will. I thought a lot of people were misguided and yes, ignorant, but I didn’t impugn any negative motives to them. Now it feels like the motives are quite personal and quite negative. I’m just saying how I feel. I’m not expecting anyone to play the world’s smallest violin. I know my enemies really don’t care, at least, based on the evidence of their words here and elsewhere.

So yeah. My feelings have been hurt. So the fuck, what? So, nothing. You can’t enforce civility—not really. You just have to wade in and fight, and perhaps be defeated, or you run away. Many strange things and perhaps foolish things are done in the name of righteousness and justice.

There are many questions I could answer—in particular the issue of harm due to religious thinking—but it seems like it would be pointless. The people who care wouldn’t listen because they offer me no credibility.

I am actually somewhat sympathetic to religious organizations and theology, so long as people didn’t privilege it with the same position as scientifically derived knowledge. They are not the same thing at all. Religious experiences can not be duplicated or verified in any other way. They are personal and interior. They only exist for the person who experiences them. No one can know if they are the same as anyone else’s.

They are good for dealing with certain issues such as asking about the purpose of life or where the universe comes from—issues that are not susceptible to the scientific method. But religious thought hides much from the people who think it. It is hard to see the undefined words and thoughts and therefore hard to seek out the basic principles underneath it. “Because God said so,” does not explain anything.

Yada yada yada. Who cares? Does it even matter to try if people seem to be unwilling to try to understand? I don’t know. For whatever fucking stupid reason, I am hopeful. Like I said before, I’m an idiot. A fool. I wish I had the certainty that some of the theists seem to have. Unfortunately, I don’t understand belief or faith or anything that seems to overlook the evidence that lies everywhere.

tranquilsea's avatar

Personally, I don’t feel the need to question theists about their beliefs. I just assume they have them for good reasons, or perhaps, not so good reasons. That is their right. Just as I’m not particularly pleased when someone aggressively asks questions about why I’m agnostic.

I recently had a beautiful discussion with a couple and I discovered, in the ebb and flow of our conversation, that they are Catholic. I have to say that I love talking to Catholics. They asked me about my faith and when I told them I was agnostic they asked very intelligent questions.

We held a mutual respect for one another. I look forward to being able to talk to them again.

After reading through many of the posts above me I get a real sense that both sides want to see the same things.

wundayatta's avatar

@tranquilsea Perhaps an ironic personal note. Every single serious love I ever had except for my wife was Catholic. Virtually all of them no longer believed, but clearly Catholicism tends to form a personality that attracts me very strongly.

tranquilsea's avatar

@wundayatta I’ve been pretty amazed at how much I enjoy talking with Catholics.

lillycoyote's avatar

@wundayatta LOL. I have kind of a thing for lapsed Catholics myself. :-) I don’t full understand why, either.

cookieman's avatar

:: ahem :: Agnostic, former Catholic alter boy here ;^)


I don’t think it’s possible to have certain conversations any more. I don’t think many people are actually interested in understanding others.

@wundayatta: I actually think it’s more possible to have these conversations than before. When I was growing up Catholic, we barely new other religions existed – much less athiests or agnostics. And to discuss the possibility that our beliefs were wrong? Not on your life. And it’s not that we were especially devout, just fearful, guilty and superstitious Italians. Hell, I never even “met” an actual admitted atheist until joining Fluther. So the fact that we have so many debates about belief here in the lagoon (despite how some of them turn out), is amazing to me.

As to your second sentence, you are spot on with that. As I said in my earlier (long forgotten) post above, people just gotta get through the day. And them to hold up their beliefs to the scientific method is basically fucking with the bedrock of their existence. What is accomplished by this?

Far better, I think, to take @tranquilsea‘s approach.

In the end, we aren’t going to know anything of major consequence until we’re dead. So in the meantime, how about we enjoy the ride together?

JLeslie's avatar

95% of my closest friends are Catholics and my husband was raised Catholic.

wundayatta's avatar

@cprevite I think everyone wants to enjoy the ride together. But let’s say the ride is in a canoe. I don’t think everyone wants to paddle the canoe in the same direction. Constantly paddling against each other is hard to enjoy. Yet people feel passionately about the direction they want to go in, and compromise can be impossible to reach. In fact, I think people generally will never reach compromise until the thunderstorm is right overhead. At that point you are in real danger of getting struck by lightning before you reach shore.

Gee—I rather like that analogy, lol.

cookieman's avatar

@wundayatta: Why do you assume there’s only one canoe?

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@wundayatta Me too, that was a good one!

wundayatta's avatar

@cprevite There may well be more than one canoe. In my experience, when there’s more than one canoe, people usually have great difficulty navigating so that communication is possible between canoes and they never arrive at the same place at the same time.

Mantralantis's avatar

Everyone here has some very excellant points. However, as it truly and humanly feels in our hearts (well, at least it does with mine… eventually) attacking anyone, for any reason at all, is always wrong. Everytime. And I should know very well, because I’ve been guilty of this too, as some of you already know.


Be Good. ( I have been known to try that on like a darn confounded necktie, believe it or not. Yep. :) )

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther