Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Response To A Disgruntled Theist

An anonymous commenter has been swinging by this post to argue with me--I think--about atheism. He thinks atheist are smug jerks, and he thinks this opinion has some bearing on whether or not an atheist worldview is defensible. I was polite for awhile, but everyone has their limit. My ultimate response to him (I'm fairly certain it's a man):

I know my response will confirm in your mind the truth that all of the new atheists are assholes, but nothing was going to change that opinion of yours anyway.

Think about our conversation from my perspective though, for just a moment.

Say you've spent years studying the arguments about God, and belief, and science, and philosophy, and the relationship all of those things have to each other. Say you've taken these issues very seriously, and have talked and written seriously about them. Say you've agonized over the various opinions and facts that are available on the subject, and have attempted to arrive at the most honest and objective conclusion you can, and are still not a true believer.

Now imagine that some smug, snotty, obviously selectively informed (and poorly so at that) idiot comes up to you with a handful of sloppy and asinine arguments to lob at this position that you have very carefully arrived at; and not only does this idiot do that, they also demands by extension--just by the obvious poverty of their understanding of basic concepts--that you suddenly fill in all of the gaps of their poor education too, just so that you two might argue at somewhere approaching the same level. Talk about a sense of entitlement. Then imagine that multiple individuals similarly demand such reciprocity over and over and over again, and you might have some idea why I'm frustrated with you.

I am not being paid to give you a course in rudimentary critical thinking and logic. If you want to have a serious conversation with serious people, don't come to the table wearing clown shoes.


This post isn't about religion. It's about respecting your argument enough to know however many sides of it there are, and to understand its dimensions on a deep enough level to talk about it intelligently. It's also about not being a stupid-jerk-poopyhead.

If you don't know what you're talking about, don't enter a debate swinging. Enter it with sincere questions.

cross posted at The Daily Kos.


As a somewhat related aside, Patton Oswalt has just solved all of my issues with religion in three minutes and fourteen seconds. Thanks to the person who brought this to my attention:


Lodo Grdzak said...

Not that I didn't like the post Spence, but,...how'd you get the YouTube clip to upload w/out being cut-off? On my page, when I upload a clip, it gets cut-off/cropped. Never used to, but does now.

Just curious. Enjoy your sabbatical!

Spencer Troxell said...

you can modify the presentation of the clip/pic by changing the length and width numbers that appear in the embed code. Just screw around with them until they fit and don't look all distorted.

the elegant ape said...

Attempting to have a sentient and coherent discussion with a gentleman who's worldview is based on the belief that the planet was created five thousand years ago in which a talking serpent played a leading role. Is well....hopeful at best.

Spencer Troxell said...

We're sunk without hope.

Willie Y said...

Spencer is there really sky cake? If so, I'm so on board with that.

In your face monkey boy.

Good one Spencer.

Spencer Troxell said...

There is, Willie. And it's delicious.

And lucky for you, it's only available to regular Medicine Cabinet commenters.

the elegant ape said...

mmmmmmm. skycake...

Lodo Grdzak said...

Thanks for the insight--and good post!

Steppenwolf said...

I knew a guy who thought he was Neil Armstrong, he had absolute faith in that. Apparently though there’s this other Neil Armstrong in America who claimed all the achievements of my friend. He had documentary evidence, whereas the Scottish Neil Armstrong did not, but he had faith. He had so much belief in fact that he was willing to remain in hospital rather than deny his faith. Inconsistencies in logic were ignored. Faith trumped logic in his deluded world. If I had to go to the moon, which one would I go with?