Thursday, 14 July 2011

Ridicule is not a valid tool

Raging Rev suggests that the main reason for having a religion is fear. He asks of Christians:
Is [your belief] it the product of fear of hell? Disappointing god or your family? What drove you to believe what you believe and furthermore, do you think this is a good reason for you to hold on to belief?
I can only speak for myself. I was motivated because of a search for the truth. I was dissatisfied with the answers that my assumptions that atheism was continually pushing me to. It gradually became harder and harder to justify not seriously considering belief in God. Right across the board - from questions about the universe, why there's something rather than nothing, why the universe should be ordered the way it is, to the seemingly totally unrelated subject of identity and morality, where I found no good atheist answers. It seemed that belief in God provided far more substantive answers and made much more sense of the world.

For me, Christianity came after many, many sleepless nights of thought, reading, considering... I wasn't after religion or even God in particular, I was after the truth.

I think I share you dislike of trying to socially engineer beliefs (or disbelief). There is a much more commonly used tactic to socially condition people though. I humbly suggest that making fun of people, aggressiveness and rudeness are tools used to shortcut real consideration of the issues. It's hardly possible to stand there and calmly and carefully consider an issue if someone is launching into a tirade of aggressive and loud mouthed ridicule. The most likely response is to keep their mouth shut and their not mention their thoughts for fear of being laughed at or ridiculed.

Ridicule and overly aggressive rhetoric are not valid tools to use to persuade people. All they do is drive these real issues from people's minds - and socially condition them to avoid the topic. Unfortunately they are all too common, and I think both atheists and certainly Christians should not be using them.


  1. Thank you for your response to my original post. I appreciate it as well as your tone.

    I think that your faith is the result of a thinking and considering process makes you an exception rather than the rule...You may agree that the most common form of evangelism uses emotional manipulation as a means to it's goals.

    I think this is the easy way out for the evangelist and a good way to rack up brownie points with god (aka jewels in his heavenly crown).

    Also, I'd agree that ridicule and aggression are bad for both sides of any debate. I hope to be a representative of a facts based presentation and a member of a respectful dialog between our communities - unfortunately the squeaky wheel gets the oil and there are far to many of us unwilling to meet on common ground to discuss these things.

    For the record - I'm from the deep South and I'm far more often on the receiving end of ridicule from Christians than I ever allow them to be. At some point in my life those interactions drove my interactions with others, I've learned not to do that any longer despite the rhetoric and negative assumptions thrown my way.

    Thank you again for your post.

  2. Also - I forgot to add that I think your point about ridicule goes back to the fear thing. It generates fear of rejection. There aren't many things in this life that don't in some way link to one of the base emotions.

  3. You're right that maybe I'm not typical. I don't think you are all that typical either - many people I know simply have never really considered it at all, or in as much detail. Thanks for your comments!

  4. You couldn't find an answer to why there is something rather than nothing without a god? Doesn't this raise even more difficult questions: why is there a god, how did it come to exist, what is it composed of, why did it create cruelty, dishonesty, and suffering?

    You find this a better explanation?

    The questions about the universe can be investigated. There is no way to objectively investigate questions about a logically unverifiable idea, which is exactly what the christian god idea is.

  5. Hi Jim, I replied in a post: