Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There's One In Every Crowd

Ah, yes.

Where would we be without the ever-present stereotype of the smug, urban, coast-living, pseudo-sophisticated, latte drinking atheist who lives for nothing more than to look down his nose at those cursed with the poor intellect to have faith in the divine. Thanks, Mr. Weiner. We really needed that.

But, of course, many stereotypes have a basis in truth, and it's not difficult to find a smug atheist who can't seem to go a day without reminding himself of how smart he is by putting down the beliefs of others. But you know what? It's not that hard to find believers who are of the opinion that faith and belief isn't enough. (Given the fact that if you profess to have no faith in any sort of divinity, you're liable to be outnumbered somewhere in the area of 10 or 20 to 1, in fact, it's pretty damn easy.) They have to be a dick to everyone who doesn't think like themselves. And it manifests itself in a myriad of ways, from the thinly disguised contempt that's passed off as concern or pity, to the opinion that anyone who claims a workable ethical code without recourse to the divine must either be lying or insane, to barely supressed glee at the thought of a vengeful, petty deity punishing someone - not for having done injury to others, but simply failing to be properly obsequious.

My point here isn't to get into the cataloging of sins. Given that there are always more than enough sins to go around, it's always a pointless exercise. It's merely to point out a simple fact of human nature. There are people who are secure enough in what they believe (or don't beleive) as the case may be that they aren't threatened by the fact that others believe differently. And there are people who aren't. Sure, you can make the point that what some people believe is dangerous to the well-being of others. And plenty of people on both sides of the debate make just that point. But if you're confronted with someone who genuinely believes that your beliefs justify you being injured, maimed or killed, it's going to take more than being even a grade-A dick to change their mind. And as for the people who just can't seem to get your facts straight? Have them send you an e-mail. That way they become just another of the millions of people who are wrong on the Internet every day.

In case I haven't already dropped a heavy enough anvil on your head, the world is full of dicks who can't stand to let others believe something different (or, if you must, wrong). Constantly pointing out the same set of dicks as a cheap way of making a point isn't helpful, even if you're convinced that all you're doing is pointing out your own dickery.


rockettubes said...

At the risk of being someone wrong on the internet, I was a bit surprised after reading your post by the contents of the offending article, as my takeaway was quite different. If anything, I thought his article was overly reconciliatory and apologist, stating the "non-overlapping magesteria" view and that religion should be elevated and embraced by unbelievers, not a particularly popular notion amongst us smug atheist types. ;)

Aaron said...

While perhaps I was heavy-handed (or even anvilicious) about it, my main complaint in this post was simply with the need to invoke a stereotype in his initial mea culpa.

If Mr. Weiner wanted to take a moment to self-flagellate over his earlier disrespect for religion, he's free to do so. But when he invokes himself as part of a group in the process, everyone feels the lash.

And while I don't think he went out of his way to do so, I do feel that he glossed over the fact that the disrespect goes both ways, especially here in the United States.

rockettubes said...

Ah, true enough on both points, I see what you are getting at now.

And he doesn't just invoke the atheist "flock" for his initial mea culpa, but furthers this ego-extension in his conclusion as well.

(I've been casually quietly following your blog on and off the last year, by the way...I think it was through a flickr profile link--which in turn I was led to through a friend finder suggestion from the site on my account page...small world when it comes to social media!)