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1 Jayleia  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 11:40:21am

Again. I hate all variants of this story. Not because it isn’t an accurate measurement of groups of people.

But because I typically run into atheists using stories like this to show how awesome THEY are, by virtue of their group affiliation…usually while being epic douchebags to everyone else.

2 team_fukit  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 12:03:51pm

I agree that atheists shouldn’t be douches (and frequently are), but there should be some push-back against the whole “you can only be moral if you’re a monotheist” nonsense.

3 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 12:18:44pm

So the whole “I’m superior because I belong to Group X” thing makes this guy different than the fundie who claims “I’m superior because I belong to Group Y”…how?

You know how atheists point & laugh at religious people who mock other religions’ beliefs because they see all beliefs as “bronze age fairy tales” (or whatever)? Well, IMO if one’s pushback includes being every bit as intolerant, obnoxious & divisive as the people one is criticizing, then everyone is basically acting the same and no group gets to lay claim to the moral high ground.

4 team_fukit  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 12:36:24pm

re: #3 CuriousLurker

Not denying that there’s plenty of that going around, but I don’t think that’s the tone of this particular piece.

Maybe the closest thing is the quote “Some groups seem to like their flocks ignorant so that pastors’ interpretations of God’s edicts are not questioned. Other groups prize scholarship and achieve more in their lives here on Earth.” But those “other groups” also include Unitarians and Reform Jews.

The pushback here is more against examples like: “Yet in a recent study atheists were believed to be no more trustworthy than rapists.”

5 Political Atheist  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 12:59:56pm

re: #2 team_fukit

I agree that atheists shouldn’t be douches (and frequently are), but there should be some push-back against the whole “you can only be moral if you’re a monotheist” nonsense.

Wrong kind of push back. Tit for tat will accomplish nothing apart from further showing two wrongs do not make a right. I wonder if the Godless among violent urban gangs were even included. I doubt it.

In prison being religious often means some benefits for the prisoner. Sometimes an earlier parole. Hence, few atheists in prison. Not exactly a scientific study going there.

6 kerFuFFler  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 1:19:10pm

re: #3 CuriousLurker

So the whole “I’m superior because I belong to Group X” thing makes this guy different than the fundie who claims “I’m superior because I belong to Group Y”…how?

I don’t find that the tone of the article like that at all. Sure there are some obnoxious atheists, but this article is pushing back against the fundie argument that Godlessness in the schools and courts has driven up crime and divorce rates. Showing that atheists are less likely to be criminal or divorced is a valuable rebuttal to the demand for prayers in school and the like. The fact that no politician can claim to be an atheist and expect to win any important election shows the degree to which atheists have been vilified.

7 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 1:28:09pm

re: #4 team_fukit

Sorry, but I disagree on your portrayal of the tone. He’s flame-throwing when he writes things like:

In fact, a review of worldwide studies found that criminality and religion go hand in hand. The countries with the most religious people have the highest crime rates, highest sexually transmitted diseases and the highest teen pregnancy rates.

A review? Whose review? “Worlwide studies” carried out when and by whom? Correlation does not imply causation.

Worldwide there are more non-White people than White, so (using his logic) it follows that criminality & religion would likely also be higher among people of color. Should we therefore draw the conclusion that race is also a contributing factor to crime & STDs? Do you see where I’m going with this? That kind of thinking is a slippery slope that can quickly lead to some really nasty stuff.

The pushback here is more against examples like: “Yet in a recent study atheists were believed to be no more trustworthy than rapists.”

Again, Which “recent study”? Who sponsored it? Who conducted it? What were the demographics of the group to whom the questions were posed, and how large was the group? How was the trustworthiness question phrased?

I don’t personally know anyone who has such an extreme view. Does that mean that no one does? No, of course not—I’m 100% sure there are some who would give the same response if asked about Catholics, Jews, Muslims, etc. (which is precisely why I’m asking).

It seems to me that this article is written mostly based on emotion, not reason.

8 kerFuFFler  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 1:36:01pm

re: #5 Political Atheist

Wrong kind of push back. Tit for tat will accomplish nothing apart from further showing two wrongs do not make a right. /blockquote>

“So what conclusion can be reached? It is obvious that you do not have to believe in a higher power in order to live a moral and successful life. Quite the opposite.”
I don’t see this as “tit for tat”. Fundies have been saying for years that you have to believe in God or you will be an immoral criminal degenerate. People are proving with statistics that atheists are indeed capable of leading wholesome lives. They are NOT saying you HAVE to be an atheist to be moral. THAT would be tit for tat. Merely noting that atheists have above average stats for moral living simply sets the record straight. They have a right and a responsibility to defend themselves from ongoing persecution.

9 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 1:36:57pm

re: #6 kerFuFFler

I don’t find that the tone of the article like that at all. Sure there are some obnoxious atheists, but this article is pushing back against the fundie argument that Godlessness in the schools and courts has driven up crime and divorce rates. Showing that atheists are less likely to be criminal or divorced is a valuable rebuttal to the demand for prayers in school and the like. The fact that no politician can claim to be an atheist and expect to win any important election shows the degree to which atheists have been vilified.

See my #7, below.

For the record, I don’t deny that there a LOT is anti-atheist bigotry. As a matter of fact, I saw a report some time back—I believe it was from Pew, but I’m not sure and therefore can’t provide a link—that, IIRC, indicated Americans considered atheists less trustworthy/likeable than Muslims. Not a great position to be in, heh.

10 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 1:57:27pm

re: #8 kerFuFFler

Fundies have been saying for years that you have to believe in God or you will be an immoral criminal degenerate….They have a right and a responsibility to defend themselves from ongoing persecution.

Fundies (and I mean “extremists” when I use that term) of whatever stripe condemn anyone who doesn’t agree with them. As a Muslim I’d be condemned not only by fundies of other religions, but also by fundie Muslims.

You cannot defend yourself against that kind of thinking—I’ve tried many times and it doesn’t work—so if that’s who he’s speaking, then he’s wasting his time. If he’s NOT speaking to them and merely pushing back against their bigotry to a more general audience, then IMO he’d be better served by taking a calmer approach.

11 Political Atheist  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 1:59:47pm

re: #8 kerFuFFler

The author is repeating the mistake the fundie christians make. basically it’s a claim their way of thinking is best, the others wrong somehow.

12 kerFuFFler  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:05:29pm

re: #9 CuriousLurker

I agree with you that the inclusion of the paragraph comparing crime rates and religiosity throughout the world is problematic. If I were his editor I would have told him to leave it out that because it is both weak and distracting. Nonetheless it does support the notion that religion is not essential to moral living. And that is really what is at issue here.

13 kerFuFFler  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:17:26pm

re: #11 Political Atheist

The author is repeating the mistake the fundie christians make. basically it’s a claim their way of thinking is best, the others wrong somehow.

No, he is NOT doing the same thing at all! Only the fundies are saying you have to believe in God and be like them to be moral. He refutes that with data showing that atheists have better than average stats for avoiding crime, STD’s, teen pregnancy and divorce.

He is not denying that there are moral religious people!

He is not saying religious people must renounce their religions so they can become moral!

He is refuting an evil slander directed at the most discriminated against “religious” group in the US, atheists. And hey, if the atheists’ numbers happen to be so good that it sounds like bragging, well are they supposed to just let the slander stand unchallenged because it is rude to brag?

14 team_fukit  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:23:16pm

re: #7 CuriousLurker

I agree that the author is being really squishy (“some say”), but according to the UN Survey of Crime trends four of the five leading nations are whiteys. The US and UK (leading by far), France, Germany, Japan, and Russia. It’s not a racist slippery slope unless you assume most crimes happen in non-white nations. I’d make the connection between industrialization and criminality, though. Another way to think about it too is that nations with modern justice systems prosecute/report more crimes.

I understand what you’re trying to say, though.

And there’s been plenty of studies over the years that have tarred non-Christians as untrustworthy or more likely to lie. During the Red Scare, it was Jews and Commies. Nowadays it’s Muslims and atheists. But the author should definitely cite his source there.

15 EPR-radar  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:26:19pm

re: #14 team_fukit

Railing against ‘godless commies’ was a staple of US anti-Soviet propaganda during the cold war. It wouldn’t be surprising for decades of that to have a lingering effect in the US.

16 team_fukit  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:39:55pm

Lol!!

Phyllis Schlafly’s lil’ darlin Andy’s take on atheism and rape over at conservapedia

17 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:46:16pm

re: #14 team_fukit

I agree that the author is being really squishy (“some say”), but according to the UN Survey of Crime trends four of the five leading nations are whiteys. The US and UK (leading by far), France, Germany, Japan, and Russia. It’s not a racist slippery slope unless you assume most crimes happen in non-white nations. I’d make the connection between industrialization and criminality, though.

I don’t make any assumptions about crime statistics because I haven’t looked them up. Mr. Westerfield was the one who used statistics from anonymous worldwide studies to assert that “criminality and religion go hand in hand”—I was simply following his logic. I would think that industrialized countries also tend to be less religious overall, but I could be wrong as, again, I haven’t looked up the statistics.

As for the slippery slope part of my comment, crime statistics (among other things) are used by racists in this country to “prove” racial inferiority, which is why I consider it dangerous direction to go in.

And there’s been plenty of studies over the years that have tarred non-Christians as untrustworthy or more likely to lie. During the Red Scare, it was Jews and Commies. Nowadays it’s Muslims and atheists. But the author should definitely cite his source there.

Yep, that’s basically what I was referring to in my #9.

18 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:47:51pm

re: #16 team_fukit

Lol!!

Phyllis Schlafly’s lil’ darlin Andy’s take on atheism and rape over at conservapedia

The Schlaflys. Ugh.

19 EPR-radar  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:50:23pm

re: #16 team_fukit

Lol!!

Phyllis Schlafly’s lil’ darlin Andy’s take on atheism and rape over at conservapedia

This drivel is self-described as “The Trustworthy Encyclopedia”.

20 team_fukit  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:50:27pm

re: #17 CuriousLurker

I don’t disagree.

21 kerFuFFler  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 3:00:16pm

re: #14 team_fukit

Another way to think about it too is that nations with modern justice systems prosecute/report more crimes.

That right there is a major reason that international comparisons are super tricky and probably best left out of the argument.

22 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 3:09:35pm

re: #12 kerFuFFler

I agree with you that the inclusion of the paragraph comparing crime rates and religiosity throughout the world is problematic. If I were his editor I would have told him to leave it out that because it is both weak and distracting. Nonetheless it does support the notion that religion is not essential to moral living. And that is really what is at issue here.

I get what the issue is, my beef is with the presentation. Anyone who is a member of a misunderstood, misrepresented, and/or mistrusted minority needs to choose their words really carefully when writing in a public forum and do their best to leave emotion out of it. If they don’t, their main point will almost surely get lost in the dust-up that is pretty much guaranteed to follow. I’m saying this as someone who belongs to one of those minorities and who has learned much from watching interactions here at LGF (and elsewhere).

I don’t have a problem with atheists nor do I think religion is a prerequisite for morality, and I make it a point to never shove my beliefs down anyone’s throat. Whether or not someone chooses to be a “believer” has zero effect on my life/happiness as long as they don’t get up in my face sneering at me contemptuously about MY choice. When they do, then we have a problem.

23 Was Shellie Zimmerman Wearing A Hoodie???  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 3:14:35pm

I also hate it when non believers are arrogant, however, I understand what you are saying and the push back that this article represents. Living where I do, and with the in laws I have, I hear all the time that it is IMPOSSIBLE!!11!! to have morals and not be a Christian. My mother in law use to say it was impossible for a person who did not believe in god to learn or have morals until my husband brought up Buddhists and Muslims, now it’s specifically Christian.

24 Was Shellie Zimmerman Wearing A Hoodie???  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 3:18:06pm

re: #22 CuriousLurker

Well I think it’s a pretty well known fact you are pretty awesome, and no one around here would ever let anyone sneer at you CL. They would definitely bring on the Boom around here!

25 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 3:34:02pm

re: #24 I Earned My Sodomy Merit Badge!

Well I think it’s a pretty well known fact you are pretty awesome, and no one around here would ever let anyone sneer at you CL. They would definitely bring on the Boom around here!

Heh, thanks. You guys are pretty awesome yourselves. {{IESMB}}

26 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:03:25pm

re: #20 team_fukit

I don’t disagree.

One other thing I want to clarify: Part of my negative response to the article was due to the way you framed it by changing the title from “Atheists victims of hypocrisy by some groups” (which I agree with) to “Atheists Are Better Citizens”. Had the title been left as it was, I would’ve approached it differently, but by changing it you caused a knee-jerk, defensive, emotional reaction in me which resulted in me approaching it with a much more negative/critical eye.

What I’m saying is that I took it personally: “So this guy [the article’s author] is saying that being an atheist automatically makes him a better citizen than me? WTF? Now I have to catch shit from non-Muslims for being of the ‘wrong’ faith, and also from atheists for being a believer, period?” IOW, you took a title whose basic premise I agreed with and which put me on your side, and then changed it to something that created instant opposition.

Muslim & Jews are prone to making the same mistake. We already feel defensive because we’re minorities who’re often demonized, but we don’t help ourselves by getting emotional and screaming “Islamophobe!” or “anti-Semite!” at everyone who raises a criticism, regardless of whether or not the criticism is valid (or based on ignorance, as sometimes happens). In fact, when we do that we can hurt ourselves by creating enemies where none had previously existed.

27 EPR-radar  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:16:06pm

re: #26 CuriousLurker

Thanks for the explanation. I’m embarrassed to admit that I missed the (nontrivial) title change when I went to read the linked article.

28 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:22:19pm

re: #27 EPR-radar

You’re welcome. To be honest, I was so steamed that I didn’t notice it either until I went back and read it a second time.

29 Political Atheist  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:23:52pm

re: #25 CuriousLurker
re: #13 kerFuFFler
re: #14 team_fukit


I’ll just restate like this. The author (edit & the page title) compares who is the better citizen. There is nothing like quicker parole for the converted to fill the prison church, right? So sure atheists are under represented in prisons.

For me, just IMHO, the best citizen does not even think in those terms. The best citizen be it he or she treats everyone with respect until given good reason not to. GOP or Democrat, Wingnut or moonbat, Jewish or fundie, or Pastafarian, whatever race or language. For the purpose of seeing who is the best citizen I strongly plea to us all- forget every category I just mentioned. The basic premise is just wrong. It’s about acts, not labels.

BBL subway time.

30 EPR-radar  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:30:23pm

re: #28 CuriousLurker

You’re welcome. To be honest, I was so steamed that I didn’t notice it either until I went back and read it a second time.

It’s funny how perceptions like this work —- when I first saw the title, I didn’t have a beef with it for the shallow reason that I’m an atheist. It wasn’t hard for me to think of examples on point (e.g., B Fischer et al), and the insulting generalization involved blew right past me. As usual, the hardest errors for me to see are in material that I more or less agree with.

This is the main value I see in intelligent diversity. DIfferent people will have different blind spots, and finding out about these can be educational.

31 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:42:52pm

re: #30 EPR-radar

It’s funny how perceptions like this work —- when I first saw the title, I didn’t have a beef with it for the shallow reason that I’m an atheist. It wasn’t hard for me to think of examples on point (e.g., B Fischer et al), and the insulting generalization involved blew right past me. As usual, the hardest errors for me to see are in material that I more or less agree with.

This is the main value I see in intelligent diversity. DIfferent people will have different blind spots, and finding out about these can be educational.

Exactly. If there’s one thing we all have in common it’s our very human tendency to view everything through numerous filters and respond emotionally, no matter how rational we fancy ourselves to be.

Thankfully, everyone stayed pretty calm throughout the thread, which gave me a chance to cool down, identify what caused me to twitch, and then come back and explain it. If it had turned into a flame war, that would’ve been impossible.

32 CuriousLurker  Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:52:50pm

re: #29 Political Atheist

I’ll just restate like this. The author (edit & the page title) compares who is the better citizen. There is nothing like quicker parole for the converted to fill the prison church, right? So sure atheists are under represented in prisons.

For me, just IMHO, the best citizen does not even think in those terms. The best citizen be it he or she treats everyone with respect until given good reason not to. GOP or Democrat, Wingnut or moonbat, Jewish or fundie, or Pastafarian, whatever race or language. For the purpose of seeing who is the best citizen I strongly plea to us all- forget every category I just mentioned. The basic premise is just wrong. It’s about acts, not labels.

I understand and appreciate what you’re getting at, and I agree that the best citizen is s/he that treats everyone with respect until given a reason not to, but society isn’t going to give up labels. IMO, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them as long as they’re not used to grossly generalize or dehumanize, which, unfortunately, they sometimes are.


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