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Old 01-23-2015, 10:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
If I had to venture a guess (biased, based only my own experience as a former "mild" fundamentalist from mid-central US, just outside the Bible Belt):

Most fundamentalists don't lay awake night fulminating about such things. In any given fundamentalist congregation (typically pretty small) you would be unlikely to find even one person who does.

Once in awhile one's pastor teaches the party line on creationism and evolution, and you accept it, based on that slanted presentation. You might have questions about it or have some minor run-in with someone who doesn't buy it who has good questions. You then go to a YEC web site where they appear to have a lot of Smart People with letters after their names (you don't notice that those letters might denote little more than having attained a bacheolor's degree in a STEM discipline; one of their major theories about how the flood could have happened was concocted by a mechanical engineer for instance) and you skim through it and it appears that Smart People have it thought out, are very confident of their "facts", and have everything well in hand. So you go back to your daily life, not giving it a thought in the world, smugly thinking to yourself that you're in league with a group of people that, thanks to the Holy Spirit and the Bible, are smarter than all those worldly, godless scientists.*

Very few of these people are going to write to someone like Dawkins and try to confront him. Most such people know that, whatever they think of Dawkin's (un)beliefs and attitude towards god, he IS a lettered scientist of some note and could eat them for lunch; they KNOW they are not qualified to attempt such a thing, even if they happen to think they're right. If only because Dawkins would be likely to cite disciplines and terms and research that they don't know or understand or are rather fuzzy on.

The ones who actually will write to Dawkins will for the most part be people with unrelated mental health issues that have simply found expression through religious ideation -- which is common. They are megalomaniacs, sociopaths and untreated bipolar types in a manic phase, things like that.

In this sense I don't fault him for confining himself to reading letters from crackpots, but he's famous enough that a sincere, relatively sane person here and there has surely attempted to set him straight, and I wish he'd salt his videos with a couple of those, too. The reason being that the typical pew-warmer I've described above, can easily disavow such crackpot babblings -- and should. They are not representative of mainstream fundamentalism (as much of a stretch as that phrase is to utter). But any argument they would make, while less entertaining and/or appalling, would be equally empty and unsupportable, and I think it makes an important point to juxtapose the occasional semi-reasonable person for exactly that reason.

* Or you read a book on apologetics and get the same baffle-me-with-BS stream-of-consciousness, or you have a conversation with your pastor who assures you very confidently that science is godless nonsense in this instance, etc.
Thank you for the (restrospective) view from inside. I still have a lot to learn about fundamentalist thought and creationist thought (though I have my own retrospective Inside view from the UFO cult where I at least half bought into it for a while. It has enabled me to debate the Ark scenario as though I took it seriously - while of course not) and you will have seen the recent exchange on Evilooshun.

I have got to say that the opposition struck me as irrational and in one case I would not have risked a large bet against the bod involved sending hate mail to someone whose views he disapproved of.

So I try to remember that these are not representative of Creationists or fundamentalists or bot, but...there may be more about than we might imagine.
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Old 01-23-2015, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
So I try to remember that these are not representative of Creationists or fundamentalists or bot, but...there may be more about than we might imagine.
Yes, there may be more than I think, and my experience is only my experience filtered by my awareness. If I had come out of a "holy roller" environment for instance it might be a little different. Even there, though, (and I had some contact with that branch of fundamentalism) I didn't find most of those people even covertly hateful. What I started to see with pentecostals / charismatics and the shepherding movement was some covert / deniable but very tangible manipulative and sociopathic aspects to the leadership and their toadies. But even those types were less interested in carrying on like Dawkin's interlocutors than they were interested in successfully manipulating and controlling their sheeple and feathering their own nest.
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Old 01-23-2015, 11:47 AM
 
39,187 posts, read 10,872,385 times
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Yes, there may be more than I think, and my experience is only my experience filtered by my awareness. If I had come out of a "holy roller" environment for instance it might be a little different. Even there, though, (and I had some contact with that branch of fundamentalism) I didn't find most of those people even covertly hateful. What I started to see with pentecostals / charismatics and the shepherding movement was some covert / deniable but very tangible manipulative and sociopathic aspects to the leadership and their toadies. But even those types were less interested in carrying on like Dawkin's interlocutors than they were interested in successfully manipulating and controlling their sheeple and feathering their own nest.

Thing is, people - not just the religious - can seem all sweet and reasonable, so long as they are amongst people who think the same. As soon as they run up against someone Different (especially if they are safe in their like -minded club) they can transform in an astonishing way. And for doctrinal reasons, not because they saw someone threatening their income.
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Old 01-23-2015, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Thing is, people - not just the religious - can seem all sweet and reasonable, so long as they are amongst people who think the same. As soon as they run up against someone Different (especially if they are safe in their like -minded club) they can transform in an astonishing way. And for doctrinal reasons, not because they saw someone threatening their income.
True enough, and of course there's just the dynamic of the Internet which gives you at least perceived anonymity and insulation from consequences of your antisocial impulses. Same principle as is behind "road rage", you perceive yourself to be in a private bubble and this protects you from the consequence of giving the finger to that idiot who just cut you off, though you'd never dare do that to even a stranger in person.

We'll never know how much of this is latent in relatively ordinary people and how much of it represents edge case pathology, I suppose. What I am certain of is that we can't draw any certain conclusions that this proves that most typical fundies are that addled. Which is why another aspect of Dawkin's video troubles me a bit, and that's the rather sophomoric off-screen chortling and egging on. On one level, I get it; on another level ... it's lowering yourself to the same level. The emails speak for themselves, and really, they are no laughing matter. It seems like the pastoral setting with the flowers in the background, like someone doing a dignified reading of fine poetry, juxtaposed with these emailed vituperations, is satire enough. They are over-playing their hand, IMO. But that is what people expect of Dawkins I guess, and now he has to live up to it; it has a life of its own.
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Old 01-24-2015, 02:39 AM
 
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Yes. Perhaps though seeing it (as of course we will) as a Creationist -basher is not how is should be viewed but as a comic video lampooning the excesses of rather odd people.

But there is a valid point being made. What you say about Internet anonymity is true. It is an open invitation to indulge in malice without anyone being able to hit back. That's why I try hard to avoid that and keep it factual and going for the argument, not the person.

But these people are supposedly ambassadors for Christ. The supposed nastiness of atheist professor figures is regularly trotted out as some argument against atheists. This at least is undeniably real.
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Old 01-24-2015, 06:24 AM
 
Location: City-Data Forum
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
He really is sticking with the totally over the top ones. I wish he'd quote some more restrained ones if only so that he doesn't give "moderate fundamentalists" (I know, in a way, an oxymoron) so much cover to disassociate themselves from these TOTAL loonies. I can well imagine, say, Vizio, disavowing these letters as Not From Real Christians just on the basis of their "strong language" alone. Also, he spells way better than that. And so he would (with some actual justification) accuse Dawkins of cherry-picking extremist rants.

What "moderate fundamentalists" such as I once was never realize is that these kinds of uneducated, bigoted diatribes are the logical progression from the cloaked, deniable ignorance and bigotry that they openly profess. It is simply what they really believe, unmasked by virtue of being relieved of social restraint and the perception that exists when speaking from behind an email address, that they can remain anonymous and free of consequences -- apparently even from their god.

All that said, these letters he's reading are a classic example of TIFS (Total Internet F__kwad Syndrome), where ordinary person + anonymity + an audience = Total Internet F__kwad. Thanks for sharing.
They sure can blame Muslims for Muslim terrorists and trolls, but they won't blame Christians for Christian terrorists and trolls.
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Old 01-24-2015, 06:33 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by LuminousTruth View Post
They sure can blame Muslims for Muslim terrorists and trolls, but they won't blame Christians for Christian terrorists and trolls.
I am not sure what "they" you are referring to. Dawkins has consistently blamed both religions for their fundamentalist whackjobs. If you mean that Christians won't own their own whackjobs while happily decrying Muslim whackjobs, yes, that's almost universally true that they don't take the beam out of their own eye before dealing with the mote in their Muslim brother's eye. Or even deal with the mote in their eye before dealing with the Muslim beam, which is probably how they'd see it.
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