RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Login • Register
Username: visit Password: | Log me on automatically each

Go to RichardDawkins.net | Social | Store | OUT Campaign | Disclaimer | Search the Forum

Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins
Forum rules Post a reply 85 posts • Page 2 of 4 • 1, 2, 3, 4

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958817)
by Electric Sheep » Sun May 03, 2009 11:47 am

Faith-heads I am not sure about using this as a debating tactic. Just because theists say insulting thing about atheist does not mean that we should return in kind. The problem is the theism not so much the theist, though there are always exceptions. Ray comfort could be one of the exceptions. But is the problem Ray Comfort or the particular brand of theism that he is promoting? Will calling Ray Comfort a Faith-head help to convince him, his followers, even the people sitting on the fence that atheism is the logical position. It may well have the effect of convincing people that atheists are just out to cause offence. Attacking the religion(s) and question the individual for following their specific religion is for them is extremely insulting. I don’t see how adding to that insult is going to strengthen our position. We must also be cautious of how we determine the level of insult that the term faith-head will give. While I understand the logic of comparing religion to a drug, however for many people this will be as good as calling them drug addicts. Considering the prejudice that drug addicts face from society the insult of implying someone is a drug addict should not be underestimated. While the term faith-head is not meant to be taken this way it is likely to be interpreted this way. My concern is that when you call a theist a faith-head that theist will hear drug addict and be incredibly insulted and just stop listening. Edit: I think that I would go for supernaturalist for the same reasons that Durro has stated in his post viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648&p=1958772#p1958772
(http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648&p=1958772#p1958772)

Last edited by Electric Sheep (./memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=65433) on Sun May 03, 2009 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958821)
by Paula Kirby » Sun May 03, 2009 11:51 am

1 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Durro wrote: I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful while still clearly inferring the irrationality of religion and possibly grouping it with other irrational belief systems, hence the suggestion of "supernaturalist". Durro

Yes, I like that, for all the reasons you have given, Durro. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958823)
by Spinozasgalt » Sun May 03, 2009 11:53 am

Others be aware that not all name-calling and labelling is done from cruelty or with insulting intent. I for one would never cast about pernicious titles in seriousness. They're only ever a kind of jest. Let's not jump to the conclusion that name calling can only be done to injure. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958824)
by rationalmind » Sun May 03, 2009 11:54 am

The Gerin Oil article is here BTW. http://richarddawkins.net/article,122,G ... rd-Dawkins (http://richarddawkins.net
/article,122,Gerin-Oil,Richard-Dawkins)

It explains the problem well. We could do with something like the "imaginary friend" concept. I recently saw it used in a New Scientist article. I like Faith-head but it is capable of being turned into a profanity. Gerin Oil addiction seems to have the additional property of making people suffering from the delusions it causes the ability to take extreme offence at the simplest of things. Some Jehovah's witnesses who tried to convert me recently (fat chance!) took extreme offence at being told they have an imaginary friend, poor things. :-) I don't think they liked the idea of s "sky fairy" very much either :-), but then I was trying to ridicule them. How about faith addict or religion addict? If you want something technical I'd suggest Theophrenia by analogy with schizophrenia which comes from the Ancient Greek Szchizein to split and phren mind. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958828)
by besleybean » Sun May 03, 2009 11:58 am

2 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

The other thing is(and I don't know about anybody else), I never use terms such as ' fundie' or 'theist' in my everyday life. I'd never really encountered ' fundie' until I came on here. This is a safe haven for atheists and I occasionally come on here and let off steam like others. But in my normal conversations wih people, I may refer to them as Christian(as this is what they usually are) or even by their denomination...but I wouldn't dream of calling them anything else. I do sometimes whinge about ' papes', but would also use' Calvinists' for some kind of balance! Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958839)
by Durro » Sun May 03, 2009 12:07 pm

Thanks Paula. When you look at it, * The magical popping into existence of the earth, Adam/Eve, plants, animals * Noachian flood and viability of a wooden boat containing all animal species that returned to their unique habitats * Jonah in the whale * Parting of the Red Sea * Assorted burning bushes, manna from heaven and walls coming tumbling down, healing the blind, etc, etc, all invoke magical powers to achieve them. Alleged miracles, faith healing and crying statues are all works of the supernatural as a matter of faith, despite being debunked as fraudulent. They have no "earthly explanation" according to the faithful and by definition, have to be the work of otherworldly, non-physical spooky agents. Despite religion having a "respectable" place in our society, I see it as no better than tarot cards, astrology, water divining, palm reading and fortune tellers at the end of the telephone who charge $3.95 per minute to share their vague ambiguous predictions. Religion should be assigned its rightful place as an ancient set of irrational beliefs in the supernatural with little or no good reason to respect it anymore than Filipino faith healers who pull chicken guts out of your abdomen and leave no "scar". Scooby Doo and the mystery machine gang always seem to find the true source of the alleged supernatural as fakery, deceit and wishful thinking on the part of the gullible. If a talking dog and his friends can do it, then so can we. "Curses ! I would have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for that darn Richard Dawkins and his collection of reasonable rationalists".

Durro Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958850)
by seals » Sun May 03, 2009 12:13 pm

3 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Paula Kirby wrote: Durro wrote: I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful while still clearly inferring the irrationality of religion and possibly grouping it with other irrational belief systems, hence the suggestion of "supernaturalist". Durro

Yes, I like that, for all the reasons you have given, Durro.

I like it too, though as it points out something they are quite at pains to avoid confronting, does that count as "needling"?

How about Occultists (only kidding!) Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958851)
by EeekiE » Sun May 03, 2009 12:14 pm

Mythologists? Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958854)
by wiz5 » Sun May 03, 2009 12:18 pm

Forgive me if this has been mentioned before, but doing this is opening us/you up to "lowering the tone" or claims of irrational name calling. I see Melanie Phillips use the method, she will be inane and dense until her opponents resort to saying vaguely insulting and then accuse them of smearing. I imagine it works wonders on people who don't understand the issues involved. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958858)
by Durro » Sun May 03, 2009 12:20 pm

seals wrote: I like it too, though as it points out something they are quite at pains to avoid confronting, does that count as "needling"?

Perhaps it's more of a case of "the truth hurts". Magic acts are the fundamental basis for religious belief. Why not respectfully and calmly point out the illogical elephant in the room ? Durro

4 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958871)
by Janus » Sun May 03, 2009 12:32 pm

Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful

By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958873)
by Electric Sheep » Sun May 03, 2009 12:37 pm

Janus wrote: Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful

By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of.

I think that you have got this the wrong way round. By rejecting the idea of the term faith-head you are not choosing to respect theists. You are choosing not to show them disrespect thus taking the moral high ground. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958879)
by Szymanowski » Sun May 03, 2009 12:40 pm

5 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Electric Sheep wrote: Janus wrote: Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of. I think that you have got this the wrong way round. By rejecting the idea of the term faith-head you are not choosing to respect theists. You are choosing not to show them disrespect thus taking the moral high ground.

Right. I guess Durro would accept "not disrespectful" too. E.g. supernaturalist, theist, "religious person". (a respectful term would be something like "His Holiness") Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958888)
by Ian Edmond » Sun May 03, 2009 12:43 pm

Janus wrote: Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful

By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of. No, by choosing a respectful term, you're implying that people are deserving of respect. It doesn't follow that their way of thinking deserves the same respect. I don't really see that there is a problem here that needs addressing. They are "religious", or "the religious" if you need a group term. We are "atheists". Both are neutral, accurate identifiers. Then you go on to the issues. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958896)
by Durro » Sun May 03, 2009 12:51 pm

6 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Janus wrote: Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful

By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of.

Quote mining is a wonderful thing. I actually wrote, I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful while still clearly inferring the irrationality of religion and possibly grouping it with other irrational belief systems, hence the suggestion of "supernaturalist". I'm not for respecting their position. I am for us rational, well educated atheists acting in a respectful manner toward our fellow human beings so that we are viewed as the logical, rational, persuasive ones rather than just evil atheists trying to do Satan's work or whatever dumbass label we are assigned. I want to maintain the high ground while labelling theism as irrational and pointing out many of the deceitful, fraudulent tactics employed by some leaders of the various faiths to persuade the gullible and ill-educated. "Atheist" seems to be thrown out as a dirty word by many theists. The more that we stoop to their level of name calling and petty bickering, the more this characterization gains momentum. We largely stop this in its tracks if the voice of atheism is mature, considered and logical, particularly while the theist side so often seems illogical, lacking in evidence and appealing to a belief in magic perpetrated by imaginary invisible friends. It's nearly 11pm on a Sunday evening here, so I'm probably not articulating myself that effectively. I'll sign off for now and I look forward to seeing this conversation continued tomorrow. Regards, Durro Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958906)
by Janus » Sun May 03, 2009 12:55 pm

7 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Electric Sheep wrote: Janus wrote: Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful

By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of.

I think that you have got this the wrong way round. By rejecting the idea of the term faith-head you are not choosing to respect theists. You are choosing not to show them disrespect thus taking the moral high ground.

Uh, and what's the practical difference between respecting theists and not showing them disrespect? Frankly, your post is equivalent to telling a gay rights activist to call homophobes 'traditional marriage advocates' in order to "take the moral high ground". It's blatantly idiotic. Ian Edmond wrote:No, by choosing a respectful term, you're implying that people are deserving of respect. It doesn't follow that their way of thinking deserves the same respect.

That's a popular saying, but it's deeply flawed. Beliefs don't exist independently of the minds that hold them. To say that you don't respect someone's beliefs means that you don't respect part of what makes the person who she is. Of course, you could respect this person as a whole despite feeling contempt for part of what she is, but using the word faith-head doesn't negate that, for the same reason that you can call someone a homophobe and still respect (most of) her.

Durro wrote:Quote mining is a wonderful thing. I actually wrote, I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful while still clearly inferring the irrationality of religion and possibly grouping it with other irrational belief systems, hence the suggestion of "supernaturalist". I'm not for respecting their position.

But you are for showing respect for their position. Your beliefs are irrelevant if you don't turn them into actions and words in a social setting. One of the major factors that keep religion in power is the undeserved respect that everybody shows, in words and in actions,
8 of 17 5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958926)
by Paula Kirby » Sun May 03, 2009 1:07 pm

Janus wrote: Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful

By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of.

I have no wish to convey respect to the religious. There are a number of religious people I do respect, but in those cases the respect is invariably for their other qualities, certainly not for their religious beliefs. On the contrary, the fact that they are religious rather detracts from the overall respect I otherwise have for them. So I am not advocating an inherently respectful term; just the avoidance of an inherently abusive one. We are talking here about a term that we would adopt to refer to religious people in general; a term that Richard and others will use in lectures and TV interviews and newspaper articles. It will be read and/or heard by large numbers of people, including those who are religious and those who are not but who think religion is a good thing - i.e. the very people we need to convince. Terms of abuse are not convincing: they are off-putting. They just make the person using them look rather unpleasant. They also weaken the abuse-user's position, because those who have strong arguments tend not to feel the need to do this. Politicians talk of "winning people's hearts and minds" and it sounds corny and trite, but nevertheless any campaign does need to do both. The most successful politicians, the most successful businesspeople, the most successful campaigners, are the ones people warm to. People are hugely swayed by their emotions and whether they LIKE the person who is trying to persuade them. That's just the reality. We may find it satisfying to vent our frustration in the relatively safe environment of this forum from time to time (I do too), but that shouldn't be the guiding principle behind how we present ourselves publicly. We need to be savvier than that. We have the strongest POSSIBLE arguments on our side. Let's use THOSE. It's not out of respect for the other side, it's simply because it's the rational thing to do. If we disrespect someone's beliefs, we can EITHER abuse them for holding them OR we can try to get them to see why their beliefs don't stack up. Which will be more effective? This isn't about being respectful to the religious (sorry - 'supernaturalists' ). It's about not weakening our cause by giving potentially persuadable people an excuse not to listen. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958942)

9 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

by Lorcán » Sun May 03, 2009 1:16 pm

Re: Gloves-off policy. I say they stay on !

Lorcán. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1958946)
by lordpasternack » Sun May 03, 2009 1:17 pm

10 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Durro wrote:We seem to have to culturally respect people who believe in drinking the blood and eating the flesh of a man-god who was born of a perpetual virgin and died for the weekend before he raised himself to be with himself as an indivisible holy trinity...

Not to mention those who see the performing of permanent amputative body modifications on the genitals of male and female minors as a sacrament to their god. In fact - not to mention a fair number of the religious rites where people, particularly children, are actually physically hurt in some way.

Paula Kirby wrote:We have science on our side, we have logic, we have rationality, we have proper arguments, we have ethics, we have history, we have plain common sense, we have the whole of the universe - we have so many arguments for atheism, we don't need to resort to name-calling.

I agree completely Paula. There is absolutely no need to resort to puerile argumenta ad hominem, or to turn this into an "Us Vs Them" slagging contest, when we have several much better weapons in our armoury. I do approve, absolutely, of a gloves-off policy, but that doesn't have to mean being rude to the other side! Let’s absolutely go for it and be utterly tireless in exposing their beliefs as both false and morally repugnant, let’s not let them get away with any nonsense, let’s expose their tricks and their lies and their distortions. Yes - absolutely - let's point out that they’re being ridiculous, but let’s do it through the force of our arguments, not through the use of childish taunts.

Calilasseia (a stalwart veteran of this site's Evolution and Natural Selection forum) immediately springs to mind. He pokes interminable fun out of the creationists he's exposing - but not in place of sound argument - he first demonstrates amply that the particular person in question is deserving of ridicule. As he also states - it's only an argumentum ad hominem if the personal ridcule is used in place of rational argument. (Read his beautiful posts here (http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/search.php?author_id=9692&sr=posts) ) But there are many more who we MIGHT persuade, but not if we've started out by calling them names - why should they even listen to us after we've done that? I'm not talking about the people who feel insulted the moment we challenge their beliefs. I'm talking about people who wouldn't feel insulted by that (which is the important bit), but would, quite reasonably, feel insulted by, well, insults!

Yes - it seems quite odd that for all Richard knows about how starting off nice is the best policy - he has on a few occasions started off sardonic in the extreme with some of the visitors who've come to this site (some of which were sincere - probably to Richard's embarrassment) - and is now suggesting that perhaps rolling out sardonicism as a broad policy is a good idea. Fence-sitters and tentative doubters are, IMHO, a lot more likely to
11 of 17 5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1959016)
by adamd164 » Sun May 03, 2009 2:03 pm

Richard Dawkins wrote:What do you think? Is 'faith-head' a good meme, worthy of spreading? Or can you think of a better noun to replace 'religionist'? Richard For what it's worth, I use this expression all the time now, and have done for the last year or so. I really like it, rolls off the tongue. I've also used the "I'm-an-atheist-but-head" expression you suggested on here previously (it replaced Dan Dennett's "believers in belief" in my everyday vocabulary), to highly comical effect for the most part. As an aside, in my experience the latter category are no less irritating than the former, perhaps even moreso as they're uninfected with the virus of faith themselves but passively defend its spread. Neither group shows us much respect so I don't really take the point about worrying that these phrases cause them to get their knickers in a twist; all the better I say! Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1959047)
by Janus » Sun May 03, 2009 2:20 pm

Paula Kirby wrote:We have the strongest POSSIBLE arguments on our side. Let's use THOSE. It's not out of respect for the other side, it's simply because it's the rational thing to do. If we disrespect someone's beliefs, we can EITHER abuse them for holding them OR we can try to get them to see why their beliefs don't stack up. Which will be more effective?

False dichotomy. We can do both. Not that I think that using the term faith-head counts as abuse.

As for the rest of your post, I'd be curious to know how you feel about the use of the word 'homophobe' in service of the cause of equal rights for gay people. Nowadays the term is widely accepted, but a decade ago it certainly wasn't, and those we now call homophobes fought pretty hard against the appellation. Back then, 'homophobe' had all the potentially negative effects that you attribute to 'faith-head', and yet it's difficult to deny that its overall effect was a beneficial one, by binding the concepts of opposition to gay marriage and of irrational fear and bigotry. "Winning people's minds", as you put it, can also be accomplished by slipping into people's minds the notion that there is something wrong with faith. Top

12 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1959084)
by Electric Sheep » Sun May 03, 2009 2:45 pm

Janus wrote: Electric Sheep wrote: Janus wrote: Durro wrote:I would prefer to maintain the moral and intellectual high ground, and choose a term that is respectful

By choosing a respectful term, you're implying that their way of thinking is deserving of respect. That's precisely the dogma we want to get rid of.

I think that you have got this the wrong way round. By rejecting the idea of the term faith-head you are not choosing to respect theists. You are choosing not to show them disrespect thus taking the moral high ground.

Janus wrote:Uh, and what's the practical difference between respecting theists and not showing them disrespect?

The practical difference is this: if I say to a theist that their position of believing in god is irrational I am not disrespecting them. But at the same time I am not respecting their position. However if I was to say they are blundering irrational idiot for believing in god that would be disrespectful. And in all likelihood gain you nothing in other than alienating people. What you are proposing is a false dichotomy of respect or disrespect and nothing else. This is clearly a false position because you can speak to someone in a neutral manor. In my experience it is best you use a neutral manor when disagreeing with someone as they are more likely to listen to you and your argument. Janus wrote:Frankly, your post is equivalent to telling a gay rights activist to call homophobes 'traditional marriage advocates' in order to "take the moral high ground". It's blatantly idiotic.

You’re correct that would be idiotic because that would be reinterpreting the position of the homophobes. What I am saying is that you can attack an opponent’s position while maintaining and aura of respectability, thus people are more likely to listen to your arguments. It is possible to object to a position or belief without resorting to name calling. Saying that someone has an irrational position might sting, but that’s because the truth hurts. Ultimately if you don’t behave in a dignified manor yourself any argument that you propose will be weakened by you own behaviour. Furthermore just because you are behaving in a respectful manor does not mean you respect the individual or their position.

13 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1959097)
by Paula Kirby » Sun May 03, 2009 2:59 pm

14 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Janus wrote: Paula Kirby wrote:We have the strongest POSSIBLE arguments on our side. Let's use THOSE. It's not out of respect for the other side, it's simply because it's the rational thing to do. If we disrespect someone's beliefs, we can EITHER abuse them for holding them OR we can try to get them to see why their beliefs don't stack up. Which will be more effective?

False dichotomy. We can do both. Not that I think that using the term faith-head counts as abuse. I disagree. We can't do both. This is what happens when we publicly use a term of abuse against the religious: the religious hear the abuse and switch off. They are beyond the reach of argument at that stage, in PRECISELY the same way as I would beyond the reach of argument if someone were to knock at my door and say, "Switch to British Gas, bitch". I would know at that precise moment that this was not a company I wanted to listen to for another moment. End of conversation. Furthermore, we alienate those who are currently - in the UK - keeping the religious in power: those who believe religion is a force for morality and atheism is a force for disorder. By using terms of abuse, we simply confirm their fears about atheism: that it would lead to a general decline in moral standards. And what do we GAIN to offset those losses? A fleeting moment of satisfaction? A snigger? A brief vent for our very understandable frustration? As for the rest of your post, I'd be curious to know how you feel about the use of the word 'homophobe' in service of the cause of equal rights for gay people. Nowadays the term is widely accepted, but a decade ago it certainly wasn't, and those we now call homophobes fought pretty hard against the appellation. Back then, 'homophobe' had all the potentially negative effects that you attribute to 'faith-head', and yet it's difficult to deny that its overall effect was a beneficial one, by binding the concepts of opposition to gay marriage and of irrational fear and bigotry. "Winning people's minds", as you put it, can also be accomplished by slipping into people's minds the notion that there is something wrong with faith. Well, I am not aware of the phenomenon you're describing, so I can't say whether it really did have the effect you're attributing to it. I'm not saying it didn't - just that you're asking me to comment on something I have no experience of. The word "homophobe" does not strike me as being as offensive as "faith-head". It strikes me as a pretty neutral coinage. What was the word or term it replaced? Was there one at all? New words are forever being coined to fill gaps in language, but in this case there's no gap that needs filling. There is a word for the religious already: i.e. "the religious". There just isn't a word that conveys "the contemptibly stupid religious", and that's what "faith-head" would do. It's no good saying it's not really offensive - if it doesn't add a layer of offensiveness to "the religious", you don't need it at all because you have a perfectly good word already. I agree 100% that we need to change society's attitude towards religion, and we need to
15 of 17 5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1959118)
by Electric Sheep » Sun May 03, 2009 3:12 pm

Paula Kirby I think that you have raised a very good point there. How many atheists are comfortable with debating theists? I am guessing but I would imagine it is the minority. But we need the number of atheist that are willing to debate and openly question religion to increase. This will not happen if atheist becomes synonymous with abusive terms and people. Also we need the in the closet atheist to come out. This again will not happen if atheist becomes associated with disrespecting people. As atheist we have to behave in a dignified manor. We have to retain the moral high ground, because we cannot maintain that we have the logical and rational position otherwise. Top

Re: Andrew Brown whinges some more about Dawkins (#p1959127)
by TEP » Sun May 03, 2009 3:18 pm

Why not just use a nice, simple neutral term such as "faithist"? It simply expresses that a person holds faith to be valid, without coming across as being overly insulting - the only way someone could consider use of that term to be insulting is if we are successful in promoting the view that dogmatic faith is a bad thing to have. And of course, if they were to act insulted, as the term used is a neutral one, then by acting offended they're conceding that they consider being accused of the very act of having faith to be insulting. What we should be trying to do is instead of coming up with insults like 'faith-head' or whatever, is trying to simply continually point out the indefensibility of the concept of faith such that to accuse someone of having it practically becomes an insult, because the perceived respectability of it is diminished. If you can get a neutral term to be considered a perjorative it can go a long way towards diminishing the perceived legitimacy of the opposing position - as such, phrases such as "such and such demonstrates typical faithist reasoning here, making these critical errors . . ." probably do a lot more than something like "such and such demonstrates typical faith-head thinking, making these particular bad arguments". The former comes across more as an attack on the position, whereas the latter is more an attack on the person. Top PreviousNext Display posts from previous: Post a reply 85 posts • Page 2 of 4 • 1, 2, 3, 4
Return to Richard Dawkins

Sort by

Jump to:

Who is online
Users browsing this forum: fryall, rationalmind and 9 guests

16 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Andrew Brown whinges ...

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=80648...

Go to RichardDawkins.net | Social | Store | OUT Campaign | Disclaimer
Powered by phpBB © richarddawkins.net 2006 - 2007 Time : 0.146s | 9 Queries | GZIP : Off

17 of 17

5/5/2009 22:05

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful