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Is there an equal burden on all belief systems?

People complain when a Christian or Muslim serves as an extreme example of the faith, and other Christians and/or Muslims take it upon themselves to call those people out for their bad behavior. This same behavior occurs amongst people of common race, ancestry or even geography. Is there the same expectation of atheists and anti-theists? Since it's not an organized belief system, is it a free pass to be rude or demeaning to people in conjunction with declaring one's atheism or anti-theism, or do the standard mores of civility dictate that others step up to distance their own philosophy from the actions or words of an individual, even though it's not a religious one?

A Christian will stand up and denounce a loud, overbearing Christian, an Italian will point out that the cast of Jersey Shore does not represent them, and residents of trailer parks everywhere insist on not being associated with Brittney Spears. Is the same expected of atheists, when the only commonality is an absence of something?

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 7:44 PM on Mar. 26, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (39)
  • I can't answer this, but great question!

    Answer by LovingSAHMommy at 7:47 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • You're positing a No True Scotsman Fallacy here.

    No True Scotsman



    Answer by clarity333 at 8:01 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • You're positing a No True Scotsman Fallacy here.

    No, that has nothing to do with my question. All I'm asking is if the label "atheist" or the label "anti-theist" implies a congruence to a larger body of people who also claim that same label. When someone is an insufferable ass and insists on intertwining their atheism to that behavior, does that, by default, make them a member of the atheist community and thus, a representative of it, or do they get a free pass to be an insufferable ass in the name of their own personal atheism because the definition of the group is an absence of a commonality rather than a commonality? I'm not asking if all the other atheists get to kick them out of the atheist club, I'm asking if they can be considered representative. You're about 3 steps behind what I'm talking about here.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 8:08 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I'm agnostic, but if I were an atheist and another self-proclaimed atheist decided to be an asshole, I'd make sure people knew that being an atheist does not equal being an asshole. If I were an atheist, I would still be a perfectly nice, caring, compassionate person. I expect kindness and compassion to be general qualities of all mankind, not restricted to any one religion. So if I chose to be an atheist I would have to say "I choose not to affiliate myself with THAT atheist, because that atheist is obviously an asshole."

    do groups of atheists stand around and discuss non-belief? LOL.

    Answer by FluffyMamaBunny at 8:19 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I call out atheists who are being completely unreasonable or confrontational without being provoked.

    It reflects badly on all of us.


    Answer by beeky at 8:25 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I'm pretty sure I've called out some of my atheist "bretheren" when I think they are acting poorly. Whether that translates into an "equal burden on beliefs' well I really couldn't say, I see it as an individual thing, but I see Christians in the same light. Some can be insufferable asses and get called on it and others are great representations of their beliefs. The thing is that beliefs are personal anyways so even if 2 people share the same "religious beleifs" that does not mean they think alike or are the same. Shoot look at some of the regulars here.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 8:25 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • NP, did you watch the video? That is EXACTLY what you're implying. When you ask if an asshole atheist is representative of atheism, you are posing a No True Scotsman Fallacy, as if Atheism is defined by a certain behavior, making the asshole more or less an honest atheist, or just an asshole.
    Atheism is a lack of a belief in any deity, period. It is not defined at all, by any behavioral characteristics.

    Answer by clarity333 at 8:31 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I do think that a "bad" atheist can give a bad name to others. For example, our family is not religious, but we live by a form of morals, have professional jobs, and try to raise our children to be charitable minded and behave ethically. If you get an atheist that likes to denounce the religions of others, "what's your god gonna do for me?!", makes excuses for bad behavior based on no eternal consequences, etc, you get the reputation of the "godless punk" which I wouldn't want to be associated with. I try to be respectful of everyone and their beliefs as long as they are not harming me (which they never have), I would never go on the attack of someone else's beliefs, and don't want to be associated with those who do based on my religious belief.

    If that answers the question, LOL!

    Answer by Mom-2-3-Girlz at 8:35 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • That is EXACTLY what you're implying.

    No, you're obsessing over trying to define a characteristic that does or does not make one an atheist. I'm talking about whether atheism can be a cohort to begin with. This has nothing to do with how an atheist does or does not behave.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 8:39 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

  • I think whenever anyone takes an extreme stand and then hides behind the label of whatever is not a good representaion of the group. I think about the Westboro Baptist Church in Wichita, KS ( the ones who protest soldier's funerals, etc) and how this group SO DOES NOT represent what being a Baptist is all about. So no, there doesn't seem to be an equal burden, even tho I believe there should be.

    Answer by 1plustwinsmommy at 8:52 PM on Mar. 26, 2011

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