Claiming the high ground versus actually holding the high ground

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phetaroi's picture
Claiming the high ground versus actually holding the high ground

One thing I like about this forum, thus far, is that there seems to be more room for open debate, even debate that sometimes gets a little tense. On another forum I'm on, intense debate (and I'm talking about insulting debate) can easily result in suspension or banishment.

So I wanted to bring a thought here that I think we all should consider: that there is a difference between claiming the high ground in the debate "against" belief in God, and actually holding the higher ground in the debate "against" belief in God.

Until recently, at the age of 67, I was a "believer". Not radically so. But nevertheless a believer. Then something happened one day that in a minute's time caused me to challenge all I had believed before. So here I am, not an atheist (although maybe there could be a deist god, but certainly not a theist god).

In addition to what happened to me, I also have a background in the natural sciences (geology, meteorology, and oceanography), although I spent my life as an educator. But because of my background in science, the oft stated assurances that atheists use scientific evidence (or lack there of) and reasoned logic to refute the Christian claims of god were very attractive to me.

Then I started reading some of the posts in this an other forums. The post in another forum that really ticked me off, however, was the statement that anyone who believes in god is "stupid". It was not a qualified statement, such as, "People who believe in god are stupid in regard to their spiritual viewpoints". No, just that people who believe in god are plain stupid. So I linked to a "List of Christians in science and technology" (

And what did that get me? Insults about how stupid I was.

I'm sorry, but to simply lump people like Francis Bacon, Galileo, Issac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Marconi, and Wernher von Braun together under an umbrella of "stupid" seems pretty...well...stupid to me. Where is the relying on science in statements like that?

And while many people on this and other forums present wonderfully wise and supported arguments in support of atheism, there are quite a few others who post pathetic rants with no science or logic to support their position. And I don't think some who post such tripe are quite aware of how such posts actually work against the concept of atheism.

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Sky Pilot's picture


People may call believers stupid simply because they regard believers as superstitious twits who will believe in their own favorite religious fairy tale while discounting everyone else's. When you were an active believer you believed in one specific deity but you regarded people who believed in other deities as stupid. That's because they didn't believe in your deity but they did believe in a deity. The Bible and the Koran have a lot of stories about that. So it's only natural for atheists to regard all believers as stupid because that's how believers regard other people who don't believe in their favorite deity.

If I worshiped the giant mud worm God "Flap Jack the Magnificent" who lives in the Andromeda Galaxy as the divine creator of the Universe I would be religious just like all of the other assorted believers but they would regard me as a stupid nitwit who should be locked up in a rubber room. Yet I have as much evidence for my deity as they have for theirs. So why should any rational person believe in an ethnocentric Jewish zombie who supposedly lived 2,000 years ago or the ramblings of a desert Arab from the 7th Century who yakked about a deity named "Allah"?

phetaroi's picture
"When you were an active

"When you were an active believer you believed in one specific deity but you regarded people who believed in other deities as stupid."

No, actually I didn't. That's why I eventually became a Buddhist (although Buddhism takes no stance on god). That's why when I visited Southeast Asia frequently over the years and lived in Thailand that I also gained some level of understanding about Hinduism and Islam and made an effort to communicate with people in those faiths. That's why when I was still working that when I had friends who were Jewish or Bahai I tried to at least learn a little about their beliefs. And I didn't think Hindus or Muslims or Jews or Bahais were generally, overall stupid; I might think they were a little weird in regard to that one aspect of their lives.

And even if I thought they were "wrong", that didn't translate to overall stupidity.

MCDennis's picture
This forum is NOT against a

This forum is NOT against a belief in god. Atheists do not believe the claims we have heard from others that gods or god exists. These are fundamentally different concepts

Pitar's picture
It isn't so much the people,

It isn't so much the people, individually or collectively, being labeled as stupid by others that should bear focus. I think that's a bit myopic. That is usually the defensive posture believers saddle disbelievers with as a disrespectful affront.

The real focus is, distracted from by the above in measures lesser and greater in an enduring manner, the notion that a particular book titled The Bible portends to impart a truth in the face of an archeological record that conflicts with it. The archeological record (the Record) is not a single source of historical evidence bearing out events on man's timeline but rather a whole host of documents from different locales by different peoples of events known to common men, courtesans, journalists, historians, public officials and story tellers that all find agreement in each other indifferent to that of The Bible. Why? None of the contributors to the Record were aware of the cast of characters and events claimed to have been extant by The Bible. Moreover, it is known that earliest contributors to The Bible began at 60 CE and continued to 1600 CE by upwards of 150 distinct hands. This is mutually agreed upon by all modern theologian and secular scholars. This in and of itself removes eye-witness accounts of the biblical period claims rendering The Bible a piece of literature often seemingly a collection of stories for no other purpose than to display the contributor's skills. There's so much internal conflict with the events and the storytelling ascribed to key biblical figures that they lie in evidence that none of the contributors were aware of the other's renditions, and no concurrent hands were alive at the time the biblical events are claimed.

The above paragraph is common knowledge for most thinking atheists, and is the basis for parroting by other associated atheists who callously label theists as stupid. When the single-most important work portending to establish a god as a truth is debunked by man's own understanding of himself, that work becomes a paradox of so-called intellect that elicits a subset of emotions from both camps that are at best unpalatable.

After men come to grips with the truths of their imagination's power over them, some still cannot accept their mortality and take evasive action that subverts the basis for logical thought to reign supreme. This evasive action is to propose that the very story man created to promote his own immortality be challenged with proof that it isn't true. Hence, the labels of stupidity.

mykcob4's picture

"Stupid" might seem harsh to you, but it is perfectly reasonable given the fact that a belief in something that has no basis, in fact, is in fact, "stupid."
I read where you ranted and railed against posts that you found displeasing. I'm sure many of those posts were mine. You, in fact, called me "stupid." Did I retaliate? Did I take it personally? No. Debates get heated. This forum has been inundated with religious zealots that do nothing but proselytize. We've tried to accommodate them, but they won't even acknowledge our questions or replies. It becomes tiresome, to say the least.
You can count on the same thing over and over again. Anything from bible quotes, politics that are nothing more than racist rants, the "I'll pray for you" condescending bullshit, miracles that aren't miracles, to unverified NDE stories.
If I ask someone to just do one simple thing, to prove their god, they take it as an insult. They invariably demand to disprove their god and insult me for not doing so.
I don't know how many times that I have had to give a history lesson, a science lesson, a lesson on what evidence really is, and any manner of information that they don't know or just plain ignore.
So the people you named were intelligent but they were also FUCKING STUPID. And yes I cuss. My privilege to do so. Now if you can't handle that, I don't know what to tell you. The truth is that anyone and everyone, no matter who they are, what they do or did, that believes in a god is indeed STUPID!

phetaroi's picture
I think you're missing my

I think you're missing my point entirely.

What I am discussing here is calling a person generally stupid because of one viewpoint they have. I have no problem calling a person's belief stupid, or something they do stupid. We all do stupid things. We all say stupid things. I'm sure Albert Einstein did stupid things now and then. But that's different than branding everything a person does or says or thinks, or a whole group of people, as stupid.

It's very much like when I was a principal and a teacher would sit in a conference and say to a parent, "You're son is a cheater." And I would correct them by saying, "One incident does not make a person 'a cheater'. That's too general a statement."

And BTW, I don't think I called you "stupid".

Pitar's picture
Your point is academic and

Your point is academic and well in hand. What you are seeking is an empathetic, possibly even an apologetic stance for a merely social, common courtesy faux pa that Samuel Clemens would have remarked as "How French!". What you conveniently dismiss is the context from which it is derived and that has been the whole of the deflection by theists when pressed hard by atheists questioning their logic. Reality versus imagination in modern times brings theism into a very critical and harsh light for good reason - it kills people. Common courtesy, social grooming and basic good manners no longer work as persuasive methods to decry and dissuade theism's innate wrongs. Words must now take on their powers of the sword, put theism on high alert and make it stand its ground. In doing so it cannot help but read for itself the evidence against it.

phetaroi's picture
No, it's not just academic.

No, it's not just academic. Nor is it apologetic.

You can't say we're more scientific minded, and then make statements that are totally unscientific. That just puts "us" in a slightly different territory of "wrongness".

I would submit that many of the ills of our American society this time are due to "causes" that use words as swords (as you put it).

And here's my bottom line question -- when someone who is totally on the fence of the issue of god -versus- no god reads a forum such as this one, do the posts invited them in or scare them away? You like power? Well, there's power in numbers.

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