Passive-agressive Atheism

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by aaqucnaona, Jan 27, 2013.


Do you think the non-religious are often passive-agressive in debates?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    I find it to be essential for a rationalist to periodically study themselves for any flaws and on one such occasion, I suspected that I am becoming passive-aggressive about my atheism. While this may be an expected side effect of long term internet exposure to debates with believers, it is hardly an acceptable or positive one. To help me decide if I should change my behaviour in said arguments, I would like to show you my conversation which gave me this suspiction and will be quite grateful if others here could perhaps see anything passive-agressive about it.

    [While I did butt into an ongoing conversation like a third person on a date, I think my intrustion is nevertheless justified since I did have a point to make]:
    *Dorky = Dawkins [Lets excuse the ad hom though, since it seems to go hand in hand with fundamentalism and it better to chop the root rather than the twigs]

    If Dorky was famous for a crusade against child abuse then I'd support that. However, that is not what he's about. That is not what his seminars are billed as.
    Dorky clearly wants spiritual belief socially ostracised. Dorky is a militant atheist making him no better than a militant theist.
    He also seems to go into defensive mode with Rabbis and Imams while reserving attack mode for Christians - sounds dodgy to me. You claimed to know different. I asked you to send me links. You sent me none.

    The thing is, all conversations are made very difficult when people have the goal not of greater mutual understanding and some compromised solution but of furthering their own agenda & getting themselves proven correct rather than presenting arguments and letting logic run its course. You see why he sent no links? Coz substantion is not for those who make claim after claim with none themselves and then shift the burden of proof. Unless you support your claims, he isnt obligated to support his.

    He didn't challenge my claim. I challenged his claim. The burden of proof therefore fell to him but he resorted to personal abuse instead. So that was the end of that.

    There is a reason I addressed that particular comment. "that is not what he's about", "Dorky clearly wants spiritual belief socially ostracised" are both claims. Where's the substantiation? Moreover, "Dorky is a militant atheist making him no better than a militant theist" is a personal opinion AND a reversed argument from authority. We rationalists see things like these [+begging the question almost every comment], they tend to react that way [though I dont condone it]. Oh well.

    "We rationalists". How amusing. I am acid to false claims for that being agnostic I have no makes-me-feel-warm belief system like theists and athiests and prefer the pain of thought
    My assertion was not contented (that you quoted). Demand proof from me or show where another has before you intellectually masterbate. So no "begging" in progress.
    I return to my last post which states my case.

    Ah! Despite the fact that your side of the argument is, as is all too familiar, escalating emotionally, I shall try and NOT mirror it. So then, I am an agnostic atheist and as far as being a rationalist is concerned, both our positions mean squat. Rationists are not necessarily militant atheists. It can cover the spectrum from them to you. Any naturalist sensible enough can be a rationalist.
    About your case. Your assertion was part of a counter argument so it must be substantiated without ...
    ...being challenged otherwise the counter argument is invalid. A counter argument can either poke holes or counter-claim. Your choice of the latter gives you a case but also gives you a burden of proof and its your refusal to shoulder it that broke up the conversation with him. Are you in this for a resolution or for a soapbox? If its for the latter, I dont see a point to furthering this debate. If not, do reply and we shall discuss this some more.
    Either way, have a nice day.


    So, what do you think?
    Also, more generally, do you think atheists tend to be passive-aggressive in debates?
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Remember passive aggressiveness as such: passive aggressiveness is an indirect, covert attempt at control.

    Rethink your own intentions in a particular communication: Are you trying to control others, but refuse to admit that you do so?
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  5. Balerion Banned Banned

    This is incorrect. Passive-aggressive behavior is a particular manifestation of fear or anger. It can be representative of a desire to control, but this is not its only cause. As usual, you've oversimplified and misrepresented a concept.

    I don't have any interest in your debates from other forums, so I'll leave that alone. To the second, no, I find--at least on this forum--that theists tend to be more aggressive overall, and there are a few who are extremely passive aggressive. I know one poster in particular is fond of challenging a claim by saying that it wouldn't be made by "intelligent atheists." Wynn herself (while not a believer, per se, she's not an atheist, and she holds some pretty wacky beliefs, such as her paranoid delusions regarding psychotherapy) quite often makes sarcastic comments about how "enlightened" posters are whenever they say something she disagrees with.

    So no, I'd say atheists aren't more passive-aggressive. At least here at sciforums, they tend to be more direct. But then, it's easy to be more direct when you have facts on your side. (That was kind of passive-aggressive, wasn't it?)
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Balerion, you can't even take a breath without thinking of me, eh? Oh.
  8. Balerion Banned Banned

    Don't flirt. It's unbecoming.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I don't know how to answer the question. The only place where I find arguments over religion and irreligion are here in the silicon world, on SciForums.

    I'm a third-generation atheist who was, literally, born this way. (Apparently not everyone is born with the stone-age instinct for belief in the supernatural.) I find it astounding that adults retain childhood beliefs that aren't much more than Santa Claus with greater elaboration. I scream at the newspaper or TV when I hear about one more religiously-motivated killing or other act of unforgivable violence, such as the Taliban blowing up those ancient, precious, mountain-sized statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, or the Christian armies of Europe burning the Aztecs' "pagan" libraries and melting down the Incas' "heathen" art. Or the Holocaust, which I missed because that branch of my family had already emigrated to America.

    The Religious Right in the USA makes me glad I don't own a gun, with their Creation Science Museum and their greater sympathy for a fetus with virtually no forebrain (it isn't even completely formed at delivery or it wouldn't fit down the birth canal!) than for the mother whose life may be literally ruined by the "screw-up" (as it were) that created it.

    You don't need me to shift my focus to Islam or some other Abrahamic religion. I have an equivalent set of bitches about those guys too. (The Rastafarians and Baha'i are all love and peace but so were the Christians before they became powerful enough to show their true colors.) The only good thing I can say about the Jews is that they don't practice evangelism, so they don't get in our face with their faith AND they remain a tiny minority of the world's population--albeit with nuclear weapons and a grudge against practically everyone else.

    In other words, I stand second to no one in my disgust with religion, particularly the monotheistic variety whose followers, at regular intervals, attempt to bomb civilization back into the Stone Age where their comic-book-level beliefs will be met with less skepticism.

    Yet... This principle plays virtually no part in my daily life out in the carbon world. I live, work, shop, exercise, play and do everything else I do among a population which, without polling, I know statistically is majority-Christian and has sizable Jewish and Muslim factions. Yet I rarely find myself discussing religion with them. The ones who know me know that I disagree with them but that I won't throw my disagreement in their face if they offer me the same courtesy... and they do! The ones who don't know me that well somehow don't pick out any telltales in my speech or behavior that rile them, so they don't feel compelled to start a sermon when I'm around. For all they know I'm just another of the "Children Of The Book" whom most of them, with their liberalized western versions of their faiths, are encouraged to love and hope that we're finding our own way to Heaven. Statistically, something like 90% of Americans would identify themselves as Abrahamists, so that assumption is true most of the time. They'd have to get in lot of faces before they found mine.

    And of course there are a lot of Christians and other religionists who take a scholarly view and are delighted to chat with me about how, for example, the Flood simply must be a metaphor because there isn't enough water on earth to cover all the mountains. They have no problem with metaphors. It's the truth that matters, not the source, and most holy books are full of truths if you can flip past the dreck.

    Am I insulted that they think I'm one of them, or a member of their uneasily related sister religions? I don't know. Most of the Christians that I've talked with clearly try accept Jesus's teachings (wouldn't it be nice if we all did? I got no more beef with Jesus than I have with Kermit the Frog, another wise fellow I love dearly even though he too is imaginary) and they kinda doze off on Sunday morning when the preacher starts talking about the Garden of Eden and the parting of the Red Sea. In fact they choose churches where these things are uneasily accepted as metaphors rather than actual events and their preachers avoid making too many references to them.

    In other words, religionists almost never bother me out in the carbon world, and I return the favor. I'm a pacifist and I'm happy to make peace with anybody who's willing to let it go at that. Life is too short to go out looking for trouble. I'd rather sit around eating chocolate and listening to Lucie Silvas.

    As I said originally, you folks on SciForums (and obviously other discussion forums) do get into these discussions. Sometimes I feel like participating, other times I'd rather play with my dogs. On these boards, both the atheist and the religionist cohort have the complete spectrum of personalities. Some are passive-agressive, some are evangelical, some behave in a scholarly fashion and accomplish something, some are outraged by their opponents' positions, and some are biblical literalists--although those guys don't generally last long on a website that pledges at least minimal respect for the scientific method.

    All I can say is that when the insults and acrimony start flying, the "discussion" becomes all about feelings rather than analysis, and I lose interest.
  10. pywakit Registered Senior Member

    Said much better than I ever could.

    Still, although I hardly qualify as someone any real scientist could respect ... and too, points I attempt to make illustrating the irrationality inherent in beliefs (in general) and the Christian bible (specifically) appear slightly less effective than slamming my head into a wall ... I have always felt it is my obligation as a member of the species to try to reach those who seem unreachable as a counterbalance to the incessant proselytizing and constant exposures to religion across the entire spectrum of society here in the US.

    Time and again, although ostensibly a nation which separates religion from 'state', the state (in the form of those in all levels of power, from school boards, through and up to the POTUS) invokes (the Christian) God in times of tragedy and peace ... and all that lies between. The US media further authenticates and validates the existence of God and/or the supernatural literally countless times each day, whether news or entirely fictitious fare.

    We are enjoined as a nation to "pray for the victims of Newtown" ... for the families. The loved ones. We are assured those cut down prematurely are "in a better place now", smiling down from heaven, secure in the loving arms of Jesus.

    For over half a century I have listened to this. Day in, day out. And ever since I was a child I have felt compelled to speak out: for reason, for sanity, for the love of my fellow man (and woman) ... and for our future.

    True, I am a virtually insignificant voice, lost in the cacophony ... outnumbered, outgunned. But I delude myself into thinking my society needs people like me. Patient, reasonable, rational ... non-militant ... and most importantly, correct. Unimpeachable.

    Perhaps I really do accomplish nothing. But the alternative is to allow the ignorant, superstitious ... the irrational to go unchallenged. In essence providing authentication and validation through my silence.

    Is it easier to keep my mouth shut? Do I need to answer that? I have chosen the more difficult (and frequently frustrating) path in life. But I can live no other way. I can never forget people like Bruno, who suffered unimaginably at the hands of the religious. Or Galileo. And all the millions of nameless victims over the millennia. They did not have the freedom to speak that I enjoy, and I will not waste it. I feel I owe them this much.

    Nor can I forget the believers, held hostage by their own delusions. Their guilt, their fear. Their wasted lives worshiping a being that all evidence clearly shows was never more than the product of human imagination.

    I don't know if I am passive or aggressive. Or both. And I don't care. I'm just an ordinary man, doing what I can. It's all I can do.
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Sounds like somewhere along the way you have learned that to argue rationally with irrational people is irrational.

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    Trying to reach those who are unreachable? See my previous comment. The word "quixotic" comes to mind. It's a good way to waste a significant portion of your life.

    Start making peace with the religious by reciting their "Serenity Prayer":

    God grant me the strength to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can't change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    Just because people attribute something to an imaginary god, doesn't mean it's wrong.

    I suggest that the reason there has been so much religious proselytism in the USA, starting with the Religious Redneck Retard Revival in the late 1970s, is precisely because throughout the earlier years of the postwar era religion was fading away. The Generation Gap saw the Baby Boomers reflexively discarding all of their parents' cultural motifs because somewhere in there they were sure they were discarding the one or ones that motivated the most outrageous war in history, notably the Holocaust and the deployment of nuclear weapons against civilian populations. This included their racism, their political and philosophical conservatism, their swing music, their chastity, their sobriety... and their religion.

    In the 1960s the Beatles said, "We're more popular than Jesus," and although there was a response from the Christian community, it was not strong enough to slow their ascendance to godhood. By the mid-1970s church attendance was falling and it seemed that we were well on the way to freeing ourselves from the scourge of supernaturalism.

    But one thing about the Baby Boomers: They were certain that they were the first and only generation to do what they were doing. They never studied the 1920s, to discover that sex, drugs and--well they didn't have rock'n'roll in those days but jazz was considered just as outrageous--were just as popular as in their own time. These eras of licentiousness pop up regularly. Anyway, the Boomers began to feel guilty about their irresponsible behavior. Usually this phenomenon is called "growing up," but they had to make a bigger deal about it, and decided to ask for the forgiveness of a god they never believed in. In a final slap to their parents, rather than returning to the Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, etc. churches of their youth, they flocked to fundamentalist congregations. Outside the South, most of these churches were dirt-poor so they welcomed a new generation of well-paid social workers and computer programmers. There they were taught that everything they once believed in was wrong. Science, in particular, was targeted because of course science is the enemy of superstition, and in fundamentalist churches faith becomes true superstition.

    These people who had marched for peace and civil rights were used to campaigning, so they took on the responsibility of bringing God back into American life. They're all in their 50s and 60s now (born 1946-1964) so they've mellowed out a little, but the movement they restarted is still going strong.

    It's been argued with some justification that the purpose of the separation of church from state was to avoid the establishment of an official national church and the sectarian violence that often engenders. There's no strong evidence that the Founders gave much thought to the plight of atheists, who carefully avoided maintaining a high profile in those days anyway. The bumper sticker "Freedom Of Religion Does Not Mean Freedom From Religion" has some historical validity. We've come to a point where we can identify ourselves as atheists without risking our safety in the streets or our job prospects. It could be argued that we're doing much better than ethnic minorities or even members of many non-Christian religions. Because atheism seems to correlate with education, most atheists are prosperous and comfortable. Most Afro-Americans are not.

    These motifs are burned into our culture and our language. I bet you say "God damn it," "God forbid," and "Oh my God!" It's well known that praying releases endorphins, so who are we to tell people that they should give up a practice that brings them peace and helps them heal faster? If something bad happens to you and your neighbor says, "I'll pray for you," are you going to get in his face about it?

    Take comfort in the fact that the two most common symbols of Christianity in the United States are Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I suggest that a religion that finds itself in this strange place is probably not as big a threat to non-believers as the Inquisition. Mrs. Fraggle and I are both atheists and she was even raised in a Jewish household, but we celebrate Easter and Christmas with gay abandon. We used to run the world's largest teddy bear collectors' club so you wouldn't believe the number of artist-made stuffed bunnies that populate our house around Easter. These are just as much secular holidays as religious, and I'm happy to have them.

    Except for the sinners among them, of course. They're in a much worse place. Perhaps Christians believe that young children haven't learned about right and wrong yet so they can't be punished for sinning. In any case, those kids are going to be really sad to discover that their dogs will never arrive there to keep them company, since they don't have souls.

    Once again, I have to ask: How's that workin' out fer ya? I'm reminded of the colloquial definition of "insanity": Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting the results to be different.

    I can't argue with that, and it's not a delusion. But don't let it rule your life.

    You continue to speak of irrational people as though they will respond to your entreaties in exactly the same way that rational people would. Am I missing something here? Religion comes with a rationality filter. When you speak out rationally against their religion, they automatically start praying silently so they don't hear you.

    I don't know. But the path you've chosen doesn't seem very easy either. You spend a lot of time feeling frustrated. Perhaps you need to widen your opportunity wedge and look for other strategies.

    If all of your efforts to cure humanity of the disease of religion have exactly zero effect, aren't you wasting your freedom anyway? This seems eerily like the kid who spends his spare time writing love letters and proposals of marriage to Jennifer Lopez.

    Find a cause where your tireless work will make a difference. Perhaps it is this cause, but you're going to have to find a new way to come at it. You're sinking into an equilibrium of impotence this way.

    Now I really disagree with you there. I know as many Christians as the next American, and they're no more or less happy than the rest of us. You and I spend a lot of time thinking about atheism because were outliers. But many--perhaps most--American Christians can go for days without giving their religion a conscious thought. They try hard to live a life that Jesus would approve of and settle for doing the best they can.

    And shit, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that!

    You are a smart, earnest guy. I'm sure if you come at this problem from a different direction you'll find that you can do a whole lot more than you can do by confronting these windmills directly--which, by the way, is zero.
  12. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

    Why is there not a 3rd option?
    My answer is: sometimes...
  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Do I think that atheists are often passive-aggressive in debates?

    Maybe. My experience is that atheists more often tend to be flat-out aggressive, sometimes with delusions of grandeur.

    Atheists often imagine themselves to be the world's voices of reason, and sometimes boast that they are smarter than other people. But unfortunately, some of them seem to believe that atheism is an easy substitute for intelligent ideas. They often dismiss what they call "religion" without having very much comprehension of the scope and content of the phenomenon that they are attacking.

    And there's something else with atheists, a thing that makes me recoil emotionally away from many of them. There's often an anger, a hostility towards "religion" that many atheists wear on their sleeves. They don't just lack belief in religion, they don't just argue dispassionately against it, they ridicule it, they insult it, and they try as hard as they can to anger religious people. I have to say that the biggest assholes that I've ever encountered in many years on the internet have been these aggressive atheists. This kind of person doesn't respond well if you dare to disagree with them.

    As I've written before, I think that atheist-fundamentalism exists right alongside religious fundamentalism. There's a similar evangelical drive to convert the rest of the world so that everyone else thinks just like they do. There's a similar tendency to perceive Christianity as the paradigm for all of "religion", and to see theologically conservative Protestantism as the paradigm for Christianity. Some atheists study their Bibles with as much zeal as the fundies do (except the atheists' goal is to discredit it). They drop proof-texts and scriptural quotes. They are as convinced as their fundamentalist cousins that the Bible must be read literally and unhistorically.

    Obviously not all atheists are like that... but equally, religious people aren't always like that either. Most of them aren't. In my own life, many of the best educated, most intelligent and most tolerant people that I've ever met have been deeply religious people. (My thesis advisor in graduate school was a former Catholic priest with a doctorate in sacred theology from Georgetown.)

    Maybe it's the internet. Relaxed, tolerant and intellectually inquisitive atheists aren't likely to get into internet fights, but tightly-wound atheists glory in battling. So whenever somebody expresses what appears to be a religious idea in a discussion, that tends to attract the angry atheist warriors like turds draw flies. And so intelligent and thoughtful discussion descends into an ego-contest and the flames begin.

    It just seems to me that there's something intellectually and emotionally childlike about many of the louder internet atheists.
  14. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Why be passive? I don't see the point of that in debates, and it often goes over their irrational heads.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    EVERYTHING goes over irrational heads. You guys still aren't getting it.

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    Sometimes theists do lose their faith in the supernatural, and they come over to the Light Side. But I guarantee that for 99% of them that journey was entirely internal. Evangelizing for atheism does not work.

    You can't change an irrational person's mind with reasoning!
  16. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    I don't know about that, some people may be on the fence. They may not admit your contribution to their enlightenment until much later.
  17. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

    Fraggle Rocker

    Could not agree more. I have no intrinsic reason to cause someone else to lose their beliefs. I try not to come across that way. But when a theist says something that just isn't true, often saying it like it was to be taken for granted, they can expect to be corrected if I see it. It isn't belief that is the problem, it's what is done or said based on that belief, especially when what is said or done is stupid, illogical, absolutely false, hurtful, bigoted, destructive etc concerning science(it's a pet peeve of mine). Some of my best friends are theists of one sort or another, though I do notice a definite lack of Protestant Fundamentalists or similar sects. We don't agree about religion, but we agree to disagree agreeably. Most of them are scientists, by the way, so they at least accept reality as they see it. Several think god exists in the only gap we can't look in, prior to the Big Bang, and there is no argument I could make to show that not to be true, though I think it is an unnecessary entity(Occam's Razor). We talk of much more interesting things around the card table.


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  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    It's as if the emotional intensity / zealotry of the "Christian crusader" -- or that particular type of environment which the child was raised in -- survives the later transition to non-theism; though certainly not every atheist begins as a theist, and is militant. It would be interesting to compare how atheists are which were never indoctrinated with Abrahamic beliefs and the most ardent lifestyles connected with such, with those who dropped their family's religion; or to see if the former on average has a lesser degree of passion and anger / participation in a "cause" against theism, etc (or if it there's any significant difference at all).
  19. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    I don't find anything wrong with being an evangelical for reason.
  20. Balerion Banned Banned

    I don't even know what "evangelizing atheism" is supposed to mean. You evangelize messages, not beliefs.

    If you mean arguing against the supernatural doesn't work, then you're wrong. Go to Richard Dawkins' website and see the list of people who have changed their minds thanks to reading his books. Not all true believers are irrational morons. Many of them are highly intelligent people who simply have the wrong idea, and only require someone who can put the truth into terms they can digest. One doesn't need to be on the fence in order to be convinced by reason and logic. You're too jaded by the intellectually bankrupt apologists you find on these forums.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    There's nothing wrong with it. One isn't a militant or a zealot simply because they vigorously oppose the other side. One isn't a militant simply because they want prayer out of public schools. "Militant atheism" only exists in the mind of lazy thinkers.
  22. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    aaqucnaona, I found nothing unreasonable in your response. Your words were sound and your argument logical. I suggest you not loose any sleep over being reasonable and committed. By all means question yourself: it reflects well on you, but do not agonise over minutae when your 'opposition' ignores continents of misinformation.
  23. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    I usually find my self oscillating between agnostic and atheist, I'm agnostic when I don't want to piss anyone off and I'm atheist when I'm being brutally honest.

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