You’re Either With Us, or Against Us

I really hate it when people give me an ultimatum, don’t you?

I’m not talking about your significant other, or your boss at work, but specifically in the atheist/skeptic community.
When we have people declaring an ultimatum and telling me it’s time to pick a side, I wonder what they’re really asking.
If you’re asking me as an atheist to pick a side, well, I’m already on your side because, like you, I don’t recognize there being a supernatural where there’s a benevolent being that offers me eternal bliss. There’s no proof for that as far as I can determine and if someone out there can absolutely prove to me there is, hey, I’ll reconsider my position.
That leads me to skepticism, because I’m skeptical of this supernatural realm. But as I’ve pointed out before, being an atheist does not automatically make you a skeptic. All it means is that you’re skeptical of this one assertion.
So, even though I know where the disconnect is, I still wonder about it.
It’s all about ideology. It bothers me all the time that we hear about this rift within the atheist/skeptical community but it’s really not a rift between atheists and skeptics, its a rift between those that place ideology over skepticism and those that do not.
It doesn’t matter to me one whit as to your political leanings or social leanings. What I’m more interested in is that you’re willing to have a conversation. There are some that refuse to have any sort of conversation with those that might have a different point of view. Why is that? In my case, as a conservative, I am open to dialogue on any subject. I have no specific dogmatic beliefs. If someone can present an argument that shows that something I espouse is wrong, I will actually take a step back, sit down, and reconsider. I won’t take their word for it, because as a skeptic, I want clear and understandable evidence.
I know that most, if not all my my readers here, wear the badge of liberalism. That’s okay with me, I want to hear your point of view. There are even some that claim to be socialists. I honestly don’t care, as long as they are willing to listen to a different point of view and are not so dogmatic that they cannot even bear to hear.
When we turn off what some might consider as just noise from the other side, we all lose. None of us are always right. We are the products of our environment. How we were raised, our life experiences; and no matter how much we might try and throw the baggage off, some of it always remains.
That’s why it’s good in my opinion to at least be open to another’s point of view. We don’t have to always come to agreement, but the fact that we listen to one another is what’s important. By listening to each other, we learn.
We can learn so much from each other if we just stop, be quiet, and listen. I actually have no problem with that. Do you? The other person though needs to afford you the same respect. Some won’t do that. That’s a shame.
How will we ever move this community forward if all we do is tear one another down, refusing to even consider another point of view? We won’t, and this “movement” is doomed if we don’t.
It’s important to me that everyone in the secular community have a voice, even if that voice may turn out to be toxic. Reason always triumphs over ideology. Yeah, I know you’re thinking I’m naive, but I’m not. Maybe I should’ve said, Reason eventually triumphs over ideology, because that’s probably more accurate.
When we allow our own personal biases to replace reason, there’s no hope. Whatever we consider to be differences can easily be discussed. As I said earlier, that doesn’t mean we have to come to any definitive agreement, but we have to be able to talk to each other.
We need to be able to place aside our individual ideology and become true skeptics. We need to be able to evaluate the information we hear, from whatever source, and decide for ourselves what’s true and what’s a lie.
We need to put aside any angry words and make an attempt to communicate with one another. We all fail. We’re all human. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try.

2 comments on “You’re Either With Us, or Against Us

  1. “You’re Either With Us, or Against Us” a splendidly effective false dichotomy for shutting down quibbles. When it is used it always means a lack of generosity, a failure to understand that one might be wrong; a poverty of intellect. One can dismiss it on reading as it implies the user doesn’t want any form of reasoned debate.

    I think the point of this post is that ‘package deals’ don’t always work. I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative (the latter is under review as I read more about economics). Generally speaking, I want abortion on demand and a balanced budget. Pretty hard to find a political candidate to vote for! So given that I have been an atheist for 40+ years I am a bit surprised to be told it is a package deal and I have to take certain things along with my atheism (or take some consequences). I might agree with them, perhaps all of them, but perhaps not in the way that the folks who decide what goes in the package would like. And thus I have become that most despicable of non-believers, a ‘dictionary atheist’. Yes, I am. Atheism defines my position towards religion, and nothing else. I hope and trust that there are conservative atheists, liberal atheists, socialist atheists, communist atheists, left-handed and right-handed atheists, blue-eyed spade-toothed chess-playing atheists. All we have in common is our disbelief in something that holds no importance for us whatsoever. Why must I be told I have to hold the full panoply of a package deals of belief in other, unrelated matters? I’d rather give myself and my fellow atheists freedom to do as they see fit. I hope some of them – probably the ordinary everyday guys rather than the ‘professional’ atheists – will give me the same courtesy.

  2. It’s almost, ALMOST as if, for certain people, this isn’t about atheism or skepticism at all but rather about pushing their own dogma on society at any cost (short of getting off their ass and out from behind a keyboard).

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