Friday, December 30, 2011

Moral Diversionary Tactics

Anybody who has been at this for a while know that theists have a sack full of defensive responses whenever you begin to criticize their religion. You point to a group of religious people who use religious premises to promote superstition in science classes, or to justify harms inflicted on the interests of homosexuals, or that treat women as the property of men, and you can predict the responses.

"Yes, but, not all religions are like that. If you are going to criticize religion, you need to be extra clear about that."

"Yes, but, these religiously motivated injustices do not just happen in this religion. They happen in other religions. In fact, some religions are even more unjust."

"Yes, but, people who belong to this religion often do great things. They perform great acts of charity and kindness. You have to acknowledge their positive contributions in your criticism."

"Yes, but the religion's victims could do things to avoid being the victim of this discrimination. If the atheists are less critical, or homosexuals hide in the closet, or the Muslims keep their temples away from downtown New York, then we won't have such a problem."

"Yes, but atheists are not morally perfect either. Look at Stalin and Mao."

"Yes, but the specific critic has made some moral mistakes as well. Sam Harris, for example, defended torture. Why are you focusing on the abuses that come from religious beliefs?"

"Yes, but, religious injustices are not nearly as bad as some other harms - from disease or starvation, for example. We should be focusing on them instead."

"Yes, but, that religious group is also the victim of religious discrimination elsewhere, where they are not in the majority. Why aren't we defending them from those injustices?"

"Yes, but, we are entitled to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. How dare you criticize our religious practices?"

"Yes, but, calling attention to religious discrimination and other forms of religious criticism only makes them defensive, and makes the situation worse. It is best to ignore it."

"Yes, but, why do you atheists have to be so angry and emotional and over-sensitive about it? That doesn’t help your argument or your cause."

"Yes, but, what about the Holocaust/Crusades/30 Years War?"

There is a wide range of areas where people will attempt to avoid a discussion of wrongs and injustices, effectively trying to bury them - ultimately with the objective of throwing off the discussion and liberating the perpetrators from actual condemnation. If they can change the subject, then they can continue with business as usual.

A lot of atheists have experienced a great many of these defensive tactics and are quick to criticize them.

Perhaps they should be just as quick to criticize them when other subjects are brought up as well.

We have a lot of many and strong reasons to condemn these type of tactics whenever or wherever we may find them.


The Atheist Missionary said...


Robert Affinis said...

The way I deal with fundamentalist fervor is not to provide credence to the word "god"; it is meaningless.

downtown dave said...

The God who will judge atheists for rebelling against Him is the same God who will judge those who have used religion to commit atrocities. Just because we can point to someone who has done evil doesn't exempt us from judgement. "You therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else. For at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself. Because you who pass judgement do the same things."

Canadian Atheist said...

I actually wrote an article about that R/Atheism incident. You're right that many atheists are vigilant against religious wrongs but we also need to be vigilant in guarding our own communities. There is no excuse for what happened on Reddit.

Martin Prest said...

Yes, a tit-for-tat exchange of wrongs is no basis for discussion, only close-minded argument.