Sitting at my local tavern the other day getting tipsy on booze and good people, the conversation was directed to religion. I had mentioned that I was an Atheist and the top notch fellow behind the bar mentioned that he was Christian. Both these things were relayed with no animosity. It was a slow night at the bar and it lent itself to conversation and questioning. I was asked why I was an Atheist, they were asked why they were Christians we chatted and discussed for quite a while and no anger or bile was traded over who was right or who was wrong. Eventually the whiskey did make it rather impossible to have a truly dignified conversation on the virtues of science over religion or vice versa but that bar room chat did do one thing for me, it gave me hope. Hope that people can actually be civil and speak like humans about topics that they feel strongly about. This is not just directed at cocky, annoying bible thumpers that drone on and on about how much Hell you are going to for not believing the same ghost story they do. This is also directed to Atheists that feel superiority over those lowly believers. Many self described critical thinkers definitely have the critical part down but not the thinker part, at least not yet. They quote Hitchens and Dawkins and throw around recently read ideas like so much parade candy and come off as aloof as any of the most heinous televangelists on Public Access. Side note: If you have never watched Public Access televangelism then you are missing a whole world of extreme, wacky fundamentalism. I know you want to get your point across but being an obnoxious asshole about it just strengthens the resolve of the obnoxious asshole you are trying to convince. Don’t get me wrong, I do not want you to be a simple pacifist or just role over when things get hot. I really like a heated debate but getting too cocky just stiffens peoples resolve. Humans hate losing and will do just about anything, including lie to themselves to not lose.
Another reason to be a bit easier going on people is that most people have been brain washed since birth with religious dogma and fear. Even though most of it is nonsensical it is still there and it is hard to shake. Changing the format of your mind can be a daunting task, aggravating and mentally as well as physically draining. I know from experience because I was raised in a home where disbelief was not tolerated. Questioning religion was not just forbidden from the table, it was not even allowed near the yard. A child that didn’t keep his ideas to his or herself was punished, sometimes severely. If you were lucky enough to be raised without the religion ape shitting down your back, you can’t really fathom how hard it is to shake that red assed bastard off.
If you have to really get into an argument and gnash teeth with people about the absurdity of their beliefs versus the logic of yours, please, for the love of physics, have at least a basic understanding of science. You don’t have to be a Nobel laureate or the large headed clone of Brian Greene and Neil Degrasse Tyson but at least try to be up to date. It may be old news but when Dave Silverman president of American Atheists, was on Bill O’Reilly’s show and Bill pulled up that old nugget about “The tide goes in, the tide goes out, never a miss-communication”, Bill asked if Dave could explain that and Dave couldn’t. M-O-O-N, that spells Moon, the gravitational pull of the Moon being the primary factor for tide related arguments. It’s elementary school science as long as you aren’t raised in the Bible Belt.
Finally, today I was unfortunate enough to be at the Minnesota Zoo at the same time everyone who should have been fighting over Rascals at Wal-Mart decided to go a-zooin’. I witnessed a young girl ask her mom why the Tapirs snout was shaped the way it was and the mom replied “That is just the way God made them”. The young girl didn’t miss a beat “Never mind, I’ll ask dad” she said. That brought a smile to my face. That girl is most likely a future Atheist.
My bottle of whiskey is empty, good night