by Kenneth Justice
~ Having grown up in Fundamentalist Christian culture I learned at an early age that if you rock the boat and ask questions or disagree with the status quo, you are very likely gonna get an ass whooping.
Whether it is questioning the fact that the church leadership of a local congregation involves a Grandfather, his two sons, and the grandson (talk about nepotism and family cultish control!) or whether it merely has to do with questioning all of the rules and weird hypocritical legalism that the church teaches; when you stand up and state your mind about these things, you are likely stirring up a hornet’s nest.
Over the course of my two years writing here at The Culture Monk, I’ve said some things that my Fundamentalist Christian readers didn’t like and it resulted in massive levels of nasty diatribe and quite a few of them “unsubscribing” from my blog.
It’s no surprise to me then, that as I asked some questions and made some statements regarding atheism this past week that the level of vehemence directed toward me personally reared it’s ugly head from the keyboards of my atheist readers and fellow bloggers.
While none of my articles directed any personal attacks against individual atheists, bloggers, or writers (I mentioned no names), some of my atheist blogger cohorts and readers couldn’t resist the urge to leap at the chance of hurling insults at me and attacking me personally.
We all know the common polemic that Atheists espouse regarding those of us who believe in a metaphysical world and/or a god, they often refer to such a god as a spaghetti monster in the sky or in more congenial terms they tell us we believe in fantasy and have vivid imaginations that lead us to silly beliefs.
I have good friends who are atheist and agnostic and they have made similar statements to me about a belief in god, but none of them have ever directed personal attacks against me for believing in god, and while I have said to them that I believe atheism lacks a foundation in providing hope for the hurting or meaning to eternality, they too have never taken my statements to be attacks against them personally.
My Master’s degree is in philosophy and later this year I will begin my Phd in philosophy; I mention this to point out that the core of philosophy (and the core of my studies) lies at the foot of analyzing worldview’s. The philosopher considers and studies a worldview and makes observations about the particular worldview and the implications of it; of course every observation is open to interpretation and argument, and that is the beauty of philosophy, things are always open for debate and conjecture.
We live in a culture however, where people are easily offended. If you suggest that a particular worldview they hold could be connected to something they don’t like; their response is often similar to a starving lion.
— Tell a fundamentalist Christian that their theology leads to a myriad of people living in a subculture that disconnects them from the larger society, and the Fundy Christian will get pissed of at you
—) Tell a fundamentalist Christian that the majority of children raised in Fundamentalist Christian Culture end up abandoning a faith in god because that kind of culture drives them nuts and overwhelms them with rules, and the Fundy Christian will get pissed of at you
— Likewise, as I did this past week, suggest to an Atheist that the atheist worldview contributes to a lack of hopelessness, and they will respond with personal attacks as is evidenced in these statements by my fellow bloggers and readers this past week;
“Fuck you Kenneth, and Fuck you blog”
“Nothing is worse than sublimated self-righteousness and false humility. Nothing denigrates another person’s experience more than a pat on the head and a soporific dose of metaphorical opiate. Maybe you’ll get it in the next life (how does that feel?)”
——side note, I do really love this reader’s use of the phrase “sublimated self-righteousness” which they infer that I’m guilty of, it has such a nice ring to it, I wish I had come up with it
“I feel like the offer of sipping coffee with you “down at the bottom” smacked of falsehood and condescension”
“It’s not that atheism offers them no hope, rather it is that YOU offer them no hope. You have condemned them from the start by defining what a standard existence is and what a good life is. Fuck you. You disrespect them from the start and have the audacity to tell them what it is to have a good life?”
Interesting isn’t it? Instead of arguing philosophy, these Atheists, just like Fundamentalist Christians resort to personal attacks; according to them I’m guilty of “falsehood” (lying), “condescension”, “sublimated self-righteousness” (I really do love that phrase), “disrespecting” the poor, and a few “fuck you’s” thrown in there to ice the cake off.
These were the public comments, if you were to see my emails you would realize the hand full of “fuck you’s” I received were nothing.
One of the greatest people I have ever known always told me, “The truth when first presented is always rejected” and “People are always first defensive when you present to them something that opposes their worldview”. No truer statements have I ever known and experienced in life over and over again.
Western Culture has led to these subgroups of people who don’t know how to disagree without hurling personal insults. They don’t know how to disagree on an intellectual level and drink coffee together afterwards.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were two peers who vehemently disagreed with each other. Adams after becoming President of the United States passed the Alien and Sedition Act which gave the Federal Government the power to throw journalists in prison who wrote scathing articles about the President (among other things). Jefferson passionately disagreed with Adams on this, and on MANY MAJOR constitutional law issues. Their correspondence and public arguments are among the most famous in the history of the United States. Despite the anger and arguments the two men had over the years, in the end the two became friends and enjoyed one of the longest periods of correspondence of their era.
While ideologically I’m not a always big fan of what these two men stood for, I really appreciate the way they constantly dialogued and kept the lines of communication open. Sadly, I fear that what these two men represented is all but dying here in our modern day culture.
Instead, we are left with Fundamentalist Christians and Atheists who are well versed in personal attacks and fail in their attempt at civil discussion, disagreement, and argument.
Thankfully however, there were a number of Atheists and people yesterday who made some AWESOME points in defense of atheism and who did not resort to personal attacks. Of these people I wholeheartedly encourage you to read their blogs, they are;
Thank you to each of these bloggers for their well thought out statements, perhaps these bloggers are more representative of the average atheist, and perhaps the Atheists who resort to personal attacks are merely a small subset of atheism. After all, Fundamentalist Christians definitely DO NOT represent all of Christianity.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society