Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Challenge Their Picture of Atheists

Hemant already posted a piece on The Friendly Atheist about Eoban Taylor's appearance on FOX about the Bloomington, Indiana bus ads. (By the way, good showing for Eoban, especially on FOX).

There's one particular utterance by the pastor they put on opposite Eoban that bears emphasis: "I feel it's an outright attack on Christianity. I feel like the language of it is inflammatory. I think that this is just an agenda trying to be passed by the Left."

Eoban had another strategy and he stuck to it; were I in his position, I don't know if I would've been able to keep myself from saying, "By the Left? Pastor, I'll bet good money that I'm the only real conservative in this room!"

I often mention my political leanings, not to convert other atheists, but to point out that it's a big tent we're in. In this case, the more salient point is that it's often more effective to erode the audience's conception of what atheists look like. In the same way that Democrats were able to destroy the Religious Right's monopoly on claims to patriotism over the past several years, we should continue to dismantle these stereotypes and political/demographic associations that often go unchallenged. Religion is a social mode of thinking that only gets jammed into pseudo-intellectual rhetoric when attacked by the likes of us; statements of religious belief propagate through family and community circles and are mostly devoid of content, apart from signalling fidelity to group norms. That's why, from James Dobson's standpoint, the worst thing you can do is be the guy or gal next door.


TGP said...

I thought that Dobson thought that the worst thing you can do is to not swat your child...

Michael Caton said...

Do you know what Dobson's PhD is in? Psychology. According to Wikipedia he was on staff in the Child Development dept. at LA Children's Hospital. It makes sense from Dobson's standpoint: this put him in a position to influence thousands of kids who otherwise wouldn't have come into contact with him.

But according to some authorities, just beating your kid isn't enough - watch this video (have to get through a few minutes before it gets to the good part):