An (un)intellectual argument

I don’t understand. I really and simply cannot understand. Why do the most vociferous atheists treat Christians like they are unable to reason coherently?

Let me make very clear before proceeding that I don’t mean all atheists. I have great and fascinating and enriching conversations with atheists, and non-Christian believers for that matter, that eschew all such superiority-complex based arguments. Frankly, I know well enough that I am imperfect and so listening to the views and beliefs of others is something I like to do.

This aside, I also realize the deep level of importance of personal beliefs. Whether one believes in a deity or not, everyone holds some kind of philosophy of life. No matter what that is in particular, they deserve more than a flippant, and usually uncivilized and unfair, argument.

And that brings me to my first point of contention. Instead offering a well-reasoned disagreement, and I realize not all individuals would accept such an attempt, those of whom I am writing offer shallow satire in its place. The most notable and visible example is the church of the flying spaghetti monster. I can’t fathom the reasoning behind such an invention in terms of meaningful satire. It is clearly, and as with all such unmentioned examples, merely intended to provoke those who disagree. I would make allowance that the original argument could be considered meaningful to an atheistic perspective, but the resultant organization is a study in self-affirming and masturbatory, pubescent antics.

To my second my point, this is relevant in that these same people believe that anyone who believes in a deity is an excerebrate lackwit. To be blunt, this is intellectually dishonest at best. I can’t say I have ever heard this type offer a well-reasoned disagreement of Kalam’s Cosmological Argument (which exists, but I also ascribe to a slightly different form of the argument). Calling someone stupid, and treating them like they are, does not foster understanding and certainly not true debate. Boiling down such satire finds this as its essential argument. There may be witticisms here and there that poke at some difficult theological questions, but to choose to articulate them in such a juvenile manner is infecund, even to their own ends (assuming the ends are so noble as seeking Truth).

Even aside from such overt arguments, I find the particular verbiage chosen reveal more than any actual disagreement could. I have actually had a person say to me, “I’m surprised you are a Christian. You seem intelligent.” This wasn’t said maliciously or viciously, but casually, which I think scares me more. After having a great conversation with him, I realized that he simply didn’t know much about Christianity and he realized that not all Christians are bereft of intelligence(not that our talk changed his mind anyway). He knew some of the words of the Bible, but didn’t have  knowledge of what it all means. There is a massive amount of eisegetical readings that happen on both sides of the Bible, and regardless of which faction is doing it, it is cherry-picking at best and outright dishonesty at worst.

I am a Christian and one who seeks to understand those who aren’t. To those who disagree, I simply say this: try to understand those who believe and why they believe. At the least, consider that you are as human, and thus prone to mental failings, as much as the next person. I can’t promise that all Christians will listen to you, but I hope you would take the time to listen to them, not just hear, but listen. Read the arguments by scholars on both sides with an objective and open mind. Both sides are guilty of not doing that, but that will only change if we take the time to do so.

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4 thoughts on “An (un)intellectual argument

  1. Life After Doubt says:

    It is very difficult for atheists who have never believed to understand the Christian point of view. If it hasn’t been a part of their life, it sounds absolutely crazy. I am an ex-Christian and I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with other atheists just trying to explain to them why a particular argument is pointless in a debate with Christians. It is very difficult to wrap one’s mind around a foreign religion and really get it. And then these same atheists end up debating a Christian whose only argument is “the bible says” and everyone beats their heads against the wall….. In my opinion, until someone truly understands their opponent’s side they have no business debating the topic at all. Let alone toss out accusations about intelligence 🙂

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    • christiankello says:

      It is so true, but I suppose I come from an odd background so for me understanding how people can’t consider all perspectives is quite strange. Despite my name, I have not always been a Christian, but I have sought to understand all beliefs and evaluate them on reason (though ultimately faith does indeed involve some form of leap; whether that be a well-reasoned one is also up to debate).

      You hit on the crux of my argument in that others resort to childish satire and mocking the intelligence of those they disagree with. All this rather than actually trying to understand why others believe as they do. I suppose I would even offer the argument that not being able to understand the beliefs of others is deficient of the intelligence they claim to lord over others. (This is applicable to all and I am not just writing of atheists to be clear.)

      To your point that it is very difficult for some atheists to understand a Christian point of view, I would say that this shows that is all the more important for them to sit and just listen to what Christians believe (and more than one because we vary widely!) rather than insulting them. Christians should be doing the same of atheists, and I won’t make an excuses for those who don’t. I suppose an issue that arises is the instant judgement of what is spoken on either side rather than truly listening and considering what the other has said. Instead in the midst of speaking to each other, the Christian thinks, “No God? Stupid,” while the atheist thinks, “God? Stupid.” So long as we judge every statement, and don’t do research of our own, both sides will just hate the other and resort to the silliness we see.

      Thanks for the reply! I certainly appreciate a reasonable conversation on the matter, which is all I really hope for on this subject anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. psychoticmath says:

    Well, the church of the flying spaghetti monster started to parody Christians trying to get creationism taught in schools, and members of COFSM actually went and tried to get their parody creation story taught in schools. I don’t agree that COFSM is wholly pointless or cruel.

    Still, I agree with most of your blog. There are many mean atheists online, but their are many mean Christians online. Many Christians are low-information Christians. They believe in God, but they don’t really have any sophisticated reasons why. Many of them attack atheists online ( and I don’t mean to be cruel) they come off as less intelligent even if their not.

    I don’t think most Christians are stupid. If we all see the same arguments and evidence and do our reasoning homework but come to different conclusions, I can live with that.

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    • christiankello says:

      Yes, I am familiar with the origins of the cofsm. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that its purpose is cruel or even pointless. As far as it exists at the moment, I just feel like it is a bunch of people patting themselves on the back for how much more intelligent they are than those who are religious. It just strikes me as juvenile and, so far as the individuals I’ve met that subscribe to it, accurate. The original intent was far from pointless and much more of effective satire, which I suppose I wasn’t clear enough in making (even though I still disagree with it).

      I can’t disagree that many Christians are also quite unkind to atheists, and are low-information (which you put more kindly than I actually would) Christians.

      As per the standard, it seems that the most vocal on both sides are the less informed/understanding.

      Thanks for the reply and for keeping it civil!

      Liked by 1 person

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