Agnosis Skeptikos

The introspective wanderings of a one-time Christian turned agnostic

Lose the Sneer – It Doesn’t Wear Well On You

Posted by agnosis on July 26, 2007

Robert Sawyer highlights a book that presents the atheistic viewpoint without all the snideness and biting remarks. One quote from Sawyer brings up something I’d like to address:

Well, some atheists reacted negatively to my piece, and several said I was setting an impossible standard because one couldn’t talk to religious people without becoming sneering and arrogant, since, well, atheists are right, right, right, and any idiot should be able to see that.

I much prefer Sawyer’s approach to presenting atheism. Granted, I’m not a full-blown atheist; I’m not wholly willing to rule out the notion that something may have brought everything we know into being. There’s no evidence to prove there is an intelligent creator, but by the same token, there’s no evidence that there isn’t, either. It’s this very fact, in part, that has caused me to turn my back on Christianity because so many Christians are willing to just throw logic, rationality, and well-proven evidence right out the window when such things conflict with their beliefs – and they often do so with sneering, condescending attitudes.

On the other hand, however, I have much the same complaint against a fair number of atheists and agnostics, who themselves adopt sneering condescending attitudes because, as Sawyer’s quote above demonstrates, many of them believe it is the only way to deal with those who hold religious beliefs. Frankly, it’s the fact that so many atheists are so condescending that prevented me for so long from giving up my faith – and it’s part of what prevents me from converting to full-blown atheist (the other part being the aforementioned lack of evidence pro or con for a creator).

So, it’s refreshing to see Sawyer embrace an approach that doesn’t involve sneering and condescension and to point out another author who does the same. There’s hope yet that there are a few people out there who are willing to be grownups.

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