Sean Carroll Says Atheists Need Not Be Obnoxious

Carroll“There’s a certain amount of pleasure to be found in being part of a group where everyone sits around congratulating each other on their superior intellect and reasoning abilities, while deriding their opponents with terms like ‘superstition’ and ‘brain damage’ and ‘child abuse.’ But these are temptations to be avoided, not badges of honor,” theoretical physicist and atheist Sean Carroll writes on his blog Cosmic Variance.
“Within the self-reinforcing culture of vocal non-believers, it’s gotten to the point where saying that someone is ‘nice’ has become an insult. Let me hereby stake out a brave, contrarian position: in favor of being nice. I think that folks in the reality-based community should be the paragons of reasonableness and even niceness, while not yielding an inch on the correctness of their views. We should be the good guys. We are in possession of some incredible truths about this amazing universe in which we live, and we should be promoting positive messages about the liberating aspects of a life in which human beings are responsible for creating justice and beauty, rather than having them handed to us by supernatural overseers. Remarkably, I think it’s possible to be positive and nice (when appropriate) and say true things at the same time.”

Category: On the Record


One Response

  1. LL says:

    Kind of ironic. I’m a sort of spiritualist/deist, for want of a better term. Apart from what one would define as reality-based, I agree with everything you’ve said here. I do believe in the Source, or Creator, or whatever name one wants to use. I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic deity, or an interventionist one. It IS up to us to do the right thing (be nice if we’d stop soiling our nest, for starters). We DO live in a physically astonishing, wonderful universe. It doesn’t matter one jot to me whether someone believes in a deity or not. All that I’m concerned about is that they mind their manners, as you’ve suggested. That includes not “doing a Dawkins” and trotting out the smug “I’m bright and you’re a delusional idiot” stuff. Oh, or the tired mentions of fairies, unicorns, Santa Claus (usually misspelt, sigh) and the FSM that so many bloggers’ respondents use, as if any of them was new or clever or even relevant. Reason and logic shouldn’t need insults, surely. Insults are kind of … unreasonable, lol! It’s also no better than its mirror image, the “be saved!” line of religious fundamentalists.

    Thanks for a good post,


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