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The Atlanta Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › Not all atheists are FREEthinkers

Not all atheists are FREEthinkers

user 7818114
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 9
After reading some of the previous threads here, and attending a meeting, I realize that "atheist" and "freethinker" are not synonymous. I never really thought they were, but I see them being used interchangeably as if they are.
A "former member" here was upset about his/her perceived inability to mingle at a Decatur meetup, but also mentioned someone at the meeting berating him/her for his/her views.

I've been an atheist for decades and it's rare that I go to a freethought or atheist gathering that I don't see SOMEone getting visibly and audibly upset by someone else's opinion.

I think we're a product of a culture that doesn't teach the ability to listen or to think before we speak. We're a culture of control freaks and we react automatically and negatively to opposing views just as much as anyone who is not an atheist, or so-called "freethinker".

Being a "Freethinker" doesn't just mean YOU think freely; It means you can allow OTHERS to think freely as well. Even when you believe the other person is missing crucial information or is not well-read. the key to influencing and persuading others is not insults and condescension. It's respectful and calm, intelligent presentation of your views and the information.

A person at our most recent meetup gathering insisted upon her view of a particular issue. I wanted to hear more of her view, so asked her to tell us why she believed that, as she had told us only WHAT she believed, not WHY. I was not challenging her view or disagreeing with her...only asking her to back herself up. SHe answered, "just think about it. " She did not follow that with what it was we were supposed to think about. That was her entire answer. Needless to say, I was not convinced.

She may be an atheist,but I don't believe that she's a freethinker, nor did she want anyone else there to be one. She just wanted to be the winner of the argument (though I wasn't arguing).

I remember once, an atheist I know told me and a group that doing crunches (for abs) is aerobic. Much to his dismay, I said that crunches are not aerobic. He angrily insisted that they are, so I asked him to define "aerobic". He responded that I wouldn't understand if he defined it. I mentioned that I have a masters degree in exercise physiology and suggested that he could therefore try out his definition on me, and added jokingly "in the hopes that my feeble brain could process it". He changed the subject.

If we can all get past our egos, our desire for control, and tap into the quest for truth, instead of winning arguments, then, and only then, can we really call ourselves "freethinkers".
Roswell, GA
Post #: 64
How right you are, Annette. I would point you to some of my previous comments on differing views on economics and politics. Of course an atheist is entitled to have his or her own beliefs - we can try to pretend they are not beliefs and that we are totally rational but that implies that, somehow, we are right and the others are wrong. . But when those beliefs - or opinions - are expressed as excluding those of others, then they are expressing a quasi-religious tendency to want to have us all thinking alike. If this is going to be a "church" then it needs to be a "church" that welcomes the beliefs and opinions of others. I would rather meet with religious people who are open-minded than with fellow atheists that are closed-minded.
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 29
Hi Danny,
I intend to continue the thread on economics (but now I'm on vacation with broken iPad).. Sorry if I was disrespectful last month, but I truly believe this is not something atheists should be divided on.. I do not see economics like religion, rather we have real world data to help us make a decision.. I believe the biggest problem is supposedly respected sources lying to us.. But I agree we should discuss why you choose to believe conservative experts, while I believe liberal experts..
Roswell, GA
Post #: 65
Well, Bobbler, you are absolutely right. This is NOT something which SHOULD divide atheists. But let me give you an example that concerns you. I "choose to believe" the economist Hyman Minsky, at least as far as much of his underlying thesis is concerned, though I would not express it as a choice of belief. Few would classify him as "conservative"! And I could roll out a long list of influences - a good example would be Karl Marx - that could in no way be designated as "conservative". What seems to me irrational - and probably disrespectful- is believing that you can designate those influences as such without knowing who they are and based upon the sole fact that we disagree on some specific political issues.
The point Annette is making is that we must accept diversity of opinion if we want to encourage other atheists to come out of the closet. That surely must mean that we should not assume that we know the "respected souces" to which someone is referring.
I welcome any debate on economic policy. But I will not accept being labeled a "conservative" or "fascist" because my views are not mainstream left or right.
Bev S.
user 39027062
Marietta, GA
Post #: 4
Annette, I couldn't agree more with everything you said. Thank you for stating this. You also hit it head on when you mentioned that society is a "culture of control freaks" - I believe attempting/demanding to get everyone on board with their own individual belief system. I wish people would ask themselves why they feel the need to be so forceful. (Is it a testosterone thing?) Discussion, debate, and dialogue is a beautiful thing because we've all had our own life experiences and our own education and an analysis brings another perspective to the discussion to examine and consider - to accept or dismiss - and to grow in understanding. But for the non-freethinker, as the old adage states: "A mind changed against its will is of the same opinion still" ~ you just can't force people to believe what you present to them - they have to arrive at things in their own time, according to the data sorted out and understood in their own mind. Sometimes it's babysteps. People should be patient. Growth can take time and then once essential critical thinking skills are in place alongside the calm and understanding skill of the educator, people can learn to think, evaluate and draw better conclusions. There is a recipe to help guide people out of darkness and some things just take longer to harvest due to a lifetime of not having the right fertilizer given to make them grow healthy and strong. :) ~ Bev
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