Atheism/insults

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Question
Hi,

I was wondering why some atheists insult other religious figures. Why cant they just criticize and engage in debate with others. If they have real intention of criticizing to correct other's opinion, why do they resort to insult. Will anyone listen to criticism if they or their loved ones are insulted. Also, do atheists have emotional attachments to their loved ones? How do they feel when their loved ones are insulted?

Regards.

Answer
Hello,

Let me say first that hurling insults can never be justified. Having said that, the only occasions I have seen where atheists insulted religious people were usually when the latter threatened them with 'hell fire'.  To most atheists, even remotely calling down "Satan" and Hell are fighting words.

If then religious folk really wish to engage in a rational exchange they must also drop the yen for thumping bibles or other sacred texts in order to cite chapter and verse what "punishments" atheists face if they don't shape up and drop their disbelief. It works both ways.

Yes, atheists do have emotional attachments to loved ones, and insulting them would be regarded as uncivil at best. However, let's get clear that insulting a "loved one" is not the same as insulting a religion. In the first case it is a flesh and blood person who also has feelings, etc. In the second case it is an impersonal belief system which - though some may hold dear- can never ever be above criticism.

Yes, the criticism ought not be guided by "insult" but at the same time the religious person cannot be so sensitive that s/he regards any criticism  as an insult.

I hope this makes sense.

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Philip A. Stahl

Expertise

I specialize in the areas of scientific materialism and consciousness described as a materialist epiphenomenon. Also can answer questions pertaining to general atheism, atheist-agnostic differences etc.

Experience

I have been an atheist for over 36 yrs. and have written four books on the subject: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), and 'Atheism" A Beginner's Handbook', 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Organizations
Intertel, Mensa, American Mathematical Society, American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union

Publications
Atheist articles: 'The American Atheist' magazine, assorted U.S. newspapers (e.g. Baltimore Sun, Denver Post); papers-articles published in Intertel's Journal: Integra. Books: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), 'Atheism: A Beginner's Handbook' (2007), 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Education/Credentials
Master of Philosophy in Physics. Also took more than 3 yrs. of theology and metaphysics courses at a Catholic University (1964-67) - before I became an atheist. Thus, I have much more religious familiarity & background than many atheists.

Awards and Honors
Writers' Digest Award for the essay 'The Atheist in America' (2000), Government of Barbados research in solar physics award (1980-84), AAS Solar Physics Award (1984)

Past/Present Clients
American Atheists, Barbados Philosophical Society, Harrison College- Barbados, Colorado Springs Freethinkers

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