We all know there is no shortage of internet trolls.
Months ago, I started posting on Reddit. My goal was to have discussions, usually over controversial topics. However, I soon found out that if you don’t take the popular opinion, you get harassed and trolled for it. That’s fine. At least they had r/atheism.
Well, turns out that wasn’t any better. As a community, r/atheism isn’t anything more than a condescending and arrogant attitude towards religion, with maybe a little science thrown in. I even tried to bring up the flaws in this attitude against religion (as it does not promote critical thinking and can actually cause those who are on the fence about their beliefs to defend them even stronger), but was labeled a troll myself. The funny thing was, I was even banned. The crime? Simply deleting my posts that were a few days old. I explained that I had received creepy messages from people who admitted to going through my post history and asking questions about my posts, so I felt more comfortable deleting them. I didn’t think much of it. But, I guess r/atheism moderators are so intelligent that they used their superior logic abilities to conclude that the only reason why I would delete my post history is to cover up my trolling. They had caught me. Why would I delete my post history, if not to delete evidence of my trolling? (Although, I was banned without evidence, which hilariously uproots their entire argument.) I tried to clear this up with the moderators, since there was an obvious misunderstanding, but I was shocked at how absolutely arrogant they were and unwilling to accept any other possibility than the one they decided on.
It was after this experience I realized something:
Being atheist does not make you intellectually superior. Yet many act as if they are.
There’s this attitude of “I are smarter than you” that I’ve really tired of. This attitude, the same I experienced from the r/atheism moderators, is actually harmful to humanity. In my case, a group of atheists were completely convinced of a story they made up in their heads that seemed more logical to them. And because they considered themselves intellectually superior, it wasn’t worth admitting they made a mistake…which is absolutely detrimental to their ability to figure out the best way to handle each situation as they come. This is not science. This is not critical thinking. This kind of thinking is why innocent people end up in jail. Now, I’m by no means comparing my trivial misunderstanding to the countless of falsely accused individuals. But this is why it’s so fucking important to look at evidence and collect enough before making a judgement.
This event motivated me to be a different kind of atheist. I decided I wanted to be pro-science and pro-critical thinking. If my best interest is to help people learn to become better critical thinkers, making fun of religion is unacceptable. Believing that I am smarter than religion folks is dangerous and could result in my inability to view evidence and judge situations without personal bias. I have to be comfortable in admitting that I may be wrong. Which means, being able to admit that I may be wrong about the existence of a God. (I don’t think there is and that’s how I live my life, but no, I can’t really prove it.) I trust people who can admit they can’t trust their brains and who must go through a more accurate process in finding the “truth.” I do not trust people who act as if they know the absolute truth.
So this is my attitude, an attitude I think every atheist should have: I am not smarter than you. I only seek to understand you. Before I can ask you to think more critically about your beliefs, I need to make sure I’m doing the best I can to think critically about mine. I do not trust my brain and neither should you.
Never stop questioning what you think you know.