• Black and White Thinking

    There are two kinds of people in the world, those who are like me and those who are different from me. Those who are different from me can’t be reasoned with because they are different than me on a fundamental level. I believe in inclusion but those that are different from me categorize people into two groups of people. Because they are different from me, they deserve to be belittled and attacked. We need to drive them out of our community and make them social pariahs.

    Of course, I say all this sarcastically and I don’t believe this at all. This is the thinking of many religious believers and more recently some prominent atheist bloggers. This type of thinking often leads to bullying and hate. Oddly enough, those that are perceived as different aren’t always even different. They are just perceived that way and that perception is enough to cause an “us vs. them” simplistic division.

    I confess that used to think this way too. It was only after years of wrestling with bullies and finally making peace with one of the worst bullies in my life that I had the profound moment that changed my thinking. People aren’t that simplistic. There aren’t good guys and bad guys. We are all shades of gray.

    I bring this up to religious believers all the time. We are not evil sinners. We are good people trying to do what we think is best. Sometimes however, we get bad information, our perception of a situation is not accurate, our goals become shortsighted, our emotions cloud our judgment, etc. There are many different reasons why we treat each other poorly.

    Claiming that we are right and everyone else is wrong doesn’t solve the problem. Name calling, labeling, cyber-bullying, “call-out” culture, etc. doesn’t solve the problem either. People are fundamentally different than we are and that’s not just okay, it’s awesome. In fact, people are also fundamentally the same as we are and that is awesome too.

    The best way to convince people of a position is still to have a simple conversation with them. That’s right, instead of looking at a situation in a black and white manner, try to understand why someone has the view that they have and talk about it. Sometimes you will find that their position isn’t actually what you think it is. If their position is what you think it is, you will begin to understand why that person believers what they believe and then you can calmly and rationally talk to them about it.

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    Category: Atheist InfightingReligion


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.