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Going Negative Isn’t Always Negative

A lot of people criticize me and other atheists because we criticize religion. They seem to think that criticism is “being negative.” Oddly enough, these people don’t think they are being negative when they criticize us for being negative.

People keep asking me to stop being critical of religion and to stop mocking religion. But we have to remember that we ought to be critical of all ideas and beliefs. That is called thinking critically. Those ideas that cannot stand up to criticism should be abandoned and mocked. I’ll stop mocking ridiculous beliefs when those beliefs stop being ridiculous.

The fact is that the way I and other atheists treat religion is no different than the way everyone else in society treats any other ridiculous idea. The famous example is the belief that Elvis is still alive. If someone went into a job interview and made a point to talk about their strong and deeply held belief that Elvis lives they would probably not get the job. Is the company discriminating against this person’s strong faith? You bet they are. Should they? Maybe, if they feel that someone who holds such a ridiculous belief may not be sane in other areas. But if a few million people believed that Elvis was still alive, that would be a religion and completely immoral to discriminate against, right?

Criticism can be negative, but it doesn’t need to be so. Sometimes we criticize ideas so that they can come up with better ideas. When criticizing bad ideas isn’t enough, mocking bad ideas may be the only way to get someone to think critically about those ideas.

Being “negative” through criticism and mockery can help people abandon bad ideas in favor of better ones. This of course does not mean that all criticism and mockery are good. Criticizing someone for a trait that they cannot control helps no one; nor does mockery of the same sort. Calling someone stupid is also not helpful. Calling someone ignorant however, might be helpful if it inspires them to learn.
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