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The Benefit of the Doubt

I don’t believe in original sin. As a result, I don’t treat people as if they are evil sinners right from the start. Instead, I am a Humanist and so I treat people as if they are trying to be the hero in their own story. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt unless I have a reason not to.

When someone says something that I think is wrong, I will assume that the person making the error is unaware that they are mistaken rather than assume that the person must be deliberately lying to me unless that person has a history of deliberately lying. I give people the benefit of the doubt.

People within the greater community of reason tend to be humanistic minded. They tend to be good without gods. As a result, if someone is in the greater community of reason, I am that much more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt. So if someone tells me that some prominent atheist in our community holds some crazy view, I am going to be skeptical and ask them about it. Usually, I will discover that their “crazy view” is more nuanced than others have given them credit for. They still maybe wrong, but they probably aren’t crazy or dishonest.

It seems however, that I am one of the few who do give this benefit of the doubt to people in general and those in our community in particular. Far too often, my fellow atheists label other atheist as women-haters, homophobes, anti-vaxers, racists, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I have little doubt that some people in our community fit those labels, but I think we should give people the benefit of the doubt. Most probably don’t.

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  • catplanet24

    I think trying to be scientific in all areas of life is incredibly important. And so even when we are reading another point of view, our confirmation bias can get in the way of our interpretation if we are not careful. (I know this from personal experience.)

    So I strongly support your blog post here. Too often there is a witch hunt approach, even in the atheist community. I certainly do not support that.

    So I have tried to provide evidence for my claim on an earlier blog post. I kept this claim very narrow as compared to some others because, as you point out, more evidence would be required to substantiate such claims.

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