A lovely, thoughtful woman that I admire was recently victimized by one such bully. Her account of what was, in essence, a personal attack should be required reading for people who believe in God but who are made uncomfortable by another's lack of belief. Read this, and ask yourself how you would feel if this happened to you.

Thought bullies are everywhere, especially in cyberspace, where a bit of anonymity goes a long way. It's an interesting fact that, if you let a person interact with others without showing their real identity, they then seem a lot more likely to let another mask drop and reveal their true self.
This doesn't happen in 'reality' so much. People are much less willing to say what they really think about others face-to-face, where they might be recognized and identified---especially the people whose lives are studies in hatred: hatred of themselves, hatred of their own situation, hatred of their own families and friends, hidden under masks with labels like rationalization, scapegoating, projection, etc. There's a terrifying core of emptiness and fury in such people, and regular people don't see that too often.

But ask people in law enforcement, or those who provide counseling, and they'll tell you more than you want to know about what they've seen from the outside looking in. Even more telling, think about Kristine's experience and realize that, in effect, by unloading on Kristine, her victimizer was essentially declaring his conviction that she did not deserve to be treated as a human being. I think that's scary, and I think that most believers fail to appreciate how atheists are routinely victimized by aggressive theists.


Kristine said...

Well, don't worry about it. I've done some thinking and I think this dude's real problem is that he's a major misanthrope.

Forthekids said...


I agree that the man's approach was inappropriate.

Perhaps you might provide some advice as to how you would have done things differently than this particular bully. As a Christian, how would you broach the topic of Christianity with an atheist?

Would you share your faith...if so, how? If not...why?

Forthekids said...

I think I found my answer in one of your other posts.

You don't really feel that it's necessary to share your faith with atheists. If I understand your position correctly, you evidently believe there is both eternal reward and condemnation, yet rejecting the Creator and Christ's sacrifice will not be a significant factor in whether one receives that eternal reward.

So, apparently, reward or condemation depends soley upon one's *actions* on earth (either good or bad). That position begs the question...how good is good enough?

Do you find biblical support for your position?

Diana said...

Scott, it has happened to me. Except the verbal pummelling was by a group of atheists in the student union as I was talking to a Campus Crusade worker.

And very vicious boys, I won't call them men, they were, too.

And as for BULLIES, you don't think PZ is one?

Forthekids said...

No, Diana, Scott *definitely* doesn't see PZ as a bully. He's quite one sided...and if you support ID, he seems to feel that you deserve whatever you get from PZ and his glee club.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Ftk, thanks for stopping by. I want to say again that I did not handle a previous exchange well and that you were portrayed unfairly without the full context. I hope that your visit means that you are at least considering giving me another chance to do right by you.

Having said that, I will post later on my theological views. I do believe, contrary to any impression I've given, that is OK to share my faith with atheists. I have some friends who happen to be atheists, and they know where I stand. Given the persecution that many atheists experience (of which this post is Exhibit A), I don't feel comfortable with forcing this topic on them without assent. But if we are friends, and we choose to go there, then we can share. I hasten to add that my friendship with them is not contingent on their receiving my worldview, much less sharing it.

As for salvation, I believe that to choose Christ is to enter into a new relationship with Creation, one that transforms your outlook.
I do believe that people choose to enter into relationship, or to not. Relationship is its own reward; the absence of that relationship amounts to self-condemnation. But I also think that most of us, regardless of what we think in the here and now, desire relationship with God and will choose it at the time appointed. Christians believe that Jesus models the desired relationship between the Creator and the Creation. This is what I believe to be true, though of course I can't prove it.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Diana, welcome. I'm sorry to hear that you were verbally assaulted by non-believers. I don't go for anything that dehumanizes others, though in all fairness to non-believers, they are the outliers in this culture and more likely to be persecuted. Anyway, I don't like it.

As for PZ? I think we should make a distinction between someone who is assertive, oppositional and confrontational in their own domain and those who pursue others. At Pharyngula, Dr. Myers is variously sarcastic, abusive, and quick on the trigger to those with whom he differs. But it is his place, after all. He placed Ftk in his personal dungeon awhile back. I wouldn't have done it, but it's not my place to tell him what to do with his place.

Contrast that with the mean-spirited punks who went after you in public, which is also what happened to Kristine. In each case, the appropriate response is to point out that they are being mean-spirited, and that their conduct is a disservice to the viewpoint they want to promote. That's a message that resonates with thoughtful people in many different fora.

So, no, I don't believe PZ and Co. are immune from criticism and I certainly don't think ID people should be personally attacked just for advocating ID. But I do think the ID position is bad for science, and I do think the arguments advanced on behalf of ID are bad, and I think some (not all) of the ID proponents are bad actors, too. Saying that doesn't constitute a personal attack on those folk, but in the heat of battle people often mix up ideas with other human beings.

I might add, again, that I've made that mistake myself and I'm trying to do a better job of not making it again. But then, after all, only God is perfect.