Do Any Atheists Indulge in Caricature?

I don’t think that one, at least, exists. It may be convenient for you to think so, though.

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The variety of human minds and souls is very great. The complexity of human motivation is great. The struggle within human beings regarding ultimate questions can lead to all kinds of unresolved tensions and inner contradictions. The fact that in your circles you do not meet a particular kind of person does not mean that such a person does not exist.


Sure. But the fact that you claim such a person exists doesn’t mean it either. Do you know of such people? How can you tell what their inner thoughts are?

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You might have asked that question, in the past, of the several people here who have called me a creationist despite my denial of the identification.

Do I know of people who are fighting an inner war with themselves, over religious belief? Sure, lots of people. But I could not present you with objective proof of that. I do not have a mind-graph which shows photographs of their inner thoughts (like the machine in Westworld/Futureworld in which one could see someone’s dreams). Yet it’s possible to discern inner conflicts by acts of perception and judgment – once you have known a person for a while. Hasn’t anyone close to you ever pointed out motives you have that are not clear even to yourself? Our atheist psychologist friend here, part of whose job is presumably counseling people, surely would claim that he can discern inner struggles in people. So can clergymen and confessors. So can any perceptive novelist or playwright – which is why their novels and plays ring true. But the kind of perception and judgment about human nature required is not the kind of thinking that scientists or engineers are trained in. It’s a perception learned by years of attentiveness to human nature.

Can I prove to you by some “scientific” means that part of the reason why many of the TEs at BioLogos are so brittle and defensive about criticism coming from creationists (or anyone who reminds them of creationists) is due to the fact that they themselves were once creationists, and that there is often a very strong impulse in converts to destroy (or if that is not possible, put up barriers to keep out) the thing which they used to be or believe in? No, I can give you no scientific proof. But I’m quite sure that my assessment is accurate, at least for some of them.

Can I prove to you that one reason why some atheists (not all, but some) who used to be conservative Biblicists cannot seem to let go of their past and simply move on (living contentedly as atheists without reference to the Bible), but feel compelled to seek out and destroy conservative religious belief wherever they find it–whether by writing book after book showing that the New Testament is a tissue of lies and propaganda, or by arguing on the internet angrily against what they used to believe and against the people who still believe it–is that they feel a need to continually justify their past decision to themselves? No, I cannot prove it by means you would consider objective or scientific. But people who have abandoned a religion in healthy conscience are likely to be able to move and and just live without it; if they are still trying to slay the dragon that used to hold them prisoner ten, twenty, or more years after their apostasy, and are constantly publicly beating their breasts about how they have slain the dragon with scientific and historical arguments, something is clearly still nagging away at them.

I stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy some time ago, but I never felt the urge to destroy the “lies” about the Tooth Fairy that pervade society, and destroy belief in the Tooth Fairy among little children; nor did I feel the need to fulminate against parents who tell their kids about the Tooth Fairy as “child abusers” for teaching false things to their children. I just moved on as if the Tooth Fairy never existed, and I have led a productive life without spending any portion of it crusading against the Tooth Fairy. If I were still going on about the evils of belief in Tooth Fairies, 60 years after abandoning the belief myself, I suspect that you would say that the idea of the Tooth Fairy retains some sort of hold on me, whether I admit it or not. And you would be right. You would have correctly “read my mind”, so to speak. Not by directly perceiving the contents of my brain waves or brain cells, but by inference from my words and behavior. That kind of “mind-reading” is quite possible, and is practiced all the time by adept writers, poets, politicians, police investigators, salesmen, parents, psychologists, clergy, and in general perceptive human beings.

Not really responsive. Let’s see below.

Nope, not really. It’s all very defensive, but there’s no attempt at real justification. I just have to believe in your powers of perception. But I’m afraid my experience of you is that those powers aren’t as great as you imagine.

@John_Harshman I’ve certainly known some of the “new atheist” variety that argue against Caricature that they, at times, admit are Caricature.

I don’t know why they do it. Do you?


Note your usage of modern, pop-psychology language. You are concerned with what you think is my attitude, i.e., “defensive”, but you don’t address any of my arguments or examples.

Your experience of me is not flesh and blood, but only cerebral and verbal, in a rather soulless and confrontational internet atmosphere. People who know me well personally say I have very good judgment regarding human matters; and in fact, when I discussed some of the motives of TE leaders with another TE leader, one who has known them all for years very well, as academic colleagues, friends, and fellow Christians, he told me I’d have made a good psychologist. So at least regarding my conclusions about TEs, I have some external confirmation from a presumably hostile witness.

In any case, since you have not known the people I have known, and the kind of knowledge I’m talking about requires personal familiarity, your view of whether or not I have good judgment means less than nothing to me. In fact, given my assessment of the quality of your judgments, your disapproval of my judgments probably counts as a point in their favor. But there is no way of settling this sort of dispute in a medium like this, so I am dropping it.

I think the digression into the possibility of atheists that make caricatures of others (which in context was an equal opportunity list if bad behavior) is really off topic.


Do atheists indulge in charactures? Yes. And so do theists. Well, that ends that thread.


Well of course I’d agree. Apparently, that belief is not shared by everyone.

Oh geez that’s clearly not what @John_Harshman meant. And I thought @Eddie was wisely ending that silly conversation. This thread should be euthanized.


Done. RIP.