I often make the assumption that all atheists are rational.
I know this is a silly assumption, especially since atheists are usually compared to a "herd of cats". We have nothing necessarily in common with each other except our disbelief in gods.
But never the less, I usually make this assumption subconsciously.
Perhaps it is because I know that rational thinking has led me to my disbelief in gods, and that now that I am a disbeliever, I try my best to be rational and think things through for myself, instead of just accepting what people say. I am probably assuming that other atheists try to employ rationality as well.
So it is always so shocking to me when I engage in discussion with some atheists, how similar it feels to debating something like evolution with fundamentalists.
I am often disappointed when I discover that a fellow atheist is just as irrational and emotional as I imagine fundamentalists to be. This is ridiculous, since I should know that we are all just humans, and on every side there will inevitably be mean or ignorant people along with the kind and thoughtful ones.
For example, I remember once engaging in a discussion about male circumcision with other atheists. I was surprised to hear that many of them had no problem with male circumcision, and so I asked them why.
Some of the responses I got went like this:
"If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for my boy."
"Foreskins look gross."
"Foreskins are unclean."
"It protects from diseases."
The last one may have some merit, but I have yet to see any conclusive findings on the topic. Besides, isn't that a precaution that a sexually active adult can make if he so chooses, and not a decision to be made for him by the parents?
These are all pretty ridiculous rationalizations for mutilating a child's body.
I was really disappointed to hear so many arguments that I viewed as irrational from the very people that I expected to be most rational.
I also cannot believe the reaction I get from other atheists sometimes when I disagree with them. I would expect them to be rational and to be accepting of disagreement or constructive criticism, but instead I sometimes find them to be mean, petty, and intolerant of any dissent from their views. It is eerily reminiscent of my past in the church, and their discouragement of any contradictory view points and intolerance for disagreement or questions.
I think the feeling is probably the same one a believer might have. As a Christian I remember wanting so desperately to trust everything my pastor and youth pastor said. I remember hearing about the money scandals within the Southern Baptist church and being a little disappointed. I trusted these people because they believed in my God. To me that meant that they must also have the same values that I have. They would know it was wrong to steal or to lie. So how could they be so dishonest?
There is probably this desire to think that someone who has a certain belief is the kind of person you expect them to be.
For example, There is probably a great desire by many believers for someone like Todd Bentley to be genuine.
This person supposedly shares the belief in God and the Bible that many Christians all over the world have. But just because he believes in your God, you should not make the mistake of lending him instant credibility.
Often Richard Dawkins is called the "leader" of atheism. This is nonsense, because not all atheists agree with everything he says, and if he said something questionable or told us to all go out and do something tomorrow without good explanation, most of us would refuse.
I like a lot of what Richard Dawkins has to say, but that does not make him my leader, and that does not mean that I would believe everything he says. I wish that more believers would employ this kind of skepticism instead of accepting everything their religious leaders tell them.
I suppose the point of this is that we are all just humans. We should not always jump to conclusions about the character of a person based on whether they believe in your god, another god, or no god. Question what you are told even by those that you trust.
Sometimes it's in a good way, and sometimes it's not, but oftentimes, people will surprise you.