My chart in the last post looked at two qualities of Atheists in relationship to discussing religion: their systematic interest level in religion and their religious temperament. Below is the same chart but now plainly illustrating some sub-groups. My experience has been that much disagreement in conversations between atheists or even with theists is because people are not recognizing the significant influence of these two factors — they don’t understand their own dispositions. Misunderstandings are often founded on the assumption that you must be pretty similar to me — which, though useful, is sometimes very wrong.
“Natural Atheists” never entertained religion. They aren’t built for it. Thus, they have a hard time understanding the theist’s religious mental inclinations. Ex-believers, on the other hand, once embraced the religious mind (and probably still do to a some degree — it is hard to totally erase neural pathways). We could break those ex-theists down into groups who embraced their former theism primarily mystically vs those who embraced it primarily dogmatically, but either way, ex-theist atheists have a better chance to understand the theist’s constitution. Not to say that ex-theists can’t be unforgivingly pissed off — like when they find their former exclusivism now directed at themselves.
Systematic Interest in Religion
There is only so much time in the day. We all have different interests. We can’t systematize our knowledge about everything. And heck, lots of people don’t care for systematizing at all. Systematization ain’t needed for a happy life — it is a hobby. Note: in my diagram I intentionally made the “disinterested” folks all fade toward the same color.