A reader directed me to this fine TED talk where an African speaker illustrates how stereotypes of Africans are the result of people having only one rather homogenous story about Africa upon which to base their conclusions. She begs listeners to expand their familiarity with more stories.
Ironically, and refreshingly, the speaker also confesses she has done the same with the immigrant Hispanic population in the USA. She recognized that getting multi-storied approaches to everything is very difficult but suggests that at least we should be aware of the limits of our one-story views.
Many liberal/progressive Christians complain that some Atheists often rant against a different versions of Christianity than their own. These Christians may also speak out against fundamental Christianity and thus feel the Atheist’s criticism are inaccurate. Atheists responses I have seen are:
Well, all the varieties of Christianity are dumb-founding, it ain’t my fault
But all Christians share similar silly beliefs even if the particulars vary
Even if you don’t hold fundamentalists views, by using the same jargon and merely re-interpreting the same myths they use, you tacitly supporting their autraucities.
Your flavor of Christianity is a small minority — I am speaking to the majority.
Your version of Christianity is too wiggly — you can escape all criticism because you commit to nothing yet you still love the label.
I myself am obviously very critical of many aspects of Christianity, but I feel focused criticisms are important and gross generalizations are often unfruitful.
It is my experience that Atheists who are significantly or deeply familiar with more than one form of Christianity, are often less prone to over-generalize about ALL Christianities and less quick to off-hand reject the objections of Christians who seek to be understood on their own terms.With a similar lack of background, I find that many Atheists overgeneralize about ALL religions. Likewise, my experience seems to suggest that those Atheists who are careful to focus their criticisms tend to be those who are deeply familiar with more than just Abrahamic religions. There are so many religions in the world, we can’t be familiar with all of them, but if you are going to criticize them as a whole, it is best to broaden your experience so as to help avoid the temptation to inaccurately overgeneralize.
Well, those are my impressions. And I realize that very few “One-Story Atheists” frequent my blog, but the phrase had an interesting ring to it so I thought it may be useful. Is it possible to accurately criticize religion without a broad familiarity of several religions — perhaps, but it is very difficult. My posts on Hinduism offer a taste of non-Abrahamic theisms and my posts of Buddhism explore a non-theistic religion. I hope those posts help enlarge your multi-story approach to religious dialogue. I would love to hear your thoughts after you answer one last poll! 🙂
Below are just some of my interesting pics and diagrams -- click to see!
“...there are no illuminating single phrases that capture the complexity of human life”
--Noam Chomsky linguist, political activist (source)
ידעתי כי אין טוב בם כי אם לשמוח ולעשות טוב בחייו׃
"I have come to realise that nothing is better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live."
--'The Preacher' (Hebrew Tanakh Eccl. 3:12)
"It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (writer, 1803-1882)
"Errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous"
-- David Hume (philosopher, 1711-1776)
"Mathematics is the only subject where, once you have proved something, it is true for ever"
--Marcus du Sautoy (Mathematician)
"In a demon-haunted world, science is a candle in the dark."
“Reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them.”
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
--Upton Sinclair (author, 1935)
"Gedanken sind die Schatten unserer Empfindungen -- immer dunkler, leerer, einfacherer als diese “
("Thoughts are the shadows of our emotions/sensations —always darker, emptier, simpler than the latter.”)
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
--Stephen Hawking (physicist) (source)
"The kind of people we need in Washington won't go to Washington."
--Thomas Sowell (economist)
"Think twice before you think."
--ee cummings (poet)
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable."
--John F. Kennedy (US president)
"Η έναρξη της Σοφίας είναι ο καθορισμός των εκφράσεων "
(“The beginning of wisdom, is the definition of terms”)
"Notitia linguarum est prima porta sapientiae."
("Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.")
--Roger Bacon (scientist)
"By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth."
--George Carlin (comedian)
"Ich fürchte, wir werden Gott nicht los, weil wir noch an die Grammatik glauben…"
("I am afraid we are not yet rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.")
--Friedrich Nietzsche (philosopher) "Twilight of the Idols"
"Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!"
("That is not only not right, it is not even wrong.") Wolfgang Pauli (physicist)
"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” Humpty Dumpty (from Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass" 1872)