Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On Labels & Sports

On Labels

Theists and atheists are primed to dislike each other. It’s a function of the labels. Whenever people create an in-group/out-group dynamic we progressively identify more with the in-group and consider the out-group the enemy. It seems to be human nature--whether you think that nature is due to the fall of man or selective pressure.

I am an atheist, I’m not denying that, but I’m tired of it opening the door of generalization. I probably don’t possess whichever negative qualities someone draws from whichever other atheist they happen to dislike the most. I’m an individual. So are you. So is that Christian. So is that Muslim.

Now I’m buried in labels--secularist, naturalist, materialist, evolutionist, New Atheist, Darwinist, humanist, skeptic, whatever. I honestly don’t know if there are distinctions any more or which really do apply.

On Sports

People's obsession with this or that sports team relies on one of two factors the vast majority of the time. You root for team "X" because you either are geographically located near team "X" or your parents root for team "X." Of course, the same two factors play a heavy role for religious preference. Do most people you know practice the same faith as their parents? That may be anecdotal evidence, but statistics show this as well. It's impossible to argue that Hinduism isn't primarily practiced in Indian. Muslims and Christians have spread out some, but have pretty solid majorities in specific areas. "Jewish" as a term is so entrenched in cultural heritage that it identifies ethnicity every bit as much as it does faith

You probably think it's silly for me to say that the Ohio State Buckeyes is the objectively right team, but that is what the religious are do. It's important to consider that one's belief in Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, or Vishnu is more dependent on convenience than correctness.


  1. Sports analogies, I like it. You are becoming the master of analogies, really great.

    BTW: to nitpick, I think you meant "religious are doing"

  2. It's funny how close that analogy holds. People tend to either be born into the area of the sports team, even if they eventually leave, or they have close friends or family members who root for the sports team. It tends to be rare that people adopt a sports team from an area that they have no connection to, although I suppose a favorite player could be traded there and they might follow that player and by extension the team. But religion works the same way. People are born into religious homes, they are indoctrinated into religions by their parents and tend to continue in the religion of their childhood for much of their lives. If someone important to them changes religions, then they may do the same to maintain that relationship.

    "Go team!" is really no better than "Go God!"