Atheists seem to have built up quite the online community, but the internet does horrible things to atheists and theists alike. The internet turns people into trolls. People say things online that they would never dream of saying to someone in the real world. I don’t know why. (I’m not a psychologist.) I think, though, that it might have to do with the internet normalizing adverse behavior.
I do not have a problem with an atheist, for example, tweeting disagreement to the Pope. However, I think people should treat each other with some amount of civility. (If you haven’t read through the discussion on the pope’s twitter account, I suggest. It is filled with antagonistic atheists.) It is one thing to say argument x is silly. It is an entirely different thing to rant and rave about how stupid and even horrible someone is for believing x. I’m not saying it is wrong to be assertive with people, and I’m certainly not saying someone shouldn’t call a dumb argument dumb. However, there is a line between using social media to have a debate and being an outright troll. Unfortunately, a lot of peoples’ experience with atheists are from online atheists, and many of these online atheists aren’t helping with angry atheist stereotype.
I’m not making the argument that people should have to “respect” someone’s beliefs. I’m attempting to make the argument that people should respect the person, and it is important to realize that religious views can be a big part of a person. Of course to some degree, offering a differing viewpoint can be considered insulting. In that case, it really is just too bad.
Still, my main point has nothing to do with casual debate. It more about certain online atheists who give the rest of us a bad name. I find that certain online atheists have apparently taken on Richard Dawkins’s approach of “good humored ridicule,” but they’ve taken it to an extreme where it’s no longer “good humored.” (Some may argue that s has taken it too far too, but that’s a different topic. Also, I’m neither saying I’m for nor against Dawkins.)
I’m not trying to tell people how to debate. I’m simply making observations. Everyone once in awhile, I get too much time on my hands and scroll through social media too much.