Tribalism (Us vs Them)

Atheists fall into the classic human trap of tribalism. They turn the world into enemies and allies, us vs them. They demonize the “enemy,” and try to attack them on every front, like in a war. They defend themselves from every “enemy” argument, without really stopping to consider if the enemy has a point. And they accept arguments against their enemy, without stopping to think if their arguments are any good.

A lot of atheists just pander to each other and preach to the choir. Their arguments are not designed to teach people why they’re wrong, and they’re not designed to convince people that they’re wrong. Many atheists aren’t arguing to convince anybody, they’re just arguing as a way of signaling to their tribe, their in-crowd, that “Hey, look how much I’m one of you! Accept me, please!”

I don’t think of this as a real argument, since no one’s actually trying to teach or convince anyone, they’re just trying to beat them, to “win.” It’s fake argument. It’s like kids playing with swords who only try to hit their opponent’s sword, instead of actually trying to defeat their opponent, all the while looking over their soldier and saying “Do you see me!? Do you see how much I totally fight against the enemy? See how much I’m one of you?”

The result being that atheists are mostly really bad at actually helping people see the error of their ways, but never realize it because all their friends are telling them how cool they are for standing up to the “enemy” and coming up with such great insults.

See Politics is the Mindkiller – “Politics is an extension of war by other means.  Arguments are soldiers.  Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back—providing aid and comfort to the enemy.  People who would be level-headed about evenhandedly weighing all sides of an issue in their professional life as scientists, can suddenly turn into slogan-chanting zombies when there’s a Blue or Green position on an issue.”

and The Two-Party Swindle – “Blues murdered Greens and Greens murdered Blues, despite all attempts at policing. They died in single combats, in ambushes, in group battles, in riots.

From Procopius, History of the Wars, I:

In every city the population has been divided for a long time past into the Blue and the Green factions […] And they fight against their opponents knowing not for what end they imperil themselves […] So there grows up in them against their fellow men a hostility which has no cause, and at no time does it cease or disappear, for it gives place neither to the ties of marriage nor of relationship nor of friendship, and the case is the same even though those who differ with respect to these colours be brothers or any other kin.

Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

The support of a faction became necessary to every candidate for civil or ecclesiastical honors.

Who were the Blues and the Greens?

They were sports fans – the partisans of the blue and green chariot-racing teams.

It’s less surprising if you think of the Robbers Cave experiment…”