Don’t you just hate blue-eyed people? I sure do, I can’t stand ‘em. They’re all the same, with their stupid blue-eyes. When I was much younger I had a blue-eyed friend and we got on fine until one day he cheated off my test and then I was the one who got detention for it. Years later I was at a stoplight when one of…well, one of them sideswiped my car and just drove off. None of them are any good, and I don’t mind saying so but I think it’s safe to say they’re responsible for a lot of the world’s problems.
Hopefully you’re giving your monitor a funny look by now. If instead you’re nodding and saying “yeah…like this one time…” then maybe turn off your computer and go outside. On a serious note though, why was my introduction so absurd? I’m sure you know; because it’s foolish to judge an entire group of people based on the actions of some of them. Despite this however, this is one of the most widespread fallacies I’ve seen both Christians and non-Christians commit in regards to each other. On the atheist side of the fence I think this can take a few forms. “Look at all the evil religion has caused, therefore all religion must be evil,” or “all the Christians I’ve known have been close-minded/ignorant/bigoted, therefore all Christians are close-minded/ignorant/bigoted.” Now Christians have been just as guilty of this as well. “So-and-so is an atheist and they cheat on their taxes, therefore all atheists are immoral people.” Or one of my personal favorites: “People who believe in evolution/the big bang/science are all atheists, immoral, and eat their babies.”
Alright, I may have embellished that last one a little but you get the idea. We like to tell ourselves that modern society is enlightened compared to ages past, and indeed look how far we’ve come. If you tried making negative comments about minorities you’d quickly be denounced as a racist. Or how about saying that a woman’s place is at home and cooking? Sexist pig! Why have we realized that generalizing about these groups of people is wrong and fallacious yet in the same breath we’re alright saying that all Christians are hicks? That all atheists are degenerates? I wish I knew. All I can offer is the advice not to fall into this trap. I know that sometimes during an argument tensions can run high, but before you make some over-hasty abstraction ask yourself, if you fall prey to making such an error, what does it say about you and who you’re representing?