Binary Thinking

Binary Thinking – Atheism, Agnosticism, Humanism, Skepticism, and Religion

Presenter: Barrie Webster

June, 2017

What is Binary Thinking?

“Some religious theists have a binary (“black and white”) approach to various aspects of life and the universe.”  Do some atheists, Humanists, and Skeptics also tend in this direction?

“There is an appealing simplicity about “true and false” and this characteristic makes Boolean algebra so useful in computer engineering where you can work in “on and off” rather than exact variable voltages.”

Is There an Alternative?  The False Dilemma.

Binary Thinking vs. Directional Thinking

“We are often forced into binary thinking when we participate in groups like CFI, for instance.”

“You’re either with us or with the child pornographers.” (Vic Toews, Minister of Justice in the Harper government; now Court of Queen’s Bench, Manitoba).

“If you want to talk about what I don’t believe, then I am an atheist.  If you want to talk about what I do believe, I’m a Humanist.”  (Pat Morrow, Manitoba Humanist, September 2011)

“You don’t need Religion to have morals.  If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.”   (Anonymous – quoted by many)

Binary thinking comes naturally to all of us.  It is commonly used in newspaper reporting, in judging the actions of others, and in neatly pigeon-holing people so they can easily be condemned for their professed beliefs.  It is exploited shamelessly by political parties during election campaigns to condemn opponents – identifying the most effective binary choice is often key to winning.  And the advertising industry loves it to create images favouring specific consumer products.

How often do you experience binary thinking?

Do you as a Humanist habitually use binary thinking?