Atheism acting like religion

21 11 2008

I think it’s fair to say that atheists generally have a lot of criticism of religion. I know I do. But, unfortunately, many of the most steadfast critics of religion are also the closest among the atheists to the religious. Many of them have the same “I won’t deal with you because of your religion,” or “you’re stupid because of your religion” attitude that we find so repulsive in the religious.

I have news for these atheists: by holding this attitude, you are no better than the religious. Your being right has nothing to do with it. You’re still displaying the same self righteous, arrogant, obnoxious attitudes. You’re still acting like a condescending bigot.

Intelligent people can disagree, can’t they? Why is it so hard for you to agree to disagree over religion? In my experience, the response is usually “but religion is sloppy thinking.” So what? No one is free from sloppy thinking. Everyone is sloppy in their thinking sometimes, perhaps often. Very intelligent people have sacred cows. Some of the most brilliant people in our history were religious. Are you better than them because you’re not?

How do you expect to convince people to give up their religion with this sort of thing? Most people’s religion stems much more from their feelings about it than from a rational analysis. Most people going to church aren’t worried about making it completely logically consistent. They go to church, in large part, for the community. They want the feeling of being around others who appreciate and care about them.

This sort of insulting, rude behavior helps ensure that atheism remains limited to a small group, because it makes the image of atheism into exactly the opposite of a warm, welcoming community. I doubt that is your goal, so why do you persist? Perhaps because you are not really so rational about this at all? Or are you incapable of having a reasonable, reasoned dialogue with those who disagree with you?

Making fun of religion is one thing. Making fun of the religious is another. The first is not only OK, but good. Humor is one of the best ways to convince people, or at the very least force them to moderate. The second is not OK. It’s rude, it’s counterproductive, and often a very nasty tactic indeed. What do you think of people who insult atheists? Why are you different?

Apart from sloppy thinking, what do you have against most religious people? Fundamentalists are only a small portion of the religious. Do you take issue with liberal Christians, who are friendly to atheists and agree with us on things like separation of church and state? Most of them aren’t trying to convert you, they really do feel good will toward you. There’s a reason that they believe in a very moderate religion, after all. Liberal Christians really do tend to do more work to help others. Why is that? And why do you think you’re better, anyway?

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6 responses

21 11 2008
Assentia

I’m equally (un)friendly towards atheists and bible-thumpers. Unfortunately, fundamentalism is not faith-specific; it is essentially fanaticism and can manifest itself in any sector of thought. The religious/atheistic dichotomy of it is simply a matter of ‘holier than thou’ vs ‘smarter than thou’.

21 11 2008
Perpetual Dissent

Why are you as unfriendly toward all atheists as you are toward Christian fundamentalists? I would hope that we’re not all of the P.Z. Myers school of atheism.

21 11 2008
mikedavenport

Atheism is a religion. Its funny how humanism and atheism mascarade as the non-religions when in reality they are exactly that. Look at the definition of religion. I might do a blog on this in the future.

http://mikedavenport.wordpress.com

21 11 2008
Assentia

Definitely not. Perhaps I should have said ‘militant atheists’, the ones, as you say, out to convince people to give up their religion. Nothing ticks me off like being patronised, on either side of the fence, and you must admit that atheists tend to show that ever so slightly superior smirk because they don’t go by the (even hypocritical) humility of believers. Still, the answer is identical on both cases: Don’t try to fix me, I’m not broken.

21 11 2008
Perpetual Dissent

Mike, atheism is not only strong atheism. The word simply means without god. Humanism is a moral code, and has nothing to do with the supernatural/god. Secular humanism rejects the supernatural, but not for dogmatic reasons.

22 11 2008
mikedavenport

I understand they are different, but they are similar in the common rejection of the supernatural (whether for a dogmatic reason or not). I am agreeing with you, just clarifying a little.

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