In Defense of Atheists (Part I)

 

Most Christians are wrong about Atheists

About me

I’m atheist. I do not identify as humanist or nihilist. I’m expert in neither, but I agree with some views of both philosophies even though they often conflict. That sometimes makes me of two minds, or maybe three. Click this link for my story if you need to know it, but, ya probably don’t.

Why I am writing this

I decided to post this in two parts to keep them of reasonable length. In this part, I talk about things that believers (I say Christians, because that’s what most Americans are) are wrong about regarding atheists. It’s been said a lot, but not enough. Part II will address some things I think people should know (particularly Christians, but anyone) about atheists. Some atheists read my blog and I hope they will correct my errors or clarify my confusion.

I’ve often read long, esoteric, philosophical explanations about why atheists are bad people. I’m a sensitive man, and they hurt what feelings I still have. Since being atheist is simple (we believe in no gods; done.), those rants are virtually always wrong. They are not attempts to convince me to repent or to believe in god. They simply judge atheists, or atheism, as bad.

Believe to be good

Belief in god makes no one better, and vice versa. But, most believers seem to think it does make them better. Otherwise, why bother with religion? That is to be expected. Conversely, they further seem to think that not believing makes me worse. A lot worse, apparently. Since these folks have no specific atheist behavior to point to, they go off on long, broad-brush, baseless philosophical tirades that can only be explained as being essential to their own personal and spiritual well-being. We all know people who put others down to make themselves feel good.

Atheists are bad

I fully understand the morality issue for some folks. But atheists are as moral as anyone. Yet, these rants are not as simple as holier than thou. Each is judging other people they do not know as evil for having a harmless opinion. Conversely, those who do evil things and repent (or maybe not) are judged to be better than those who simply don’t think gods exist. How is that logical?

Bad to the bone

However, leading the pack of obnoxious nonsensical know-it-alls are the clueless people who seem to know exactly what atheism is, what atheists are up to, and why. They claim to know our thoughts. Yet, for all the animus it generates, atheism is simple. But these self-appointed detractors are not atheist and don’t seem to want to get it right. What they seem to want is to preserve something that disbelief threatens simply by being a conclusion in someone’s mind – a conclusion that can change (as in reverse) in a New York minute, but rarely does.

These holy souls swing at the low-hanging-fruit to bash people for what they believe. This is partly because of what they think (not know) about atheists and atheism. Such assaults are unnecessary, insulting, and vulgar. One Orthodox Christian priest has said that embracing atheism is worse than committing murderer. People believe this crap, especially when it’s said from the pulpit by a “man of god.” That annoys me.

I have my limited personal experience, but surveys I’ve read indicated that people trust atheists (I assume ones they don’t know) about the same as convicted rapists and murderers. In some states, it is illegal for an atheist to hold public office, even if democratically elected. While such laws are not enforceable, they remain on the books. Very few outspoken atheists hold elected office – none nationally. So, why the need to pile-on with the endless “they are bad, bad, bad?”

The essay

Recently, I read a post by someone who insisted that all atheists are nihilist. Following several of my objecting comments, he stood firm with his accusation. In the essay he further insinuated that any social justice work done by atheists is a ruse, insincere, and as doomed as a “utopia” (his word). Now, that shit hurts. I can’t imagine how he connected nihilism to utopia (dystopia perhaps?). This, they will say they’re not, but they are argument is worthless. Do all Christians play with snakes or drink poison to prove the strength of their faith? Of course not. Nor do all atheists agree with nihilist philosophies. It’s difficult enough without someone making stuff up.

Look both ways: either there is a god or there are not gods.
Consider all the gaps and mind them well.

12 thoughts on “In Defense of Atheists (Part I)

  1. It is important to demonize those they don’t agree with and, as usual the statements don’t align with what we observe. The best available info says that somewhere between .07% and .2% of the US prison population is atheist. Faith negates accountability and defers to another entity and time. Grace by faith is a plague to personal responsibility. Atheists obviously have a higher level of personal responsibility, awareness, and honor than a faith based religious person.

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    1. Thanks, Jim. I thought I had read that 3% were atheist. But what I know about prison is that I would be careful about coming out there, and the state often gives benefits to those who are participants in religious activity. In The God Delusion, Dawkins said we outnumber Jews in the USA. More now, 12 years later. I doubt if anyone knows due to the many closeted and “transitional” atheists. Part II is about ready :-).

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    1. I agree, but I doubt that we could get good numbers from the jail house crowd. If I go to a prison and ask to have religious meetings with inmates, chances are I will get an ok. If I say that I want to have meetings to discuss atheism, I would be laughed at. Then told no.

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      1. The obvious fact is the prisons are full of believers. Why that is, is open to debate, but the high road of morality they claim is failing. Social pressures/norms are much more effective. If you have a kid that picks his nose a lot, there is not much a parent or a preacher can do stop it. When the kids at school laugh at him, he’s done picking in public. Period. Religion breeds an appearance culture while under the surface, or in private is where it really shows.

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      2. People in jail are subject to enormous cultural pressure to aver and defend their beings with the protection of religion, but they are conditioned also to be skeptical of the idiots in charge, and they are becoming much more open to atheism while behind America’s bars.
        I always resist the mean temptation (I think Dawkins did it somewhere) to equate inmates with a lack of intelligence, and then to equate the inmates’ higher religiosity with a lack of intelligence.
        Neither is true.
        Thanks for your reasoned defense of atheism – and you get a pass on the nihilism.

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  2. I’ve come to the conclusion that a very large number of theists are liars and that they have no problem with that, despite their holy books saying that lying is bad. I know some decent people who happen to be Christian, but their decency has not one iota to do with their religion. The rest depend on ignorant and fear and lies to shore up their beliefs. And they show that they have no more respect for their bible than I do.

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  3. I appreciate your defense of Atheism, Bill. I have to admit that until our discussion at the writers group I didn’t have a full understanding of Atheism. I’m looking forward to reading Part 2.

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  4. Labels are not particularly helpful when you want to really understand a person. Some people don’t like puppies or ice cream, but they’re still good people. Not otherwise. Still.
    My favorite thing about not being a Christian is when people are shocked and say some crap like, “Really? But you seem so nice!”
    What in The Hell?!?

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