In this article, we look at several reasons atheists offer for why they are angry with or strongly object to religion and religious people. Several dozen atheists with whom I engaged via Facebook in groups purposed specifically for religious debates, especially discussions between theists and atheists, are considered. I have not changed the responses in any way, so expect spelling errors and so on.
Atheists are sometimes agitated when it comes to discussions on religion. For example, assuming that I am a theist, Jon contends that I (and others) are wrong about our “god blather.” William consigns my supposed theism to “irrational god beliefs.”
In further debate on theism and theism, Bill maintains theists offer a “bunch of nonsense” and that the burden of proof always lies with the theist. Religion is “pitiful” and theists should keep the “sh*t in your mouth.” Mark claims to be “often frustrated by their bullsh*t.”
Luke says he “reached a point in my life where I think religions and religious people alike are jokes, much in the same way flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers are.” He is therefore “hesitant to give them the time of day, let alone engage in debate.” John says he will not “make a habit of socialising with religious people” because they are “draining and I can’t stop myself from contentiously engaging with people who believe in nonsense.”
Jack feels mixed feelings towards theists such as ‘bemusement, laughter and mild frustration.” Sarah does not mince her words when she claims to “hold all Theists and all religions in complete and utter contempt and disdain. My answer is disdain.” Ron tends to “laugh at theists and the things they believe in.” According to Ralph, “I think we’d be much better off without it [religion]. Being an atheist can sometimes feel like being the only sober person in the room.”
Not all atheists are necessarily angry at religion but feel other emotions. Carryn, for example, says “Disagreement with most of it would be a better way to put it.” Mandy sees some value in religion in that she “greatly appreciate[s] the themes and tropes of religion and understand that it’s how it is used that matters. If someone is using their faith to better the world and spread compassion and goodwill, I have no issue with that.”
Justifications for Angry Sentiments
But what might explain these hostile sentiments to religion? Evaluating the discourse, several major reasons for hostility by atheists toward religion quickly emerge.
Religion is Illogical
Belief in God is based on bad logic. According to Bart, frustration emerges as theists don’t “attempt to accept logic.” Theists use logic outside of their religion, but suspend it when it comes to religious ideas like “magic miracle workers and altered books and unevidenced claims.”
Jeff does not become angry but rather frustrated “with [the] dishonesty and bad arguments” of theists. Sean agrees saying that it is “frustrating to realise that some of our species can purposely suspend their critical faculties, just so that they can have faith in ancient myths…” Some atheists mention the problem of indoctrination; Robert explains that,
“It bothers me that kids are born today into religious families. They are told what to think, not how to think. So right from the word go they are told god is X, Y & Z and therefore, to them it’s fact. This bothers me because not once do they question these totally un-proved assertions.”
Drake criticizes the religious for believing in superstitious myths, “We’ve had the Enlightenment, and we’ve discovered the value of science and we’ve advanced in terms of academic rigor in fields relating to history and archaeology – and people are still believing in magic. I’m left flabbergasted.” He cannot see “how grown people can believe in the supernatural, miracles, and other sorts of magic.” Denise feels sorry “that so many people base their whole lives on an ancient myth.” Bryant chastises religion because it sees as “a virtue to believe in something despite lack of good evidence or even evidence to the contrary. That is very dangerous.” Clifford says that,
“I just can’t get pass the utter ridiculousness of people believing in magic simply because they want it to be true. I understand the why of religion, I just don’t understand the how. How can any thinking person possibly believe that complete nonsense? It just saddens me to think that even after thousands of years we are still so ridiculously stupid.”
Some atheists speak of deconverting from religion; according to John,
“But honestly, probably [angry] at myself too, because I was so stupid in being involved in Christianity for 8 years. It did take me a while to study the scriptures sufficiently to where I understand what they were about. At least now being an atheist I know why I don’t believe, after having studied the writings, and can debate with any flavour of Christian if necessary.”
Some atheists, like Rodney, are indifferent to religion, but become agitated and annoyed when “being preached at…” Vern becomes very angry with religion “in the same way I get “angry” when I see someone conned or swindled or fooled by snake oil salesmen. Or when religious governments force their religion on others bothers me.”
The Evils of Religion
Many atheists maintain that religious persons engage in immoral, evil activities. According to Nassam, “relig[i]ous fanatics are firing rockets at my family as I write this… What do you think I feel?” Luke expresses concern “that in free countries they [religious persons] do have a vote and their beliefs do inform their actions. That horrifies me. But no, I feel no anger towards them…”
Damian is not inherently angry at theists or gods, but at “the heinous and systematic crimes against humanity committed by theists anger me…” Courtney notes several tenets to religion that are especially egregious to her such as misogyny, scamming people, that people waste time praying instead of seeking practical solutions to problems, that religious persons feel they are only accountable to their imaginary good, and that some religious persons stay horrible marriages because leaving is a “sin.” Some express anger at religious persons forcing their beliefs on others; according to Matthew,
“I am happy for others to have their beliefs. What Makes me angry is when religions press their beliefs on to others by force or vailed under ‘democracy’ or laws to suit themselves. I am angry at religious hypocrisy such as the Catholic Church scandal(s) and the ‘pro life anti child Christians hypocrisy. But what one does In their own home or place of worship is entirely up to them.”
Sean goes on to note how religious superstitions “serve no purpose and that [they] have caused pain, war, death, violence, division and hatred.” Frank is also direct: “Why wouldn’t systemic child sexual abuse anger a decent human being? Why wouldn’t suicide bombers anger decent human beings? Why wouldn’t misogyny, racism, bigotry and intolerance of some believers anger decent human beings?” Elisa says she gets “upset when I see the awful things belief in G/god(s) is/are directly responsible for.”
Forcing Religion on Others
But some atheists are careful to distinguish between religions. Adam feels no anger toward religions like Jainism because “it’s essentially a good religion” as it practices pacifism. But he is angry at evangelical Christians “for their need to force people to adhere to their religion with the attempt at enforcing religious morality upon everyone via laws.” Especially egregious to Adam is that notions of hell are forced on people and that this produces fear. Edward does not “have anything against the players [religious persons], it’s the game [religion] that irritates with its imposition.”
According to Pam, “religion interfere(s) with other people’s life, with violence and laws, its totally stupid that fairytales shall limit other people’s life.” Clair bemoans the religious “Pushing their morals-thoughts/actions into our government.” Edgar resents “the rise of Christian nationalism these last years.” Sandy condemns how “narrow, bigoted tribalism, anti-scientific nescience, intense fear of imaginary dangers, and intense need to impose their frameworks of action and belief” is foisted by the religious “on the rest of society.” Sandy is particularly “distressed and alarmed at how easily religious persuasion is manipulated by bad actors to serve perverse and evil ends.” Juliano is “angry when human rights are violated” because of religion. Pete sees religion as proposing inhumane laws that belong “500 years back in time.” Christopher also dislikes when religious persons impose their beliefs on others,
“Religion can create anger, when believers attempt to codify their beliefs into law, to the goal of forcing everyone to accept what they believe, and to oppress and punish those who refuse. I would consider such anger understandable and justified.”
Lawrence shares a similar view explaining that “What makes me angry: when a person of faith is intolerant of others’ views or attempts to control the choice of others. For example when they oppose abortion or gay marriage. If you oppose gay marriage don’t marry someone of your gender, don’t tell someone else they can’t or shouldn’t.”
Some atheists object to parents foisting religion onto their children. Sharlene objects to religion because of “The fact that theistic adults instil delusions into the minds of vulnerable trusting children..I think it should be illegal for Children below the age of 18 to attend any religious gatherings. Sharlene is not the only person to object along these lines. The new atheist proponent Richard Dawkins claims that children need to be “protected” from religion,
“Children do need to be protected so that they can have a proper education and not be indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents happen to have been brought up in” (1).
1. Humphreys, Joe. 2015. Richard Dawkins: Children need to be ‘protected’ from religion. Available.
2. Lundborg, Zinta. 2013. Dawkins: Teaching religion is child abuse. Available.
Wow, James, there is just so much to unpack here but it is a great topic, thank you!
First, yes, many atheists do become angry at the religious crowd and for any number of reasons. Personally I don’t care what someone believes to a point and the point is when it is pushed into society in form of various laws, rules, etc. Case in point; abortion. It is simply no one else’s business if a woman wants to exercise her Constitutionally- protected right to privacy and abortion. But the believing crowd would have that be illegal and that is not their place or right. In fact, it is not even mentioned in the Bible anywhere at all but the religious crowd would have you believe otherwise, an outright lie. (Funny, they have no problem lying through their teeth to assert their phony religious positions, e.g., America was founded as a Christian state – it was not – you can’t have morals without god, another outright lie, and many, many others). They’d have you believe it is forbidden by the commandment “Thou Shall Not Kill” knowing full well that the original commandment – as any Rabbi can tell you – is “Thou Shall Not Murder” and the Hebrew Bible is quite clear on this; a fetus is not considered a “person” until they are physically born, out of the womb and surviving. Besides no group of people have slaughtered more innocents than Christians and on complete outright lies.
Another issue for me is their tax-free status. The original law for this was/is the Johnson amendment which allows their tax-free status to remain as long as they stay out of politics on the pulpit. This, of course, they fail to do and in capital letters. They should either preach politics and lose their tax-free status, or stay out of politics and keep it. No combination of either is acceptable.
Secondly, I think it is unconscionable for children to be brainwashed into religion while they are too young and impressionable to reason out what it is they are being taught by adults they trust. I myself was also prey to this incredible violation of trust as a Catholic and right from the cradle. This I think we are seeing the result of this in real time as “unassociated” and “non-believing” are the two fastest growing segments of the American demographic. More and more people are waking up to the nonsense that religion is and what they’ve been sold over the course of their lives and are now rejecting it. I can give you a hundred different examples of people that have become non-believers as they were seeking truth, god, whatever, myself included. There is nothing that creates an atheist like really reading and studying the Bible! It’s uncanny!
Another area is their intolerance. There is no more intolerant group of people than the believers as substantiated by history itself. All, of course, while THEY complain incessantly about intolerance towards them but deny their own intolerance vehemently. This gets really tiring and more and more people just don’t want to hear the whining anymore, myself also included. They have been lying about intolerance and persecution almost since the moment the Christian Era began, most of which is nonsense. They DO hate gays, claim they violate the Leviticus laws but are oh-so-willing to overlook all the other laws in the very same paragraphs and pages in the very same book as “no longer valid under the new covenant.” This is hypocrisy in its’ very worst form and anyone can see right through it in a moments time. Again, no one group or association of even government has done more persecuting than the religious. They are – without question – the most intolerant group on the planet.
Most importantly it would be devastating to have religious hegemony thrusted upon anyone as a ruling political force as it has been in the past. You will not find a group of people that are responsible for more deaths, murders, injustices, and repression than the religious and it would be the very same again were they to be put into such a position. Think Crusades against the Muslims, Jews and even other Christians! The Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, the Inquisition where people were BURNED ALIVE at the STAKE for even minor variations of belief or even TRANSLATING the BIBLE into a common vernacular, the burning of so-called witches where anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of men, woman, and children were tried without evidence, unable to even testify on their own behalf, then unceremoniously murdered, tortured, and every other kind of inhumane debauchery.
Then we have the suppression of science and progress by the religious. It took until 1881 (give or take) until the Catholic Church took Galileo’s heliocentric writings off the “forbidden reading” list. Again we have a huge percentage of the American people that believe the world is 6,000 years old – some actually believe it is FLAT, yes FLAT and in the 21st century no less – and an executed rebellious Jew from the first century CE is going to return from the dead either in the next 40-50 years or in their lifetime. This is absolutely bizarre, irrational thinking as even their own dogma demonstrates that even Jesus didn’t believe this but they’ll make up any cock-and-bull story in order to support these outlandish beliefs and continue to push it onto their flocks.
I guess I just don’t see any reason why we should even have such a thing as religion as I don’t see it as anything particularly positive or beneficial or providing anything a secular group of people could provide.
Which passage in the Hebrew Bible clearly teaches “a fetus is not considered a ‘person’ until they are physically born, out of the womb and surviving?”
Where can one find the total number of innocents slaughtered by Christians and other groups? Trying to find a solid number for the number of people killed by twentieth century Communist regimes is difficult enough. But it’s a very high number that would fall under the atheist ideologies category. Surely, since 1900 atheists are “winning.”
I note you treat the “religious” as a group. Do you do the same with the “political”? Persecution is routinely carried about by political people. Political people clearly persecute more than religious people. One thinks of the genocide in China at this moment.
How do you define “religion”? There are non-theistic religions. If it’s something like worldview, metaphysics, or life purpose then even atheists can be religious. Perhaps religion/secular is a false dichotomy?
In terms of the abortion question, I would refer you to Richard Elliott Friedman’s The Bible Today, which will outline many of today’s controversies with such topics. As for the “competition” between political & religious entities and their terrible pograms throughout history I’d advise you to crack a history book, there are many such books that will highlight this. The Religious entities controlled Western European activity for hundreds and hundreds of years, then went on to commit the same atrocities in the New World. Surely you’re aware of this?
Forget about Communism, they’re amateurs when it comes to persecution. And no, since 1900 the atheists are NOT winning; I don’t see any point to breaking down the battle by centuries except to try and make yourself feel better. Let’s look at the entire picture, there’s no comparison at all.
Let’s remember that the Catholic Church celebrated Hitlers birthday every single year; said prayers for him and all but worshipped him. In fact – Goebbels I believe it was – was eventually excommunicated by the church. Do you know why? For marrying Methodist(!), not for any of the hundreds of crimes he committed against Jews, Poles, Slavs, etc. At least the church had their priorities straight, huh?
Honestly there are countless books on the topic; “Fields of Blood” by Karen Armstrong is one that comes to mind quickly. The history of religion is saturated with the blood of innocents.
RaPaR, your claim was “no group of people have slaughtered more innocents than Christians.” Pointing to instances of Christians slaughtering innocents is not enough to justify this claim. You need to define each of these groups of people and then total up the number of innocents each has killed. Countless books are not necessary. Just hard numbers.
Some points to consider:
1. If Christians are the largest group of people then, if each group killed an equal number of innocents per capita, we would expect Christians to have killed the most innocents.
2. Christians did not kill any innocents before AD 30.
3. Christians did not kill any innocents in the New World before 1492.
4. Christians did not kill any innocents in lands where Christians were not present.
5. We don’t know the numbers killed with much, if any, accuracy for much of history.
I don’t think the RCC “all but worshiped” the man who persecuted them.
Goebbels was excommunicated for his marriage in 1931. What are the hundreds of crimes he committed against the Jews, Poles, and Slavs before this date? The Nazis became the largest party in the Reichstag in 1932 and Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933.
Oh, the political atheists are winning as any other self-righteous have done in the past.
Their doctrines have caused as much death, suffering & oppression as their theistic counterparts. Only that in about a 10% of the the timeframe.
And no, no “forget communism”. ALL statist religions and specially that one is the main perpetrator.
Unlike religion, atheism does not have “doctrines.” “Atheist” describes a person who answers the question, “Do you believe in a supernatural deity?” An atheist answers, “No.” The end.
Great unbiased & fact-based argument, especially when you quote religious (hebrew here) beliefs to try to justify baby murdering.
Keep it up!
Not sure where you got that but it sounds almost as Philly as your mythology. I never said anything about justifying baby murdering. I see you read everything else with the same alert mind as you do the mindless nonsense in your mythology.
Hello James, I enjoyed your article today. As an atheist living in the US who has been subject to derision and angry diatribes in the workplace, called “evil” and read threats of extermination on social media by Christians, it’s no surprise to me that many, perhaps most atheists feel some ill will toward theists. In my state, Arkansas, the state constitution still technically forbids an atheist to hold political office. (Although our courts have made it unenforceable.) Just last spring our state legislature tried to pass a bill requiring the teaching of creationism in science classes. It was barely defeated, fortunately.
As someone familiar with Christian apologetics, and have several versions of the Bible, myself, my experience generally with average Christians has been highly disappointing. The greater percentage have very little knowledge of their religion’s history and sometimes in my interactions I have doubts they have ever spent much time reading their own, supposedly sacred book.
On the other hand, I have encountered a few, albeit rarely, that are able to make a case for their faith based on fairly cogent arguments. That’s always a surprise, though.
Here’s the problem in my view. Religion indoctrinates people beginning at a young age to believe ideas without any substantial reasoning behind them. Thus, they are primed to believe just about anything when the magic word, “Jesus” is invoked. The world of religion in the US is chock full of greedy charlatans who prey on ignorant, gullible believers. Cynical, corrupt politicians feign their Christian bona fides and get elected. Much of the strife in the US right now is significantly due to how well leaders can manipulate the mass of credulous Christians we have here.
These past few years the egregiously blatant hypocrisy, bigotry, racism, marginalization of vulnerable groups, greed for power and control, and more, has become evident to many, more reasonable people. Recent polls document that people are leaving religion in droves. Churches are closing. It’s a trend I personally hope continues and grows. And that these arrogantly ignorant Christians reap what they have sown.
Religion is a difficult term to define. Depending on the definition chosen even (some) atheists could be classified as religious.
Considering the various forms religion can take it seems pointless to be angry with “religion” or “religious people.” We need to make distinctions between different religions (e.g., Christianity and Islam) and different people (e.g., Desmond Tutu and Osama bin Laden). To mask all these differences with terms like “religion” and “religious people” leads to false generalizations and bigotry. By way of analogy, would speaking of “politics” and “political people” lead to fruitful discussion?
Religious people think atheists are illogical in their beliefs. Does this cause the same amount of anger in religious people? Why or why not?
Drake’s comments leave me flabbergasted (to use his term). The success of science does not conflict with religion at all. That’s like saying your ability to understand software rules out the programmer. He cannot see how people believe in miracles. Is he unaware that hundreds of thousands of people alive today clam to have witnessed miracles? Even if you think they’re all wrong, can you not at least understand why they believe their own senses?
Are atheists equally bothered when secular governments force their beliefs/actions on others? In the U.S. at least it seems like atheists are more likely to be for bigger governments that force beliefs/actions on citizens.
Nassam takes the fact that religious fanatics are firing rockets at her house as justification for her anti-religion feelings. This is the kind of bigotry treating “religion” as a monolith leads to. If atheists were shooting rockets at her house would she condemn atheism/atheists?
Is Elisa upset when she sees the awful things atheist or secular ideologies have been responsible for?
Some are angered that Christians force their morality on others. But that’s what everyone does to some extent. An amoral government wouldn’t work.
Note how Sharlene thinks it should be illegal for minors to attend religious gatherings. Here’s an atheist willing to use force to control the actions of religious parents. I hope the atheists complaining about forcing beliefs/actions on others are outraged.
Jayman, Right off the bat, I believe you misconstrue, perhaps deliberately, what atheism is. If not deliberately, in my view you are making a mistake that is not uncommon among theists, and actually reinforces my original comment. Atheism is not an ideology, or even a philosophy. It is most definitely not a religion. There are no tenets, dogmas, rituals, hierarchy, and so forth. Fundamentally, atheism is merely the answer to the question, “Do you believe in a supernatural deity?” The atheist answers, “No.” End of story.
In short, atheists do not fly airplanes into buildings or shoot rockets into towns with a justification based on atheist ideology. Theists on the other hand, do do those things and more. The issue as I see it is, religion emboldens people and allows them an unchallengeable justification, after all it’s God’s will (they believe), to carry out the most horrendous, ungodly acts on their fellow human beings. I find some theists covet God’s enviable power to humiliate and force humans to grovel. Others relish the grovelling. The whole thing seems a bit sado-masochistic to me.
You asked the question. “Religious people think atheists are illogical in their beliefs. Does this cause the same amount of anger in religious people? Why or why not?” I think it causes much more anger. I’ve personally been the recipient of it a number of times. Why? Just the mere mention of the fact that one does not believe in God poses a real emotional threat because the theist may then find themselves confronting the idea that what they believe to be real and true, that their time, money and emotional investment in their faith, may have been a meaningless waste. Their interpretation of the statement of rejection of God belief can be that the atheist is calling them a fool. I’ve seen people become enraged by just that. In their mind, them’s fight’n words.
Atheist don’t have that sort of burden. Atheists generally subscribe to the idea that people should be free to believe any ole kooky stuff they choose. Until it starts affecting the atheist’s life negatively. As an atheist, I feel no obligation whatsoever to coddle or protect any theistic belief. I wish theists would stop insisting I must. Like any idea, farfetched or not, let it stand on its own merits. Let it be examined, criticized, lauded and mocked without remorse. If the belief is valid it will survive. If not, perhaps it’s not one people ought to believe in, after all. If Christians took that notion to heart, I feel the world I live in would be a much more pleasant one.
In your next to last paragraph, you make the mistake of false dichotomy, inferring that without Christian morality the only other option is amorality. The latent arrogance of that statement takes the cake. As you may be aware, there is plenty of specious morality in the bible, at least by modern standards. I’d suggest you take the plank out your own eye first…well, you probably know the rest.
James, at no point in the comment you are responding to do I define atheism so I don’t know why you think I misconstrue what it is. Atheists (the individuals) certainly have ideologies, philosophies, tenets (of their philosophies), rituals, and hierarchies. When individual atheists share these beliefs and such with other atheists they form what I am calling “atheist ideologies.” My comments about specific atheists and specific atheist ideologies are not comments on simple atheism.
One such atheist ideology is Communism. This ideology most certainly has caused atheists to murder countless millions in the past century. This doesn’t justify “hatred” of atheism or innocent atheists. But then I’m not one to think 9/11 justifies “hatred” of religion or innocent religious people.
It seems to me humans in general are able to carry out the most horrendous evils. Simply replace “God’s will” with “my will,” “the people’s will,” “the greater good,” etc. and your second paragraph could be just as true. Politicians throughout history, regardless of religious or irreligious beliefs, like to hold power over others.
But what is the point in speaking about evil people as “religious”? Why not pinpoint the exact religion/religious beliefs in question? No one goes around speaking about evil people as “political” in order to justify hatred of “political people.”
Trying to answer whether atheists are more angry at the religious or the religious are more angry at atheists can’t be based on personal experience. Atheists are more likely to direct their anger at me than religious people are because I’m religious (although there’s no reason a Muslim, say, could not direct his anger towards me, a Christian). My personal experience will be that atheists are angrier. You will probably experience the opposite. I don’t have an answer to my question, I was just putting it out there.
I did not infer that without Christian morality there would only be amorality. This is your second misreading of my comment. The second sentence of the paragraph says everyone forces their morality on others to some extent, which implies everyone might has a morality, Christian or otherwise. Do the atheists who complain about Christians forcing their morality on others through legislation not force their morality on others through legislation?
With all due respect, Jayman, you are persisting on equating atheism with some sort of built-in “atheist ideology.” I say again, there is no such thing. Someone’s personal ideology, ethics, morals are in no way part and parcel of atheism as a concept. Atheism is simply a position on whether or not one believes in a god. That’s it, nothing more. Religions do however, by definition, have a codified, enforced ideology. Communist and other totalitarian political structures will try to enforce atheism as a means to control the population’s loyalty and subservience. They don’t want any competition from another organization, one that also demands it’s subject’s fealty, that could potentially gather enough influence to undermine the regime. Surely, you can understand this. The leader of these governments is very often touted as a god-like, divine figure, a god on earth. Kim Jong Un is a good example. The people are forced by punishment of death to worship him. The government itself becomes the “religion.” To equate atheism to that sort of situation is simply dishonest.
I’m sorry if I misinterpreted your comment. Let’s look at the whole thing again:
“Some are angered that Christians force their morality on others. But that’s what everyone does to some extent. An amoral government wouldn’t work.”
What I hear you saying there is along these lines – Everyone forces their morality on the rest. Atheist shouldn’t be angry that Christians do this, it’s normal. Without Christians forcing their morality on the rest of us, an amoral government would result. I may be wrong about your intent there. However, when one group exerts out-sized influence, as Christians do in the US considering 70% of the population is Christian and 88% of congress identifies as Christian, minority voices lack any significant influence. That’s a problem. Christians have the power to run roughshod over the rights of the minority. And, if one paying is attention, particularly lately, they appear to be trying to do so at every opportunity.
Personally, I’m more interested in what is just and fair for everyone regardless of their belief.
Regarding your statement about “God’s will” vs “My will,” I’ll leave you with this famous quote from Susan B Anthony,
“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
Thank you for taking time to engage with this conversation. I appreciate it.
James, you have it backwards. I am saying atheist ideologies (the plural is important) have atheism as a built-in part. A book like The Atheist’s Guide to Reality by Alex Rosenberg makes atheism part and parcel of his ideology (an ideology that extends far beyond mere disbelief in God). Of course, simple atheism cannot be equated with such ideologies any more than simple theism can be equated with Christianity.
In one of my earlier comments I already noted that religion is difficult to define and that, depending on the definition, (some) atheists can be considered religious. We end up with the ironic case of atheists engaging in “religious violence.” Then we have atheists being angry at “religion” because of “religious violence” but not angry at other atheists for engaging in “religious violence.”
To simply note that Communists were atheists is not to equate Communism with atheism any more than to note that the 9/11 terrorists were Muslims is to equate their brand of Islam with Islam in general or religion in general. In my previous comment to you I spoke of atheists not guilty of the crimes of Communists so clearly I was not lumping all atheists or atheism itself with Communists/Communism.
Your interpretation of my statement on morality is incorrect. I agree that every law forces some version of morality on those who disagree with the law. That is normal because, I believe, it is unavoidable. Whether anyone should be angry about this is debatable and maybe depends on the law in question. But I don’t think a government not based on Christian morality would be amoral. Rather, it would have a non-Christian moral outlook. Saudi Arabia, for example, does not push Christian morality on its citizens but it is not amoral.
When I said an amoral government wouldn’t work I meant that advocates of laws will claim the law will achieve some good and that opponents of laws will claim the law will achieve some evil (or fail to achieve some good). Morality on some level is baked in to how humans govern. Unless everyone agreed on every matter there will always be this disagreement; there will always be one group forcing their morality on others through laws. I see no solution to this problem other than limiting government power so that people can generally do what they want. But we’ll disagree on where that limit is too.
Disagreement extends to concepts like rights, justice, and fairness. If my meta-ethics are based on the virtue ethics and natural law theory of Thomas Aquinas and you disagree with my meta-ethics then we will disagree on some matters related to rights, justice, and fairness (we will probably agree on some, perhaps many, things too).
Susan B. Anthony’s statement might be true of some people but, as with most such quotes, it isn’t universally true. In a bad situation I might think God wants me to be martyred. That’s not something I desire to happen. And we can tweak Anthony’s statement to something like: “I distrust those people who know so well what is right for them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
And, by the way, Alex Rosenberg doesn’t speak for all atheists anymore than one person speaks for almost any topic. but in the end, atheism is “small a” not “capital A”. Essentially atheism is the rejection of anything supernatural or theistic. (My own definition.) Theists just love to obfuscate atheism into something they can compare to religion, the divine, or the supernatural. NEWSFLASH: There isn’t any!!
RaPaR, I never said Alex Rosenberg spoke for all atheists. My continual reference to atheist ideologies (plural) implies I’m well aware atheists do not agree on everything. Likewise, noting not all atheists are Communists implies I recognize differences among atheists. Your charges are baseless.
Your definition of atheism implies atheists are naturalists. Naturalism is a metaphysics just as much as, say, the Thomism of the Roman Catholic Church. Naturalism prevents one from considering certain answers regarding philosophy of mind, meta-ethics, etc. Being a naturalist will cause you to answer worldview questions differently than others. In other words, naturalism has logical implications beyond whether God exists.
Uh, Jayman, 1st, I don’’t know any communist, at all, not just among atheists, so let’s get that out of the way. Comparing atheism to communism is as ridiculous as anything I’ve read of yours so far….
Saying that atheism is the rejection of anything supernatural (get it, SUPER-natural) does not imply naturalism, that is another leap you’ve taken again to try and substantiate your opinion of atheists. Seems you really can’t put us in any one container, that’s my point. Comparing it to the catechism of Aquinas is really not on point; consider Spinoza instead.
Jayman, First off, you say religion is hard to define. Let’s clarify that. I’m using Webster’s dictionary.
Essential Meaning of religion
1 : the belief in a god or in a group of gods
2 : an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
You suggest atheism is a religion. Atheism does not share either of these features.
3 informal : an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group
If this is the definition you are using, or something like it, then basketball is a religion, washing your car every weekend is a religion. Literally anything to which one devotes themselves, is a religion. In that case, ok, atheism can be a religion. But generally, atheists don’t spend a whole lot of of their time and energy not believing in a god. Similarly, not believing in leprechauns can be a religion if this is your position. It’s absurd on its face.
Secondly, you did not “simply note that communists were atheists.” Here is your comment: “One such atheist ideology is Communism. This ideology most certainly has caused atheists to murder countless millions in the past century.”
If you are to lay the “murder [of] countless millions” at the feet of atheism, you must also hold “Christians” responsible for the untold massacres of peoples across the world by the British empire and other European countries, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France. The monarch in Britain is ostensibly the head of the Protestant church, after all. AND, a lot of the slaughter was justified as doing God’s will, even so far as displaying the cross on their uniforms. Manifest destiny is still a thing. Right now. Here in the USA. The Christian death cult can hardly wait for the destruction of the world and the righteous suffering of the unbelievers preceding the coming of their king. For rational people, the idea is horrifyingly insane.
As far as I know, none of the killing performed by communists was morally justified by the tenets of atheism, as there are none. (Read the definition of religion again). Not so with the European empires. Christianity was a, if not the, moral justification in many cases. Your premise is intellectually dishonest.
Thirdly, you clarified your statement on morality. I think what you have stated is accurate. I agree with it for the most part. Once again, the issue for me is when one group asserts their preferences based on a belief in a supernatural highest authority, one that is invisible, silent, but is claimed to be morally perfect, then anything can be legitimized and, at least for believers, can’t be contradicted. There lies the danger. The certainty of religious belief also allows its wholesale corruption.
On atheism it’s been said, atheists are not forgiven their sins, thus, we have to try to get it right the first time.
James, dictionary definitions can differ from scholarly definitions. I think Wikipedia’s Definition of religion article spells out the issues adequately enough. Some of the definitions given do not require a belief in God, gods, or the supernatural. The question of whether religion is a modern Western construct is also interesting. If it is a modern Western construct we are not understanding some people on their own terms. Instead our definition of religion distorts our understanding of them.
I laid the murder of countless millions at the feet of Communists, not all atheists. Likewise I blamed the 9/11 attackers for their attacks, but not all Muslims or Islam in general. So I have no problem blaming certain Christians for their evil deeds, while not blaming all Christians or Christianity in general. I ask the atheists in the OP to do likewise. It is illogical to get angry at all because of the actions of some.
The British monarch is the head of the Church of England, not the Protestant church.
The killing performed by Communists was justified by the tenets of Communism, not simple atheism. Communism is but one of many atheist ideologies, just as Christianity is but one of many theist ideologies. Further subdivisions in both cases could be made, of course.
I think what you say about religious morality might only be true of certain forms of divine command theory (I might actually doubt that too though because religious texts are quite visible). Natural law theory, for instance, has been practiced by pagans, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others. It is as open to reason and argument as any other meta-ethical system. Nonetheless, I don’t expect progressive atheists to like some of its conclusions.
I also doubt the certainty of religious belief (pun intended). I have changed religious and moral beliefs several times over my life. I expect more changes in the future.
What’s the reason an atheist has to get anything right at all? If there’s no forgiveness there’s also no judgment.
James, you are mistaken. Every atheist quoted in this post about what they find offensive about religion, they are guilty of themselves. Atheism is a catastrophic failure of reason. When reason is rejected so too is self reflection. I was just on an atheist blog today where the poster reprimanded a commenter for going ad hominem. The poster’s standard does not apply to himself nor to any other atheist, only to Christians. Atheist commenters are allowed to abuse Christians and others who don’t believe like they do. When a non-atheist commenter pushes back they are banned.
Silence of Mind – You state, “Atheism is a catastrophic failure of reason.” without any rationale whatsoever for the assertion. Without that, I can safely disregard your next statements based on your unsupported premise.
If what you say about the atheist blog is accurate, I’m with you on it. Being an atheist does not preclude being a self-absorbed jerk. Certainly Christians, as a large group of individuals, suffer the same malady. Just yesterday I was condemned as an “evil man,” a ” liar and baby-killer,” and that I would, “go to the lake of fire” unless I “get saved before it’s to [sic] late.” You know, the good ol’ Christian extortion gambit. You guys are a barrel o’ laughs!
But I am curious, SOM. Will you share with me what and why you believe? What’s your non-“catastrophic failure of reason” for believing in the Christian God of the Bible and not some other or none at all?
Well said, James, good point! He wants rationale and data for anyone’s assertions but his own. And the most hypocritical point of the day? “Atheism is a catastrophic failure of reason!” In a debate where his side does not possess even a scintilla of evidence for their entire mythological assertion, he claims we – the ones that reason by evidence – are the failure to reason. Meanwhile, back in LaLa Land, he’s got it all under control with an invisible guy up in the sky that knows everything that’s going to happen, (but you have “freewill”) and he had a son – that was really himself – and he died and we’re waiting for him to come back, 2,000 years later, and for 2,000 years it’s been “soon, very soon….he’s coming back soon!”
All the same nonsense theists always have to return to, delusion. Close your eyes, cover your ears, a maybe it’ll all go away.
James, I did explain why atheism is a catastrophic failure of reason. For you benefit I will explain it again in just one sentence:
Atheism is a failure of reason because it is the belief that everything just happened all by itself.
You don’t understand my comment because atheism is a failure of reason, and reason is the basis for all my comments.
“Atheism is a failure of reason because it is the belief that everything just happened all by itself.” SOM, I understand your argument perfectly. Unfortunately, you, yourself, do not. Again, I can disregard your conclusion, based on your straw man fallacy argument. See here: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman . 1. Unlike religion, atheism is not a system or collection of enforced beliefs. 2. It is perfectly reasonable to reject a belief that does not have sufficient evidence. 3. The most any intellectually honest person can say about whether or not a god or gods exist is, “I don’t know because there is no way to know for sure.”
One could argue that it is religious belief that is a failure of reason. One rationale for that might be this definition of religious faith: Faith is the belief in God despite the evidence against it. I’ll leave you with another quote that, in my view, applies. “The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike” ~ Delos Banning McKown
James, Atheists don’t believe in God. So by definition, atheist believe that everything happens all by itself.
Atheists don’t have the brain power to understand rational arguments so I usually just state a simple fact and watch atheists go berserk. As you demonstrate, you cannot even handle a simple definition.
You have just proved that atheism is a catastrophic failure of reason.
SOM, you haven’t proven a single thing except that you have no idea of what you’re talking about. Atheists don’t hate Christians or, at least I don’t know of any that do, but we DO have a natural antipathy for religious fools, which apparently you are. You just keep throwing more and more BS up in the air to see what sticks however, in your case, nothing does. You believe in silly, childish, cartoon-like ideas and we have transcended that. If you apply even a ounce of common sense and lose the ad hominem attacks I MIGHT consider responding, if not I feel happy to move on.
Here’s an awesome example of cognitive dissonance at it’s best. Atheism, which is not a doctrine of belief or any kind of discipline, is the failure of reason. Atheism is not a belief at all, there is no dogma at all.
Here’s are a couple of clues for you; religion is a failure of reason for believing in something for which there isn’t a scintilla of evidence, AND…
I don’t know an atheist that believes that “everything just happened by itself” which it did not. You belive an invisible man in the guy snapped his fingers what, 6,000 years ago, and everything just magically appeared? Now that is just plain silly. There is no such thing as “nothing”, 70% of the matter in the universe is dark, meaning it can be seen.
Atheism is indeed a doctrine of belief. You all hate Christians and you express that hatred in your posts. All atheist bloggers ban Christians from their blogs if they are effective in demonstrating how intellectually and morally bankrupt you people are.
Atheism is the belief that everything happens all by itself. The fact you don’t know that just proves you are not aware of what you believe. You are completely out of touch with your own mind. That is what hallucinating is. Atheists must hallucinate alternate realities because your rational minds are completely shut off.
Your first statement,”Atheists don’t believe in God. So by definition, atheist believe that everything happens all by itself.” Is a logical fallacy known as a false dilemma or false dichotomy. See here: https://www.logical-fallacy.com/articles/false-dilemma/ The only thing true in your entire comment is the first sentence.
Your second statement, “Atheists don’t have the brain power…[etc.] is another logical fallacy known as ad-hominem. Please read: https://www.logical-fallacy.com/articles/ad-hominem/
A fallacy is reasoning that is logically incorrect, undermines the logical validity of an argument, or is recognized as unsound.
Your last statement is an unsupported assertion considering that the rationales that came before are invalid to the debate. For these reasons, I can safely continue to disregard your arguments.
Your comments are hardly examples someone who boasts that, “…reason is the basis for all my comments.” You obviously do not understand how reason works. You should probably learn about how to construct a cogent argument before embarrassing yourself further. Perhaps this may help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies
I hope this is helpful. Thank you for your time and effort to engage in the conversation.
Whatever, SOM, whatever. You’re like arguing with a telephone pole. There is NO belief system or doctrine for atheism however, you a sheeple of the faith, insist on telling us that there is.
How about the Christian’s…..are they stilling eating a babies and drinking their blood? Just wondering because that seemed to be the M,.O. That I picked up from them. Christian’s hate babies, Jews, African Americans, Indians, Native Americans, and everyone else……….but god loves them!
You just proved my point again with your demented, hateful verbal abuse of Christians. All atheists do that. All atheists insult people like me who reduce atheism to pure imbecility. Naturally you would prefer that I be a telephone pole.
The search for TRUTH is a moral principle and identifies the divine – truth always stands over every other thought. There is a supreme nature in truth, an ultimate character – that character is the divine.
John, I’m sorry to criticize but I feel your comment is a bit of a word salad. A “search” is an action, a verb not a “principle”, which is a noun. “Principle” is a synonym for “a truth.” Basically, that first part of the sentence can be constructed, ” A search for truth is a moral truth” To me that’s unintelligible. “…indentifies the devine…” do you mean “finds” or “discovers” there? How are the two connected? Searching does not always result in discovering. “…truth stands over every other thought.” Like, in a succession of thoughts, truth does not stand over half of them? Certainly people have thoughts that are not truth. How does truth “stand over” thoughts? Define “supreme nature.” Define “ultimate character.” For that matter, define what you mean by “truth.” As you can tell, I’m quite confused by your comment. Perhaps you could elaborate with a bit more clarity? Thanks.
Naturalism – the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are EXCLUDED or DISCOUNTED.
Does this sound like religion? It sounds exactly the opposite to me.
RaPaR, there’s nothing ridiculous about noting there are atheist Communists. It’s a simple fact.
You’ll have to explain how rejecting supernaturalism doesn’t make you a naturalist. Your definition of naturalism states “supernatural or spiritual explanations are EXCLUDED or DISCOUNTED.” What did my comment say? “Naturalism prevents one from considering certain answers regarding philosophy of mind, meta-ethics, etc.”
Since I’m not trying to put atheists into any one container I don’t see what you’re even arguing about.
Does your definition of naturalism sound like a religion? As I’ve stressed repeatedly, that depends on what definition of religion we are using. There is no scholarly consensus on exactly what a religion is. The definition you gave is not the only one. The answer to your question depends on the definition of religion that is chosen. Who cares if, on some definition of religion, some atheists are religious?