If you know me in the real world or even here on TA you'd know I'm pretty passionate about the image of atheism, deconversion and evangelical atheism. A christian friend pointed me to a video (which you can watch here) by Greta Christina today that made me realize that there is a bit of a gap, a chasm, between what I believe and what most atheists believe that could probably be easily filled by a little clarification. Then, I realized, this might in fact be the key to addressing the larger, over-arching issue of anger amongst atheists and whether or not this is a good approach for evangelical atheists.
It just never occurred to me that this point of distinction even needed to be made, but listening to Great and the crowd watching I realized I had made a bad assumption. No, this distinction does in fact need to be made clear. Great gets it, so I'll try to recast her point here in the context of deconversion.
Adherents and their apologists who are angry about atheist anger are just trying to take away the one ingredient responsible for all social change. I took this as a given, but many don't realize that almost every major social movement, from women's rights, to the queer movement, to civil rights; have all been built on "righteous" anger. "Righteous" anger is a special breed of anger that, unlike unhealthy anger, is clearly justifiable. It is the expression of anger, imo, by an emotionally healthy, mature adult.
But what has concerned me is that I get the impression that all too many atheists are not applying this anger constructively. Rather, there is an almost immature, temper tantrum manner in which this gets expressed publicly.
My argument is that to be effective we must learn to channel that anger into something constructive, which means having the maturity and emotional stamina to refrain from public outbursts of anger and rather channel that anger into a social movement of change; of evangelical atheism which includes that unpopular topic of deconversion.
Atheists must learn that anger is a transformative force that can be used for constructive change. But this means being mature and learning how to express anger appropriately in public. There is a difference between anger expressed privately and anger expressed in public. Expressing anger in public is ill-advised if the only thing being expressed is anger. On the other hand, expressing how and why the things that anger you are reason for change is what we should be doing.
So, to be clear, my concern about the manner and tone of the "new atheists" movement comes about as a result of this realization, the same thing that Greta explains in her video much better than I can. And she also points out that when people demand that we "tone it down" they are really trying to take away from us the one thing that fuels social change. They are really just trying to "shut us up" and are doing what every reactionary element has done in the face of social change that begins to truly challenge status quo. For any role I've played in that I regret it and hope I don't do that anymore.
For my part I am so accustomed to refraining from expressing this anger publicly that I have to catch myself sometimes even in private conversations, especially with adherents, when I say, "oh, I'm not really angry about that". Well, I am, but I choose to refrain from expressing naked anger in public as it is counter-productive. When expressed publicly anger should, imo, be channeled as a constructive conversation used to persuade, not defame us and alienate adherents. So, the litany of things that anger us are valid things to talk about, I just think we should be careful in public how we frame it.
I'd like to thank my Christian friend for pointing me to this video and I'd like to know what others think about this. In particular, do you express your anger with religion differently in public and private?
I agree that we should be skeptical. I was making that point all along and she still missed it but I don't really care. However I don’t see how this site tries to prevent Americans from having the right to hold convictions on anything though. I suppose it might be another Theistic attempt to link faith with patriotism?
Apparently Kristy's gone now, which is a shame. The approach I picked up on is the withering, dismissive, high-handed Richard Dawkins approach. [ouch. sorry.]
I do understand that in Ireland, it's a very polarized situation, and the Church has a long tradition of ruining people's lives.
To paraphrase what Kir said somewhere else, we're all here on TA for a reason. Most of us are spoiling for a fight with religion, me included.
I tend to agree with @Reg here as she was taking it too far. No, you don't want to bully someone into believing what you want them too, but if we are to surrender all semblance of the power of pursuasion there would be no leadership in this world and nothing good would get done. That's just the harsh truth. Some amount of persuasion is healthy.
Kir - maybe you're right. But a two-pronged approach is definitely necessary. And we have to be seen to respect people, otherwise we'll always fail.
Okay, quick update. Is Kristy completely gone? Was she Irish? Well, I'm sorry she felt that way but the alternative would be for us to just shut up and let her say whatever she pleases with no intellectual retort, which, imo, is absurd. That is bullying the conversation. Like I said, I'm sorry she felt that way.
Ok Kristy I don’t really see how you deduce any of that but I will see if I can clarify. Sarah was looking for proof that she would be a better person for rejecting her faith. She is not going to suddenly go downhill without it. She will become a better person because the philosophy that flows from seeing the world without the tinted glasses of religion elevates your understanding of it. Atheists have a more profound understanding of empathy and altruism once we realise we are evolved creatures and that we are all related to each other. From the natural discussions and conversation that flows from this philosophy or outlook on the world we get develop a greater moral standards because we are no longer commanded to follow orders to be moral. We are “good” because we understand why we should be and not because we see ourselves as sinners who are commanded to be good or else……Ok that is the essence of my point and myself and Sarah are a few weeks into a debate. As you have just arrived the overall context may be missed.
It is not a matter of anyone believing what I believe. That is what Theists do. I am losing interest quickly with your misrepresentation of what I said but anyway I will spend another minute on it. If I could show Sarah or anyone else what the world looks like without religion then I would. All I asked was for her to continue with her challenge and make her OWN decision based on what she discovers. I suppose saying that someone does not need to rely on a higher power than themselves means I am not treating them as an individual? What evidence have you got that Sarah is an amazing person? I am not disagreeing just wondering that’s all.
How is that any different than what she hears from the preacher at church?
Well I did say immediately afterwards that “you don’t have to trust me or have faith in what I say” Maybe you missed that bit. I am quite sure Kristy that you will not hear a preacher in a church use that line. As for me being rude that is just your perception. If Sarah thinks I was then I am sure she will tell me so herself. I can take it.
I missed completely how I am looking for sheep or even what it means that Theists do. Theists are called the flock in some religions. If I was a shepherd I would get the flock out of here if I could. But I am not looking for sheep so that won’t happen. I am glad that your realize that. Sorry Sarah for discussing you as if you are not here.
Kristy, unlike any preacher at churches, we don't ask for money, time, energy, or anything from anyone. We respect and fight for the sovereignty of every individual's mind and body with complete commitment to that ideal. We do not command obedience from anyone, EVER, like preachers and other con-artists/patriarchs do. So how dare you insult us like that? Please, look up the definition of the word rude before you use it again.
and show you how much more beautiful and meaningful the world is without depending on religion
Ok that man again. As usual he is far more eloquent.
Thanks Sarah – a few parallels in our replies.
Maybe Kristy, Sarah is a rose and I am a grenade. I try to choose my words carefully but sometimes I deliberately think “shock and awe” is called for to force a change of perspective. That way we all might learn something new or look at things differently. It’s all about thinking whether Atheist or not.
Why would anyone NOT be angry at these lunatics?
I'm sorry but as a female, they are trying to take away MY rights every day they breathe based on their misunderstanding of human biology.
Not to mention the years of hate Christianity made me feel for myself for liking girls.
Or the countless friends I have that were made to feel the same way.
Or the fact that being 'religious' is a must for being elected as president in this country.
Nah, sorry bro but I'm going to be angry. Part of atheism is not sugar coating things and I'm not going to sugar coat one single thing. They are mentally UNSTABLE. Those people are dangerous.
I'll show my anger whenever and wherever I please because I'd only share it with people who I *know
* are likeminded, since I'm used to southern traditions of having to watch what you say around the religitards.
Sadly the '??' + 'tards' can work for a lot a people with different commitments.
While volunteering at a woman's shelter years ago, a gal with a young axe to grind, refered to me as a a 'femitard', because I opened my mouth when she thought she owned the floor!
I do think we should show atleast a little kindness. I do not want to wear a target on my chest, all the time.