It has come to my attention that amongst the non-relgious communities (particularly online) some of us seem to think that being an atheist guarantees that you are the smartest being in the universe and being a theist guarantees stupidity.

There are so many problems with this mentality. To start off, it enfaces a stereotype that atheists are arrogant know-it-all elitists who regard a theist (no matter the mildness of their beliefs) to be worth no more than a molecule of dust on the ground. Obviously we all know this is an inaccurate stereotype. 

Next there is the simple fact of reality that faith nor lack of faith will never guarantee a person of any level nor lack of intellect. There is after all such a thing as being so intelligent it literally drives one a little insane. Then of course there is the simple fact that there are religious scientists for example Georges Lemaître who proposed the very first principals of what later became known as the big bang theory. 

I have been debating religion, the corruption of religion and atheism on the internet for a very long time.  I myself used to be what you would call a "militant atheist". I absolutely detested religion to such an extent that I entirely blamed all the bad in the world on religion itself. I viewed religion as the source of all evil and I'm not the only non-believer who has ever thought this. The world would be better off with no religion at all I used to think. Now in saying that part of me still thinks the world would be somewhat better if people just lost interest in religion, maybe it would. 

But what I have noticed between militant atheists and fundamental theists, is a level of extremism. And that is the real problem here. The problem is not religion, the problem is not atheism; but extremism as a whole. Any form of extremism is dangerous. And this extremism (whatever is form) is developed by obsession over a belief, idea, attitude, and sometimes misguided information. Extremism with atheists comes about very different to theistic extremism. With a fundamental Christian for example. They believe the bible literally to such an extent that they see themselves as warriors for God and will do literally anything to honour the name of God. There minds have been so twisted and warped into fully immersing into this belief system that they really believe they are doing the right thing. They believe its right to tell women they have a place, they believe its right to condemn or convert atheists, they believe its right to attack / discriminate against homosexuals. This is because they have become obsessed and have resorted to extremism. If they were not obsessed, they would not become extremists and would use their religion as a personal belief system in order to feel happy in life etc

Now extremism in atheists does come about very differently, but the core problem of obsession is still there. A lot of atheists are former theists. I've met a few atheists that have never been part of a religion (all online, none offline). But for the most part, most atheists were theists who renounced their faith. Now because of that there are a number of atheists who have had bad experiences with theists. I was subjected to a certain degree of homophobia when I went to Catholic school. We were punished in Catholic school if we did not attend mass and I viewed that as very fascist.  Lets just say the attitude of some egotistical theists gets in our heads, we get very irritated and develop a hatred for religion and even the religious. Some atheists even go as far as calling themselves anti-theists. Now granted atheists are less extreme than the fundamentalist theists. Its very rare that you will meet an atheist who despises theists so much he/she wants every theist exterminated from the face of the earth. Joseph Stalin (as mad as he was, and even though he did have psychological problems) was one of such atheists. This was largely due to how he was treated by the religious as a youth. One might even argue that it was indeed the religious extremists in his institutions that pushed him over the edge. Never the less he hated religion and did what he felt was necessary to solve the problem of religion by banning it. For those of us who know the history of the Soviet Union, know that didn't exactly work out. And now it seems Russia has traded one form of extreemism for another as the current leader of Russia undergoes some very anti-gay laws inspired by the beliefs of the Russian Orthodox Christian Church. 

I guess the point I am making here is not only that extremism has more than one form or another, but also that the existence of extremism is being used to generalise a group; be all theists or all atheists. Not all atheists are anything like Stalin and for that matter not all Christians (or other theists) are like Adolf Hitler.  Both atheists and theists are guilty of generalising each other and making assumptions based on the most extreme of our communities. It is vitally important to acknowledge that not every theists is a scriptural literalist, there are many ways they can interoperate their holy books. It still doesn't persuade me to believing in it, but at least I understand that not all theists think I'm evil on two legs. There are even Christians who just accept what Jesus specifically said in the bible. This is how gay Christians balance faith and accepting themselves for who they really are. 

And from a social perspective we just need to learn to live with each other. If one was to add up the population of theists in the world and compare it with the population of atheists; we would still come up as a minority. And as a minority, we are going to be in positions where we are working, studying, and even become friends with persons of faith. If one was to cast aside persons of faith due to identifying as an anti-theist, well lets just say you might have to experience a very lonely life. 

As a humanist, for me what comes first is treating other human beings with dignity and the same respect I expect. I'm more interested in a persons characteristics in regard to how they treat others rather than their beliefs or non-beliefs. And I'm not saying all atheists are like this, there is number of us who are; so don't take this the wrong way.

Tags: elitism, intelectual, snobbery

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You will find that when you look at most cases of religious extreemism right now, such as the acts of Anders Brevik and the attitude of the Westboro Baptist Church; that moderate theists actively speak out against this behaviour. 

So atheists are not the only group to oppose these injustices. Any person who supports liberty and freedom is going to speak out against this no matter their beliefs or lack of. The believers that don't tend to be extremists who do not represent the vast majority of theists. 

I actually don't view actively speaking out against injustice as extreme. It is defiant, argumentative granted, but it is founded on reason. But I am mostly talking about extremism for the sake of just not liking a belief system very much. 

By all means we should all speak out against vile acts. But do this because the acts are vile and unethical, not just because you don't agree with someones beliefs. 

By all means we should all speak out against vile acts. But do this because the acts are vile and unethical, not just because you don't agree with someones beliefs.

I like your approach Keith and I can resonate with a lot of what you are saying being that I up til recently thought the same way, until I realized that any level of condoning the attitude that shapes religious power ultimately supports it to keep growing. A belief or faith doesn't need to be extreme to be dangerous. Like my analogy of being on fire vs. carbon monoxide poisoning - a silent death....religion can be it's most lethal in the most passive form driven by complacence and indifference towards it. It's when we agree to sit back and allow it to fester and grow around us without a word that we become part of it and therefore support it, because it's message and everything about it is so powerful. I keep saying "we" but I guess I mean "me" and people like me. I don't care if people think it's militant extreme or otherwise. I don't suggest demeaning people ever, but I don't consider a passive approach an option as for myself at this point any longer. I cannot tell you all that led up to this point other than to say it's been a long hard road, and now that I'm at this point there's no turning back. I'm curious what made you change your mind and decide that anti-theism is snobbish.

I was thinking of a similar question for you, about how you changed your mind. If I remember correctly (and I might not), you mentioned appreciation for TA helping you through the transition. Did militant, anti-theist posts help you?

TA is where my journey began almost a year ago. You might remember me coming on site undercover hiding from a long time friend and at the time I was as Theist as they come with all the trimmings. I was a submissive, obedient subservient wife in an abusive marriage, and looking for answers to escape a prison I had lived in all of my life. While my own story begins a long time ago in early childhood really, you might say that a combination of experiences shaped me into a codependent, addict with a victim mentality, no self esteem whatsoever, and I honestly believed that I was a good person. I prayed. I listened to Christian radio 2 hours a day during my treacherous commute, I came home to a man who belittled every single thing I did and I had no control over my life. I was experiencing many symptoms of a person twice my age, and my so-called sobriety from alcoholism which I had though was "magically" cured on a mission trip by God was really masked over and simply changed forms into an abusive cycle with over or under eating. Nothing about my life had ever gotten better, it had just changed forms in one way or another. I kept praying and reading my Bible and trying to reach out to people for help. I had no boundaries, still don't, lol but I didn't understand my own worth because I thought I was a dirty rotten sinner. I knew my own maladies but had no idea how to fix them and despite hours upon hours of teaching and studying my faith over the course of 12 years I was empty handed for answers waiting upon the Lord.

Over the course of a few months on TA a series of discussions led me into an awakening of sorts. The next part is very personal and private, but let's just say that my world has been turned upside down and now I see that my own faith is what held me back all this time. It was a silent death. I was dying. I did think that being tolerant and understanding of theists was the way to go until recently I discovered how sick I still am from the effects of it. Not just because of the abuse I've endured over the course of my life, but the fact that my own faith kept me from acting in a way that would allow me to stick up for myself and tell everyone who ever wanted to control me to fuck off. I realized I had been groomed to comply, obey and be meek and modest, when this only served the purpose of my abusers. It makes me sick to remember the teaching on how so many women live quiet reverent lives in the midst of men who walk all over them and they believe they will be rewarded in heaven for having served the Lord. I used to believe this. The women in this world are hurt by religion in so many ways and I didn't see it before. I didn't understand. Now I do. 

My story goes a lot deeper than that, that's the rated G version. But ultimately I am anti-theist because I know how sick I am. I know how fucked up my faith has made me, and it has taken a very short time for me to realize that action is the only answer to problems. It's so simple I could scream! And yet so many millions of people wallow in inaction and waste their lives with thoughts, practices, rituals and activities that erode their own potential. 

I do not believe that religion brought me anything beneficial. I used to. I used to think that I was a good person. The truth has been revealed and now I can honestly tell you my journey has just begun. How sad. How sad that I've wasted so much of my life. If someone had told me years ago all that I've been taught over the past several months from TA and various other people and sources I would have perhaps avoided a lot of hardship for myself and my son, but I cannot go backwards, only forwards. I have however changed to the point where I cannot sit back and watch women suffer at the hands of abuse. I'm getting involved. And I will speak out against anyone who wants to oppress women in the name of their deity. So many women don't know what to do or where to turn for help. Resources are limited. I have been very very fortunate to the point where I am humbled to have received the help that I did, and I still feel unworthy of it. But to squander all that I've been given and do nothing with it would be a bigger disgrace than to have to live with a gratitude that can never be repaid. 

Way to go 

Religion works for some people though, including some women.  I think it very much depends on circumstances, especially considering how powerful and fundamental to existence religion is. 

If religion was fundamental to existence there could not be any atheists, yet here I am. Hear me roar !

considering how powerful and fundamental to existence religion is.

...More bullshit from the fake "atheist." 

Simon, give it up.  You are not going to convince anyone of anything here, particularly when you are such a transparent liar.

Horse fertilizer, sir!

Your premise is flawed. Religion is not fundamentatl to existence. I think that we should be able to agree on that, or are you prepared to offer proof?

Let's take the catholic chuch for example, good for women?

Return to my first line.

Which category of women does it work for?

How had it worked for women? By limiting their reproductive rights? By propagating dogma that allows for the selling of girls and women into sex slavery, beating/honor killing, and placing them under men in all ways?

Religion works for some people though, including some women.  I think it very much depends on circumstances, especially considering how powerful and fundamental to existence religion is.

The cookie cutter Christian woman is a wife and mother first, a homemaker and a "helper" to her husband. This image of the woman from Proverbs 31 is held over women's heads as an ideal to measure up to, and ideal that does not match the society we now live in, and a ideal that is impossible to withstand without the perfect husband. The problem is that the Bible doesn't really define a perfect husband. Men are called to "love their wives as Christ loved the church..."....and this is supposed to somehow counteract the sacrifice the woman is expected to make for her family. Don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing stay at home mothers. I wish I could have been one myself. But what "works" for women is having a loving supportive husband who will treat her with dignity and respect and allow her to continually grow as a person. It's a huge stretch of the imagination to say that the Bible teaches men how to do this much less command it. It's equally disturbing that most women in Christian marriages who are being treated like shit are chastised by the very people who say they care by telling a woman who is being mistreated to "submit" and "look at HERSELF" and to "live a quiet reverent live and your husband will eventually wake up and smell the roses." Men are taught they can walk all over women with no consequences which feeds their entitlement mentality, and what's to stop them? I know women who are Christians who have good marriages. But their marriages are not good because they are Christians, their marriages are good because they are married to good men. Religion has nothing to do with the fact that many women thrive. There are many women who do. I would argue though that even if they are happy and well taken care of, they are still blindly oppressed because they are paralyzed from doing anything without the consent of their husband, they are paralyzed from acting in any way that would suggest self-gratification, and their entire self-worth is built on a premise that they are not worthy and are helpless. What seems to work for these women really doesn't work at all.

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