You've all heard the claim that we aren't really atheists, we are just mad at god. (Or you will see such things as "so and so claims to be an atheist.")
Today, though I saw an argument in chat with a theist, and someone else's account of an argument they had out in public, and I stopped to wonder if maybe we aren't sometimes encouraging this line of bullshit, albeit unwittingly.
What happened in both cases was the atheist began recounting all the sorts of horrible things Yahweh is portrayed as doing or believing or commanding. In one case, I saw the atheist say "why should I love god when he won't love me back?"
The problem with this sort of thing is we usually don't take care to phrase our remarks to make it clear that god is a character of fiction. When discussing the misdeeds of Yahweh we tend to fall back on a convention we use when we talk about a fictional character in a book. We refer to him by name and talk as if the guy was real and the book was not fiction, for example, "In George Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith was arrested for thoughtcrime," not, "In George Orwell's 1984, the character Winston Smith..."
We know what we mean, because we both know Winston Smith (or god) is fictitious. But they don't know god is fictitious.
Talking this way with someone who believes the fictional character is real might cause him not to understand you are just following the convention. Your phrasing sounds to him like you accept god as real, he "knows" god is real, so he assumes at some level you think god is real.
What I am suggesting here is that you ever want to bring up how nasty this being is, you make it clear that you don't think he exists, make sure you put "fictitious" (or equivalent) in every other sentence at least, and not let them think for a minute that you assume the existence of god.
Yes I know that when you just said you were an atheist this shouldn't be necessary, but obviously many of these people don't understand atheism in their guts, so don't let their paradigm default you into a "believer but mad at god" box.
my mother actually told me the other day that she thinks my life is shitty because i havent been going to church. I cant tell her I'm an atheist and the power of prayer is a joke to me. My OWN MOTHER. how sad is that?
I can relate Courtney. I have a huge feeling of disappointment (or I could say down right betrayal) directed at the "presence" I felt. I know now, without a doubt the presence was not real and to this day, although it is almost 35 years later, I find it odd I am able to feel the realness of that presence when I still myself and think back to that moment.
Maybe it can be compared to the much smaller scale, of a child's sadness at the realization Santa is not real, although sometimes on Christmas morning, they may relive the feeling while seeing the joy on their own children's faces as they open their presents, if not but for a fleeting sentimental moment.
Good analogy Mabel - in fact, when children (above the "Santa Clause" age) ask me, and some have, why I don't believe in god, my answer is always one I believe they can best understand, that god is like Santa Clause for grownups.
That's a good one 'Santa Clause for grownups'. I'll have to hang on to that lol.
(I meant to add the headline.)
If 'god' is just a concept, do we really need to invest so much romance and social resources into it? If it does not really work, can we just drop it into the philosophical waste basket and move on?
The human investment has partly cemented the concept into the collective cognitive space. Are we mostly just dealing with an information/socialization disease that has few handles, but a constant challenge?
I really don't want to think that the atheist population represents the hight of human cognitive evolution. I need humility like I need air...
I tend to suspect that the faithful who would use such a "gotcha" moment don't necessarily assume you actually believe in god or that not believing in god is somehow outside the realm of their comprehension. It seems to me it is simply an expression so as to distract one from their original point or force them to the defensive amid the whoops and howls from their sheepish cohorts. Some would no doubt find it difficult or even impossible that there can actually be an atheist but I think they would be a serious minority. I do agree though that putting god into the context familiar to them so as to make a point (god said this etc.) may seem like a good idea in that you are trying to convey a message to someone whose language is slightly different than your own and in the interest of comprehension you set yourself up for such things. I personally tend to use my own language possibly more out of sheer laziness but nevertheless if I do use a phrase like you mentioned I am fully aware of the inevitable trap as you no doubt are. Knowing the trap and how to get out of it is almost as good as avoiding it altogether.
@Lonely - I'm starting a new comment, so we won't so quickly run out of "Reply" buttons!
I just read this in a Yahoo! article - would you care to comment?
"Sharia law calls for the death of anyone choosing to leave Islam. Some Muslims will argue this law is not stated in the Quran but rather in the Hadith and Sira. The fact remains many Muslims are comfortable with the idea of executing apostates and infidels."
"There shall be no compulsion in the religion,"no compulsion in converting or leaving islam,people should feel free to be muslim or to not to be,to be a muslim because your parent or the society or because the previous formation it does not mean that this muslim is now freely muslim,so whenever he or she wants to change ,first islam should guarantee this right to him or to her,there is no compulsion,second ,to be muslim after thinking better than to be a member of herd.It's not cited in the book who changes his religion should be executed,and if there is hadith,this hadith is in clear contradiction with what is clear and fundamental in the book,the supremacy is for the book not al hadith,and this is rule. now the compulsion is not only in converting or leaving is during all someone 's life,he /she totally free to be fully guided by islamic doctrine or not the religion did not nominate any one to look after people to see if they are obedient or not,even the ruler has no right to interfere in this,because,if i am a muslim so this is between me and Allah,is not between man and other power whatever.NO HYPOCRISY,OR DOUBLE FACED WITH GOD,PEOPLE SHOULD LEFT FREE AT LEAST WITH THEIR INVISIBLE GOD.
I don't doubt you Lonely - by that, I mean that I believe you are sincere in your beliefs. But I can't understand why there are other Muslims who seem to believe and behave differently, and think that those should be killed who do not believe in your religion. I think that that is the reason that so many of us, in the West, have such a problem with Islam, all of the violence --
Tell me, do you agree with this?
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
-- Buddha --