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.
It would appear then Lonely, that we agree about everything, except for one thing:
"if you want to 'know' about him ask him directly and not be afraid" - I have never been afraid, in fact, at 12, I stood on a hilltop in a lightening storm and dared him to kill me if he was there, he wasn't. And he isn't. There is no one to ask.
You mentioned "nihilism" - nihilism implies that there is no purpose in life. I believe there is, and that purpose is to do everything you can, during the short time you live, to make the world a better place than you found it, to accept all people as equals, to vigorously pursue the beauty and truth and mystery of the world we live in for as long we can.
No one needs a god to do that. I know a 6-year old who does it every day of her life, and if she can, so can we.
@thelonely, I think everything you say here is pretty reasonable, except that I prefer a more scientific definition of logic. Observable, reproducible/predictable results are what science is all about. That's what makes today's technology and health possible, including this ability for us to communicate world-wide, instantly.
Even if scripture could be found to be historically accurate (which it hasn't), you're right that it still wouldn't prove that words in scripture came from any god. But "we cannot prove that scripture is true" is still an important fact, because so many people believe in their god just because of dogmatic (i.e. unquestioned and unchangeable) belief in their scripture.
Yaweh is real...I am typing now.
Anyway, is that the new trend argument now for theist? I never heard that argument yet.
I've gotten this several times. After a long argument the conversation eventually goes to condescension, something like "okay, well maybe you're not mad, you're just confused. It's okay to question God, He knows you'll come back to Him. You are an agnostic, not an atheist"
I recently "came out" to my family about being atheist. Actually my sister "outted" me, but anyways I also get the whole, what happened? Why are you mad at god? thing. I think what happened is that I grew up. I used to ask my mom, how did Noah get all those animals on the Ark? My mother (like a good Catholic/Christian) replied "God helped him", but HOW? "He's God". Well I think "he's God" started to sound that a circular thing. How did God create the Earth and all the living things on it if evolution is true "He's God" REALLY!? Thats not an ANSWER! Almost like we don't condone thinking, so just don't do it, okay honey?? But I AM a thinker and circular argument turned into silly almost ridiculous claims, which turned into me doing more research, learning more about the Bible and the history of Christianity than ever before and the same answer to my questions: "he's God". Im sorry but I like to use my brain, I think controversy is healthy, I think not knowing pushes people to find the answers. Complacency is destructive, faith is educationally abusive. You know what I''m not sorry mom and "he's God" isn't going to cut it anymore.
"Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense."
-- Chapman Cohen --
Yes, I am angry with the brainwashing that my parents and guardians abused me with as an ignorant child only looking to understand this life. When I got older I started to question the other religions and that is what made me realize it was just people making up shit to control other people. How can there me so many gods but you are only allowed to worship the right one, how do you know which god is right for you?
I think the problem is a two level issue:
1. a lot of people (including atheists) don't know how to argue an issue with strong logical points that DO NOT INVOLVE emotional responses.
2. People who do believe in god need to be given time to understand what atheism is and how a person chose to be an atheist before having a detailed debate about God.
Say you met a religious person that is a smart and logical. Intelligent people are naturally curious about things they don't have experience with; however, being raised in a Christian household, I can tell you that talking to someone about atheism. The radical christian view is that atheists are the worst of all "sinners". The mild view is that they just "hate god" and need to be convinced otherwise. I say that every atheist should tell their "coming out" story as an ice breaker to the subject!! But in a calm manner. I came up with a good way to tell my story, while making sure I used standard logical arguments to uphold my decision. If you don't religious people could get the wrong idea about us.
When in your example, the person said, "why should I love god when he won't love me back?", I think the person was trying to talk about a subject too advanced for a first debate with a christian. I hope the person was trying to discuss how, if god exists and cares about us, why would he allow evil to exist and would test us if god already knows how we would react. Most atheist would understand that this was where the debate was going. But a christian only hears the person talking about god as if he exists. I think any good debate should start with explaining the preface of the argument to be discussed. Thats the only way I can see avoiding any confusion between atheists and the religious.
The only mistake they are making is not taking what we say personally. Our anger tends to be directed at Christians, not their imaginary friend. They divert it because they don't want to think it is them.
That's an interesting thought.
It contrasts strikingly with (but is not inconsistent with) with the mechanism behind Xians anger with us; i.e., the anger flowing in the other direction. It is been suggested that the Xian hostility towards atheists for "rejecting god" actually is much like the reaction they would have towards us rejecting them. In other words, when we say their hypothetical god is hypothetically an evil immoral murdering thug, they react as if we had accused them of such things. Darkmatter 2525 on youtube did a video on this, and while of course it is extremely hazardous to psychoanalyze an entire group of people, his thought is that since god is basically made up and invariably a reflection of the believer's (inventor's!) own personality, we basically really are rejecting them when we "reject" their god.
None of that contradicts your idea though, about our anger in the other direction, towards the more extreme of "god's" followers, and their mis-perception of its nature. But your statement reminded me of this and I thought I'd throw it out there.
Nicely said. I will definitely keep that in mind. I never gave that any thought.
I agree. I've often thought the very same thing myself, that we may be unwittingly encouraging this thought. I've tried to stay away from comments like that, and try to point out that there is nothing in the sky to be mad at as far as a deity goes. On the flip side of the coin, could these people simply be pandering to what the religious will listen to? I mean, if they won't accept that atheists do not believe in gods, maybe they'll at least accept that we reject them because we're mad at them? I don't agree with this at all, but maybe that's what is happening?