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.
"Joshua Weinberg" - that's a fine old Irish name! (Just kidding, Josh --)
Oddly enough, I have a friend named Kevin Kennedy to which a co-worker in all seriousness said, "That's a good Jewish name."
Shakespeare nailed it - "What's in a name?"
I live in the Bible Belt, so I don't usually discuss my lack of religious beliefs. My children were teenagers before I admitted to them that I am an atheist. (They are both atheists as well, and are dating atheists.) When someone asks, I simply tell them that I am an atheist. Usually, the stunned silence is enough to let me escape unscathed, but sometimes when the reaction is "Why", I simply state that I don't believe that magic is real, and that God is an culturally accepted superstition, much like Voodoo in the Caribbean or Chinese Feng Shui. I refuse to debate religion with anyone because a: I don't feel qualified to debate intelligently and b: I am not going to waste my time. Besides, how could I be angry at God when he doesn't exist.
On second thought, maybe sometimes those who deconvert start out with anger toward God. I just remember one day thinking, well that just seems silly, when I sat down and considered religious beliefs.
I, too, live in the so-called bible belt and if there is one its buckle in north central Texas in "Wise County". After spending the first 45 or so years of my life as an agnostic I had finally heard all the religious BS I could bear and declared my atheism and that was 25-yeas ago. After moving to Texas and discovering the incredible depth of religion that permeates literally everything here I'm wishing I never moved, except for the great non-religious and atheist new friends I've made here. They increase in number all the time and I know that for a fact as I am the co-organizer of the Denton Atheist MeetUp group and organizer of the Wise Free Thinkers & Skeptics MeetUp group in Decatur, Wise County, Texas; I had to use the "Wise" bit as an oxymoron in this case. Bibke-pounders are everywhere here. I tell anyone interested that I'm a "Card-carrying Atheist" and prove it by handing them one of my calling cards with "ATHEOS" under my name. Be loud, make them cringe, challenge them full time! Have the strength of your convictions, it puts them off-balance as you now know. Good on ya'!
I work for the local school system, where the superintendent sends us lovely prayers in our e-mails. If I didn't need this job so badly, I would scream it at the top of my lungs. "You people are deluded! Grow up!!"
I am, and fortunately so, self-employed and have been for about 85% of my professional life. I can't stay employed and working under someone else, and it's just because of such reasons. Also, I can't bear idiocy or suffer a fool, especially of the religious variety or persuasion, so I'm far better off not immersed in situations where I have to choose between BS from above or suicide I suppose. I don't know how to deal with situations of the nature under which you work. I've always found that such people as your superintendent tend to take rejections of such BS very personally. I'll be 70 on 2/23/14, so I have a long history of non-conformity, but I am untouchable in my workplace and occupation; good luck.
I may have never heard that atheists "aren't really atheists" and "are just mad at god." myself.
However, as an aside, I do see a definite pattern in atheism to only address faults in judeo-christian notions of "god" and ignore the presence of the plethora of other beliefs about the divine. Atheist one may call themselves, but whenever I see them debate, all I see is one who refutes only Yahweh as if all theists think that is what "God" is.
It's based off cultural dominance in the regions of debate. In estimation, roughly half the world's population adheres to one of the Abrahamic faiths, and is spread out over large geographic regions. The next largest group is probably Hindus, but they are much more geographically restrained compared to Christians and Muslims. After that... Buddhism? The latter two are less salient to the so-called Western world where many of the vociferous atheists with which we would be familiar reside.
I don't think you'll find many atheists out to argue a case against every deity that is and ever was. There's some degree of pragmatism to it. Many of us have read up on a number of different religious views, but is there really much value to debating, let's say, the merits of Ahura Mazda from an atheist's perspective? Debate against whom and why?
Most atheists I know arrived at their atheism on a slow trek to disbelief during which every step, especially large ones, out of the trap of “belief” was open to debate of varying intensity. Most of the debate is with one’s self, with an occasional foray into open, perhaps acrimonious debate with believers attempting to keep that person in the fold as it were. Lurking along the path of one’s personal walk to that ultimate decision or state/stage of belief/disbelief there are many one-bit decisions; do I believe what I just heard or saw; yes or no? Does what I’m hearing from believers agree with what I’m seeing with my own eyes; yes or no? Do any of the circular arguments and twisted rationalizations one hears from various religions or pulpits make sense; yes or no? Personally and clearly the vast preponderance, if not all, of those one-bit decisions registered in the negative.
On my own path from early life skepticism to young adult agnosticism, to midlife full-blown Atheism I experienced a great many internal mental debates that I kept entirely to myself. I made my own decisions about religious matters based on personal observations of reality. I suppose that’s normal for any person whose primary objective in life is to cut one’s own trail, and that defined me from earliest age to the present. So, yes, I am a full-on Atheist and feel neither desire nor intent to debate absurdities with any or all of mankind’s various supernatural religious and other ridiculous paranormal pursuits. More to the point, I can’t be convinced that any of the fifteen-thousand or so of man’s gods have any reality outside of those minds that are infested with or perverted by the religion virus, much less converted thereto. Why debate?
I saw the appearance of an 'approach/avoidence' conflict in much of my thinking, along with watching how people and myself relate to each other.
Sadly, inspite of the beliefs to the contrary, I never saw 'god' when people talk about it. I only saw people 'talking' about 'god'. All the commentaries, buildings, writings etc, are artifacts of this 'talk'. While some of this productive work has been useful, I can't say the same thing about 'god' as a concept. If 'god' as a concept has been helpful with humans learning 'how to do abstract thought', maybe it has atleast served its purpose.
Well put, well put indeed, and I agree totally.
We all have little choice but to take the BS as it comes as all of us are protected under our First Amendment. It's funny though when I tell christians that the first ten words are America's protection from religion while only six protect the freedom of religion, and the practice thereof, i.e. my bride for the past 47-years.
I wonder at the willful idiocy religion forces on some people. . . . .