"You are just mad at god"--Are we actually encouraging this by mistake?

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.

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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. . . . .

Sadly, given my recent experience with bible study, it is unclear if the learning 'how to do abstact thought' has actually done a very complete job of it. Many get stuck in the 'abstraction of god', but then do not excape by continuing to meta-perspectives about 'abstractions'. My girl, just got to love her, seems to have become stuck in this state of 'not' revisiting this abstraction, or is unable to allow herself this degree of personal freedom.  

Two things did the most to commit me to atheism.

911 and Bush's response to it.

Learning how Scientology's able to brainwash some very intelligent (or at least highly talented) people.

I've run into some 7th Day Adventist who are just as brainwashed as Tom Cruise et al.

Highly 'talented people' can still be rather 2 dimensional in their understandings, or not able to issolate their intelligence from their emotions long enough to maintain perspective.

True enough, but their gods are all zero dimensional as all imaginary gods most certainly are.

If you see us hammering on Xianity more than anything else, it's because it's Xians who are in our faces all the time demanding that government schools teach their creation myth as fact and otherwise push their religion, demanding that government meetings begin with a prayer to their god, without regard to the fact that about 1/5 of the population doesn't profess to believe in it, and ostracising people who don't believe in that god.

Also it should be noted that atheist intellectuals who actually have the gravitas to get published in paper books like Dawkins and Hitchens, devote a fair amount of attention to other religions as well.

I think that another issue in being "mad at god" is when atheists not only assume others understand god as a fictional character in conversation, but we seek desperately to remove god from all things. We try to promote tolerance, but we must be careful to convey a lack of belief in god, instead of an opposition to god. As a former Christian, I remember it coming across that atheists are threatened by god when appearing so opposed to anything Christ-related. For example, the whole "merry Christmas" vs "happy holidays" scenario. Feel free to say whichever you prefer, but I see it as a futile, pointless battle to demand the usage of "happy holidays" from others. Atheism is about a lack of belief in god, rather than an opposition to the belief in god.

I've been guilty of not choosing my battles wisely, so I'm not intending to cause trouble. My intention is to expanding on the "believer but mad at god" idea and give something we all should be sensitive to. It is not that we believe but are against god, rather, we simply do not believe. And a lack of belief is a very tolerant perspective on religion.

During my most recent attempt to find some rough sense and place for community, I have joined the local Lutherian church. It has been interesting, but not very filling. My Girl friend likes/loves the church, and since I can hold my own during most conversations concerning 'god', I am not easily or fully 'put off'.

During our recent bible study, yes, sorry, forgive me, I find such conversations marginally enlightening, and if I do not frame myself as 'atheist', but as 'seeker' or 'philosopher', they tolerate me mostly ok.

Sadly this morning I heard from my girl friend that I was very close to her board limits, after I stated during last nights meeting, "I have started to look at the world and persons through the eyes of a 'lover' ." She thought that I was only looking for a 'lover', NOT!

Since my divorce(recently) I have been looking for ways to recover from my rather ugly disenchantment, by trying to reframe my attitudes to be more accepting and less critical of nuttyness. My girl friend and I spent much of our morning overcoming this misunderstanding, sadly her 'concrete' intelligence, VS my more 'abstract' sensibilities continue to create rather frosty moments, followed by rather minor insights. For her 'god' as an answer, for me 'god' is a question, and a badly formed one at that.

So can we have a good relationship between a theist & atheist, and a honorable respect for different metaphysical commitments? So far the jury seems stoned with laughter....   

for me 'god' is a question, and a badly formed one at that.

Real scientists don't try to prove or disprove the existence of God or gods or anything else supernatural. My big question comes down to trying to understand why different people believe in so many different supernatural beings and/or phenomena.

Yes. I did find a rather interesting point that night concerning 'how', atleast Lutherians, might get to a belief. Luther seems to acknowledge that, left to our own devices, humans would never 'choose' to believe, that something called the 'holy spirit' must intrude. Luther seems to suggest also, that since 'spirit' translates to 'breath', 'god' needs to blow you up like a balloon(my interpretation--;p)  ). In this one context, a great deal of puffery seems indicated.

So how does religion/god puff us up?

For the Lutherians, I hear a great deal said about acceptence, fellowship, community, love, etc. These can all be parts of any/all social-relating. For the Lutherians, they seem to link these to 'god', as if they originate with that abstraction, and 'Jesus' as a more concrete example and/or entry point.

Again the underlying assertion seems to be that the needs for social-relating are not born from within the human nature/condition, but from some abstract source, and that source seems to be transendent to the human. This is very distasteful to me personally, and is reminiscent of a statement I have heard elsewhere, 'the god in me love you!' 

As I have deepened into my own maturity, I have taken on the deep human need to make 'choices' about love, value, meaning, virtue, honesty, etc, and taking these into myself as things that are shared as part of our common humanity. They are not removed from our natures, or the ultimate properties of 'god'. Pretending to divorce ourselves from these, by placing them into the napsack of an abstraction, could only deepen our inhumanity to each other. When I love, 'I' am doing the loving, not 'god'! If we/I are cruel and monsterous, am I only passing off my inhumanity for judgement on the back of an abstraction, while such acts should be confronted by direct encounters with our humanity?

So is this then my 'reason' for bible study, to openly confront the nature of responsibility, the origins of inhumanity, and the rationalizations that can continue to our decay as a species? I expect 'religion', as a 'tool' is contained within this.        

For the Lutherians, I hear a great deal said about acceptance, fellowship, community, love, etc. These can all be parts of any/all social-relating. For the Lutherians, they seem to link these to 'god', as if they originate with that abstraction, and 'Jesus' as a more concrete example and/or entry point.

That is a very good point James.


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