"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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I do try to make this distinction as clear as I possibly can, for one I usually end my argument with something along with lines of, "At least he's just a figment of your imagination!" or I say "your god" rather than "God". In fact, I try to avoid saying "God" with a capital G whenever I can. There is no capital G god because "God" is not a name anymore than "king" is a name, even if there is only one king. You would only capitalize king if you were to say King David, or King George... but not just as a reference, like "the king". So I very often refer to the Hebraic god as Yahweh, since that is exactly who I am talking about.

I think you're right, and I think of it quite often... even when debating with my mother. I feel like I have to constantly underscore this is merely an abstract, philosophical discussion of the character named Yahweh in the Bible. I also think Zeus is a jerk, but I don't have to be sure no one thinks I actually believe he's real. It's kind of exhausting, but I hope others will try to make this distinction as often as possible.

this is true for me also (not that anyone cares but il just state) and ive said God damn and use Jesus Fing Christ but for me i still dont know if there is a god. 

Cara that is exactly how I and I think everyone should phrase it, as "your god".  That establishes the boundrys needed imo.

Dear Folks:

It seems hard to be 'mad' at nothing. Even by my awareness of mortality, it seems hardly worth a tear.

Our mother died last year at 87. We spread her ashes on the family property which she had called home for 63 years. I spread my little portion of Mom's ashes over our garden spot, which latter had rather good tomatos. Latter I felt the sense of romance concerning Mom's life here, but was not sure if it made any sense. Just on our nearly daily walks, it is hard to not find signs of death, but in the absence of a god concept how can I gather together anger at 'something'. The world and nature seems rather impersonal, even my own relationship with it seems potentially devoid of romance.

So my little wonders, and small appreciation for mystery still remains, but it seems clear that it is what I bring to the connection, and not what the world or natures offers to me.

So 'god' seems diffuse and without substance/reality, while the soils, rocks, life and details, gives something to grasp, but not to really 'love'. Is this something to work on? 

I admit I've gotten mad at things that break, like a vacuum cleaner or car. I hope they don't come back to haunt me.

:)

Well the snake shown in the photo is certainly not the "guilty" party; it's some sort of boa or python.  (Totally non-venomous.)

(BTW I am not sure what this has to do with the topic?)

What snake?

Are you sure you're OK?

WTF?  I typed this in response to a post you had on this thread showing a picture of the idiot who got bitten by a snake.  Now it's gone and instead this is a reply to Pope Paul.

Seeing snakes, Steve? - hmmmm - can you spell DT?

I dunno.  I just know it was a smaller version of this photo, which I had never seen before, and your comment was something about not wishing ill on people but...

http://abcnews.go.com/US/serpent-handling-west-virginia-pastor-dies...

Now that I can see the photo full size in this story, it is indeed a rattler with a pattern more like I've seen on boas (we get diamondbacks around here, very different pattern.)  The head is definitely not a boa head.  So I couldn't even interpret my hallucination properly (except that if it was a hallucination, why would I hallucinate a photo I had not seen before?)

RE: "why would I hallucinate a photo I had not seen before?"

Maybe it was a vision!:-O surprise

Or -- there may just be one other possibility -- maybe after you bitched because I decided to share the article on YOUR discussion page, I deleted it, out of courtesy, and when you came on saying, "WTF?," I saw my chance to have a little good-natured fun with you (I suppose one could also call it passive/aggressive payback, if you're one of those "glass half-empty" kind of guys).

Which of those scenarios would you think is more likely true?

pax vobiscum, for reals --

The latter of course.  (Actually I was wondering if the forum had glitched!)

Nice way to "gaslight" me!

I was seriously just wondering how on earth it was germane.  (WTF from me is often "extremely puzzled" rather than "angry.")  It looked more like it belonged over on the thread Heather started about the guy.

(Meanwhile I guess I can take this as another lesson in how not to give people the wrong impression of what I am trying to say.)

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Posted by Quincy Maxwell on July 20, 2014 at 9:37pm 24 Comments

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