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.
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?
Asserting that one is 'mad at god', has a background assumption that, 'there is a God to be mad it still!' Accusing someone of being 'mad at God' allows them to continue in there belief in that existence and denigns the opinion of the other as having any validity or possibility of truth.
In short, such an assertion is for the theist, not for the atheist!
The atheist is just fine, thank you! When you tell a theist of your disbelief/non-belief, you are doing them a favor, to help them reflux their underlying assumptions, help them maintain their belief in the inharent corrupt nature of reality, and to find one more 'soul' that demands saving(but will frustrate them to no end). Atheists can be part of the preservation of theism, just by playing head games with them!
I was guilty of this once. Thankfully, I caught it and now I think of god as an object of sorts. :3
Normally I'm not "mad" at anyone; be that as it may, true-believers from any group who tout their evangelism piss me off very often.
The problem is that many are mad at God about some past event. There is evidence of that even on this site . So please dont try to hide or mask it by saying it in another way.
How can anyone be angry at a non-existent being? I'm not angry with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny either --
Being "Mad" at a concept is a waste of energy and time; be that as it may, I am not pleased with the people who keep promoting invisible friends and beating us over the head with their book and cross, and simply want to be left alone and allowed to be myself. With that said, my born-again bride for the past 46-years does just that and after many of her co-religionists pissed me off with their "witnessing" she started telling them I was a non-believer and to leave me alone. Mutual respect is all it takes.