"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, I used to get mad at God and Santa Claus, but that was a long time ago."

I wish we had a like button sometimes!

Honestly, the ones that are too stupid to get it aren't the ones we are talking to. They are lost.  So don't lose any sleep over it

I feel that rather than unwittingly promoting their, "don't you just hate God," it's actually just pointing out they aren't even capable of assuming disbelief. In general I assume that this person isn't worth talking to any longer.

"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.



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