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.
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. . . . .
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.