Firstly, I’d like to say that this is a stereotype created by religious individuals/groups. Secondly, I will admit stereotypes do exist for a reason. Arrogance is the key term here. Many atheists are blamed for being arrogant, but are they really? And if they are, is their behavior understandable and even justifiable?

Arrogance is found on both sides of the spectrum; the religious and the non. If a person claims to know the truth about something, they are automatically in jeopardy of being labeled as "arrogant." Divine or exclusive knowledge produces an air of arrogance as well as the claim some atheists make when they say they know there is no God, which is a non-provable, non-testable scientific claim, and is therefore an arrogant thing to say. Religionists make the claim that there is a God, which is also a non-provable, non-testable scientific claim, and is likewise an arrogant thing to say. I think the larger majority of atheists take the more rational approach to unprovable theories, though, and simply state their lack of belief in a deity. Since the larger majority of atheists (who are rationalists) don't profess to having any exceptional knowledge of God's non-existence, why are we all automatically getting the "arrogant" label from the rest of the world?

It is obvious that religion is something people take very personally, and due to its theoretical nature, it is a very touchy subject when placed under a microscope. When people make a scientific claim, such as “There IS a god,” it is only natural for other people to question it. Since religionists have no empirical evidence to support their claims and produce a reasonably acceptable answer, they view all criticism as personal attacks. Because they automatically feel threatened, they wrongly label the criticizer arrogant due to their own insecurity. I think we all know that questioning a belief does not make a person arrogant, nor does the desire for others to question their own beliefs or lack thereof. On the contrary, If anyone questions a scientist about his scientific theories, the scientist will simply answer to the best of his ability and accept criticism with open ears. This is because the objectives between the two groups of people are different. Religionists claim to already possess truth, which means there is very little reason to pursue it. Scientists do not claim this truth, and are always in pursuit of it.

And why do many atheists come across as angry? Well, if you're religious and reading this in an attempt to understand... imagine this: a world being dominated by a belief system you do not agree with or even believe is relevant to daily life, such as... everyone believes that it is virtuous to wear sneakers on Fridays. Politicians running for office will usually tack that onto their campaigns, in order to look more virtuous or "good" to the rest of their country... "I promise to lower taxes, pursue alternative energy methods, and yes... I do believe in wearing my sneakers on Friday." Can you see how irrelevant that is to being a good leader of a country? Yet the majority of people around you believe that to be a very important quality in a leader, and inherently view people who don't prioritize wearing their sneakers on Fridays as untrustworthy. After having something so obviously irrelevant force itself into all facets of life, it will wear on you, and the end result is that you'll probably have a pissed off reaction every time someone even mentions sneakers.

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Comment by Corey Lord on August 9, 2009 at 11:38am
This was a well written post and I do hope that this can be more of the type of stuff the public can hear from us non-believers. The problem is that there does seem to be the majority of public comment by atheists that have a more arrogant tone. This isn't saying that the majority of all atheists are arrogant. However, when you hear of atheist groups placing placards that call religion myth and superstition during Christmas next to other religious displays or erecting Festivus by poles next to other Christmas display, I can see where the believers feel like there is arrogance. Festivus was popularized by Seinfeld and used by many as a way to mock the Christian celebration of Christmas. But it was the writer of Seinfeld whose father created that day as way to celebrate his first date with his wife. The biggest issue is the method of informing the public of our interests. A secondary issue is that there too many atheists who only want to point out the absurdity in the beliefs of others. Since we base our conclusions about the non-existence of a deity are rationality and reason, we definitely should not be using mockery or criticism of personal beliefs. The point of our efforts in the public forum should be to increase our visibility as a legitimate demographic and to point out when religion is being promoted in government. Anything else is trying to force a conclusion on someone who has the right to believe and think the way they want to.
Comment by Corey Lord on August 9, 2009 at 12:22pm
But aren't there more effective ways of point out the danger of these delusions? How serious can you expect to be taken if you are using childish tactics like mockery?
Comment by Herk on August 9, 2009 at 12:46pm
I'm one of the few who fall into the category of certainty. I'm certain there are no gods. Under the aegis of "anything's possible," I put the possibility on such a low scale that it isn't worth considering.

Perhaps it's because I'm willing to be wrong. It's like science - today, no aether, tomorrow aether, the next day perhaps no aether again. (One must define aether, of course.) If someone wants to trot out a god for me to look at, maybe I'll reconsider.

My argument is based in rationality: the possibility of deities existing outside of/before the universe is nil, particularly since they would have to be complex, and they would have to exist somewhere. Where? And since humans have invented the very notion of gods, why would one assume the possibility that one of the inventions might be real? And if one we haven't yet thought of is real, what's the point? Such a god would be outside of the human sphere and meaningless to us.

The other possibility is Trickster God, who doesn't want us to know about him, and that's just ludicrous.

I know about the default position being agnosticism, since we can't really know, but I reject that on the grounds that we do know a lot, and the lot we know doesn't leave any room for such a being. It's going to take a pretty plausible argument to get me to change my mind.

Am I arrogant? No, I'm frustrated and sad that the bulk of humanity seems to be so easily manipulated, and that so many are so certain of the indefensible.
Comment by Reggie on August 9, 2009 at 11:36pm
Michel is right. Mockery is very effective and not just for children. It is a tool that is used to make individuals conform to the group and it works very well. I don't always agree with how it is used, but in cases of religious nuttery, I wholly approve of mockery in many instances.


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