Why other Atheists annoy me

You know I’m an Atheist. It says so, right there at the top of this blog. Look. See that? I am an Atheist. I don’t believe in God.

So why would other Atheists annoy me?

For starters, it’s because the lack of believe in God is about all that we have in common. On other matters – even including what to do with our lack of belief – we violently disagree.

But mostly, I think, it is a lack of knowledge about what it is that we deny.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on religion. I have done a couple of subjects at university which brushed over it incidentally, plus one or two subjects with a focus on it, and I’ve read most of the Bible. But there is one thing I understand which a huge number of Atheists seem to disregard:

Not all Christians are the same.

It’s something I see again and again: an Atheist will attack a Christian for being ignorant about their own religion, but what’s really going on is that the Atheist assumes the Christian is a Catholic. The fact that there are many denominations under the Christian banner, and that they all hold their own differing beliefs, seems to go completely unacknowledged in the Atheist community.

Don’t get me wrong; all the denominations are equally wrong. But you can’t lump them all together and say ‘All Christians think/say/do [whatever]!’ It just isn’t true. Not all Christians even recognise the same set of books of the Bible! There have been more books written than feature in any commonly available version.

To me, that sort of behaviour undermines the very point of being an Atheist. Shouldn’t we be more educated than that? Shouldn’t we be aware of every aspect of the thing we oppose? Shouldn’t we apply logic and critical thinking to everything we say, as well as everything ‘the Christians’ say?

Unless you’re prepared to put in some effort and educate yourself about Christianity, you should label yourself an Apathetic Atheist at best, or an Agnostic. You can’t define yourself by a lack of belief in something when you don’t even understand what it is you’re not believing in, or who your opponents are. You might just as well call yourself a tennis player, and then try to engage Layton Hewitt in a game of badminton.

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8 thoughts on “Why other Atheists annoy me

  1. WasDrogan says:

    Of course atheists are annoying, they are people after all, and people suck.

  2. Great post, us christians aren’t all alike, just as atheists differ as well. I’m thankful to posts like this & a couple of good atheist friends for helping me see that, because unfortunately the majority of atheists I meet are not to dissimilar from the fundamentalists they oppose.

  3. There are no fundamentalist atheists. There is only one fundamental issue for atheism; lack of belief in gods. There are lots of different types of believers and non-believers. Some are angry, some are not. When the not-so-angry atheist has dogma shoved in their face and watches nice Christians deny other people basic human rights it becomes hard to stay calm.

    It does not matter that your believer friends are kind and such, they are supporting people and organizations who are not. That’s how much of the damage from religion is accomplished – duping nice folk into supporting bad ideas.

    There is no point in being an atheist. It’s the label that applies when you don’t believe in gods. If there is a point to being an atheist I think it has more to do with simply wanting to understand reality and the truth of it. So the point is knowing truth and atheism is a side effect, not the main show.

    Atheism is not a world view. It does not direct an adherent to do this or not do that. It is no more of a world view than wearing a gray shirt is a world view.

    I often wonder when hearing comments like this post if you would be so kind in commenting on wars. You know, ‘well, not all of the enemy are evil, some of them are nice’ and things along those lines. As long as they don’t kill anyone with their own hands, they’re okay, no matter how much support they give to the armed forces of their country.

    Yes, perhaps not the best analogy but it illustrates the point. You want to say that not all believers are bad while trying to ignore the fact that they continue to support the people and organizations that are bad. Your believer friends might not be bad to you but they’re sure you’re going to burn in hell (or whatever their god uses to punish). Which is worse really? Thinking another person is delusional or knowing they will burn in hell for eternity? No one was ever stoned to death by an atheist. It does not matter how nice a person the believer is, they support bad and dangerous ideas. Putting a smile on that support does not make it less offensive.

  4. TheThinkingAtheist says:

    Myatheistlife, I do agree with much of what you say, but nobody is perfect. Without knowing a thing about you, I could still fairly confidently say that you’ve supported an organisation of some sort at some point in your life that hasn’t represented your interests (or humanity’s interest) in every single conceivable way. We live in a flawed world, and as much as we’d like it to be perfect (even if it’s just our ignorant, flawed notion of ‘perfect’), we have to make compromises in order to function. For many Christians, that means supporting churches or other organisations that are not always morally perfect, or have members that do not share exactly the same beliefs as yourself. Community, religious or otherwise, does not equate to a group of like-minded individuals. A community generally reflects diversity, and with that diversity comes compromise, and acceptance of the rights of everyone to their own opinions and choice, even if some of them have (unintentional or otherwise) unpleasant consequences.

    Suffice to say, I think you’re attacking religion with the high-horsedness of someone who sees the world in black and white. Yes, there are some ideas that are clearly beneficial for the thriving of humanity, and some ideas that are clearly detrimental for humanity’s development, and we should really discuss and debate them long and hard, but there is also a vast gamut of ideas in the middle that are not as simple to define.

    You bring up the analogy of people defending citizens of an ‘evil’ country for propping up the regime with support, but in reality we all do this in some way, if not actively then certainly passively. You are a citizen of a country. You may have voted for a green party, or whatever party you deem the least ‘evil’, but even if you did, that party will probably still make some sort of compromise at some stage, whether it be domestic, or in foreign policy and diplomacy which is inherently full of compromise. How does your moral compass cope with that? The point is, you too make compromises, or support those who do. This is where I think your criticism of those who support countries who do evil things is flawed. The world simply is not black and white.

    • You make very good points… to some extent. I can leave a club or religion. It’s not so easy to leave my country. When I vote, I vote to change that country. When do religious folk vote to change their religion? Sure, you used a bad analogy, but your thinking in this indicates a flaw. Compromise is not always necessary to life. Religion is not necessary to life… you can simply walk away. Citizenship, well, it’s hard to simply declare yourself the citizen of another country. When your government oppresses you, fight back. Look at history, this is the generally accepted manner of dealing with bad governments when voting fails to work.

      I do not see the world in black and white. I do see religion that way. You do not have to believe. You are not forced to submit to religion… at least not in most countries. So supporting a bad organization of your own volition is still a bad thing. You cannot equate tithing to voting. Well, not without being seen as a simpleton.

      No, I do not have to respect the opinions and choices of others. They might have the right to express and make them, but I do NOT have to respect them. When your beliefs affect my rights or the rights of others then I have a duty to oppose your beliefs, to oppose you, and to call your expression of your rights wrong and an ill on society. Without that we could hardly prosecute serial killers, now could we?

      You don’t have to like how I think or express myself. You do have to live with the fact that more and more people think that religion is not just a nuisance, but a harm to society. So as a society with a range of views changes and moves toward a consensus that religion is bad, how long will you defend the rights of people to hold bad and dangerous ideas?

      • TheThinkingAtheist says:

        I’m not sure if you’re responding directly to me, or to a straw man, but I never said you had to respect the opinions and choices of others.

        In any case, I think compromise actually *IS* necessary to life, or at least life in which the majority of people can exist happily. Even if you could convince the majority of people to reject religion, you’d still have to compromise on a huge number of other issues in order for society to function. If nobody compromised, we’d have anarchy. Everyone would have their own rule book and expect everyone else to follow it.

        As for citizenship, it’s not as difficult as it sounds to become a citizen of another country. If you really want it badly enough, there is often a way. The trouble is that people tend to identify with the country of their origin and rightfully so. If, as atheists, we accept that we have just one life and it is to be lived to its fullest, then our origin, our history, our family and our community are important to us. Again, we may not agree with everything they do, but they are part of what makes us who we are. For many people, to walk away from religion would be to walk away from all of these things. Of course it can be done, but it is not easy, and not everyone has the intelligence or the inclination to philosophise about these things. As I said, and as you apparently agreed, the world is not black and white. and while religion may not be overwhelmingly positive to humanity, it may not be the most poisonous thing in many people’s lives either. To expect people to walk away from their family and community in rejecting religion is potentially quite unfair to those who have little interest in philosophy and theology (contradictory though it may be to believe while having no interest in educating oneself about it).

        To unravel centuries of religious indoctrination of our culture is going to require time, potentially many generations, and it can only happen through natural cultural change. These kinds of debates are also certainly part of the process, but to openly declare that you don’t respect someone for their beliefs, even if the beliefs are unfounded and irrational, will only make them defensive and unwilling to listen.

      • @TheThinkingAtheist

        We have two different thoughts on this. I don’t think it’s that hard to walk away from your community and family. If they’re bringing you pain… walk.

        What you call compromise can be viewed as simply the best way to achieve personal goals… using the system as it were. When such statements are devoid of reference they can mean many things. In terms of religion, just walk. There is nothing there that you cannot get elsewhere. It’s not the loss that you think it is. Fear of change probably makes it seem so, but it’s not. If you get a once in a life time job offer on the other side of the country will you turn it down to earn half as much and be near your family and church? How much fear of change do you have?

        You would probably tell a battered woman to simply walk away from her spouse at any cost… right? But you’ll give religion a free pass by saying it’s too difficult for many to simply walk away. They say a frog will happily boil to death as long as you raise the temperature in the pot VERY slowly.

        You suggest that compromise is necessary and follow that by saying that religion isn’t so bad if it’s not killing you outright. Sure, moral integrity goes in the shitter, but that’s ok because you have community and family. Yes, of course you’re pretending to believe the lies, ignoring the hatred and bigotry, but hey, you have family and community.

        To each their own I guess.

  5. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a says:

    I try as much as possible to direct my criticism of religion to those who are truly offensive.

    Yes I do occasionally make generalizations but I come from a background or very moderate Protestant christianity and even amongst them I found hate and intolerance that I could not live with.

    So someone like me is probably fairly justified in making somewhat sweeping statements.

    I have friends of all faiths and there are always exceptions, however it is not always feasible or practical to include every scenario in every discussion.

    If I am questioned on a statement I have made I will happily explain the context.

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