Monday, October 14, 2013

Why are Atheists always Angry?

Why are atheists apparently always angry?
Why is the internet filled with angry diatribes against religion? Why do atheists write out all of religion's failings longer than their laundry list? Why do atheists feel like criticizing religion instead of praising it for its merits? Why are atheists so obsessed with religion? Why can't atheists just get over it?

I hear these sorts of questions a lot. Sometimes they even come from other atheists.


But I think there is something crucial that those who ask these types of questions miss with regard to atheism in general.

There is undeniably a psychological aspect to atheism they seem to be missing here.

Needless to say, atheism is merely the antecedent to theism. At its core atheism is a belief assumption in the invalidity of the theistic position. It has often been described as a "lack of belief" for this very reason.

But what doth compel one's atheism?


This is where the psychological aspect comes into play.



In my mind there are two common forms of atheism. More accurately, there are two ways one becomes atheist, which consequently leads to the two forms. Within these processes there we find subsets of atheistic thought, such as: nonbelief, disbelief, and unbliefOne's particular atheistic stance can fall just about anywhere on this scale, and it may vary from atheist to atheist. But for the most part, people come into atheism in one of two key ways.


1) They either begin without any prescribed to set of religious beliefs, and as a natural nonbeliever, start with atheism as their default belief.
...or...
2) They begin religious and then later, for whatever reason (or reasons), begin to reject these prior held beliefs.



After this, categorizing the types of atheists becomes tricky, because really it becomes about categorizing the types of beliefs atheists may hold apart from their atheism. 

But the real question we need to address is why would a person who was never religious to start with grow to despise and oppose religion as much as one who is currently rebelling against it? Well, to understand this phenomenon we must not be so naive as to think religion completely innocent in the matter, least of all in sparking the ire of the atheist.



Religion has, in many cases, genuinely caused mental anguish and physical harm. As might be expected, many atheists are simply in a process of healing. As for the particulars of the perceived abuses, I will cite two examples. One for each type of atheist.



Natural atheist/nonbeliever from birth
Consider yourself, for the sake of argument, a nonbeliever from birth. You have always been a nonbeliever. Maybe you were raised by scientific minded parents. Or maybe your parents just never were all that religious. Whatever reason, you simply have never been given any religious beliefs and so have never formulated an opinion on it. At most you reject it off-hand because it sounds outlandish and totally absurd, and in actuality, you have better things to be doing than worrying about which is the right religion of the gazillion which exist or have ever existed.

Okay, now consider that you are also a homosexual by birth. Through no fault of your own, you simply were born with a different set of biological programming.

As with any other minority, you were simply going about minding your own business, and just being you, when suddenly religion comes along and tells you that because you do not conform to its ideal person, that you're opinions simply do not matter. Your love isn't worth considering, because according to their standards you are somehow an abomination, and so you are restricted certain legal rights that everyone else enjoys.

To add insult to injury, you are told that you may not get married.

Why?

Because religion and the religious simply will not allow it. Probably more regrettably however, because they are the majority, they have used their numbers to out vote your minority status, and thereby have superseded your request for marriage equality and have practically guaranteed that you will continue to be restricted the same legal protections that they enjoy.

When you contest such iniquity you are viewed as a threat to their way of life, because you are different, and so they attack you again, this time in the public forum, to demonize you and insist that you are threatening to strip them of their privilaged status when, in actuality, they are the ones stripping you of your rights.

They call you names like faggot and abomination, and their spite seems to know no bounds. Sometimes people on the street jeer at you, make snide little comments just beyond earshot of you in the supermarket, and give you contemptible stares as you ride the bus--as if you were garbage in their eyes.

Why?  


Because you were born differently. Really. There's no other reason than that.


It's like telling the African American to sit at the BACK of the bus for no other reason than they're BLACK--because they just so happened to be born with a different biological make-up. It's the exact same narrow-minded, insular, and horribly intolerant attitude, no two ways about it. 


But to make matters worse, you don't believe in God!

Not only are you considered a genetic freak, an ungodly mutation, but you're immoral for being a God-denying-atheist. They begin to wonder, maybe you're not a homosexual by birth. Maybe that's just the "excuse" you use to continue being a rebellious, ungodly, hedonistic heathen.


Granted, one may point out that certain atheists are also for traditional marriage and have spoken out against marriage equality for same-sex couples, but I would venture to guess such types of atheists are rather ignorant. The fact that they are so few and far between suggests something else might be going on there. But we cannot deny that when it comes to the vast majority of the religious who want to maintain traditional marriage, this is entirely for religious reasons.



Imagine the sting of being denied the right to fully express your love, or to gain the same legal benefits as other married couples, because someone would rather oppress you than allow you basic human rights or learn to tolerate your differences.

I find it rather dense of anyone who'd come along and ask, "So, why are you always angry?"

Well... gee. Let me see?

I also find it rather dense of the religious when they cannot seem to understand why others would be angry at religion (and the religious in general) for intentionally degrading homosexuals--as if having compassion and empathy for our fellow brothers and sisters because of the unfair burdens placed upon them by religion somehow wasn't good enough.

Worse than these bewildered believers are the ones who make excuses for them. Not all religious believers are bad, they will remind us. But then again, I like to remind them that in order for the majority to strip the homosexual of their legal rights, that an unprecedented amount of religious believers have to vote in that way.

Instead of telling me that not all religious hate homosexuals and are anti-marriage equality, they should be telling their fellow religious brethren. At the very least this would cause interference, and confusion, among the religious leaders who would then have to contend with the heretical views of the large groups of genuinely compassionate religious believers, or look foolish in the process of turning on their own--for no other reason--then they simply wanted their religious leaders to act more kindly toward other fellow human beings.

But instead of doing this, they complain that we nonbelievers make too much of a big deal out of the negative aspects of religion. Well, duh. Because the negative aspects are impacting not only us, but everyone. Wasting taxpayer money to vote for stupid laws that strip legal rights from others, when nothing illegal is transpiring, impacts me (as a taxpayer) and everyone else.

If gays want to get married, let them! No skin off my back. But when I'm one of the people paying for the public servants time, I find it doubly offensive that I have to pay them to stand there and listen to why some idiot thinks that letting some same sex couples express their love through marriage is somehow a moral crime. Don't expect me to be happy about it.

But you don't have to be gay to receive such abuses from religion and the religious. Religion has historically oppressed the minority at every chance. Whether it be gays, women, children, people of various ethnicity, or even nonbelievers. Much of this religious oppression is not merely perceived, but quite real.

Being angry at oppressive bullying is natural.

Being angry that everyone devalues you and treats you like a second-class citizen is natural.

Being angry that they pretend not to understand why you're angry, even when they actively seek to do these things, cause these harms, is more than warranted.


Atheists Who Openly Reject Religion (And have reasons for doing so)
Then there are the atheists who have been brought up in religion and then, one day, grow a mind of their own.

We also find that these atheists tend to grow indignant anytime religion gets mentioned. But is it so strange? After all, they were indoctrinated early on into their parents' religious belief system, after which they were the lucky recipients of a long process of inculcation, so as to ensure they would never think for themselves.

Imagine being force-fed your food well past childhood into adulthood. Now, imagine maturing enough that you could not only feed yourself but explain to your parents that they needn't bother continuing to pamper you, but ignoring your request to feed yourself they insisted on pampering you anyway!

Now imagine every time you tried to express your discomfort and annoyance at their overbearing treatment they simply ignored you. When you became agitated and upset they threatened to spank you if you didn't obey their every word and follow their every rule.

Well, why wouldn't you grow angry as such dismissal of not only your autonomy but also the right to your own thoughts and actions?

Being controlled like a puppet is no fun at all. But being expected to dance like a marionette even after the strings have been cut, simply because someone bigger than you says "dance," is dehumanizing.



Making a list of grievances is simply part of the healing process for many atheists, and as for why there always seem to be angry atheists, well, we must realize that people are very different from one another. Some are able to heal faster. Some never get over the initial trauma.



So it seems callous, if you’ll excuse my candor, to expect all atheists not to be affected by religion in some way--or conversely--to expect atheists to be affected all in the same way.

Why are atheists angry? Come now, don't insult our intelligence. It's simply a stupid question.



Criticism Where Criticism is Due

But I do see the point about the bandwagon appeal many atheists make with respect to the more polemic driven forms of a robust and burgeoning atheism which seems to be rather "intolerant" of religious faith. 

Yet I do not quite see what the expectation here is supposed to be. 



Religion has bandwagon appeals down pat, it has always been rather robust and burgeoning, and has intolerance in spades. 

Saying the atheist shouldn't criticize religion's wrong doings is like saying we shouldn't criticize child rape because, after all, the person who did it was religious. I find this form of reasoning rather offensive, especially when so many religious leaders, for example, have frequently been caught molesting and raping small children. Don't criticize them? Don't be angry? You obviously have your priorities backwards if you think that there could ever be such a thing as too much criticism of these types of people and institutions which habitually make excuses for them.

But I get the point that we shouldn't lump together all religious into the same boat as child rapist priests and pedophile pastors. But come on! If there's a repeat pattern to these types of abuses, and it certainly seems there is, and if no other factors can link such habitual behavior other than the fact that all such offenders have been religious or used religion in such a way as to gain access to children, then we certainly can criticize the whole of religion, because this is a problem which everyone, especially the religious, need to address. The fact that so many have not, or simply turn a blind eye, is appalling.

So maybe there are occasions where it is better to lump all religious believers together, since it is their enterprise which is attracting such a mentality. If we can call them out, and say to them, hey, we think you have a serious problem here, and you might want to do something about it... well, then I think this is a constructive criticism. It will better address the issue than simply pretending that it's not my religion, it's not my church, it's that other guy's religion and church. 

I'm sorry, but that simply doesn't cut it. It's faulty logic--because it's denying that religion has any role to play whatsoever in these more than regrettable crimes. And maybe there are people who can maintain such a partition in their mind, and maybe they truly do not think their religion factors in at all--but then I would be willing to bet they simply aren't trying to engage their religion honestly or objectively. "It's not me, it's you..." is one of the first signs of denial. Rather, what the religious should be saying is, "It's definitely me, not you, but I want to try and fix this. How do we work together to address these problems?" 


It's sad that far too many religious people do not think this way. Instead their first reaction is to become defensive and ask, "Why are you so angry?"

How could we not be?


In Summation: Atheists are Fed Up
As human beings, what often gets overlooked is the fact that we are still prone to biases and bouts of irrationality. Not just the religious. Not just atheists. Everyone. 

So expecting atheists to be immune from bad reasoning or biases is, basically, to expect atheists to be superior to the religious with regard to rationality, and I for one do not see this as a fair expectation to have.



I get why people band together. Strength in numbers. Security. Support. A sense of familiarity and comradeship.

And maybe the aforementioned atheists who are still hurting from the sting religion dealt them are simply latching onto perceived heroes, or titans, who have been more successful in knocking down religion and fighting back against the very real poisons of religious bread intolerance.



Although incessant caterwauling can get bothersome, as long as religion doles out its abuses, there will always be angry atheists.



It’s that simple.



If you expect the angry atheists to go away or keep quiet, then you might as well expect religion to go away and keep quiet too, and neither is all that realistic of an expectation, if you ask me.



Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist