Why are atheists so obnoxious?

What is an atheist and why are they so obnoxious?

To understand we have to understand what atheism is. Atheism means “without theism.” I’ll explain that in detail a little later. There have always been atheists, but until the last century we were not allowed to officially exist. Heretics were not looked upon kindly by anyone. Consequently we were numbered as very few. Those that were didn’t dare admit they were atheists.

But with the decline of the Catholic Church due to Luther and others, agnosticism became somewhat tolerated, though it was still not advertized by many. Deism took root as well, and the new America, being a nation of many cultures, decided that it was best to separate church and state. Most other countries had an official religion.

This meant that religion became a personal thing, not talked about at the dinner table or in polite society. Everyone was happy, and atheists were free to be who they were. There were no militant atheists in those days, and most Christians understood that we could be moral people even without a god in our lives.

There were revolutions elsewhere, where the church took the side of the state, (like in France) and as a result secular states become the norm. At the same time, through the advent of new science, materialism was born. Work was quickly begun on stories like Frankenstein, Jeckle and Hyde, Dorian Gray, etc; all showing what we needed to fear from Materialism if it continued. Now atheists were no longer just non-believers in the eyes of the public, they had a belief system, (or so it was thought) and everything was philosophically on the table including morality. Scary stuff for believers. But Materialism was in its infancy, had a lot to learn and discover, and made a lot of mistakes.

Still, as that settled down people began to get back to normal relations and religion was a personal thing again. Live and let live. Atheism was here to stay but not taken particularly seriously.

But then there was Darwinism. Evolution created such a backlash in the US it created what is now fundamentalism and a new militant theism. In the US atheists lost jobs, were treated badly again, and they went back into hiding in some parts of the country.

But the damage had been done. Atheism was here to stay, and there has been a war raging between the new militant theists and the new militant atheists for years now. The internet has made it much much worse because now we can all communicate so much easier with everyone around the world. But at the same time, in forums and clubs the debates can rage on without the danger of anyone actually getting up and hitting someone in the mouth, which would happen in face to face confrontations. So now we can both explain ourselves at leisure and in all honesty. In the real world, most people still do not openly debate religion and atheism, and thereby avoid bloodshed.

So for the moderate Christian atheism has become obnoxious. “Why don’t atheists understand?” is their cry. In short, moderate Christians and atheists alike are collateral damage.

It is mostly to those moderate Christians I address this message, and offer my apology for being obnoxious. But it is inevitable

There is a lot of misinformation about atheism. So let’s start there. The simple fact that Christians do not seem to understand what the word atheism means is probably one of the most frustrating problems for an atheist in any debate. Christians often tell us atheism is just a religion or belief system like any other. But that is utterly false. Atheism means one thing and one thing only. It means a person lacks belief that a god exists. Christians have that belief, atheists lack it. It means nothing more than that. Atheism is not a belief that there is no god, it is lack of belief that there is one. It is perhaps a subtle difference, but an important one.

Just as Christians lack belief in all other gods but one, atheist also lack belief concerning that one. We only lack belief about one less god than you do. A-theism = lack of theism. Not belief in the lack of a god. There is no faith involved.

Atheism tells you nothing about what an atheist may or may not believe. Some atheists may say with seeming absolute certainty that there is no god. But most of us know that is an untenable position. No can prove there is no god possible, just as no one can prove there is one with any certainty. They can only logically prove certain aspects or attributes of the god in question are impossible. That never negates the possibility of a god without those attributes. So the logical, and by far the strongest stance for an atheist is simple lack of belief, not belief of lack.

It’s like the subject of Big Foot. Do you believe they exist? There is no way to be sure one way or the other. So most people just say they don’t think it does exist, but are certainly willing to accept the fact if one is eventually found. Atheists maintain no other stance for the existence of god. It is highly unlikely that one exists, but if it is true that it does then so be it. In the mean time there is no reason to believe there is one.

So what does an atheist believe? Well that’s up to the individual atheist. Some are Pantheists, some are materialists, now properly called Physicalists. They might believe anything at all, or nothing at all. The only criteria for saying you are an atheist is lacking a belief that a god does exist.

A great misconception of the theist is that atheists believe in science. That is not always the case. While the scientific method is the best way we have yet devised to get objective knowledge of the world, a great deal of how it is interpreted is speculative. It is not helpful to science to have people believing in interpretations. So a lot of modern atheists no longer want to stake any faith what so ever on anything. There is no need.

That’s why I wrote a book called “The Seekers Guide.” Basically it explores a new idea: There is no reason to believe anything at all. To believe in a fact is redundant. The fact is a fact whether you believe it or not. Your belief one way or another will not change a fact. Secondly, if it is not a fact, it is speculation. To invest belief in a speculative idea is a weak position. In fact, it can do more harm to you than good if it turns out you were dead wrong. People who lose faith in whatever their belief system is, quite often fall apart mentally. No need for belief, so why invest belief in anything at all?

This is the problem between Christians and atheists. We come to the world from very different ways of doing things, and very different ways of thinking. To the theist, faith is necessary. It is a good thing. We have all been taught that from the time we were small. To an atheist who is also a materialist, it is not a good thing; it is counterproductive to finding out what is actually going on.

To the theist, it is assumed that god does exist. To the materialist, saying god defiantly exists is at worst a lie. No one can say that with certainty. While faith gives certainty to the theist, the atheist does not recognize that certainty as being based on anything real. The two will never see eye to eye.

This is the reason for separation of church and state. It protects the rights of all people to think what they want, while giving authority to no one group. After all, even Christians argue amongst themselves as to who has god’s word. This is also a frustration for atheists because there is no standard belief. It seems every Christian has their own personal religion. You can argue hell with one today, and find out from another tomorrow that there is no hell. Christians mostly need to be protected from each other.

In multi cultural societies it is even more important to separate church and state because there are hundreds of religions out there.

And that is what the argument is really all about in the US. What to teach the children. We cannot teach children creationism because not all religions believe in it. Not all stories of creation are the same. But evolution is not a religion class. It is a science class. Science is not taught in religion classes and religion is not taught in science classes. It only makes sense. In public schools funded by everyone, comparative religion is an appropriate subject, while teaching one specific religion is not. Religion needs to be taught in the home and in church, if parents choose to.

But now militant Christianity wants to undo that separation, not only for schools, but for politics. So yes, there is an inevitable war on between those who want to keep separation and those who want their belief to rule.

Secular society does not mean atheist society. Secular society means a society run by all beliefs and by none. What is best for all, not what is best for some. Just because no religion runs things doesn’t mean that by default atheism does. We are just one of many minorities that need protection from everyone else.

So that’s why atheists have become as obnoxious as fundamentalists. Perhaps when Christianity once again adopts an attitude that religion is a private matter, and that separation of church and state is good for all involved, we can all go back to a live and let live attitude. But as long as fundamentalist Christianity rages, militant atheism will counter it; and moderate Christians and atheists will be attacked on forums and become collateral damage.

As for ever agreeing on anything else, it isn’t likely.

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12 comments

Pcunix profile image

Pcunix 5 years ago from SE MA

Perhaps even more importantly, evolution and all science is taught as theory, not dogma, Theory is always subject to revision and refinement; dogma never is.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Absolutely.


just_curious 5 years ago

Well, you took my silly Hub and found something useful to do with it. Very impressive. Don't tell anyone, but I'm with you 99% of the way on everything. Except for the teeny difference of opinion on the existence of God. But, I believe we should function as a secular society. It's more interesting and productive.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

No, actually this was from our original conversation on one of the forums. My comments on your recent hub are in my hub called "Top Ten things you need to know about Atheist vs Religion Forums"

I won't tell anyone you agree with an atheist. Though it isn't surprising. Some atheist marry Christians. It's done all the time. I've been married for 30 years to one. We can get along. But I will tell people you are all in all, at the very least, a very reasonable Christian. ;) Is that ok?


just_curious 5 years ago

You are too kind.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Slarty, what a load of malarky! I found absolutely nothing obnoxious in your hub! False advertising! ;-)

Now that my rant is out of my system, I can say that I loved it all. Very nicely done.

For me, obnoxiousness comes from ego--that ever insidious desire to be "right." The tapestry that ego weaves stretches all the way from the suicide to the tyrant. Each is a bit too much of themselves. I should know. I'm an expert! I have entirely too much ego. It sticks to my logic like flypaper.

I'm a Christian who has also been a Buddhist, a Scientologist and a Southern Baptist. I'm also a scientist (astronomy, physics, geology, anthropology, computer science and others). My kind of Christianity looks very little like that which I find in every church I've visited. Separation of church and state are essential for my own personal search for answers.

I have experienced many things which some Christians would consider evil--walking the strands of space sans corpus but with full visual acuity, creating effects without physical continuity, and remembering past lives. My own empirical experiences have proven to me my own spiritual nature. But if the Southern Baptists take over, I might be one of the first to be burned at the stake in the United States. I still haven't gotten over the last time that happened. Ouch!

Golden Rule's humility, please! We might learn more from each other with a healthy dose of it as an appetizer. And Slarty, you serve up a "mean" salad of ideas. Thanks!


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

lone77star

Oh hell. Next time I have to remember to be more obnoxious then. ;) We need ego. That's something I am an expert on having all but lost it at one time as well as the ability to function properly in society. But you are right that it is a double edged sword. Most of us need to learn to modify it. People don't understand the personal reward of doing so. More is the pity.

I'm pleased you liked the hub. I've been by to read some of yours and will be reading more of them. I've been a little busy or I would have responded sooner.

If all Christians were as open minded as you, atheists and Christians would get along just fine. ;)


victor2322 profile image

victor2322 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Good hub. I like it when an atheist takes a non-violent approach to explain their belief (or lack thereof, I should say) In the end, the stuff most Christians and Atheists argue over are meaningless semantics. I doubt one has ever converted the other over a forum comment thread but they still insist on the fight.

As a Christian, I have just never felt compelled to try to convert someone or defend "God." If God wanted someone to defend Him, he surely wouldn't have the likes of me, doing it.

When I first read the title I thought it was going to be written by a self righteous Christian. I had already prepared my comment to be along the lines of "What about all the obnoxious Christians?"

maybe that will be the title of my next hub.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

victor2322

Thanks for responding. I always like to see Christians with a non-violent approach too. ;) It's also nice to see a rational Christian. There seem to be a few of you on hubpages. You are few and far between in most forums I've been to. But that's probably because this is a place for writers, not specifically for religious debate.

Still it gets pretty messy in here at times.

"If God wanted someone to defend Him, he surely wouldn't have the likes of me, doing it."

That's always been my stance as well. God should be able to do it's own dirty work.

"When I first read the title I thought it was going to be written by a self righteous Christian."

Nah. It was written by a self righteous atheist. But I wish you every success with your new hub, and the rest of your life, of course. ;)


stupid religous people 3 years ago

i hate all religious people!!!!!! No god exists!!! Geez, why is everyone so stupid???????????


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 3 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

It is true that atheists do not always believe in science. It is just part of the mental indoctrination of media, college text books, and anti-Christians to say, "Christians don't believe in Darwinism or science."

I do laugh at the idea that "rain upon the rocks" created something alive, not matter how minute, and that organism became a fish which became a bear which became a man. That is ludicrous.

However, I am an engineer (when you think of a scientist, you are thinking of an engineer, 90% of the time.) I admire and respect logic and the scientific process. I don't respect bias and data distortion at all. Dogma is for the weak.


Christy Kirwan profile image

Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

Great Hub. I'm not a religious person, but my boyfriend is a militant atheist (and I'm not). It really drives me crazy sometimes because it gets in the way of him accepting and understanding that there can be positive and neutral aspects of religion as well as negative, just like everything else. But your Hub has helped me understand the reasons behind why some atheists become so militant. Thanks! :D

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