Top Ten things you need to know about Atheist vs Religion Forums
Well the title is a bit deceiving. This is a rebuttal to another hub page. The author won’t be named. But because of this hub page it has occurred to me that many theists come to Hubpages not ever having met an atheist and not having been to a religion vs atheism forum. The author of this list writes that both atheists and the forums came as a real surprise.
“I had heard of the concept (atheism) but, to be honest, I believed it to be a bit of a myth. I’d toyed with the idea, but knew I was just a kid that would eventually have to grow up and face the facts. I always pictured the average atheist as a communist peasant, throwing his cigarette onto the polished marble floors of the palace once the Czar had been deposed. Non belief in God’s existence. Unfathomable.”
Is it true that there are places in the US where you can live your entire life without knowing atheists? Being a Canadian that comes as a real shock to me. It’s almost unfathomable.
They go on to write:
“As crazy as it sounds, I considered the ultimate purpose of science was to find the answers as to how God created all things. I assumed the scientists understood this to be their mission. If rumour on Hub Pages has it right, then it appears scientists are sincere when they declare their disbelief. I am still processing this huge discovery.”
True it is. But historically science has always taken the stance that god is irrelevant. As the author of the above says, for many scientist science was the way to find out how god did it. Many scientists were theists until the middle of the last century. So the idea that god did it, whatever it was, has always been irrelevant. It tells you nothing about what is actually going on or how it all works. Nothing has changed. The idea of god is still irrelevant to science. Only now most scientists, particularly the physicists, are atheists. You don’t have to be an atheist to be a physicist. But it helps if you are not a young earth creationist. You tend to make a mess of things, as is evidenced by that mockery of science and probably religion as well, the Creation Museum. It’s in Texas I believe. Come to think of it, it’s probably a mockery of museums as well.
As crazy as it sounds, when I was a kid I thought that there was only one religion seeing as there was but one god, that the world was run by a single government that was dedicated to the betterment of all people around the world, and that advertizing was a public service announcement telling us all about new miracle breakthroughs in laundry soap. Seriously I did. I was shocked to the core when at 6 I discovered none of what I believed was true. Oh well. It has to happen to all of us.
“So, having found that atheism is, indeed, a fact I found myself confronted head on with the philosophy. Trial by fire, the first few weeks it seemed to me to be. A more aggressive mind set I had never encountered outside of my own. I have found it at times to be disconcerting, haughty, predatory in its disdain for all things spiritual and sundry other things I should not share (due to the fact that I believe we need to maintain a minimum standard of courtesy in our Hubs).”
All things an atheist would say about theists if they had never been to a religion vs atheism forum. I guess that’s what really needs to be discussed here. The forums. I’ll make my comments on that basis.
So now to the list. This is what the author of it says about it’s creation:
“ This list exists solely because one of them (an aggressive atheist) asked me to name a few reasons I found the thought of atheism so distasteful.”
“Tenets of the Aggressive Atheist Faith”
One of the ten things that drive atheists mad. Calling atheism a faith. I don’t know how much time I devote in forums correcting theists who say atheism is a faith. It seems theists are unable to fathom a way of living without some sort of faith. But I won’t go over it all again here. I’ve written about it in other hubs. So let’s begin:
1: “All theists are delusional.” Theists hate this phrase almost as much as atheists hate the phrase “Atheist faith”. It really is just as big of an insult to them. They do not seem to understand that the atheist by nature finds the idea of a god, and in particular the Christian god, a delusion of the mind. Dawkins called it a viral idea: A meme. I’m not sure I absolutely agree with his entire theory. But the gist of it is that Christianity is full of traps which keep the individual infected, such as hell, that faith is good, that god punishes for lack of belief in him, and that to just think of the none existence of god is dangerous. Believers that dare to try thinking of a world without god are constantly being drawn back into belief by guilt and fear. The bible even tells us that the wise who do not believe in god are the stupidest of them all, and that to be wise isn’t even a good thing to begin with.
Another feature of the Christian meme is its mandate to spread the disease. The Catholic missionaries used to tell the native heathens that their god was just, and if you have never heard of him your soul is judged only on your deeds. But once you have heard the word, there is no excuse and if you do not believe, you go to hell. I say, yeah. Thanks a lot for telling us... no not really. Hearing the word is to be infected, in other words.
There is also a comfort in it that is hard to resist. Particularly for those who are depressed or in trouble. There is a great reward for “right” thinking. You will be given eternal life in the end, so all the suffering you do here and now is irrelevant. It’s all a test. You will see your departed loved ones again someday. This punishment for wrong thinking and reward for correct thinking is a powerful incentive to believe.
If you have never been a believer from birth, you have some immunity to these ideas. Your parents have probably spoken out against religion so it is your tradition not to believe. But as a former Catholic and theist, I know full well the power of the Christian concept. It is exactly like a virus and could be likened to an addiction as well. Even when you want to be free of it, it draws you back from all angles at once. But once you have achieved non-belief it is liberating, exactly like being cured. But I can see how it would be a rather insulting idea if you were a believer, even though it’s true.
The reason I don’t completely agree with Dawkins is that it seems to me that these packet concepts or memes, are the normal way we communicate, and can be found everywhere in different forms. But I’ll leave that explanation for perhaps another discussion.
Do atheists really think theists are delusional? Yes we do. In the same way, theists think that atheists are delusional. Any theist who denies this is not being true to their faith. Why give up everlasting life or risk hell? We are here to save you, they say. The inquisitions that took place from the late 300s to 1966 in various forms and intensities worked on this one premise. Better to be tortured into believing, here on earth while there is time, than face eternal damnation. They were doing people a favour.
A theist can of course be a rational logical person in all ways but this one. So to say all theists are delusional is a default position only applying to their theology, not necessarily every other aspect of the person’s thinking. But why does theism seem delusional to an atheist? Because it cannot be shown to be true. A person claiming that there really is a god, is not making a statement of fact. They are giving a speculative opinion and selling it as fact. That is as much as the definition of a lie. But theists don’t see it that way. To them, they are doing you a big favour by telling you about the true and only god. If you do not know you are lying, is it still a lie?
To me it is a misunderstanding of your position and of the facts, not a lie. So to believe in speculation as a fact is by definition a delusion. But to a theist, it is faith. And faith is just the best thing ever! But again, faith, to an atheist is delusion by definition.
So that is the problem. Both parties come to the question from entirely different perspectives. And both think the other side is delusional for taking their stance. Can’t be helped. Let’s be honest about it. The entire reason for the list was to show how delusional atheists are.
2: “An aggressive atheist is always right.” This is, of course, the pot calling the kettle black. Did I just give away my age? Never mind. The point is that it is the nature of debate that one take a strong position and defend it until such time they themselves become convinced it is wrong. Human nature and ego on both sides of any issue make being wrong unthinkable. After all, people have usually come to their opinions through long and hard deliberation with themselves, and do not want to lose what they thought they knew. We after all, in reality know so little with certainty. While the theist complains about the atheist’s aggressive stance the atheist complains about the theist’s aggressive stance. There are idiots on both sides of the issue, but other members of the team, no matter which side, will usually rally to defend even the most consummate idiot on their side. Would that we all just argued with reason and logic, and left our egos at home. But that isn’t the way mobs work, and this type of debate often becomes a mob mentality very quickly.
I could do a hub on the nature of religious/atheist forums. Too many people are shocked to see what others think of them. For example, according to theists, atheists cannot be moral as they have no basis for judging it. Christians often say they wouldn’t work with an atheist or knowingly associate with one. Theists treat atheists like second class citizens, refusing them jobs in certain places and even firing them if they confess to atheism in others. I’ve heard people in the US say they wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president. We are going to hell. We cannot live a happy fulfilled life. All of it is nonsense, of course.
On the other hand atheists accuse theists of being delusional and irrational. True, but if I were constantly told how irrational I am I’d get miffed too. Little actual debate happens, and it often becomes a flame-fest. The trick is to grow a thick skin and know why you are there. For the theist it is to defend theism and make atheists see the light. For atheists it is to tell theists they are living in fantasy land. If you are there to test your faith, it will be tested. But these forums are not for everyone. Some people just shouldn’t participate in them.
Here on Hubpages they are tame compared to forums I have been on. One in particular has no moderator and no rules. It is a real trial by fire for anyone’s ideas. But these forums are not set up for rational debate in a formal manner. Don’t expect that they are, and listen rather to the ideas that come forward, and consider those. Above all, never take anything personally.
3: “I am a god.” Christians think atheists believe they are god. I hear it all the time. It’s a little absurd to believe that. Some Pagans believe that. Mormons believe they will be eventually. Many people in to new age religions believe that. But atheists don’t. They may rely on their own ability to reason to make moral judgements, but that doesn’t make us think we are god.
4: “An inability to understand compassion.” It isn’t that atheists have an inability to understand compassion or someone’s appeal to religion on those grounds. The theist asks: What comfort is there in a world with no god? What do they tell the sick and dying? That it’s just too bad? That there is no after life, so suck it up?
To an atheist death is usually accepted as inevitable and the end. No one gets out of here alive. To us it is better to accept the probable truth rather than tell ourselves stories about a speculative after life. Should we wake up dead we will have to deal with it. But no, we aren’t so cruel as to bring up death or the finality of it to dying cancer patients. If they are religious then now is not the time for philosophy debates. We will get them a priest or whatever their religion demands or they desire. If they are atheists then they have likely made peace with the fact that it is going to soon be over. In Canada there are many health care professionals who are atheist and deal with terminal patients every day in a very caring and professional manner. The patient’s religion is not put in to question. Theists have an unrealistic idea of the life of an atheist. It’s much more mundane and normal than they seem to imagine.
5: “The need to make up your own spelling of words.” Funny this should be on the list because I swear that on specific forums for Christian vs atheist debates, one of the major comments from atheists is: Does being theist preclude you from using a spell checker? It seems that so many people these days just don’t take the time to check their spelling. I used to be caught on that constantly when I was younger and finally decided to correct the error of my ways. No it is not that atheists or theists have a hard time using a spell checker, it is that people in general are becoming sloppy about it due to texting, as well as other factors. There is nothing like having a few regulars rubbing it in to make people think twice though. If people only realized that there is nothing that can hurt your ability to pass on your ideas more than the distraction of bad spelling.
6: “A very long nose.” Meaning something to look down at theists from. The atheist would say that religion looks down on us with such a nose and has done so for centuries. So now it is the atheist turn. We have rationality and logic on our side so we know we are a few up on you. But again, both parties are guilty of the same thing. No use denying it.
7: “The need to make up names of imaginary gods.” Well there is a good reason for that. What the author means, of course, is that we mention other gods like Zeus and ask if they believe in them. If not, why not? Or we say belief in their god is like belief in invisible pink squirrels. Neither can be proven to exist and no one can prove they don’t. To the theist this seems odd. Those other gods don’t make sense. They are not real and not relevant. But what the Christians fails to see is that to the believer’s in Zeus, he was as real and as relevant as they think theirs is.
Mankind has created over 4000 different gods, not including at least 8 thousand Hindu manifestations of god, all with their own names and their own stories. To the atheist, if all those gods are imaginary even to theists, why is theirs any different? And of course it is not. That theists do not take kindly to that being pointed out is not the atheist’s fault. Out of 12 thousand gods we just believe in one less than they do. We really are just wondering why they still believe in that one.
Historically religions run their course in 2 to 4 thousand years. Every believer has believed as hard as today’s theist does. Each has seen their idea of a god fall away into obscurity. It won’t be any different for this god or this religion. It is already happening. Christianity is in decline worldwide. There are an estimated 200,000,000 atheists now and the number is growing. I’d say that is a very conservative estimate. North and South America, not including Canada, are the last bastions of hard Christianity. Most of Europe is over 25 percent atheist. Canada was at 16 percent. But in a pole done this year, the percentage of teenagers believing there is a god fell from 56 percent 10 years ago to just over 35 percent. 31 percent have no opinion. I believe the CIA official estimate for atheists is just over 2 percent of the US. But I highly doubt that figure is accurate. It is more like 10 to 12 percent from other sources.
8: “Distortion of facts. There appear to be no rules in the advancement of aggressive atheism.” As there are no rules in theist aggression. We atheist learned to be aggressive through talking to theists. All it takes is a few debates with a Calvinist or a Born Again Christian to see what aggression is all about. Fundamentalists are the main target of the atheist who takes on debates in forums. We get hardened in battle, so to speak. And as I said in another Hub, the moderate theist and atheist who have a live and let live attitude are collateral damage in these discussions. It’s a pity.
A theist may admit that there were some things done in the name of god that were not right. Some wars started and such, but they will usually (and rightly) say that most of the wars were really political, and used religion as an excuse. But then they will say all atheist governments have been dictatorships and have killed millions. Of course that is a gross distortion of the facts. There has never been an atheist government. There have been communist governments who viewed religion as a threat to their rule, but atheism is not communism. To blame the atrocities of communist governments on atheism is to be wilfully ignorant of the facts.
So again, both sides do the same thing for the same reasons, and are very aggressive about their stand in an open debate. You can’t blame one side and not the other.
9: “Inability to laugh at much.” Not so. But when they are having fun being aggressive with theists it may seem that way.
10 “There is no God. Even though this is, as it has been presented to me, the bottom line atheist belief, I don’t think I would ever want to have to repeat myself quite so much as an aggressive atheist feels the need. Perhaps it is necessary to maintain the mindset.”
This from a theist. Why do we have to constantly say there is no god? Because theists constantly say there is. They threaten us with it, they warn us about it, they tell us it loves us and died for us, even though it is still alive according to them. The bible tells them specifically to go out and spread the word. And we have heard it all our lives and it really is not news anymore after two thousand years. But they keep pushing it on us as if it is the first time we heard about it. And then they ask us why we say there is no god so often.
To maintain our mindset? No. To counter theirs. Because that is what the discussion is about.
The point of all this is that both parties can be and are annoying to the other, and for the same reasons. The open debate forum is not a structured debate between two or more people. They are perhaps the last place in the world where no one has to be PC. The un-moderated versions even more so. Both parties tend to flame each other and throw whatever verbal barbs they can at each other, and from time to time someone makes a good point.
It’s like the wrestling ring of the philosophy world. A lot of theatrics and very few gems. But there are some gems occasionally, and they are a good place to learn how to spar. So for some of us they are worth participating in. Something to be said for being dragged into the mud once in a while too. Exfoliation, I think it’s called.
The religious forums are not for everyone. No shame in taking a pass on them. But if you do participate, grow a thick skin, and learn to take nothing personally. And for Zeus sake, use a spell checker. Nothing worse than looking like an idiot right after you’ve been called one.