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Three MORE Things that Make This Atheist Angry

Updated on June 13, 2014

Introduction

I was not intending on starting a hub series with my first post about three things that make this atheist angry. The more I think about it, however, the more things seem to come to mind. The first hub covered marriage equality, the separation of church and state and the phenomenon of Christian privilege and cries of persecution. As this new hub develops, we will understand that this frustration runs deeper than imagined, and that real, justifiable and tangible reasons for anger DO exist, and need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

1. The Christian Double Standard

This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has witnessed a conversation, whether heated or polite, between a typical atheist and a typical believer. No matter how reasonable, knowledgeable or eloquent the atheist may be, a peculiar double standard begins to appear. It grows more and more apparent as the conversation continues. Christians want their beliefs to be respected. They want tolerance. They repeat over and over again that they're allowed to have their beliefs, and that they should be left alone with those beliefs, as it is a personal choice and is not anyone the business about anyone else. Yet they see no problem with believers going door to door proselytizing. They have no qualms about disrespecting the beliefs (or non beliefs) of others. They are the first person in line to point out how ridiculous Islam sounds to them, or how immoral some of Muslim beliefs seem to their Christian worldview. They insist, as witnessed in my previous hub on the first three things that make this atheist angry, that the Bible has nothing to say about tolerance, and they are not required or expected to be tolerant of beliefs or lifestyles that disagree with their morals, beliefs or dogmas. Yet they want their religious preferences to be respected, yes, even DEFERRED to in comparison to others.

I'm sorry, but you cannot have it both ways. You cannot refuse to be tolerant, welcoming or open to discussing (or criticizing) the beliefs of others, and expect your own beliefs to be somehow above discussion just because they think and believe that they're true. Secondly, beliefs do not have to be respected. Beliefs don't have feelings to be hurt or injured. The problem arises in the fact that many believers (but certainly not all) are incapable of separating themselves from their cherished beliefs. Therefore any criticism of their beliefs feels like a criticism of who they are as a person. Yet they fail to recognize this typical human response when it comes to anyone who disagrees with them. They reduce these people to their beliefs and arguments and attempt to argue against them, thinking that their own beliefs are out of the scope of conversation. This double standard will not be disappearing any time soon, but the more it is recognized and pointed out, the more aware others who encounter it (or perpetrate it) will be. Gradually, I hope this double standard will die out due to over exposure. And who says that atheists have nothing to hope in without a belief in a deity?

2. The Justification of Horrific Behaviors, past and present

In the multiple forums that I have either witnessed or participated in both past and present, I have discovered an alarming, growing and repulsive trend of believers (of any stripe) defending horrific actions that took place in their holy books or in the recent (or not so recent past).

For example, I have seem Christians not only justify the slaughtering of men, women and children in the Old Testament, the mauling of 42 children by bears at the behest of a prophet, the death penalty for a woman who is raped if she fails to scream loudly enough, a woman being forced to marry her rapist, the inquisition, the crusades, the horrible acts of the reformation, etc. within the space of a year. Regardless of whether their explanations or justifications have merit in their own rights or not, attempting to make any of these actions acceptable is morally repugnant - especially coming from people who claim to be morally superior to members of any other religion - or no religion at all.

Regardless of whether or not a god exists, it is never acceptable for someone who is proudly pro-life in the modern age to agree with, support, or justify the slaughter of unborn babies just because god ordered it. While these particular verses are not often the subject of church sermons, I have heard them mentioned - and praised as virtuous from the pulpit on at least a handful of occasions. The preacher seemed to take great joy in describing having unborn children ripped from the wombs of their murdered mothers at sword point and dashed against the rocks. This is wholly immoral by any religious or secular standard, but I have heard it justified time and time again. God needed all of these people dead, see, because they worshiped other gods. He knew, being god, that these children would grow up to be evil, horrible people - just like their idol worshiping parents - so they had to die as well. While he was at it, the animals had to die too. How can any reasonable, rational and logical, empathetic person look at these stories as anything but horrific, repulsive and unconscionable? Furthermore, how could otherwise good, caring and decent people find a way to make these stories not only acceptable, but laudable on behalf of the god that they worship, and the people who were carrying out his orders?

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. If your faith is nearly as strong as you claim it is - as strong as you would like me to believe that it is, admitting that these atrocities were, in fact, atrocities does not diminish your faith. In fact, it's far more honest than trying to weasel your way around these difficult and questionable passages. You can argue all you want that if you're not a believer, you have no sense of morality to base this determination on, and we can argue about that if you like, but it doesn't take a special kind of person to recognize that these actions are completely repulsive to anyone - Christian or not. Admit it. Acknowledge that you don't understand it. Move forward. Be honest. You'll gain more respect (or at least more credibility) from the person you're talking to than trying to make it seem like you're okay with it and see no problem with it whatsoever.

Source

Which one of these irritates you the most?

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3. Blatant Unfounded and Insulting Assumptions

No matter how many Christians, Muslims or other believers I happen to encounter, a high majority of them start out nice, and quickly devolve as the conversation begins to progress. Maybe it's because from the beginning, they assumed that they were more knowledgeable than i was on the Bible, history, church doctrine or the early church. Maybe they thought it was they thought I was a typical hit-and-run atheist that wanted to throw an early punch and then disappear into the twilight. Maybe it's because they thought I was an easy target, clearly less intelligent than they thought themselves to be. All of these possibilities begin with something very small. It begins with an assumption. An incorrect assumption, as it turns out, but an assumption nonetheless.

When many Christians find out that I used to be a Christian, they are often quick to assume that, since I'm no longer a christian that I never was one in the first place. They believe that if I had been truly saved, I would be saved still. Not only is this insulting and assumptive, it's blatantly wrong, but many of them will never accept the fact that they were incorrect. It is patently rude to assume that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what was happening in a perfect stranger's heart and mind in previous years. Many of them never even take the time to ask questions prior to passing judgement and delivering their decision.

Things usually take a turn for the worse when they also find out that not only was I a missionary kid, and a missionary myself, but that I was studying in college to be a missionary myself as an adult, and that I have collegiate-level experience in theology, the Bible in its original languages and early church doctrine. They assume me to be uninformed an ignorant, and try to teach me things that any child in Sunday school understand and can recite verbatim by the time they reach Jr. High school.

The ultimate icing on the cake, however, is when they assume that they know not only what was in my heart years and years ago, but that they know what is in my heart NOW at the very moment that we're conversing. This assumption is one of the most insulting and dishonest assumptions that I've ever encountered in my many years of religious conversations. They assume that I am convinced that the Christian god exists, but I'm just angry at him. They're convinced that I prefer my own sin to acknowledging and following the god that I know exists in my heart.

I do my very best to not be a dishonest person. I try to tell the truth whenever possible, even when it sucks to do so. But I would never stoop so low as to call myself an atheist - that is, someone without a belief in a god - if I truly believe that god existed and I just didn't want to worship it. That would make me something a misotheist, and I would be honest enough to admit it if I was one.

Don't assume that you know me better than I know myself in order to make your beliefs hold up in your own mind. Don't make baseless assumptions about perfect strangers to make them fall in line with your preconceived religious beliefs and worldview. If you want to know the answer to a question, ask. You know what they say about assumptions.

Conclusions

To be fair, many of these problems can go both ways, and I've seen several atheists (even myself at times) be just as guilty as their believing counterparts. No one can be perfect all of the time, and when emotions run high and conversations become heated, it's difficult to not get carried away and pull out all of the punches. That does not mean that there is no hope, however. We can all strive to be better at communicating, regardless of which side of this issue we fall. We can all work towards productive and intelligent communication. Our beliefs do not stop us from being human at the core, and as humans we all have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other (even as strangers or friends) to behave kindly to each other and grow as a society and a species.

Your Turn - What Do YOU Think?

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  • jlpark profile image

    Jacqui 3 years ago from New Zealand

    Again, I love these hubs! You have a way with words, JM. I'm not atheist, as I'm agnostic, but I agree with all of this! Double standards really piss me off. Thanks again for writing these!

  • Austinstar profile image

    Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    It all boils down to communication. Some people do not LISTEN and are thinking of an argument all of the time you are trying to explain something. Communication is a two way street, but religionists have been taught to hear and repeat repetitive platitudes and dogma. They do not understand conflicting information or how to develop a true curiosity about the world. That's why they get so flustered.

  • Beverly Stevens profile image

    Beverly Stevens 3 years ago from College Station

    Great article! Christians and Muslims walk around feeling superior to everyone else; that's obvious. You are right: beliefs don't have to be respected. Society's moral standards wouldn't tolerate the horrific injustices in the bible or koran. Our standards in modern cultures are much more moral than the holy books. We behave according to how we want the world we live in to exist (most of us who think). That is and should be our moral compass.

    There are so many arguments that could be brought against the "holy books" that it makes me wonder how people can accept it as the "word of god". That's a pretty sorry god! It's the same blind devotion that brought Hitler to leadership. Fortunately, we have the Internet today, so maybe more people will have their eyes opened.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    If the answer to God killing innocents is "God's plan", then it's a f(@ked up plan!

  • profile image

    sheilamyers 3 years ago

    I really like the way you present your opinions without resorting to the name calling and insults I've seen from atheists and religious people alike. I may not always agree with you, although I do agree with what you've written here, but I enjoy reading about the topics from your perspective.

  • M. T. Dremer profile image

    M. T. Dremer 3 years ago from United States

    This kind of reminds me of the discussions that occur after mass shootings (in the U.S.). There is always talk of what motivated the individual to commit something so awful. Maybe it was because they didn't make the football team. Maybe it was because they played violent video games. Or maybe it was because they were sexually confused and they couldn't take the bullying. News media searches for a reason as if an explanation would somehow make it okay. As if, by avoiding this one thing, we can prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.

    I believe it's a similar concept to how some Christians view atheists. They cannot even conceive of a world without a god, so they justify our stance as a 'hatred' of god. We believe in him; we just won't admit it because we're angry or we want to stir up trouble. By believing this, it is an excuse for them not to address the real and difficult theological question of god's existence. They get to think 'oh good, they do believe, they're just going through a phase'.

    My father-in-law inadvertently told me once that he expects me to find god, later in life, once I've grown up a little more. It wasn't malicious and he's always treated me with more kindness than I could have asked for. But it revealed to me that sense of justification. Rather than accept atheism as a reality, many theists will just explain it away. The unfortunate by-product of this is that theists who explain atheism away are forever closing off that branch of thinking. And the people who explain away the mass shootings are closing off the branch that says it was too easy for that individual to get a gun.

  • profile image

    Lybrah 3 years ago

    I think everyone is going to be intolerant of something, at some point. I don't think one can help it. But you should think of it like this: I don't condone the slaughter of people because God orders it, but I respect that God ordered it. He's God! Who does God have to answer to? Nobody. God created us; if he wants to kill us, he can and will do it. What you should have learned as a missionary is that God is all-knowing and loving, but He is a just God, who will punish. When you become a believer, you just have to accept that it is what it is, even if, in your opinion, it's a crappy plan. You have to trust that all things are working out for the glory of God, however bad they may seem.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    No, Lybrah, you don't have to accept that all things are working out for God's glory, if god is committing atrocities. You DON'T have to accept that a loving god condoned the murder of innocent children - children that were not even born yet. You do NOT have to just trust that it's right, because it's god. If god is less moral in his behaviors than human beings, then he's not a god that is worthy of worship, and if you're only worshiping him out of fear, that's not true worship. A god that commands senseless murder is not all loving. That's the point. Your logic is the same as saying that a parent is free to murder their children because they created them and brought them into the world. It doesn't work, and you don't get to use special pleading for your god that you would not accept for anyone or anything else.

  • Michelle Ascani profile image

    Michelle Ascani 2 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

    Unfortunately, your pushy arrogance drives anyone away from wanting to have a conversation. You already believe you know more and are right... so there is no point to a conversation.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    Michelle, I'm sorry that you see me as arrogant, but as you can see, I do have many conversations with people of varying beliefs, and your perception of me seems to be in the minority. I don't think calling people names leads to many conversions either, so I'm confused as to why you would start with a criticism of my character. Had you bothered to actually read the hub or the comments, you nor have noticed that your statements aren't exactly correct.

    I'm sorry, but proven science is not an opinion, and I will counter falsehoods with facts whenever possible. You're completely entitled to whatever beliefs you'd like, and I wouldn't stop you. I don't automatically just think I'm right, but I may in fact know more, since I have been studying these subjects for well over 20 years, both in and out of college. It doesn't make me more intelligent, and I never claimed to be, but it may make me more educated than other people may be. That's not an insult either. There's a lot of things I don't know, which is why I see learning as a lifelong ambition for me.

    Lastly, coming as someone who repeatedly told me they weren't interested in talking anymore and that I was beneath them, a fool, etc, I can't understand why you'd come to my hub just to call me arrogant. Do you have something of substance to add, or did you just want to do an insult hit and run?

  • ChristinS profile image

    Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

    I have to say that of all the relgious/atheist hubs and conversations I read, you are by far one of the most polite and well reasoned. I am all for Atheists who can have intelligent discussions without name calling and insults and you are one of those people. Those of us who are atheist or agnostic tend to get told how "arrogant" we are, simply because we are confident in our reasoning ability. That is not the same thing. Don't let others who don't see that get to you. They obviously did not read what you wrote, where you called out both sides for a tendency to get carried away. This is a very well written and thought provoking hub.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    Thanks, Cristin. I appreciate it. Do I have my moments when I'm less than polite? Sure. I'm just add susceptible to getting worked up and annoyed as anyone else, regardless of what they do or don't believe in. It seems to me that some puerile just want to have their assumptions about people who are different from them, and any challenge to that is taken poorly, and they lash out against it. It's a pity, but in keeping with the nature of this hub, it's on both sides and needs to be overcome and corrected so that we can all move forward. Thank you for the kind words. :-)

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    I'm blaming the typos on my phone keyboard. Apologies.

  • Michelle Ascani profile image

    Michelle Ascani 2 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

    You asked questions in your hub, and made comments as to not understanding why people do certain things. So I answered the understood "whys". I did not name call. You may have implied some things. I did give my observation of your character, but anyone can understand why I would say so if they read all the comments from you on my hub. I'm kind of wishing now that I hadn't deleted some. You "intelligently" name call, and contradict your "kind intentions". Like in your reply to my statement above. Its either "not an option" or "I won't stop you". You can't offer both. It's an oxymoron. Anyway, thought I'd answer your question you asked in your last comment.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    As I've said Michelle, you're more than welcome to your opinion of me, but that doesn't make your conclusions correct. People don't have to agree with me in order to have my respect, but if you want to be treated respectfully, you have to treat others respectfully. You have to be willing to be shown that you're wrong, and learn and grow with knowledge. I am not certain that I'm right and part of the learning process is adapting when new information and evidence is presented. You see every criticism as a personal attack, accuse others of hate just because they've reached different conclusions and behave dishonestly opposed to your stated intentions. If I'm so horrible, then why are you still commenting? I'm not sure if I can take anything you say seriously when you don't even follow through with what you say you're going to do.

  • Michelle Ascani profile image

    Michelle Ascani 2 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

    okay

  • Trish_M profile image

    Tricia Mason 2 years ago from The English Midlands

    Hi :)

    Interesting!

    Quote: '... I have discovered an alarming, growing and repulsive trend of believers ... defending horrific actions ...'

    Yes, I agree. This is incomprehensible in my opinion. I'm completely bewildered by it.

  • JMcFarland profile image
    Author

    Julie McFarland 2 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

    I am too. Any time you have to justify horrific and horrible actions which would normally be condemned outright, it's definitely a disturbing trend.

  • jlpark profile image

    Jacqui 2 years ago from New Zealand

    And we have significant news coverage of disgusting and horrid actions being defended that should be condemned outright - currently.

    Whilst I was sure of my position in lack of belief - the current situation playing out in the US with a well know family - and it's defence, has turned my stomach about what people can defend and feel righteous about doing so.

    Suddenly, I was very much completely turned off from religion - still respectful but I think those who aren't defending heinous things are going to have to work that little bit harder to prove that those others aren't an example of them generally.

    (Hope that made sense)

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