First, let me state that I am an atheist, who does not believe in God, not because I don't want to believe, but simply because I find little evidence for the existence for such a being. However, I understand why people believe in God, as I used to, and if the truth be told, I was much happier when I did so. This is not a good enough reason to believe again however, in an attempt to make me feel happier.
I have for some time had a profile on a prominent atheist's site, which I enjoyed. However, since starting a discussion about the fact that I miss my belief in God, I have been attacked with abusive language, which I have found very upsetting. Fellow atheists have told me to "f--k off" and that I am infantile, and that I am wrong to seek imaginary friends. I can't go into details, but the abuse I have received has been quite shocking, so much so, that I have actually started to question my atheism. Not because I have any evidence for God's existence, but simply because of the experience of my fellow atheists, which shows some of them to be very angry, in a way that I cannot understand. Surely atheism is a way to set people free of the dogma of religion, so why should such freedom be used to abuse other people, especially when, like me, I share their atheism.
Whilst I recognise that atheists are not the only angry people out there, because so much anger has resulted from religion. However, I could perhaps understand a religious believer criticising my atheism, but to be so attacked by fellow atheists, have knocked me sideways, and has for the first time made me understand why atheism is so misunderstood.
I would be grateful for any comments, from the religious and non-religious, but please could it be kept polite, without anyone telling me to "f--k off." Thanks.
Like anything - there is a small element of any 'society' be it religious or anti-religious who simply cannot abide anyone having differing views. The vast majority of people (whether religious or atheist)respect your views and your questioning.
I would suggest that the fact you were on an athiest site means that most of the members would be hardened athiests - there are a lot more atheists who simply would never join such a site!
I have reported the offensive language used against myself by the one particular atheist and have flagged his post. The "f--k off" has been removed by the moderators, but they have left the rest of his comment, which is only fair. However, they will not allow me to post a reply to this person, thus denying my freedom to respond, even though my response was not an attack on this person. I think I have made a big mistake, by mentioning the fact that I missed my belief in God. Yet, I still believe Richard Dawkins is moderate and that he would not object to other views to his own.
I think it's all relative. There are angry people everywhere. I'm an atheist and I'm not angry. I also used to believe in God, but don't anymore. But I would never curse you for saying that you miss your belief in God. That's ridiculous. Just find a new site and new friends. There really shouldn't be any angry involved with believing in God or being an atheist. There should always be positive communication and discourse.
i think you are suffering more from Internet Idiots than athiests. Remember that A belief in God or lack thereof does not change a personality. The otherthing is that Internet forums tend to fill wiith some of the worst in society
Atheism isn't angry and to apply a human emotion to Atheism is completely irrational.
Try applying it to the people who are Atheists, then you might actually have a rational argument.
Btw- I'm not Atheist or of any religious affiliation. But, your post should be amusing to watch.
I agree that atheism shouldn't be angry, because there are no dogmas or beliefs which someone has to agree to in order to be considered an atheist. Atheists should have as many different views of life as there are atheists, because atheism is a lack of belief, rathar than a belief in something, such as a god or a religion. Yet, my honesty in describing the fact that I missed my former belief attracted so much abuse and foul language, that I am shocked and surprised by the level of anger.
There are also many atheists who have anger at religion buried deep down, and have now chosen to unleash it. Normally, this comes from prior bad experiences with one religion or another. There are good and bad people in the world, regardless of how we express ourselves through faith, or lack thereof. Having a forum to finally beat back at a demon is a thrilling prospect for some people; I personally take that into account before getting hurt by anti-faith attacks.
I've only encountered anger in atheism in two specific instances.
1) People with religious beliefs who are angry that there are others who don't believe like they do.
2) Atheists who are angry that there are others who don't believe like they do.
Sometimes those instances involve people making fun of, insulting or verbally attacking the others, and sometimes it's just a rage firehose without a specific target, but in all instances, the anger can usually be boiled down to one of the two described points of view.
This is the life of the likes and dislikes. Believers and non believers. The Bible says to walk by faith and not by sight. Just because anything is not visible does not make it unreal. I chose to believe in a power that is beyond myself and that power is God. No one has a right to mistreat you for your opinions. We all must follow a path in life and no one should dictate to the other of what path they should take.
If you were on a prominent (a.k.a. militant, evangelical) atheist's site, it is hardly surprising that you met aggressive hard-liners.
I know, I have myself to blame in a way, but the odd thing is that I consider myself an atheist, so would have thought I would meet like-minded people. However, it was making the confession that whilst I am an atheist, I do miss my belief in God, that resulted in so many attacks. I was only trying to be honest. And it was the Richard Dawkins site, and I consider Richard Dawkins to be a very respectable atheist, who makes his points very well.
Non belief should be simply that. I can't imagine why an emotion would be attached to it, except when the person claiming to be an atheist does actually believe in God.
Many people consider atheism a symptom of being mad at God. Of somehow feeling let down by God. And, I hate to say it, but that is how I see an angry atheist who goes out of their way to harass and insult anyone who believes. They give atheism a bad name.
Don't let other people's emotions bully you into changing your stand on the matter. There is no way to know 100% for sure who is right, or wrong. So, everyone has the right to believe as they wish.
I too believe that everyone should have the right to believe as they wish, although this does not mean I agree with them. I have friends who swear that they are regularly abducted by aliens. Never have I made fun of them, even though I disagree strongly with their belief. I also know that whilst I do not believe in God, I cannot prove that God does not exist, just as the theist cannot prove that He does.
Healthy debate is good, and everyone should feel they can express their point of view without fear of being attacked, unless of course their views are bigoted in some way, i.e. racist or sexist. You are right that other people should not be allowed to bully others into changing their views.
I'm an atheist. I am not an angry person.
I get angry when...
1) other children tell my 5 year old that he is 'bad' and 'going to hell' because he doesn't go to church. They heard that somewhere, from someone who is not willing to respect the (dis)belief of others.
2) science is being replaced by pseudoscience based on religion in our public schools when our education is already lagging behind other countries.
3) I am told I must be a bad mother, doctor or human based solely on my lack of belief in a supernatural diety, usually the christian one.
4) I am told that this is a christian nation and if I don't like it, I should leave.
I'm sure there are a few other circumstances but these are the biggies. Otherwise, I will debate issues and points but am not rude (at least I don't think so).
As an atheist, I also disagree with the religious believing they have the right to tell anyone how they should live or that only they have the "Truth", whilst everyone else is destined for the fires of hell. I disagree most strongly with such beliefs and am happy to debate them. In fact, I love debate, but would hope that I would never tell anyone that they do not have the right to their beliefs, or abuse them personally because their beliefs are different to mine. I think most atheists are not angry, just as most religious people are not angry. It just so happens that some atheists get angry when someone like me, mentions that I miss my belief in God. Just as some religious get angry with one of their members who may begin to have doubts. Everyone should be allowed to go their own way, no matter what others think.
You would consider changing your belief because you had a disagreement with someone?
Why would you think this? I am an atheist, but chose to be honest, by stating that my former religion made me happier. I fail to understand why anyone would object to that. My beliefs are still the same, i.e. I do not believe in God. It is just that now, my atheism has been attacked for not being atheistic enough, that I have begun to see how such atheists might appear to religious people. Not all atheists are angry, but to a religious person reading such anger directed, not at a religious believer, but against a fellow atheist, could easily think that all atheists are equally angry, just as people assume wrongly that all Muslims are fundamentalists or that all Christians hate gay people. For me, there should be no such anger from atheists, because they have been set free from magical thinking and can see the world for what it really is. If there is something atheists should be angry about, it is the forced religion of many societies, and the fact that in countries like the US, it is impossible for an open atheist to become president. They should not spend their time using foul language against a fellow atheist, because I dared to mention that I missed my belief in God. I am trying to understand why someone could think like this, so if any atheists can explain it to me, I would welcome it.
Wentworth, you wrote "so much so, that I have actually started to question my atheism."
That is what I am talking about.
Some fool with attitude abusing you should not encourage you to change your beliefs in my view, that way they win and you have no foundation to stand on.
I am not an atheist by the way. I just don't believe.
The word atheist is a religious construct in my opinion.
Yes the word "atheist" is usually used in the positive sense, that it requires some sort of doing, as if atheists go around in groups declaring their non-belief. People confuse atheist with anti-theist, i.e. that atheists are against God, rather than simply lacking a belief which others take for granted.
I am not an angry person nor have I ever been. I do not beleive in God and I am not an Atheist. God's existance in form or in spirit has never been proven to me. Who exactly wrote the greatest book on earth "the Bible"?
You know...It seems to me sometimes, that IN GENERAL many of the most angry people are online. It's such a good place to lay out your anger without getting punched. Whether it's religion, or politics, or whatever, people just get ugly because they can.
I try to remind myself regularly that other people who hold similar views or who have similar opinions aren't necessarily this angry. Although the internet is large, it seems that many of the people responding are the most angry and those most willing to be offensive, while the remainder avoid the conflict.
I try not to "stereotype" based on what I see online.
This Penny Arcade comic sums it up perfectly:
Yes this is good advice. It also might be remembered that angry discussions are good for the websites involved, because it attracts others who might not otherwise be interested. The moderates then stay away though, and it seems that only the extremists are online.
i gave up believing in god sometime during my education at a christian college. faith no longer made sense. i missed the sense of community, my hope of an afterlife, and the hymns.
Thirty years later, i don't miss it any more. i belong to a local chorale and sing the hymns for their beauty, not their provenance.
So sorry folks didn't respect what you were going through. We each have a right to our own reality.
I agree with your point on why does it need to be angry when talking about beliefs or religion. There are really people who find pleasure in upsetting and arguing other people.
you need to remember that at the end of the day you are alone in this world. apart from a few close people in your life, no one really cares about you, they care about the cause ... join the cause and be welcomed ... question the cause or go against it and face the consequences.
I have not had the best enounters with atheists either ... i'm on the religious side of things. Religion is also about believing in the unseen. but that's a different topic and i'm trying to be as neutral as i can.
My advice to you is to take a break from everything for a week or so ... and then follow your heart ... do not listen to anyone... do whatever makes you feel happier.
I think you have a point, in that it is the cause that matters. I have read comments on the Richard Dawkins site from Christians, and the anger against them is nowhere as near as strong as it is against atheists who have questions, and who like me admitted the fact that I missed my belief in God. I think to some atheists, this places me firmly in the position of turning against my own kind, although it is nothing of the kind. I have now removed myself from that site, although, my mother now has a profile on there, as a direct result of my experience. She too in a non-believer, who doesn't feel she has the right to criticise people who decide that they need God in their lives.
Whilst I still find it impossible to believe in a God, I am coming to question the New Atheism, which seems to be very fundamentalist and angry, in short, everything the atheists accuse the religious of. There is just no need for all the anger or hatred, based on what people choose to believe. There also seems to be a smugness, which some atheists exhibit towards the religious, who they believe lack intelligence. Richard Dawkins has coined the word "Brights" to describe atheists, suggesting that only atheists can be intelligent. I believe such an approach is wrong and will do the atheist cause no good.
In almost all cases, the "angry atheists" used to be fundamentalist Christians, or they were raised by them. Einstein, I think, captured it nicely: "I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth."
Yes, I recognise my own reaction in Einstein's words. I have reacted against my religious past, especially my time as a Jehovah's Witness and have jumped into the deep end of atheism in an attempt to overcome any remaining religious feeling that I had. However, I am coming to believe that there must be a middle way. All beliefs, whether secular or religious should be shown respect, on condition that they in turn show respect. Agreement may not be reached, but at least all the anger might come to an end.
My honest feeling is there might be a middle way...for you. Personally speaking, I found a religion that was for me in my mid-30s. I definitely was not swayed by people who insisted that I had to believe what they believed (or didn't believe) through intimidation, threats, ridicule, etc.
Einstein summed it up well... and i think most religions are taught to be moderate (i know Islam does ..assuming others do too) .. live in moderation ... be a part of this world as much as the next and balance it out as well as you can.
When you go to any extreme ... doesn't matter which direction you follow, the positive or the negative ... things are bound to go wrong.
If I had a fairground ride and people were dying intermittently or even killing themselves, I would stop the ride. But religion keeps going, and that's what I don't understand. Religion keeps the ride turning.
Whoever told you to 'f'-off was clearly out of line and obviously lacks the intelligence to discuss your position. People like that should be ignored.
I'm an angry atheist. I don't know why people expect heated debates to be conducted in a calm and considered manner when the issues being debated polarise peoples opinions to extremes. It isn't just religion which falls victim to anger, but many other branches of discussion, especially politics!
I'm very passionate when it comes to religion and my anger is a part of that passion. No one should supress their anger because it isn't healthy to keep it in, as it increases the likelyhood that the anger you hold in will be directed at the wrong person when you eventually release it. (Domestic violence is mostly supressed anger being released in the wrong place at the wong time.)
However, expressing your anger should always be constructive, which is why the idiot who swore at you is - well - an idiot!
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