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 Are athiests really all that angry?
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leoofno
Skeptic Friend

USA
346 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  07:42:29  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message
I found this column (link below) by Rabbi Mark Gellman in Newsweek. He thinks that athiests are too angry and intolerant of their religious neighbors. Since I'm somewhat new to full-fledged atheism, I spend some time “double checking” my beliefs to see if I missed something. Thats why I foung this interesting: he seems to be writing about whats wrong with athiests, so maybe I should check it out.

I thought that since this site has somewhat of a mix of beliefs on it, I might get your thoughts on this column. To summarize my opinion, I thought he did not establish that athiests are more angry than anyone else, and did not dive a convincing argument why religious belief was superior to athiesm (which I think he tried to do).

I've quoted is main points below, preceeded by RG:, followed by my comments. Perhaps y'all (yeah, I've been in the South too long) can give yours.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12498143/site/newsweek/

Trying to Understand Angry Atheists
Why do nonbelievers seem to be threatened by the idea of God?

RG: “why they are often so angry.”

He doesn't teally support his claim that atheists are “angry” and “threatened by the idea of God”. It's just assumed. I certainly don't feel angry and threatened by God, although I do sometimes feel threatened by the politics of his believers. But that's different and not limited to atheists.

RG: “many people who do not believe in God seem to find the religion of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are evangelical Christians.”

So what if some athiests believe that their neighbors are offensive or oppressive? What matters is how you behave toward them. I'll bet most atheists are NOT in their neighbors faces about it. Or go door-to-door to convince them otherwise. I'd also wager that more than a few religious folks feel that way about their atheist neighbors.

RG: “I am tempted to believe that behind atheist anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories.”

Here he goes on to offer examples: the tragic loss of a loved one (I could see that as getting the ball rolling), a “degrading sermon, or an insensitive eulogy or an unfeeling castigation of lifestyle choices”. (Huh??) Except for the first, his examples are pretty trivial. My turning from the faith was more the result of rational thinking than anything else. I suspect that his faith is not based on rational thought, so he assumes other's beliefs are also irrational. He is so right when he says, early in the column, that he doesn't understand atheists.

That's pretty much his entire case against atheists. The rest is mostly appeals to atheists to behave differently. And, I think, to show that religion is better than atheism.

RG: “All religions must teach a way to discipline our animal urges, to overcome racism and materialism, selfishness and arrogance and the sinful oppression of the most vulnerable and the most innocent among us.” “…our world is better and kinder and more hopeful because of the daily sacrifice and witness of millions of pious people over thousands of years.”

Early on he said that religion is not necessary for good behavior. But I guess he thinks it helps. I do agree that if you do not encourage people to think for themselves, and keep them ignorant, that religion would be a good way to control their “animal urges” and get them to behave well. But as RG says himself: “I don't think they (atheists) need to be religious to be good, kind and charitable people”. So what's his point? Maybe just that athiests should just chill out with their anger at these nice religious people.

RG: “I can humbly ask whether my atheist brothers and sisters really believe that their lives are better, richer and more hopeful by clinging to Camus's existential despair: ‘The purpose of life is that it ends.'"…“I believe that the philosopher-rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was right when he said, “It is hell to live without hope, a

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  07:56:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
It is necessary to create an eternity in order to give his life worth. Therefore, he believes that life has little worth, and must create a lie to give it worth. He believes he and his life are worth little, and is angry about that. Not wanting to face his own feelings and his own anger, he projects that anger upon others.

That is what makes religion dangerous. Not that the rest of us don't have these same worthless beliefs here and there, because we all do, but that religion makes that anger sacred.

Thanks for the link. That's a keeper.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 04/28/2006 07:59:06
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  08:07:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Gellman's experiences with "angry atheists" appear to come from people who "write to" him. He doesn't appear to give consideration to the idea that those missives might represent a vocal minority among atheists.

The idea that atheists are "clinging" Camus' depressing crap is wrong. And Gellman clearly wants people to come away with the impression that "pious" people are doing far more good in the world than atheists in general.

It is, I think, sentiments like that which make some atheists angry, but that's the trouble with the baggage attached to the word "atheist." Strongly religious folks seem to have the impression that atheists are evil, anti-moral beings, looking out only for themselves and engaging in hedonistic behaviours which would make the Marquis de Sade blush. Such isn't the case, and that's something that Gellman should have examined before using such a big brush to tar us all.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  08:10:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
It's the same as saying all christians are just right wing bigoted racists who would rather burn books, scientists, and jews, stone disobedient children and prostiutes, and kill all infidels based in god-justified wars purely based on the frothings of Pat Robertson and the other outspoken reactionaries of the far-far-far right.

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
Edited by - pleco on 04/28/2006 08:10:59
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  08:11:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
I suppose there are stages of atheism for some people too. Once you leave the complex world of something like Roman Catholicism with all ts levels of saints and angels and hells and demons, it's difficult to drop it altogether. Those probably are people who call themselves atheists, but really are just angry at God.

Just speculation, though, as he doesn't provide much detail.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  08:24:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
quote:
RG: “many people who do not believe in God seem to find the religion of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are evangelical Christians.”



Evangelical christians DO piss me off. BEcause they don't have the common descency to leave p[eople be. They have set themselves up as having some intrinsic moral right to judge the rest of us and their infusion into politics (at all levels) in the last 20 years clearly has shown that they desire to impose their morality on everyone through legislation.

Thier rabid disregard for science, and the lies they invent to account for the evidence which they don't simply ignore, are also more than just irritating.

And so on and so on... they are a danger to our democracy and way of life.

What this guy should have written about, if he is concerned about angry people, are the likes of Robertson, Falwell, Phelps, etc... now those are some angry, hate filled, people.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  08:47:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Gorgo

It is necessary to create an eternity in order to give his life worth. Therefore, he believes that life has little worth, and must create a lie to give it worth. He believes he and his life are worth little, and is angry about that. Not wanting to face his own feelings and his own anger, he projects that anger upon others.

That is what makes religion dangerous. Not that the rest of us don't have these same worthless beliefs here and there, because we all do, but that religion makes that anger sacred.

Thanks for the link. That's a keeper.

You know Gorgo, I keep hearing you assigning a psychological problem to anyone who believes in God. I know plenty of people who believe in God but are very well adjusted as far as I can see. I suppose you could apply that self worth claim to any person who gets involved actively with any group. But I wouldn't. Even if the group has beliefs that don't stand up to skeptical scrutiny. There are all kinds of reasons why a person might believe things that we may not. I guess what I am saying is that I think your wrong, or at least, wrong to lump all of those with a God belief with some pathology.

Also, you keep saying that it is not for us to call any person a moron or an idiot, but it seems to me that it is just as condescending to suggest that anyone with a God belief is suffering from feelings of self worthlessness or some other mental problem.

I think its time to source your info on the psychology of believers and convince me that this isn't just an armchair pseudo-psychological opinion that you hold.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Gorgo
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USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  08:55:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
quote:
Also, you keep saying that it is not for us to call any person a moron or an idiot, but it seems to me that it is just as condescending to suggest to suggest that anyone with a God belief is suffering from feelings of self worthlessness or some other mental problem.

I think its time to source your info on the psychology of believers and convince me that this isn't just an armchair pseudo-psychological opinion that you hold.


If you wish to put yourself down by calling others idiots or morons, that's up to you, not up to me. If you want to have these forums viewed as a place where people who think they're smart come to put others down, that is also up to you.

I've made it very clear that these are my own observations. Based on what people tell me. I can read very clearly that he is saying that life isn't worth much if there is no eternity.


I've also made it very clear that people here don't seem to be able to read very well.

I said "WE ALL DO IT." It is hardly condescending to say we're all alike.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 04/28/2006 09:01:37
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  09:07:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Well, huh… I do not wish to call anyone an idiot or a moron. And I am not defending that. Speak for yourself.

And while you're at it, please explain, with sources, how your opinion that people who hold a god belief are suffering from self-worthlessness is valid.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  09:12:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
Please explain, with sources, why I would need to do such a thing?

Also, I did not say it was just religious people, but the good Rabbi told you that himself. Take his word for it, not mine.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 04/28/2006 09:14:46
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  09:28:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
I don't think atheists are particularly angry as a group but I can see how they would come across as angry to those who hold irrational beliefs. It boils down to frustration stemming from the inability or unwillingness of many Christians to think rationally when it comes to their God belief.

The idea that athiests cling to Camus's existential despair betrays a fair bit of ignorance about athiests I think. Though perhaps some few do despair for the most part athiests are free to choose their purpose in life, and don't get hung up on the idea of what the 'ultimate purpose' is.
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Boron10
Religion Moderator

USA
1264 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  09:54:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Boron10 a Private Message
Gorgo, you said:
quote:
Posted - 04/28/2006 : 07:56:48
It is necessary to create an eternity in order to give his life worth. Therefore, he believes that life has little worth, and must create a lie to give it worth. He believes he and his life are worth little, and is angry about that. Not wanting to face his own feelings and his own anger, he projects that anger upon others.
This bears a striking resemblance to a psychoanalysis. In this statement, there is no subjectivity qualifier, which you later claim here:
quote:
Posted - 04/28/2006 : 08:55:20
I've made it very clear that these are my own observations. Based on what people tell me. I can read very clearly that he is saying that life isn't worth much if there is no eternity.
You also claim that the Rabbi Mark Gellman's words led you to this conclusion, both in your above quote and here:
quote:
Posted - 04/28/2006 : 09:12:43
Also, I did not say it was just religious people, but the good Rabbi told you that himself. Take his word for it, not mine.
Kil is not the only one awaiting your sources, validating the above psychoanalysis and validating your interpretation of Rabbi Mark Gellman's words.

This is the part, Gorgo, where you provide quotes from the Rabbi's text, and perhaps quotes from the DSM illustrating that your point is not without merit, rather than childishly dismissing the first sign of criticism:
quote:
Posted - 04/28/2006 : 09:12:43
Please explain, with sources, why I would need to do such a thing?
I sincerely hope that I have provided enough incentive for you to justify your assertions.
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  10:00:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
Please give me your sources that show that this is a psychoanalysis, and to show that I ever claimed to have an M.D. after my name.

When you can't do that, I'll await both your apologies.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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moakley
SFN Regular

USA
1884 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  10:11:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

And while you're at it, please explain, with sources, how your opinion that people who hold a god belief are suffering from self-worthlessness is valid.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard a christian state, "My faith in God/Jesus makes my life meaningful." I'd have $42.85. So is that self worthlessness? I don't think so, but it does convey the idea that without this faith their life just might be worthless/meaningless.

When it comes to a Christian's life being more meaningful to them than mine is to me, well, that's just plain silly.

Edited to add: From the article.
quote:
I do think they are wrong about the biggest question, “Are we alone?”

I willing to consider his evidence.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
Edited by - moakley on 04/28/2006 10:26:34
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  10:16:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
What is it if it isn't a belief that creating something out of nothing will give your life worth, or add worth to a somewhat worthless life?

Again, I'm just taking his word for it. Why you're insulted about it is also interesting.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 04/28/2006 10:40:25
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leoofno
Skeptic Friend

USA
346 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2006 :  10:27:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by moakley

quote:
Originally posted by Kil

And while you're at it, please explain, with sources, how your opinion that people who hold a god belief are suffering from self-worthlessness is valid.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard a christian state, "My faith in God/Jesus makes my life meaningful." I'd have $42.85. So is that self worthlessness? I don't think so, but it does convey the idea that without this faith their life just might be worthless/meaningless.




Here Rabbi Gellman clearly states that life without religion is hell:
"I believe that the philosopher-rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was right when he said, “It is hell to live without hope, and religion saves people from hell."
That pretty much means life without religion is worthless, unless one values a hellish existence. So I think its fair to say thet Gorgo is right whan he says Rabbi Gellman thinks that this life is worthless without an eternity.

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman
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