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On atheist anger, and religion as fanfic

Greta Christina

1. Why atheists are angry;
2. Why our anger is valid, valuable, and necessary;
And 3. Why it's completely fucked-up to try to take our anger away from us.

So let's start with why we're angry. Or rather -- because this is my blog and I don't presume to speak for all atheists -- why I'm angry.

And I'm angry that Christians still say smug, sanctimonious things like, "there are no atheists in foxholes." You know why you're not seeing atheists in foxholes? Because believers are threatening to shoot them if they come out.

She links here, with the quote [Highlights]: Hearing Chapman also say that for a woman to be religious, it was like "a freed slave still living on the plantation." Which is maybe *too* strong, but I think it's got something to it, especially for Western Abrahamic religions.

Greta again on religion as fan-fiction

Given the rough outline of a narrative, human beings are unbelievably good at filling in the gaps, fleshing out the characters. And if the basic outline of a narrative has flaws and inconsistencies, we are unbelievably good at creating explanations and rationalizations and apologetics. We are unbelievably good at making the inconsistent consistent, making the indefensible defensible.

And that's exactly what religion looks like to an outside observer. It doesn't look like an internally consistent, evidence-based description of a consistent, reasonably predictable world. It looks like an unbelievably complex -- brilliant, even -- attempt to make sense of a story. And while the stories it's trying to make sense of are often fascinating and compelling, they're still stories: made up by people, with the inherent inconsistencies and gaps, cultural blind spots and flat-out mistakes, that any story made up by people is going to have.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 17th, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC)
A good rant. I happen to not be quite so angry about everything though I'm also not quite so atheist as all that. [I have articles of faith, such as the inherent good of humanity, that are essentially baseless. I don't mind certain baseless beliefs if they help guide someone to a happier existence.] One of the few things I disagreed with here was this statement:

"Not all believers act like that. I don't act like that." As if that fucking matters.

I think it matters quite a bit. If all christians were United Church of Christ or Unitarian, both of which are welcoming congregations (i.e. accept same-sex relationships), if all christians acted like decent human beings and didn't foist their beliefs on others, then I don't think the author would really care so much about what they choose to believe. It very much matters what people choose to do. Insofar as religion inherently encourages this stuff, then yes, it's bad, but not every religious person is a fundamentalist just as not every black person is a criminal and not every Hispanic is illegal.

Anyway, just a minor minor rant on a topic even though I agree with most of her statements.
Oct. 17th, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
Fair point. As I noted briefly, I myself was annoyed at the sometime attack on "religion" when they meant "Christianity" or "Abrahamic religions". Not all religions commit the same sins.

As some people like to point out, atheist technically just means "not a theist", lacking belief in gods, so could be compatible with belief in inherent good of humanity. Or even in a soul, though you'd find me rolling my eyes anyway... me, I'm just puzzled as to what "inherent good of humanity" *means*. Like that young UU debate we had years ago about the "inherent worth and dignity of every human being". "Even Hitler? Does inherent mean you can't forfeit your worth with atrocious behavior?" Less about faith, more about definitions, I'm inclined to think.

let you compare the faith positions of the various candidates. (Flash heavy.) Gravel is apparently Unitarian -- yay, back the Founders! Of course, he's also dead last.
Oct. 17th, 2007 03:07 pm (UTC)
By that definition then I'm totally atheist. That is, I don't believe there's a big guy (or gal) up there deciding/interfering in people's lives. Never have. Of course, I don't call myself "atheist" because then people pick a fight with me over issues I don't even support which I suppose goes to fuel her argument that atheism isn't tolerated in this country!
Oct. 17th, 2007 03:50 pm (UTC)
That can happen even to unabashed atheists. "Hitler and Stalin were atheists and killed millions of people!" And people who aren't atheist, like Epicurus or Thomas Paine, can get slapped with the atheist label.

Reaction to Sam Harris's call to not be "atheist" seems to be settling on "opprobrium follows labels, as negroes^Wcoloreds^Wblacks^WAfrican-Americans and moron^Wretarded^Wspecial children can tell you, and labels get tacked on anyway, so we should imitate the gays/queers and turn it into pride." "Yes I am atheist, what's it to you?"
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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