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Arrogant Atheists


R. S. Martin
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That was basically the underlying question on another forum. It was an article from the atheist perspective asking whether Hagard or Dawkins was the most arrogant. That got me thinking about a few things. Here's my response and I'd be interested to know other people's ideas on it.

 

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I think Christians blame atheists for being arrogant because they can't tolerate anyone who disagrees with them. They don't really know what "arrogant" means but they know it's a mean word so they slap it on atheists.

 

Not all Christians are like that. Some Christians are humble and respectful of all people regardless of religion or lack thereof. But there's also lots of the other kind around.

 

I don't have a TV that works and I have a slow internet connection so I haven't seen too much of Dawkins. But I did watch a few youtubes. I saw Dawkins being very easy-going, at peace, and relaxed regardless of how the arrogant young preacher stud mocked and sarcasted him.

 

Dawkins simply did not care how he was mocked. He knew he had the truth and he knew he could handle anything the preacher threw at him. So he had nothing to lose. The preacher cared hugely how his audience saw him. He cared hugely about appearing smart enough to beat this atheist.

 

The situation seemed so totally unfair. Dawkins stood alone. The preacher had a huge audience sitting behind him. The audience cheered the preacher on. No one cheered for Dawkins--they mocked him, but so what?! Dawkins knew what he believed and he had nothing to fear or to lose.

 

I think that is what some Christians cannot tolerate. Christians are supposed to be in that position. Christians are supposed to have the truth. Christians are supposed to be the people who can stand alone no matter what is done to them.

 

The problem is, for some Christians, that no one is persecuting them. That bothers them big time. Jesus said whoever follows him will be persecuted. If no one is persecuting them, then they have lost God's stamp of approval. That is totally unacceptable. I think it is unintentional and not even exactly conscious, but it seems they then go out of their way to offend someone so someone is mad at them and they still get their persecution.

 

Then along comes a man like Dawkins who simply won't be offended. That makes them search their dictionaries and vocabularies for some explanation. Maybe they search their bibles too. Out comes the word "arrogant." Hey! nice-sounding big word nasty word. Slap it onto this Dawkins guy who refuses to be cowed by Christians. So you get "arrogant atheist" langauge.

 

Hmmm. The truth will make you free. If the atheist has the truth, the atheist is free. Christians can't have that. Maybe the Christian should do some really serious self-examination instead of slapping nasty labels on self-confident people who disagree with them.

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I find it ironic how the followers of an exclusivist religion can claim that anybody else is arrogant.

 

What, really, is more arrogant than believing that you believe the One True™ religion, and everybody else is going to hell?

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I find it ironic how the followers of an exclusivist religion can claim that anybody else is arrogant.

 

What, really, is more arrogant than believing that you believe the One True™ religion, and everybody else is going to hell?

 

Exactly.

 

And they can claim "we" are arrogant when they finally come up with some valid points instead of the same old bullcrap regurgiposted yet again and we mock that. Not a single fucking second sooner.

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Heh, and I just realized I didn't actually comment on what you said about Dawkins and the situation, and why Xians call atheists "arrogant"...

 

I don't know why they do. Maybe they think it's somehow arrogant to presume to "know" that there isn't a god. Which is what a lot of Xians seem to think is true of atheists, that our atheism isn't about a lack of belief one way or another, but that it's about an insistent kind of knowledge.

 

Dawkins, though, well - he does sometimes seem to have this peculiar kind of intellectual smugness sometimes. I can see why talking to him could be very off-putting. Perhaps part of that is what you mention, too, about how he can stand his ground, and does. I don't think many Xians are used to that.

 

Plus I know that where I come from, it isn't considered polite to wave your intelligence around too publicly, or let everybody know how much smarter than them you are, or how much more you know about something than they do. Oddly enough, it seems as if a lot of Xians regard science as being inherently arrogant; I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it seems dogmatic or something, with its insistence on asserting pesky things like facts and data and well-tested hypotheses and theories. I mean it's one thing to say that you know something for certain, and quite another to say that you believe something - one is a matter of hard, cold, reality, the other is faith, but I can't count the number of Xians I've seen on CF, insisting that they KNOW there's a god, they KNOW who he is, they KNOW what he wants, and they're dead serious.

 

Or maybe it's as you say: they're looking for persecution, and seeing a kind of persecutory defiance in the atheists nonbelief.

 

Or maybe it's that there's this implication that we've "replaced" god with something else - ourselves, technology, science, whatever - and it's arrogant somehow of us to think that we don't need god.

 

Those are some latenight rambles. I should be in bed.

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I hate how Christianity tries to turn pride into a bad thing. It's only bad if it is undeserved. One should have pride in their accomplishments and abilities, otherwise what's the point? Dawkins is a very intelligent man who has earned the right to be far more arrogant than he is. Yes, he is smug at times, and those are the times when he knows he is right. He doesn't shove it in other people's faces, he calmly explains why he is right to people who have said they want to listen. Haggard agreed to an interview and his views were verifiably wrong. Dawkins tried to show him this. If Haggard didn't want his views challenged, he shouldn't have agreed to the interview with a vocal atheist.

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Dawkins is a very intelligent man who has earned the right to be far more arrogant than he is. Yes, he is smug at times, and those are the times when he knows he is right. He doesn't shove it in other people's faces, he calmly explains why he is right to people who have said they want to listen.

 

I don't know exactly what is meant by "smug." Maybe people think I am smug, too. (There are lots of people who can't stand me. They tend to be the kind of personality whose self-esteem depends on "looking good"--a concept that totally eludes me. So I think they must be terribly insecure.) I think perhaps by smug you mean that he just closes his mouth and smiles. Like you say, those are the times he knows he's right.

 

So what is a person supposed to do when he knows he's right, and he also knows that it is impossible to explain HOW he knows he's right. It would take several semesters of disciplined education to prove it satisfactorily. Sometimes it seems the only option for such a situation is to smile, chuckle a bit to acknowledge having heard, and let the moment pass. My profs do that all the time.

 

I have learned to take this as "I heard what you said. I understand why you would think that way. I disagree but it would take too long to explain, so I'll just let it go." I don't see that as smug. I see it as an honest coping strategy. And yes, I saw Dawkins use it.

 

It's one of the hazzards of democracy where anybody with the brains can get highly specialized learning. In a stratefied society, the highly educated and the unlearned don't rub shoulders but in a democracy they do.

 

Haggard agreed to an interview and his views were verifiably wrong. Dawkins tried to show him this. If Haggard didn't want his views challenged, he shouldn't have agreed to the interview with a vocal atheist.

 

EXCELLENT POINT!

 

I think Christians assume they know all they need because they have this special inside connection with the Holy Spirit. On yet another forum there is this guy who spouts unintelligible stuff and he claims if we were in touch with the Holy Spirit we would understand what he is saying. The fundies on that board like to line up with him and pretend to know what he is saying.

 

I suspect a lot of this "knowledge" is emotional; it evokes a special emotional condition inside a person--a sort of mystical feeling--and they think this is the Holy Spirit. I know because I've been there. There is a special feeling that can be evoked with poetry and mystical language--at least for me. And it seems I am not the only person because if no one wrote or read more poetry for its own sake than I do there would be no genre of literature called poetry.

 

I think nurturing this feeling can be a good thing because it calms you down and gives peace so that real thinking and insight can take place. I just wish they would be honest and call it what it is--a special calming feeling brought on by special literature, music, nature, or whatever works for a person.

 

The real problem, however, comes in when people believe they are in touch with the god of the universe and that this god tells they to save everyone they see or fry for not saving these folks. As the history of Christianity proves, that is what leads to holy wars in Medieval Europe and in the post-modern world.

 

The totally "amazing grace" of the situation is that letting go of god increased and strengthened this calm and peace inside of me. That is simply not okay with Christians. They do, after all, make sacrifices for Christ. There HAS to be a pay-off. And if atheists claim to have the very thing they sacrificed for, well, for them it's not okay.

 

However, rather than examining themselves and the source and motivation behind the teachings they worship, they "kill the messenger." That's not our fault but it is a situation we are up against as exChristians in a predominantly Christian society.

 

I think the best we can do is be as polite as possible even though we know they take it as smugness and arrogance. We are, after all, human and must live with human limitations.

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Religion does not define one's arrogance, one's behavior does. It's not a matter of belief but additude.

 

Both Haggard and Dawkins are equally arrogant. None moreso than the other.

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Religion does not define one's arrogance, one's behavior does. It's not a matter of belief but additude.

 

Both Haggard and Dawkins are equally arrogant. None moreso than the other.

I'll provisionally agree to that, even though I'm not sure it's quite true. However, I argue that Dawkins is better at it. He's simply classier and doesn't appear to need people to acknowledge him as much. I also contend that he deserves to be arrogant while Haggard does not in the same way (unless one counts mass manipulation as an accomplishment).

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doesn't appear to need people to acknowledge him as much

If people don't acknowledge a Christian as a Christian it's just some nut talking to themself. If they're a Christian then it's ok.

 

I think part of the issue is that Christians are taught that all they have to do is "plant the seed" and God will take care of the rest. The idea is that an atheist (or Buddhist, or Muslim, or whatever) is only that way because they haven't heard the "good news" of the gospel and as soon as the Christian plants that seed God will do His part and bring about the conversion. When that doesn't happen, or worse someone is able to present valid arguments against the Bible, their beliefs take a hit. The idea of someone that has heard the gospel or fully believed it at one point and no longer does is foreign, and I think a little frightening. It's along the same lines as "sometimes God says no" when prayers don't get answered.

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Atheists reject what Christians have to say because the Atheist realizes that the Christian has nothing to say except to present irrational arguments, threats, and violence. To the Christian, that makes the atheist "arrogant."

 

Christians tend to be of very low intelligence and are frustrated to find someone more intelligent than them who is not interested in the mind viruses that the Christian is trying to peddle. The Christian "knows" they are right, and thus the only conclusion is that the Atheist is "arrogant."

 

I think the Bible says that non-believers are arrogant too. Self-proclaimed "prophets of God" travel around the countryside proclaiming "God's Wrath!" When non-believers properly tell them to fuck themselves, then what else can the prophets say but that these people are "Arrogant" because they don't receive the message?

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It is pretty arrogant to think the entire universe was created just for you. All the millions of species that are extict were just trash because you were the whole reason for the universe to be created.

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I find it ironic how the followers of an exclusivist religion can claim that anybody else is arrogant.

 

What, really, is more arrogant than believing that you believe the One True religion, and everybody else is going to hell?

 

lovely, another shared view of mine. i do find the concept of feeling that you have discovered the only truth in the world as the most unrefined position possible as far as spritual matters are concerned. you have to carry a huge load of your own sheit, to follow xtian doctrine these days.

 

also, may i add that to be a non-follower of the faith you must have a certain posture, attitude, and don't give a fuckness to really walk around with confidence when you are among the oppostion who travel on damn near every corner.

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If people don't acknowledge a Christian as a Christian it's just some nut talking to themself. If they're a Christian then it's ok.

 

This needed repeating.

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I'll provisionally agree to that, even though I'm not sure it's quite true. However, I argue that Dawkins is better at it. He's simply classier and doesn't appear to need people to acknowledge him as much. I also contend that he deserves to be arrogant while Haggard does not in the same way (unless one counts mass manipulation as an accomplishment).

 

First off, NOBODY - NOBODY - "deserves" to be arrogant. It's not a right that you earn after you become so fucking brilliant that you can't help but feel above others. Arrogance is a vice no matter where it's coming from. Your finding Dawkins's arrogance as acceptable is no better AND no worse than a Christian finding Haggard's approach reasonable: you agree with the man and his ideas, and therefore his behavior is acceptable to you.

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First off, NOBODY - NOBODY - "deserves" to be arrogant. It's not a right that you earn after you become so fucking brilliant that you can't help but feel above others. Arrogance is a vice no matter where it's coming from.

I disagree. I find pride to be a virtue and abhor humility. Some people are simply better at life than others, there's no way around that. I think it is sickening when a great man attempts to make himself equal to the majority. It isn't true to reality.

 

Your finding Dawkins's arrogance as acceptable is no better AND no worse than a Christian finding Haggard's approach reasonable: you agree with the man and his ideas, and therefore his behavior is acceptable to you.

That's a possible explanation, but I like mine better. Dawkins has a shitload of evidence to back him up and his achievments will live on after he is gone. Haggard has a sex scandal that he brough upon himself by his actions. Which one is more deserving of praise?

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I disagree. I find pride to be a virtue and abhor humility. Some people are simply better at life than others, there's no way around that. I think it is sickening when a great man attempts to make himself equal to the majority. It isn't true to reality.

 

Then I am very, very grateful that I do not know you personally, you must be a jackass to be around.

 

That's a possible explanation, but I like mine better. Dawkins has a shitload of evidence to back him up and his achievments will live on after he is gone. Haggard has a sex scandal that he brough upon himself by his actions. Which one is more deserving of praise?

 

Of course you like yours better, for the reasons stated before. It is more convenient for you and provides an excuse. If you ask me the only thing Dawkins will be remembered for after he is gone is further dividing people into mutually hostile camps of "us" vs. "them". Haggard will be remembered for the same. No better, no worse, they are both equally guilty IMO.

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