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Anxiety About Atheism


MathGeek
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Sometime ago, while perusing the videos that litter the landscape of Youtube, I viewed a particular video that made me shake my head in awe. The main individual in this piece lacked any clear sense of sanity. This individual from Austin, Texas was making non-innocuous threats to an atheist couple that owned a business in the same part of town in which this individual had worked. I wondered as the video came to a close if these types of incidents happened on a regular basis to those who claimed atheism as their metaphysical position. By no means did this crazy nut represent the entire view of Americans that are against their atheistic counterparts, but it appears to be a symptom of what some prominent atheists might call “atheist hatred”.

 

The video being described above is at best what is called anecdotal evidence. It in no way suggests a larger trend of hatred toward the atheist community that appears to be overt. This incident, from my perspective anyway, appears to be an isolated case. Atheists may be the victims of hate crimes, but it takes the appearance of a miniscule percentage since victims of hate crimes are more likely to have a divergent skin tone, outward appearance, or way having sexual intercourse. What makes the idea of a hate crime happening to an atheist all the more unlikely is because the legal tenets of our society have yet to catch up. It is harder to prove persecution for an idea because ideas are in the realm of the intellect, not the physical. In other words, think about a book and it’s cover.

 

Furthermore, it’s easier to hide one’s metaphysical affiliation in an open, pluralistic society even the mainstream media would have us believe that atheism is the anathema to liberty, representative government and home-baked apple pie. The United States of America is one of the most open societies in the Western Hemisphere because people hold the “MYOB” philosophy of life in higher regard than maybe their own metaphysical affiliation.

 

Conversely however, that doesn’t mean hatred toward atheism, however unjustified, has evaporated into the ether. There are still cultural preconceptions against atheism ingrained into every natural-born or naturalized citizen of the United States. Ever since the founding of the USA as a nation, the idea that not a single God existing at all has been shelved on the spoiled, ill-conceived shelf in the stockroom of the American marketplace of ideas. Christians have claimed rather consistently that the Bible has worn away every that has repeatedly beat against it. Thomas Paine, the great pamphleteer, demeaned the Bible greatly in The Age of Reason but used it to show that American government could be modeled off of what was put forth in the Old Testament in the pages of Common Sense. Sadly, Paine died penniless and obscure in 1809. Robert Ingersoll was more fortunate since his oratory skills were legendary, but the association between atheism and communism and the numbers of unnatural death false attributed to both thought systems as being casually linked basically nailed the coffin on his historical legacy. In addition to the simple fact that church and state are basically married here in the USA as evidenced by the communist witch hunts of the 1950’s and the faith-based initiatives of the 2000’s, anxiety about atheism in the USA, however unfounded, will not evaporate anytime soon.

 

So, what results from such deeply ingrained preconceptions?

 

Simply put, a false sense of superiority even though many arguments about atheism come from a bias against the source that is automatic and rooted in the logical fallacies of appeals to both authority and popularity. Even in the face of this awful truth, the atheist position is still firmly in the minority therefore the burden is on the one making the claim against the majority, at least in the court of popular opinion anyway.

 

They who have the power make the rules I guess.

 

If this flawed position is taken to be a concrete basis, then it can be accepted that the atheist must prove EVERY conceivable faith as being wrong from, say, multiple views of the Christian God to every possible Hindu deity of which there are many. It’s almost like the atheist in question must turn his or her position into a mathematical argument and have the rigor associated with it. This is a blatant falsehood because it is highly unlikely that the theist made the same rigorous, almost mathematical case to why his or her position theistic point of view is the ultimate counterexample. Yet, since our basis for this hypothetical case is really an appeal to both authority and popularity, then the atheist cases gains no merit unless it is rigorous. Even if the rigor is verified, the case is then rejected outright due to automatic bias.

 

There is a lesser-considered factor, but it isn’t any less imperative. It comes from the fact that this opposing point of view is given credence over the established popular point of view. This “other” establishment raises the ire of the main establishment because the “other” establishment seems to hold the real power over the main establishment. The “other” establishment grants the degrees, establishes the trends, conveys information the masses, et al. So the question really is, which establishment is the main establishment? Which opinion is the real opinion?

 

Simply put, if you’re an atheist, it is because both secular and religious forces shape American life and American society is largely egalitarian, largely pluralistic so citizens tend to form a worldview that takes tenets from both sides. If you’re a hard theist, then you’ll say that anything outside the theistic worldview is wrong in many ways. It is dogmatic that the theistic worldview be the only worldview. At the same time, some atheists can be just as dogmatic and since atheists are part of the “other” establishment, then the main establishment will keep slinging their vitriol as long as the dichotomy between atheism and theism exists.

 

Overall, Americans are anxious about atheism because it doesn’t gel with our perceived national character. Being godless and being Americans are oxymoronic in the minds of the majority. Since this preconceived bias exists, it is very difficult to find hard information about atheistic persecution. This does not mean that such acts don’t exist. Furthermore atheism is an idea and ideas cross class, gender and racial lines. If a hate crime is committed because the victim is an atheist, the hate crime designation will go with current legal tenets. Americans are also anxious about atheism because it contradicts both history and the prevailing lessons learned from it. It will take a long time to change such attitudes and Eddie Tabash predicted that it might take a century alone for the change to reach fruition. Lastly, atheism is not the point of view held by the majority. Logical flaws in the majority opinion are ignored because metaphysical points of view are still democratic and highly individual. If one is in the minority, people tend to be excluded the majority of the time.

 

This was a difficult issue to ponder and I welcome any feedback to correct any and all mistakes I’ve made.

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Well, I see a conflict between this and the story about the high-school team who won 100 to 0. If sport is only about winning, and winning big, and when you're superior, show it off and oppress the opponent, and if life is the same way, then shouldn't we just accept Christians to be the dominating majority and have the right (as the currently winning team) also oppress us non-Christians? Or do we feel there should be some kind of even playing-field or fairness, regardless of who is currently in majority? Isn't life dog-eats-dog and the winner takes it all?

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I can see your point to some degree, yet I think the comparison diverges greatly because sport and religion are completely different in the context of Christianity. The only thing I can see in common between Christianity and any kind of sport is that some teams pray to God at any time during the match. The point I am trying to make is that Christians will never the see the point of view of atheists (and other non-believers) is because Christianity is the sacred cow of all sacred cows. The rules are completely different because attacking another faith can provoke a violent reaction, and more people have died in recent memory over religious squabbles than over how a sports team finishes, at least within the borders of the USA. I think there should be an even "playing field" for people of all faiths because faith was never a matter of competition, no matter how many Christian ministries seem to think of it as such.

 

To be quite honest, it may actually be a game because an apologist I read named Vox Day believes that the God of Christianity is a game designer.

 

In the end, non-believers are punished for no reason but since religion is the most sacred of cows, it will take a very long time for the public to accept us.

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Sometime ago, while perusing the videos that litter the landscape of Youtube, I viewed a particular video that made me shake my head in awe. The main individual in this piece lacked any clear sense of sanity. This individual from Austin, Texas was making non-innocuous threats to an atheist couple that owned a business in the same part of town in which this individual had worked. I wondered as the video came to a close if these types of incidents happened on a regular basis to those who claimed atheism as their metaphysical position. By no means did this crazy nut represent the entire view of Americans that are against their atheistic counterparts, but it appears to be a symptom of what some prominent atheists might call “atheist hatred”.

 

I don't know but your post is really, really long and I can't figure out what you're trying to say. If you are asking whether there is such a thing as atheist haters in the United States, then YES there most certainly is! If you don't believe that, then try hanging out on a Christian forum like William Lane Craig's that doesn't believe in banning people for their beliefs. You'll have to do it as an atheist. Being an atheist on those forums and treating Christianity like a normal debate topic will get you into so many hate-books so fast you won't even know what happened.

 

They pressured and pushed and bugged me to tell them what I believed. This was in someone else's thread and totally off-topic. I didn't think it was even decent. I asked about this and got no response to that question. But they kept up the pressure for my beliefs. When I finally gave in, they turned instantly from friend to foe. It took many months of harassment till they finally accepted that nothing they could do to me would make me go away and they might as well learn to live with me. I can provide links.

 

Of course, what constitutes "harassment" or "respect" is subjective. And I proved myself capable of returning a lot of what I was given. Finally, I concluded that no amount of nasty behaviour from me would open anyone's eyes so I decided not to bother anymore. Right about the same time I got a warning from a mod that I had to change if I wanted to continue participating on the forums. When I asked for clarification--and examples of my "bad behaviour," he took a week in answering. When he did answer he used words I'd never heard before and provided no examples. I looked up the words and did not think I had "committed" more of these "crimes" than others had.

 

However, since I had found that the Christians used a different criteria for atheists than for themselves, I pointed this out to him, along with links, and repeated my request for specific examples of my "bad behaviour," so that I could avoid future offense. I don't know how many months ago I requested this info. I'm still waiting. I informed him of my decision not to be as nasty as I had been and asked if this was sufficient. No reply.

 

When Christians decline answers genuine questions, I draw my own conclusions as I see fit. I find, to my dismay, that level or type of education and social standing makes no difference. Not even whether or not they are liberal or conservative. There may be exceptions to the rule but the hatred of atheists is real--in echelons of society where I least expected to find it--among our greatest and most famous scientists.

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Sometime ago, while perusing the videos that litter the landscape of Youtube, I viewed a particular video that made me shake my head in awe. The main individual in this piece lacked any clear sense of sanity. This individual from Austin, Texas was making non-innocuous threats to an atheist couple that owned a business in the same part of town in which this individual had worked. I wondered as the video came to a close if these types of incidents happened on a regular basis to those who claimed atheism as their metaphysical position. By no means did this crazy nut represent the entire view of Americans that are against their atheistic counterparts, but it appears to be a symptom of what some prominent atheists might call “atheist hatred”.

 

I don't know but your post is really, really long and I can't figure out what you're trying to say. If you are asking whether there is such a thing as atheist haters in the United States, then YES there most certainly is! If you don't believe that, then try hanging out on a Christian forum like William Lane Craig's that doesn't believe in banning people for their beliefs. You'll have to do it as an atheist. Being an atheist on those forums and treating Christianity like a normal debate topic will get you into so many hate-books so fast you won't even know what happened.

 

They pressured and pushed and bugged me to tell them what I believed. This was in someone else's thread and totally off-topic. I didn't think it was even decent. I asked about this and got no response to that question. But they kept up the pressure for my beliefs. When I finally gave in, they turned instantly from friend to foe. It took many months of harassment till they finally accepted that nothing they could do to me would make me go away and they might as well learn to live with me. I can provide links.

 

I am not denying harrassment or hatred of atheists. I am just trying to think why atheist persecution isn't tracked and why there isn't hate crime legislation to prevent against such harassment. I was trying to find some philosophical justifications, or rather non-justificiations, as to why this hasn't occurred yet. The most basic reason I've found is because Christianity is the one true religion and the dominant cultural force in the Western Hemisphere. Atheism is a bad seed therefore it does not matter I guess.

 

Of course, what constitutes "harassment" or "respect" is subjective. And I proved myself capable of returning a lot of what I was given. Finally, I concluded that no amount of nasty behaviour from me would open anyone's eyes so I decided not to bother anymore. Right about the same time I got a warning from a mod that I had to change if I wanted to continue participating on the forums. When I asked for clarification--and examples of my "bad behaviour," he took a week in answering. When he did answer he used words I'd never heard before and provided no examples. I looked up the words and did not think I had "committed" more of these "crimes" than others had.

 

However, since I had found that the Christians used a different criteria for atheists than for themselves, I pointed this out to him, along with links, and repeated my request for specific examples of my "bad behaviour," so that I could avoid future offense. I don't know how many months ago I requested this info. I'm still waiting. I informed him of my decision not to be as nasty as I had been and asked if this was sufficient. No reply.

 

When Christians decline answers genuine questions, I draw my own conclusions as I see fit. I find, to my dismay, that level or type of education and social standing makes no difference. Not even whether or not they are liberal or conservative. There may be exceptions to the rule but the hatred of atheists is real--in echelons of society where I least expected to find it--among our greatest and most famous scientists.

 

I would like to see what you have gone through. I have never been exposed to that kind of hatred, but the secondhand stories I've heard are enough to make me not want to venture into Christian territory.

 

Thank you for the response.

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I am not denying harrassment or hatred of atheists. I am just trying to think why atheist persecution isn't tracked and why there isn't hate crime legislation to prevent against such harassment. I was trying to find some philosophical justifications, or rather non-justificiations, as to why this hasn't occurred yet. The most basic reason I've found is because Christianity is the one true religion and the dominant cultural force in the Western Hemisphere. Atheism is a bad seed therefore it does not matter I guess.

 

Might it have anything to do with President Bush Senior's famous statement:

"I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

You can find it all over the internet. This one is taken from Austin Cline's column.

 

I would like to see what you have gone through. I have never been exposed to that kind of hatred, but the secondhand stories I've heard are enough to make me not want to venture into Christian territory.

 

Here are a few links:

 

http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/rf...21&trail=15

 

Posts 91, 92, 93; Posts 68 and 78, 83, 87 on previous page are very good summaries of my life and position.

 

As stated, these feelings are subjective and it might not look as bad to a third party as it feels for me while going through it. It was as though I still had some devils to work through and on those forums I was able to do it better than here. I really didn't understand it myself. Haven't been there so much since New Years.

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