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Myth: Atheists Are Just Angry That They Aren't God, Can't Make All The Rules


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Interesting article. Encourage folks to sign up for Austin's newsletter. No spam, no garbage. Good info with each issue.

 

kL

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Myth: Atheists Are Just Angry That They Aren't God, Can't Make All the Rules

 

Do Atheists Really Want to Be God? Do Atheists Want to Make all the Rules?

By Austin Cline, About.com

 

Myth:

Atheists are just angry when they can’t be the one’s to make therules; they think it's an imposition when they have to submit to anyoneelse’s rules. Atheists believe that they can do a better job at, andhave more wisdom to, run the universe.

 

 

 

Response:

Sometimes people who don’t believe in any gods are accused of actuallywanting to be God themselves. This may be because some religioustheists place their god in charge of everything in their lives — all oftheir decisions and choices are made on the basis of what they assumetheir god wants. Atheists, however, make their decisions on their ownand thus might appear to be putting themselves in the place whereothers have their god. Thus, atheists may appear to be assuming theposition of God.

 

Although this particular misconception may be at least a littlebit understandable, it doesn't justify reaching, believing, andespousing the above myth. It is true that atheists place themselves inmany of the places where religious theists place their god: makingdeterminations about proper moral choices, making decisions about moralprinciples, making decisions about what direction to take in life, etc.It is not true, however, that any of this can imply that atheistssomehow want to be God.

 

Atheists place themselves in these positions or roles becausethey don't normally regard anyone else — not even any gods, should theyexist — as being qualified to make such decisions for a person. Theabsence of any gods certainly means that people are left to do suchthings on their own and take personal responsibility for what theydecide, but even the presence of some sort of god wouldn’t necessarilyrelieve us of those responsibilities. No gods can live our lives forus, so it's implausible that a god can make basic life decisions forus.

 

It's certainly not true that atheists all think that they havethe wisdom to run the entire universe and would do a better job thanGod. First, since atheists don't believe in any gods, they don'tbelieve that there is anything already running the universe, much lesssomething that they could be better than. Second, while some atheistsmay indeed have a very inflated sense of their own abilities, thatdoesn't mean that they think they are qualified to manage the universe.From an atheistic perspective, the universe as a whole appears to berunning along just fine without anyone in charge.

 

This belief that atheists want to run the universe may derivefrom atheistic critiques of how God has supposedly "designed" theuniverse. When theists claim that God is perfect and a perfectdesigner, it's easy to point to all sorts of flaws and problems inthese alleged "designs" which indicate that if there is a "designer,"it surely isn't perfect. This doesn't mean that atheists think thatthey can do a better job than God, however; instead, it means that atheists don't think there is any God in the first place.Religious theists set up the problem when they claim that their god isperfect; once it's clear that the alleged designs aren't perfect theirargument fails.

 

It's also not true that atheists object to not being able tomake all the rules. There's no general trend of atheists objecting tohaving to follow rules imposed by parents, bosses, or governments. Onthe contrary, atheists appear to be sentenced to prison at lower ratesthan they exist in the general population of America; furthermore, moreatheistic and less religious countries that have similar levels ofindustrialization as America also have less crime, fewer people inprison, and fewer social problems. If the available sociological datashows anything, it might show that atheists are better citizens ratherthan worse.

 

In America, at least, it's arguably conservative evangelicalChristians who get upset when they are denied the authority to make allthe rules. The entire "Culture Wars" which they are waging arebasically a war against modern culture which is more secular andpluralistic than they would like. In the past, American culture,politics, government, and society were almost entirely definedaccording to conservative Protestant standards; that has changeddramatically, leading to a reduction in the privileges accorded toChristians, Christian beliefs, and Christian institutions.

 

In effect, Christians have lost much of their former power todefine what it means to be an American and what American culture islike — they have to share that power with non-Christians of all sorts,including irreligious and atheistic Americans. They can't make all therules anymore and impose their Christian-based rules, standards, andexpectations on America as whole. Atheists and the irreligious are morefree than ever to live independent of others' ideas about what theirreligion demands from everyone.

 

The above myth, like many similar myths, purports to attributeto atheists a host of anti-social and anti-authority attitudes whichmany Christians find threatening. Conservative, evangelicalChristianity is driven in many ways by a excessive demand for socialorder, obedience to authority, and adherence to tradition. This is inpart due to a strongly negative reaction to a world in which traditionsand authority cannot be taken for granted as they once were. Atheists,by dismissing much that these Christians take for granted, are anexistential threat unlike any other despite their relatively smallnumbers. Thus myths like this are less an expression of what atheistsare really like and more an expression of what some people perceive thethreat of atheism to be.

 

This About.com page has been optimized for print. To view this page in its original form, please visit: http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismasrebellion/a/AtheistsGod.htm

 

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Interesting article. Encourage folks to sign up for Austin's newsletter. No spam, no garbage. Good info with each issue.

 

kL

*************

The above myth, like many similar myths, purports to attributeto atheists a host of anti-social and anti-authority attitudes whichmany Christians find threatening. Conservative, evangelicalChristianity is driven in many ways by a excessive demand for socialorder, obedience to authority, and adherence to tradition. This is inpart due to a strongly negative reaction to a world in which traditionsand authority cannot be taken for granted as they once were. Atheists,by dismissing much that these Christians take for granted, are anexistential threat unlike any other despite their relatively smallnumbers. Thus myths like this are less an expression of what atheistsare really like and more an expression of what some people perceive thethreat of atheism to be.

By George, I think he's got it! That's what we've been missing - the notion that we are an "existential threat" to Christianity because we refuse to cowtow to the authority and order that they find necessary to continue their religion.

 

Great post!

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So, will this be in an episode of Mythbusters?

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the xtian engineers from the xtian recording studio called me a few weeks ago while I was in Chicago. He wanted my opinion about a reality show he was considering trying to produce. He thought it would be a good idea to get a few Atheists and a few xtians and a few fence sitters together and discuss the existence of god. He said he thought the shows already in existence did not really delve into the subject well enough.

 

After I told him that a xtian couldn't produce a well balanced documentary as he suggested without allowing seriously damaging information about xtianity to reach the ears of the viewing public, and that he would probably edit out the balls of any Atheist argument that was offered, he went through a few of the usual "reasons" for Atheism; which angered me because he (like always) completely ignored the reasons I told him I left in favor of his reasons why I left. In fact he still likes to call me a "recovering lutheran", as if I'm still a xtian of some sorts. I always correct him and tell him I am a recovering xtian. But he just refuses to admit that I saw the scam and left.

 

I finally got him to see my point (I think) when I asked how interested he would be to put a bunch of people together to debate the existence of Zeus, or Jupiter, or Apollo, or any of the ancient gods. I said the only people who'd be interested in his show would be xtians, Atheists would skip right over it to watch Star Trek cause that's exactly how we view his god, as equal to Zeus.

 

I also told him I seriously doubt any experienced Atheist would go on his show ( I said I'd help in production but wouldn't go on camera) because I seriously doubt that anything the Atheist said would be allowed in it's "pure" form; i.e. what he actually said and meant instead of being edited to favor the xtians. I offered to be the "Atheist's advocate" and make sure the Atheist viewpoint was properly depicted.

 

I think he's dropped the idea. Either way I gave him the link to testimonials here and told him this would give him the best reasons why his idea wouldn't work with us...

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One of the xtian engineers from the xtian recording studio called me a few weeks ago while I was in Chicago. He wanted my opinion about a reality show he was considering trying to produce. He thought it would be a good idea to get a few Atheists and a few xtians and a few fence sitters together and discuss the existence of god. He said he thought the shows already in existence did not really delve into the subject well enough.

 

 

 

Don't they already have this show in India anyway?
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One of the xtian engineers from the xtian recording studio called me a few weeks ago while I was in Chicago. He wanted my opinion about a reality show he was considering trying to produce. He thought it would be a good idea to get a few Atheists and a few xtians and a few fence sitters together and discuss the existence of god. He said he thought the shows already in existence did not really delve into the subject well enough.

 

 

 

Don't they already have this show in India anyway?

 

I have no idea, but he seemed to think that Atheists just deny god. The words he chose seemed to imply that we just don't have the right knowledge of the bible, which really gets me because this particular engineer and I have had some pretty in depth discussions of xtianity before; and I know way more about the bible than he does. It took me a good 20 minutes before I got him to see (I think) that we view his god as exactly the same as he views Zeus.

 

That's why I told him the idea wouldn't work, because he has a premise that Atheists do accept that a big powerful sky daddy exists, and that we just need convincing. In a way I'd love to be a part of the project, but I know it would be weighed against us from the get go. I probably would not be allowed in the editing room...

 

For instance, I brought up the fact that jesus' divinity was voted on at the council of Nicia in 325 C.E., and he just continued on with his train of thought as if I didn't say a thing...

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