And behold, she was irritated and an atheist.

The other day I thought back to when I was an angry atheist, and wondered; what was I so pissed off about?

Because of the fact that I don’t necessarily think that religion and Christianity in particular are evil, misguided and delusional anymore, I’m becoming more familiar with the slight eyebrow raising that comes when someone finds out that I’m a (sometimes) church attending semi-Christian.

I don’t really mind an eyebrow raise. I can handle an eyebrow raise. Well, not really, it irritates me, but I can avoid responding to it. It could just be a tick, after all.

Of course, the deep down judgement that I know that people are probably making bothers me hugely. Since that is totally in my head though, it serves me well not to launch into a diatribe at them concerning what they *might* be thinking.

Because it’s all projection, isn’t it? I’m just thinking back to the judgements that I made about people, their intelligence and the obvious lack of worldliness that come with being Christian. And oh my goodness, I judged.

Paybacks a bitch, isn’t it?

I was an eyebrow raising, patronising and judgemental atheist.

Are all atheists like this? Absolutely not. But there is one certain variety of atheist that is like that, and I was one of them.

image
This picture is apropos of nothing, but it’s my kitchen window and its relaxing to look out of when I get grumpy. Except the rooster- he makes me grumpy.

Why was I so angry? Why was I so with witheringly patronising at the hint that someone may be a person of faith?

a) I just thought that you had to be SO STUPID to believe in God. I thought that you had to have this tiny box of a mind that allowed no outside idea or indeed logic into it. So I was angry because= stupid people (stupid people still make me angry, don’t worry. It’s just you’re not by default stupid because you’re Christian).

Believing in God doesn’t mean that you are ignorant of science. Denying evolution is, but I don’t do that. Believing that Jesus rose from the dead is kind of hazy for me (and I’m not right on board with it). I’m not one to use science to argue for God, but also I don’t think at it has rendered the concept of God meaningless. That whole bit works nicely for me these days.

So I was patronising. I don’t know if I actually told any one that’s they seemed too smart to be a Christian but it kind of sounds like something I would have said…( but crikey I hope I didn’t!).

b) I was angry because I thought that CHRISTIANS ARE TRYING TO TELL US HOW TO LIVE!!!!

Yeah, not really. Some sure are. Some are trying to stop gay marriage and access to abortion but there’s an increasing groundswell of Christians that don’t believe that their faith is bound up in these issues.

I’d go as far to say that the largest number of people who are actively effected by religious groups in Australian society today are those who need help from groups such as the Salvos, Vinnies, Red Cross, Uniting Care and all the other services carried out by everyday, nondescript churches every week.

Apart from that decidedly positive aspect, I don’t think that Christianity has the effect on our day to day lives that some would have us believe.

Why else was I so irritated? Unfortunately I’m of the personality type at takes easily to irritation. I am a mixture of irritation and feelings, probably the perfect storm for an opinionated atheist.

I was always incredibly uncomfortable with people expressing their feelings about Jesus, but now I come to think of it I’m pretty uncomfortable with people expressing strong feelings about anything at all. Yes, I hated the way Christians evangelised but I hate the way anyone evangelises about anything at all, just on principle.

Also, I don’t think that anyone has ever evangelised at me anyway. So it was preemptive irritation.

I think that I was really, really irritated at a Christianity that doesn’t exist in any huge way in my part of the world; the anti-evolution, pray the gay away, shoot before you ask questions type of religion.

Makes me wonder which other areas of my life I generalise and stereotype without realising it. I’d hope that the answer is none at all. At least I’ve got the self awareness to realise that’s probably wrong, hey?

28 thoughts on “And behold, she was irritated and an atheist.

  1. Every time I read your posts if just makes me wish to meet you more and more. All I can say is “you’ve come a long way, baby!” People just no longer make me mad and frustrated very often. I think it may be due to age and also a growth in the belief structure that I have.

  2. I have observed some of this in myself. I believe I have very good reasons for being a christian. But I find that my “very good reasons” don’t convince other people very often. I used to take that personally, and felt frustrated with those who just couldn’t see it. It is only one step from there to demonising the non-believer, thinking them to be deliberately avoiding the truth, or somesuch. I don’t think I ever got to that point, but I easily could have. So now I try to offer my ideas without expecting any particular response, and I try to avoid telling people why they won’t believe, because obviously I don’t actually know.

    So of course the same thing must sometimes, or perhaps often, happen the other way round. An atheist may be just as convinced that their reasons for not believing in God are strong, logical, even proven, so when I don’t see it that way, they may be tempted to think that I am delusional, that I use faith (which they define as opposite to evidence), etc. This too is demonising me so they can feel better about the fact that I not only refuse to come to their view but continue to argue that this is on the basis of evidence. The main difference between them and me is that I now recognise this shortcoming in my thinking and try to avoid it, whereas they may not realise this yet.

    Learning is often painful, especially when we learn something unattractive about our own thinking, but staying ignorant and wrong is worse! Like the poster of a gorilla says “You think education is hard, you should try ignorance!” 🙂

    • When it comes right down to it, if someone holds their beliefs based on well considered information, then that it their right and we’ve got buckles chance of talking them out of them. As an atheist, nothing anyone could ave said would have caged my mind, equally, quoting bible passages at me about Jesus being the only way isn’t going to make me a Christian.

      • if someone holds their beliefs based on well considered information, then that it their right and we’ve got buckles chance of talking them out of them.

        That’s the rub of the inherent dishonesty in faith.

        Dishonesty? Yes. I use the word intentionally because I do not think for one second that you returned to – or anyone else enters into – believing in christian tenets because of ‘well considered information’. If this were the basis, then we’d only be talking about the quality – or its lack – of that information. Faith would play no part of this reasonable discussion. But this not a requirement for faith, is it (if we’re being honest here)? In fact, faith as defined is held in the absence of just such information. You believe in spite of a lack of compelling evidence, in spite of contrary and incompatible information about how the world works, in spite of tens of thousands of different sects based on this supposedly ‘well considered information’. So I think it is dishonest to pretend there is any equivalency between a faith-based belief and one held by virtue of ‘well considered information’ that leads to non belief. That you returned to the fold of faith is not an indication of any ‘well considered information’ lacking in rational non belief whatsoever but a marker for the seductive power of faith-based belief. Why that power is so seductive is an interesting inquiry, but that in no way addresses the central issues of rational and reasonable non belief centered as it is whether or not faith-based claims about reality are supported by reality to make such assertions ‘well considered information’. Simply put, they are not. In fact, they are severed from reality’s arbitration of them, which is why those who believe in some faith-based propositions maintain them in spite of no support from reality. That intransigence is not synonymous with ‘well considered’ and it most definitely does not produce any equivalent ‘information’; such beliefs are matters of faith divorced from reality and I do not think this method ever produces a net good.

      • Yes, religion is about faith and I don’t think that it can be proved scientifically. I think that some things can point to God (or as M theory can point to the Multiverse) but certainly god can’t be proven.

        As for the ‘well considered information’ bit, I am not so arrogant as to tell a person that what they think to be valid is not so. Yes, they may be wrong but what part of your life experience makes you think that haranguing someone is going to change their mind?

        I know that this is very important you you, it’s clear that this is your passion. I understand your point of view, I really do. It IS all faith and there are gods that we will never know the names of because the societies that worshipped them are extinct. What of these gods? It does raise questions..

        I know that you take some pride in crying ‘they banned me because the can’t handle the TRUTH’ and I will not ban you or moderate your comments because I believe in respectful discussion. That said, being willfully argumentative is classless and rude. I’m not saying that you are doing that here but you seemed to have jumped back into commenting so it’s worth stating.

      • Eva, you write, Yes, religion is about faith and I don’t think that it can be proved scientifically.

        And that’s fine (assuming you understand that ‘proofs’ have no place in the method of science but belong to axiomatic models like math and logic). But the problem here is that people use faith to make claims about reality and forget that reality is completely open to scientific inquiry. In other words, if someone makes a claim about reality, then it requires evidence from reality to back it up. Someone can’t hide make claims about reality and then scurry behind the faith shield and assume such a claim is still worthy of any respect as ‘a different kind of knowledge’. It’s not. Without support from reality it’s an either an illegitimate claim based on wishful and/or fanciful thinking or it’s factually wrong. And a good example of this is belief in creationism that causes huge mischief in the understanding of biology. So when you say that you are not so arrogant as to tell a person that what they think to be valid is not so you are suggesting it is arrogance to insist that reality be respected more than such fanciful and wishful thinking. This is really quite silly and produces nothing but misplaced tolerance for the kind of relativistic thinking where you think it’s appropriate to accept up to mean down if someone choose to believe so and grant validity to those who wish to believe white means a different kind of black. Again, if one makes a claim aboutreality then one had better come prepared to back that up with something more than ‘faith’ if that claim is to be taken seriously. Religious belief falls into this category when believers insist that their god is an interactive interventionist agency in our world causing real effect while also claiming that it is a matter of tolerance to protect their faith-based claim from reality’s arbitration of it.

        Rubbish.

        It’s a cop out, an avoidance technique, a way to call people with intellectual integrity names for daring to suggest that claims about reality be support by reality.

        And you’re buying into this intentional deception, which empowers unjustified beliefs about the world we share to be not just accepted as valid and equivalent but promoted to be an alternative that is perfectly fine, which then causes real effect to real people in real life that has nothing whatsoever to do with what’s demonstrably true! And, to add insult to injury, you then support name calling those who stand against this blatant trickery and respect reality’s arbitration of claims made about it as the arrogant ones, as classless and rude, when that’s simply not true. In the service of theistic dishonesty you are willing to promote attacks against the characters of those who stand for justified true beliefs. Is that what an agnostic does or does it better describe someone desperate to accommodate anti-reality religious beliefs?

        • I’m having trouble replying on the ipad- when I try to reply it covers the comments and I need to see what you have written to reply properly. My first thought was ‘good point’, as not everything is valid, of course. I’ll get back to this later today.

      • If someone want to believe that up is down or black is white, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, then arguing with them wont change that. It just wont.

        If people are in possession of the facts, or are willfully ignoring the facts, then we will. not. change. their. mind. And if they choose not to back it up then they choose not to back it up. People believe stupid things- if you think that I am in that camp then so be it.

        Now this question is not intended to be rhetorical- I’m genuinely asking. What are your intentions here? And that sounds adversarial but it’s not meant to be. Do you hope the bring me back to the atheist side? Do you feel it is your duty to point out when people on the internet are wrong? I don’t think that you want a fight, because there are plenty of fundie blogs that would give you a much better sparring match than this little blog.

        I just work through ideas here. I’m not a theologian, a philosopher nor a scientist. I don’t argue. I’m just not sure what you are hoping to get. Conversion, an argument or just a discussion? Its the internet, I’ve got a public blog- I realise it’s fair game. But surely it can’t be that fun for you here; I’m not giving you very interesting replies.

        • If someone want to believe that up is down or black is white, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, then arguing with them wont change that. It just wont.

          Why do you think this? Once upon a time the majority of people believed slavery was acceptable, that women were inferior to men, that homosexuality was a mental disorder, and they held such beliefs very strongly. How did this change ever happen if what you are saying were true?

          When you read thousands of conversion stories you quickly find a theme… of people who did believe, who desperately wanted to believe, but who -over time – realized that they couldn’t mesh their beliefs with their notions of a respectable self, one who respected reality and the evidence it contained, one who exercised moral courage, practiced intellectual integrity, held high ethical standards, one who held faith to be a virtue and who assumed that promoting this virtue would enrich their lives and improve the lives of others. But such believers also know that maintaining incompatible beliefs with reality seemed to very often accomplish exactly the opposite. Of special note are those public figures who relied on their religious beliefs to make their living who still came to realize that they simply couldn’t continue the charade of believing when they no longer believed as they once did. Want seems to have lost its power.

          So the question becomes, How does a believer stop believing? And we continue to find many individual answers to this question but a single theme to this phenomena you assume doesn’t – can’t – occur: their beliefs were successfully challenged by a combination of reasoned argument and contrary evidence from reality. This change in belief did not occur all at once, to be sure, but was an evolution of change over time directly facilitated by public debate and criticism that conveyed the social cost and net negative effects from respecting ideas that caused and continue to cause real harm to real people in real life. This is not what many believers hung their faith hat on.

          Being a self-identifying member of groups that either cause this harm or allow it to continue with tacit approval – as well as incorrectly assuming that the belief system that defines membership to it is part of one’s unalterable identity – was a major factor of feeling that the proper recourse by many who abandoned their membership even at great social cost to themselves was having to disengage from the belief they loved even though few ever wanting to do so.

          When people come to understand that principle drives practice, and want to consider themselves principled people, then faith that asks for compromise is a request too extreme to meet.

          And this is why New Atheists continue to criticize religious privilege and approval in the public domain; it works.

  3. It seems you and I have been on journeys in opposite directions. I used to be the uptight Christian, irritated and angry that atheism existed because I thought you had to be “running from God”, worshiping something(most likely yourself), and traveling the river of denial to be one. I thought all atheists thought I was stupid for believing in God, and that they were the ones who were angry and militant and lacking in a moral compass of any kind.

    Gulp! Crow does not taste good. But, just as you, I have learned that you can’t *really* lump people together in a group. People are *not* defined by their belief or lack thereof in a god. I am, for all practical intents and purposes, an atheist. But I can understand belief. It isn’t the enemy.

  4. Many atheists are angry because there is a lot to be angry about regarding the real world effects of faith-based belief inserted into our lives that causes real harm to real people in real life. Faith-based belief exists for only one reason: because people empower it to have public effect in all its forms. This effect is a root problem that requires constant and public criticism which is often mistaken to be anger but a justified and rational response to the promotion of superstitious nonsense.

  5. Reading anyone extol the virtues of religion is so terribly sad.
    After reading how a ten year old girl was killed by an Islamic extremist on her way home from bible class it highlights that there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING virtuous about religion.
    There is no central doctrine of peace and love, it is inherently divisive; of families and nations.
    It’s doctrine is violent, full of heinous crimes committed by or in the name of one deity or another.
    That it is taught to children, many of whom come from Fundamentalist families, who are blighted from the word go and struggle to integrate into a normal secular society,it should be considered by the UN as child abuse.
    Some branches of religion exert control over women and children, condemning all and sundry who do not believe in their particular branch faith. They are, one and all, the anathema of tolerance and freedom.
    Christianity has reached its place of tax exempt holier than thou status by managing to white wash its crimes from the annals of history.

    Is it right to judge? Well I don’t know. I’d say ask that little ten year old girl, but…..
    The ridiculous deserves ridicule.

    Anyone who offers credence to deities and a faith based system of belief needs to seriously reconsider their worldview because maybe, just maybe, one day, a religious extremist may just be standing in front of you with his hand on the button of a low yield nuclear device.asking the question.
    “Are you ready to go to heaven?”

    Well….are you?

    • I agree that fundamentalism of any kind is destructive and of no benefit to society. You are falling into the trap that I once fell into, of grouping all people of faith into one fundamentalist group. I am not taking about extremists at all and in fact have made it very clear repeatedly.
      What you have done is create a ‘straw man’ argument, as im sure you are aware.

      • With due respect, the god you worship is the same one that the fundamentalist worships.
        The(christian) text you read is the same the (christian) fundamentalist reads.
        The same comparison can no doubt be drawn with Muslims, who will react with similar indignation

        While you may consider you have a more liberal and understanding approach, the fundamentalist will insist on literal interpretation of the Bible and to this end Creationism is taught in (certain)schools and is hell bent(excuse me) on establishing ”God’s law”.

        If you both believe in an omnipotent deity why is it there is so much disparity in the way you each interpret His will; as outlined in the Bible, the infallible text inspired by the Creator of the Universe?
        And , once again with all due respect, how can you be so sure that your interpretation is the correct one?

        I create no straw man, this is the preserve of much more erudite and educated apologists of the likes of William Lane Craig.
        I merely observe.
        Islam, but more so Christianity has reached its relatively secure position in today’s secular world by wading through bloodshed, by liquidating opposition at every turn, as many other christian faiths as well as non-believers
        A sad, but true fact. And one that the Church has justified.

        The position it holds, the damage it has caused and the polarization it continues to perpetrate is a tragedy.

        That young children are inculcated without consultation, that women are still subject to misogynist dogma, that homosexuals are condemned and a myriad of other despicable practices is cause enough to pause and consider.
        That it preaches eternal damnation for those who fail to genuflect to this supposed all loving creator of the universe should be enough to walk away and begin to treat other human beings with common decency without the need to be morally supervised by
        a god that destroyed almost all life with a global flood and ordered Joshua to liquidate every living breathing thing in Canaan.
        This is not any sort of being normal people should revere, this is a monster.

        If you choose to worship, then please, keep it to yourself, and any children you may have have, let them choose for themselves without being in any way exposed.

      • I think that you may be somewhat confused. I am not a theist. I am an agnostic. I certainly feel drawn to Christianity and am looking deeper into it, but I have never claimed to ‘worship’ and god or indeed to bring my children up within this framework.

        I welcome all input but it is just good manners to acquaint yourself with a blog before jumping in; basic internet etiquette to at least read the ‘about’ page. Especially given that fact that you are mentioning my parenting. Don’t do that.

  6. Apologies, but I did read the Hi I’m Eva page. I went straight there after reading your comment on unklee’s blog. I always do on every blog
    This was the line that I picked up on…
    “I can’t say that I believe in God, but if anyone can become a believer through sheer effort then I’m in.”, which certainly gives the impression that you are trying to head in this direction,from your former atheism and your general replies etc allude to this. Your replies to tildeb also.
    Sorry if this is not the case.

    I always raise the issue of inculcation regarding children. There are no laws that protect them from religion.
    As a former atheist you probably would have reacted vehemently had anyone insisted you were obliged teach them religion.

    Yet religious folk feel highly offended if an atheist suggests they be allowed to choose religion when they are old enough to make an informed choice free from any form of exterior pressure.

    Again, if you have no intention of moving in this direction, I sincerely apologise.

  7. Well, i would like to have an epiphany that leads me to faith- the assurance that there is life after death and the like. I muddle along with my own conclusions and am hard to pigeonhole- I suppose because I tend to blog my thoughts along the way I lean into different views at different times. Sometimes I’ll be more theist, sometimes almost atheist. Usually though, a genuine agnostic.

    To put your mind at rest though. my children don’t come to church with me (well, except the baby). They came once and were thoroughly bored. As my 7 year old says ‘I’ve got no time for that God rubbish’ ;). My 10 year old is a potential theists but he’s a people pleaser so I need to be careful not to push any ideas onto him. The 5 year old just wants chocolate.

    In short, I can see a lot of good in religion but Im also very aware of the evils. Also though, I think that the ‘angry atheist’ is damaging. Genuine arguments (hell NO should evolution be taken out of textbooks!) are lost if people are too confrontational, in my opinion. Genuine dialogue needs to be….genuine.

  8. As I mentioned in my opening comment, the problem lies in the source of the ‘faith’ – this deity. It is the same for the Fundamentalist as it is for the laisez faire, “I just want chocolate” christian. Might I suggest you read this guy?-http://findingtruth.wordpress.com/about/ …he’s a deconvertee and a nicer bloke you wont meet. Nate’s story is as harrowing as it is fascinating.

    Choice is a wonderful thing, but many people forget(?) that choice comes with responsibilities. At some point someone is likely going to ask why you are not bringing your kids up in the faith? “Er….well…”
    Of course, it’s none of their damn business, but if you are non-committal about your kids then why are you are believer? 🙂

    ”In short, I can see a lot of good in religion but I’m also very aware of the evils.”
    No question there are good people, no question at all, but religion (in context;Christianity) has gained its place in the global sunshine by liquidating almost all early opposition. There are hundreds of examples.
    Interpreted as it is written, religion is nothing but divisive and ultimately bad. I mean, have you actually read the bible? All of it?
    Thanks for the dialogue.

    • Actually I have read the whole bible! Barely hung on through the boring bits, but kept plugging on.

      Ill certainly check out that blog- thanks for the tip.

      My children know that mummy likes the idea of god and hope that s/ he exists, and that daddy doesn’t believe at all. Everyone that knows me knows my position in regard to this- I’m not going to expose my children to what could just be a whim on my part.

      Night 🙂 (for me, that is)

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