I've been reading a discussion on Amazon that has sprung up from discussions regarding the God Delusion. A large part of the discussion is focussing on why people become atheists and also on why atheists are so angry. Before I comment on this, here are some of the theories so far offered:
"Did you grow up in a tyranical religious home? Have a bad experience at church? Get sucked into some kind of mind-control cult, and only just escape by the skin of your teeth? Are you angry with the believers you know personally? Or with America? Or with God?"
"For example, when I was working on my master's degree a few years ago I encountered an atheist professor who was damn proud of it and who told the class that he was an atheist. His reason for why. He was mad at Bush. And, since Bush was a Christian that means he had to be an atheist."
"Others may have become atheists because of a dysfunctional upbringing. Or they may have imagined their upbringing to be dysfunctional. In the modern post-Freudian world, it is a very popular thing to do to blame your parents for everything wrong in the world. So, if your parents were believers then according to the reasoning of the atheists they should be atheists simply for this reason. (I know of a girl who is an atheist for precisely this reason. She hates her parents and she'll tell you that is why.)"
"Others may become atheists for more intellectually honest reasons. They are simply persuaded by the arguments of atheists."
"I think the majority of Atheists became Atheists because their sceptical nature led them to investigate the claims of religion, and after a careful examination of the available evidence, chose to reject all religion as deceitful, contradictory, and devisive. This same process also led them to believe there is no god, due to a complete lack of evidence for the existence of a supreme deity."
"My theory is that Dawkins may have instilled this quality in his readers by example. But I am also open to the possibility that people who are mad at Christians already for other reasons are drawn in this direction."
Despite the fact that some of these theories sound complimentary to atheists (and some are pure drivel) I have a problem with them all. For starters, I didn't become an atheist. Like everybody that has ever lived I was born one. No child is born with a belief in God. It is not atheism that needs to be explained but the lack of it.
Whilst I recognise that many atheists have spent some time in their lives in which they have harboured some form of religious belief asking them how they became atheists is like asking them how they became non-believers in the Tooth Fairy. All of them started out that way. It is theists and Tooth Fairy believers who must justify their beliefs - not the other way around.
With regards to anger I get accused of it a lot. Sometimes I am guilty of being too confrontational for other peoples comfort but I am only giving the religious claims the response they merit. I would also suggest that religion is worth some anger. Atheists are discriminated against. Atheists have to persistently tolerate their requests for reasons being answered with nothing more than glib reference to meaningless dogma. Atheists are expected to respect beliefs that warrant none and then sit back and let the theists perform their ritual child abuse of brainwashing innocent children, thus ensuring that our children have to share the planet with yet another generation of irresponsible thinkers willing to prostitute real concerns to mythical monsters and all the consequences that brings. Yes, there is definitely some anger there sometimes and it is most richly deserved.
But often there is no anger. Often theists misinterpret cold reasoning as a hot blooded assault. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that their universal truth is based on emotional wishful thinking rather than emotionless evidence based reasoning. Perhaps they just don't like being challenged. I really do not know. But if the theists are free to ask the atheists why they became atheists and why they are angry then surely it is fair to ask the same in return and even to propose our theories in advance of their response.
So theists – why did you become a theist?
My theory is that the vast majority of you became theists because you were educated to do so with the primary method of persuasion being peer conformity and a lack of external challenge.
And why are you so convinced that atheists should not be angry with you?
My theory, you are not at all aware of the idea that atheists are increasingly aware of the problems you cause, the absolute lack of any credible justification you have for doing so, and the vulgar habit you have of indoctrinating any child you can get your hands on. If you become familiar with this you may start to ask why atheists are not far more angry with you and my theory for that one is that mostly we are very reasonable people (as demonstrated by statistics showing the disproportionately low level of atheists convicted of crimes).
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