Thursday, May 13, 2010

Myth of the "Angry Atheist"


“Dawkins and Hitchens are angry atheists as are so many atheist bloggers. Their style is off putting to atheists, agnostics and theists alike and is detrimental to the spread of freethought.”

I’ve heard/read that kind of criticism frequently from other atheists and agnostics. Most often it comes from our Humanist and Secular Humanist brethren. I refer to these freethinkers as the “pass no judgment, kinder gentler, live and let live” branch of the atheist family tree, and that’s fine.

But I cannot abide their holier than thou attitude that we atheists who are confrontational are simply angry, and that this supposed anger represents a threat to the spread of freethought among the religiously impaired.

What they frequently perceive as anger would be better described as frustration and disgust with theist non-think; theist rejection of prima facie evidence of scientific truths and reality and acceptance of the falsehood of supernaturalism. It's the same kind of frustration/ disgust one might feel for people who still believe a woman's place is in the home -- that she should be kept uneducated, barefoot and pregnant. The same frustration/disgust one has watching a shouting / sweating / bombastic shaman extract money from impoverished believers in exchange for faith healing prayers. The same disgust I have for 911 conspiracy theorists, or Obama “birther” fanatics.

Thats not to say that there are no actions that arouse anger in atheists, especially anti-theists. But this anger is directed at the actions of some theists’ -- not their beliefs. I.e.: I have anger for the purveyors of anti-gay hate who proclaim themselves "loving Christians;" anger toward people who send us to war, or who kill innocents in the name of their god; anger for those who distort history and science and try to impose their lies into our schools, government, and lives. I am angered by parents who withhold medical help from a dying child because the bible told them so. And I reserve the right to be angered by churches who turn a blind eye to, and cover up, the immoral acts of their employees. I would express that same anger toward anyone, believer or non-believer, who would actively promote hate, subjugation, lies; or allow their delusions or position of authority to degrade our freedoms, our constitution or cause harm.

That there are thinking people; Humanist, Secularist, agnostic or atheist who DO NOT feel anger for those horrendous actions is a mystery to me. That theists or some freethinkers are put off by justifiable expressions of disgust (in absurd belief) or anger (in unjust action) simply cannot be of any concern to me. Anyone who proposes that by suppressing ones sense of indignation and wrapping it in some warm and fuzzy cloak of genteel complacency it is more prone to get fanatical religionists to stop their harmful acts and throw off their ignorance, hateful prejudices and delusions—then they are just suffering from another kind of delusion.

The “angry atheist” is a myth. When I, when any atheist, expresses anger at the actions of some religionists it’s not because I am an atheist, it’s because I am a freedom loving human being enraged by the unjust acts that mindless devotion to ignorance promotes. Period. That I happen to be an atheist doesn’t make me an “angry atheist” any more than being openly angry at that injustice makes me an “angry Independent,” “angry retiree,” “angry veteran” or “angry American.”

As the bumper sticker says “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Similarly, it wasn’t well behaved atheists who won us the right to profess our non-belief openly, to have atheist organizations, blogs and books without fear of retribution.

To those who distain the outspoken confrontational nature of activist atheist & anti-theist bloggers who call it like they see it; or to those who bemoan the in-your-face style of the Dawkins’, Hitchens’, Harris’ or the Madalyn Murray O’Hairs who have done so much to pave the way for the spread and openness of freethinking, I say if thine eye offend thee pluck it out, and suck it up.

24 comments:

NewEnglandBob said...

You hit this home run out of the park so far that they will need to look two states away for the ball.

One of your best, Hump.

LuWeeks said...

In another context it was called "uppity". The so called "new atheists" are a far cry from what was called "militant".

What would Ingersoll or Russell be called today?

I for one consider myself a Humanist, yet see no inconsistency in applauding the new atheists.

Leo said...

I love Hitchens the most out of the outspoken anti-religious group, but you have to admire Sam Harris' zen-like calm. I've never seen that guy get above lukewarm.

universalheretic said...

This thing about Hitchens and Dawkins (and so many other "angry atheists) is: they usually have some sort of content in their speeches. If you're actually angry about something, that's fine. There's an issue to be debated. Ignoring the content and just pointing out the anger (which I think is misappropriated, anyway. They're pussycats compared to Tea Baggers) is logically empty.

Rastifan said...

I remember Christopher Hitchens famous words in a interview with Fox news were he said this about Jerry Falwell after his death.

“If you gave Falwell an enema, he'd be buried in a matchbox".

Which I am sure short circuited some of the older television sets in America at the time.
He said this about a reverend on air. Now! How likely is it that this would have happened let's say 30 years back? Not likely at all.
Hitchen is bloody fearless and atheists should follow his example. Not stand back and show respect for religious lunacy.

In short. I agree with Hump.

Helga said...

When one ‘debates’ with anal, uptight god-botherers, it’s best to use humor as a weapon of choice….Hitchens’ strength is in his biting quips. Bill Maher also uses the absurdity of the ‘talking snake’ for maximum effect…

If we’re talking of fighting a battle here, and taking up arms against the suppression of free- thinking, nothing pisses off god-botherers more than the well-thought-out mockery of their vacuous beliefs.

zarton said...

I think that Hitchens, Dawkins, and Hump and the like have passion not hate. This is to be admired and applauded. I can certainly understand those who do not wish to shout freethought from the rooftop if it is not thier particular passion. What I can't understand is why other atheists would try to talk them down. Hump I'm coming to your house with my ladder, but don't worry, it is only so I can shout with you not get you down from there. Oh yeah, and I'll be bringing booze too. But let's not have too much we might fall off.
zar

DM said...

you don't like God...well leave the planet, fuckers...

Analog Kid said...

DM, you are an idiotic, non-sensical, hypocritical, spamming troll. You are a typical example of the "loving, Jesus-like" xtian. I'm sure your fellow believers are proud to have you represent them here so eloquently.
Oh, You can look up the word "eloquently" at dictionary.com.

Hump, fantastic post.

Dromedary Hump said...

Hey, all.. So many good comments and observations; too many for me to reply to. Thanks for your input.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"The 'angry atheist' is a myth."--Hump

That term is nothing more than a device to marginalize nonbelievers. If you call someone "angry," then you don't have to take seriously what she has to say.

For a very long time here in Massachusetts, I couldn't buy wine or any alcohol on Sunday because of the Christian Blue Laws. I can now, but only after 12 noon. I guess that's because the baby Jesus would be insulted if I were to buy wine while his followers attended church services where they drink it?

And to add more insanity to that insanity, the liquor stores in my neighborhood are closed on Sundays, but stay open on Sundays during the Xmas season!

Years ago, on a car trip to the south, I stopped, on a Sunday, in South Carolina for the night and looked forward to a nice glass of wine with my meal. Because of their Xtian laws, no wine is sold in restaurants on Sundays.

Theists see no incongruity in forcing nonbelievers into being abstemious on Sundays just because of their irrational beliefs.

And they call us arrogant and angry?

DM said...

the writing on the wall...

f*ck you very much!

Atheists!!!


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6e/Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage.jpg

see, you degenerates have last names like first names...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

how about I believe in WHATEVER I want - even in the FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER! - and you have nothing to say!


let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
any human objectives...

this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*
**
THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!


see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

visit


http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

DM said...

you're an atheist liar...


now you are going to BEG

Rachelle said...

Well said, Hump!!! Another excellent post. :)
.
.
.
Shaw said (regarding "angry atheist"):

"That term is nothing more than a device to marginalize nonbelievers. If you call someone "angry," then you don't have to take seriously what she has to say."


I wholeheartedly agree. We nonbelievers/atheists are labeled "angry" while believers are simply "passionate" when they're expressing themselves. LOL! Total bullshit. And anyone who thinks that Dawkins, in particular, comes off as "angry" probably hasn't listened to him. To me, he's pretty mild-mannered. There are times when I wish he were more forceful like Hitchens. LOL!

Dromedary Hump said...

I haven't disagreed with anything anyone has said here. We are all on the same wavelength. :)

Zar..leave the ladder and booze at home. I have both here.

No Guy in the sky said...

Your the best!

I am tired of being called angry because I comment at all of the stupid. In this day, how can anyone seriously believe? All my family on one side are the "nice" Christians, and it kills me to bite my tongue. I still as nicely as possibly interject something when they in my mind cross the line. So far I have been banished from 2 atheist sites for not being a nice kind gentle PC god loving like wimp. Really. Fuck them.

I love your blog. I wish you would write another book.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks No Guy... much appreciated.
New Book doesn't come out until Spring '11.

I was banned from Atheist Nexus for being less than genteel with the "Uncle Tom Atheists". Fuckem indeed.

DM said...

the writing on the wall...


for the idiot called *

f*ck you very much!

Atheists!!!


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6e/Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage.jpg

see, you degenerates have last names like first names...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

how about I believe in WHATEVER I want - even in the FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER! - and you have nothing to say!


let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
any human objectives...

this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*
**
THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!


see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

visit


http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

DM said...

you are going to learn that even to TALK about GOD the way you do is going to COST YOU YOUR LIVES...

Shaw Kenawe said...

That DM troll is going to find out that talking the way he/she does about god is going to cost his/her life as well. LOL!

Here's Richard Dawkins responding to an Australian's question [both of them quite funny] and then addressing the "arrogant atheist" label.

Dromedary Hump said...

Shaw,
Great video link! Thanks for that.

Contents under pressue said...

I'm bigoted against bigots, stupefied by idiots, but moderate myself against moderates.

I think that sums my sentiments towards religious folks.

Backwards buddhist said...

Non-theistic rhetoric sharpened by anger, which is transformed into wisdom, can certainly clarify individual understanding in the context of freedom of thought.
Freedom is not just another word for nothing else to lose, it is the ultimate way of living well. I have a hard time with people not being civil to each other, but I was brought up in a time long past. Now the polite approach is as passé as last year's fashion. I have to say I am still programmed to respond that way. However, I am learning to get by the emotional overlay to access the underlying message. Sometimes I think enemas all around might be worthwhile.

Angel said...

Backwards Buddha, you kill me. Nice rant. I know what you mean about the "polite approach" and PC'ism. But we can all only be as PC as the most radical fundamentalist we must confront on a daily basis. There can be no moderation in our response when they are actively recruiting to spread the stupidity. And to our CHILDREN!! When religious people overstep the boundaries of our country's laws and then scream for special treatment..... something's got to give. And yes, people will fight back.

I think the collective Laugh Therapy here helps more than an enema would.