Being Arrogant doesn’t mean you’re wrong
I’ve recently been enjoying Greta Christina’s rather elaborate and lengthy blog posts over at Alternet.org, and I’ve been REALLY enjoying the debate her articles seem to generate in the comment section. Unlike our safe atheist-only environment we’re accustomed to, Alternet seems to be populated by an eclectic mix of believers, atheists and agnostics.
I was particularly fascinated with some of the comments generated in her recent article entitled “Why Are Believers So Hostile Toward Atheists?”. While Greta argued atheists are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t, her readers appear to have jumped on the “atheists are arrogant” argument as a way of sidestepping the issues:
Atheists (of the herd variety) are typically condescending and arrogant. They often cite ways in which non-atheists are ill-educated, stupid, irrational or misinformed. All based on the implicit paradoxical faith of the herd-atheist’s belief in no god. Of course this is sensed as a hostile stance. Which, of course, induces a hostile response.
There’s something strange and paradoxical about atheism. It’s a faith system who’s sole purpose is to deny something that isn’t defined. It’s a faith system rather than a rational system because, the thing that is denied isn’t defined. If it’s not defined, then it can’t be subject to logic. For the sake of logic, “god” is just a meaningless sound until it’s defined. And there are uncountable definitions that could be made for “god”. And not all those possible definitions can be subject to logic (naturally, considering the scope of what the word “god” suggests). So, atheism is just another kind of religion.
So this person is arguing because a proper definition of God doesn’t exist, it’s irrational not to believe in it? See, this might be a clue to why people are condescending to you, buddy. Terrible arguments don’t make you a lot of friends on the Internet.
Whilst I am a non-believer, I actually find myself partly in agreement with you:
1. I have observed many Atheists in this place to be “condescending and arrogant”, and I’d add even darn right hostile and rude towards Theists.
2. I agree Atheism is a kind of “faith” in as much as it is a position that defies any hard evidence to support their oft claimed scientific position, only that those who support it have not witnessed anything that suggests to them there is a God.
Well, at least this guy is proof not every nonbeliever knows what the fuck they’re talking about. While I agree to the charge of hostility, I think the reader missed the point Greta was trying to make; mainly that our anger is directed at the way religionists treat their fellow believers, and not ourselves. As for the argument it’s “faith” to have a healthy skepticism towards an unfalsifiable and improvable God, I don’t know what will convince someone this profoundly confused that rejecting a poor hypothesis is NOT tantamount to faith.
I have been verbally assaulted on several forums by atheists who are offended by my faith. My response is always kind. It doesn’t seem to soften up their anger. I really don’t understand why the atheists are so afraid of Christians.
The simple answer to this question would include things like: The Inquisition, the Crusades, the Reconquista, and the French Wars of Religion to name a few. The more complex answer would be we fear anyone who bases their entire lives on The Bible or any other violent, misogynistic and xenophobic book. Beliefs can be scary things.
Greta, why are you making sweeping generalizations about a group of people? I would have thought that you of all people would know that sweeping generalizations are almost always false. I’ve met very happy, kind Christians and Believers who could care less about Atheists, and even those who are perfectly happy to socialize with their Atheist friends. And of course, I’ve met many rabid Atheists who are Hostile Toward Believers. Your arguments are getting worse all the time. Now you’ve degenerated into making sweeping generalizations about a group of people as an easy, simplistic way of portraying them in a bad light. I wonder: Why is Greta Christina so Hostile Toward Believers?
I know we treat the word “generalizing” as some kind of pariah, but it’s often really the only way to make statements about the world that have any merit. If I say “most human beings are friendly”, it’s a pretty broad generalization, and there are plenty of examples why this isn’t true. Still, we expect there to be exceptions to the rule. There are theists who aren’t hostile towards atheists and nonbelievers, but so what? Does it suddenly mean there’s no hostility to speak of?
You know, after reading all the comments on her blog posts, I hope she’s getting paid decently for this gig. The amount of baseless criticism for her innocuous article would test my fucking patience to its limits. What do you guys think?