Monday, March 09, 2009

So What's the Problem?

I have a question.  Why are so many atheists so threatened by those with faith?  Not all of 'em, but it seems a lot of them are.

Now let me preface this before I get down to the topic.  I have faith.  It doesn't matter what that faith is, I don't feel the need to share it, prove it, quantify it, spread it or evangelise it.  It's mine, I'm comfortable with it and I don't feel threatened or bothered by other people having either a different faith or no faith.  It's just kind of there.

It doesn't matter to me what other people believe, that doesn't detract from my beliefs at all, and I'm perfectly comfortable sharing the world with all other faiths and those who hold no faith.  It's not a requirement of my belief system that everyone has to believe the same as I do.

So on to my tale...

Yesterday someone on Twitter asked an intelligent and respectful question to those who believe in God, I replied and an intelligent discussion ensued.  Then the person asked the opinion of another Twitterer, and he replied with an answer so disrespectful and dismissive, full of attitude and sarcasm.  The implication was that someone who had any kind of faith was stupid and poorly educated.

I don't quite understand why the attitude.  Is it such a terrible thing that someone holds different belief systems to you?  Does it lessen your atheism to have someone who is not an atheist in the world.  Do you feel threatened by those who have faith?

Or is it the simple fact that so many of you feel that you're somehow better than those who do have faith?

I feel that if I were to hold the same attitude towards atheists that so many atheists hold towards those with faith, I would be shouted down for my narrow-mindedness and conservatism.  However, it seems it's perfectly acceptable for them to hold that very attitude.

It seems to me, that to people like the guy who made the smarmy comment, they hold themselves above those with faith.  What makes the likes of them more important than any other person on the planet?

Just some food for thought folks.


Felicity said...

Agreed. :)

Girl Clumsy said...

I have seen cases of this where the situation is virtually reversed - where the person without faith is ostracised by those with faith.

It all boils down to one of the Wah's favourite sayings "Who is the master who makes the grass green?"

Sadly I think there are many people who identify as religious who demonstrate just how closed-minded, intolerant and unjust it can get.

Perhaps the person who reacted against you so strongly had some very negative experiences with religion - church, school, family etc. Perhaps their reaction to you was too strong for the context. But religion has hurt as many people as it has "helped" - perhaps many more. For some people, that's a difficult thing to get over, and it may come out at inappropriate times.

I'm quite certain that the majority of religious people are decent humans.

But I must say I do wait for the day when the human race can progress enough to not need ideals of "God", the "Devil", "sin" etc to be good. Surely we evolved to have enough natural intelligence to develop moral codes based on our shared humanity.

Where you don't steal from someone because you're scared of going to hell, but simply because decent normal people don't do that to other decent normal people.

Robin said...

Having such an iron-clad and adamant lack of belief in ANYTHING in the world must be a very sad perspective. I too have not positively believed in anything at times (although now I have returned to an uplifting faith), but I wasn't sure or certain or adamant about anything. And it still was a horribly rattling feeling. Feeling certain that you believe in nothing must be very very rattling inside indeed.

I think that believing in something good is so powerful and wonderful. :)

Sleepydumpling said...

What I don't get is the double standard. All this talk about those of faith "Letting atheists have their beliefs." yet their is so much disdain and smirking at those with faith who have theirs. It's such a massive double standard to me.

GC the difference to me is that almost all atheists loudly claim to all and sundry to be open minded. If you're going to make that claim, then you'd better be open minded! I don't get why they have to state they are so open minded when it is plainly clear that they are NOT.

My point is not about WHAT people believe, but how they behave to others who believe different to them, when they are proclaiming themselves to be the only ones who are really of open mind.

Flibbertigibbet said...

I'm an atheist, I wasn't brought up with a faith. When I chose my GCSE's and A-Level subjects here in England I chose to study Religious Education.
The three people whom I refer to as the people I hold most dear from history all had a strong faith, two of whom were theologians. I found it incredibly interesting to be given an alternative point of view to the one I held. In my A-Level group we were a mix of Atheists, Agnostics and Believers.
I think we always have something to learn from people that hold a different belief to ourselves.
We need a variety in the world, because if we were all to be the same, how could we ever be challenged?

Sleepydumpling said...

Beautifully said Flibbertigibbet, and it's refreshing to see there are atheists out there that break through the sneering mold.

I believe it is our responsibility as human beings to question, but that doesn't exclude humans from the ability to have faith.

One thing I'm noticing is that the sneering atheists only really have a problem with Christianity. If that's not narrow minded, I don't know what is!

Girl Clumsy said...

Speaking from an atheist perspective - I am quite happy to be anti ALL religions.

Your perception that atheists are mostly "anti-Christian" is probably because Christianity is the dominant meme in the Western world.

I'm sure there are atheists in other parts of the world; having said that, many countries are tied much more strongly to their religions, so at this point in time, there are probably fewer.

Also, my security phrase for this post is "NorseDis", which I find quite hilarious - Norse gods, and Dis being a Latin root for devil!


Sleepydumpling said...

But why be anti any religion? I am not anti atheist, I don't have a problem with anyone being an atheist, I just have a problem with atheists who have a problem with me having faith. I have a problem with atheists who believe that because I have faith, I am somehow less than them.

Do you get what I mean? To me, it's not about having faith (whichever that faith may be) versus no faith, but it's about the attitude to so many of those with no faith have that those who do have faith are somehow lesser than they are.

Yes I know that many with faith also have this attitude, but it's the hypocrisy of atheists stating that they're the open minded, progressive ones, yet being so close minded and disrespectful to those who have faith.

As I mentioned in my original post, the first person I had a conversation with was great, we discussed the subject without any need to think less of each other for our difference in faith. But he was the rare one, the subsequent attitudes afterwards from observing atheists were mind bogglingly narrow minded. The implication was that those of us who have faith are somehow stupid or delusional. What a double standard!

Nerd of the Library said...

Kath, I think you should write a book. This is so interesting.

Pandora said...

Nothing makes me madder than people being intolerable towards others' beliefs.Those people are the ones who cause friction and divide people.Although I don't mind people talking about their faith,I don't believe in forcing any type of faith on anyone,because it really has nothing to do with me.It's almost like when you walk into a store and the sales assistant tries to force you to buy something you really don't want.All that happens is you get pissed off,or if you're the sales assistant,you piss people off.Either way,it's not good.

Also,isn't being an atheist also kind of having a belief system,their lack of belief,makes them believers.Believers that there is no such thing as faith.This probably didn't make any sense,but oh well.