Are We Angry Atheists?

Someone recently wrote this about us here at DC: “I find it amazing how much anger there is on this board.”

I find this to be an interesting charge. People have said this before. Is it true? If it is, does it imply anything important?

I don’t think it’s true, at least not with me. I am not an angry atheist toward anyone. If I have ever shown anger it’s because I was responding to what I considered to be willful ignorance, idiocy and/or attempts to belittle me.

But what if I am angry, and what if others here are angry? What then?

If we are angry, Christians will see this as a sign we are “God haters.” Christians are looking for psychological reasons for why we don’t believe, because many of them don’t think we reject their faith on intellectual grounds. They believe we reject the Christian faith on emotional or psychological grounds.

R.C. Sproul’s book, If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists?, is typical of this kind of thinking. Sproul claims that the nature of God is “repugnant” to human beings. We want to be our own authority, and we refuse to acknowledge our sins before a holy God.

I deny this explains why I don't believe. I just don’t think the Christian God exists. I am not a God hater. How can I hate God if God doesn’t exist? How can I hate someone like Jesus, whom I have never met in person?

To better understand us, the Christian merely needs to ask himself what he thinks about Islam. Do you hate Allah? Are you angry with Allah? Do you refuse to acknowledge his authority in your life? Are you in rebellion against him?

The point is that these kinds of questions are silly, aren’t they? They are silly because you do not believe Allah exists. You do not consider yourself in rebellion against Allah. You are not an Allah hater, either. You just don’t believe he exists.

That’s us, when it comes to the Christian God. We just don’t think he exists. We don't consider ourselves to be rebelling against him, just as you don’t consider yourself to be rebelling against Allah.

Let’s go a little deeper.

Let’s say we are angry ex-Christians. What would we be angry about? Some of us might be angry for “wasting” a good portion of our lives on something that we finally concluded was a delusion. Christian, let’s say this described you in a few years. How would you feel about it, when you could’ve been doing something different with your life? That may describe some of us. The time, effort and money we spent on this Christian delusion was simply “wasted” in some sense.

We might be angry because our friends no longer seem to care for us. They just want to convert us. We might be angry because we've lost friends or family or because we've lost business opportunities. Some Christians don't what to "fellowship" with us any longer, you see, and they'll try to bankrupt us if they can.

We might be angry simply because we felt duped.

We might be angry at how we were treated by church people. We could tell plenty of stories about abuse and mistreatment at the hands of leaders in the church who hid behind the cloak of the Bible. People who have left the Catholic Church because of molester-priests and the subsequent cover-up, have a right to be angry, correct? Then there are Muslims who are angry because other Muslims blow up their children while walking to school. We too may have been abused by church people in some different, milder ways, but it is abuse just the same. And if we are angry about this, we have a right to be angry.

There are other reasons to be angry. We could be angry for the way religion is forced upon us by the majority through the law and upheld in court cases. We could be angry at what Richard Dawkins describes as child-abuse in the form of indoctrinating children to believe. We could be angry with how our tax money is being used to support churches, or that churches don't have to pay taxes. We could simply be angry at ignorance parading itself as education, or angry at the inhibiting of science because of religious based beliefs and fears.

If what we believe is correct, then we have a right to be angry.

Besides, I see a great deal of anger coming from the Christian community. We have a right to be angry about how we're treated because we no longer believe. We have a right to be angry at the vicious attacks on us. According to many sermons preached in America every Sunday we are evil doers, God haters, tools of Satan, and unworthy of any kindness at all, for we're already headed to hell. I have personally been viciously verbally attacked for arguing against Christianity. If Christianity wins in the marketplace of ideas, why should Christians be angry with me? Let the truth prevail. In a prior era Christians would burn me at the stake for being an evil doer.

The reason for anger on both sides of this great debate is because we're in a cultural war of values over the hearts and minds of people, especially the children.

But we're simply not angry at God at all. We might be angry with ourselves, those who led us to believe in the first place, church people who abused us, and so on. But we're not angry with God. We don't believe the Christian God exists.

For Christians who think we left the faith because of psychological reasons I say this: I don't believe conversion or deconversion experiences take place strictly because of epistemic reasons in either direction, in most all cases. There are most always social and psychological factors. Anyone who ever hears most Christian conversion stories knows exactly what I mean. All of the stories I’ve ever personally heard have to do with someone who has either grown up in the church, or someone who had some dramatic experience when down on his luck to some degree. If anyone wants to discount our rejection of Christianity because of bad experiences in the church, then I could discount the overwhelming number of Christian conversion experiences due to similar factors like divorce, bankruptcy, jail, addictions, and so forth.

I hope this helps.

First posted, revised a bit 2/26/07