Many who attack religious people know little about them or about why people come to believe things in general. Educating yourself before labeling a group of people is important. 🙂
I can see why modern atheism gets a bad rap. Part of it of course has a lot to do with the fact that for a very long time in human history, religious beliefs could not be safely challenged. People who hold religious beliefs are not used to being challenged in public forums. If one completely believes that something in society is right because of some book they believe to come from the divine and you challenge that belief in addition to trying to prove that the divine law is actually unjust, people lose privilege in addition it simply doesn’t make sense in their brain. Once beliefs in our brain are well formed we actually get dopamine released in our brain when those beliefs are reinforced. Neural pathways become forged and your brain is so used to that dopamine release, that trying to forge new beliefs actually becomes physically troubling and is cause for being unhappy and upset.
That being said there are a lot of assholes out there, and atheists comprise of piece of that asshole pie. I see many atheists who ridicule and mock those with religious beliefs and it annoys the crap out of me for several reasons:
- It’s not nice. Any time you really don’t know a person, what they’ve been through, and try to understand why they believe what you believe then it is just cruel to attack them by name calling. Even if they attack you. It’s the old “why go down to their own level”. It’s your responsibility as a good atheist to show the world that morality is not contingent on the existence of God, and when you are not kind to all people even in the face of personal attacks you reveal yourself as to be no better than the typical eye for an eye religious person you claim are foolish for their beliefs. How can you ask for tolerance when you demonstrate intolerance?
- It’s not smart. If someone says “Abortion is wrong because you are killing a child and God says murder is wrong” and you respond “You are an idiot”. You have actually just taken the intellectual low ground. If you feel an intellectual argument will have affect on the mind of the pro-life person, then all you’ve done is been “not nice”. This person has at least given you their view and given a reason for their view. In your name calling, you appear not only to not be nice, but you also appear to not have any reason for your opposing view other than you don’t like religious people.
- It’s a waste of time. Do something useful. Help somebody. Even if it’s another atheist because you can’t stand religious people.
- It hurts other atheists. If you have no love of religious people you could at least show love for your fellow atheists who actually want to try to get along with people and help make this world a better place for all. Even if you think you are making a comment on a thread in which only atheists or similar minded people might be reading it, you reveal a pettiness in your intellect that weakens all atheists. Grow up and be a part of the world and not try to remove yourself from it.
The world has religion. The world has believers. We are all naturally evolved to hold beliefs. It is better to understand why people form beliefs. While I think it is reasonable to think that beliefs have a great potential for danger when differing beliefs collide and that we should look to a way of thinking critically and investigation that can lead all people to a more unified understanding of how the universe works. Beliefs are not tore down through name calling and abuse. They are tore down through education, they are torn down most strongly by being a good citizen of this world. Be kind and respectful, be loving and generous, be reflective and forgiving, be courageous yet humble, and demonstrate compassion as often as humanly possible.