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Posted by on Dec 30, 2012 in Atheism | 25 comments

Why I’m Not An Angry Atheist

When I’m too tired to write, I like to make lists. All kinds of lists. It’s time/cost/benefit efficient.

1.  I’m in great company. All the intellectuals I like to objectify were/are atheists. (I’m not implying causation here, but maybe a bit of correlation.)

2.  The only discrimination I’ve experienced for being an atheist is that someone refused to sell me a dog. That’s OK, I got a better one. And if I’ve ever experienced other discrimination due to my [lack of] religion, I’m blissfully unaware.

3.  I don’t have to go to Church on Sundays. The kind of dressing up I like to do wouldn’t go over very well in Church anyway.

4.  I don’t have to go to heaven. Because that would be hell.

5.  I can take credit for my own accomplishments, and don’t have to run around thanking something that doesn’t exist for what it didn’t do.

6.  I can base my morality on my own sense of right and wrong, and not what someone told me.

7.  My opportunity to learn about the world has no boundaries. There are no questions I can’t ask.

8.  There are very few atheists in prison.

9.   I don’t have to wonder about why a bat is a bird.

10. I don’t have to subscribe to any particular dogma, godma, or ideology.

11.  When I’m alone (or with a partner) I have total privacy.

12.  I can get along with people of all religions, as long as they’re nice people. There are no artificial barriers to my friendship.

13.  I don’t think I’m better than anyone else.

14.  I don’t think I’m worse than anyone else.  (OK, I do, but humor me.)

15.  I can still have imaginary friends because I have Facebook.

  • Yeah, being a seeker has many rewards.

  • I’m an anti-theist and I have no idea why you aren’t angry you should be. Right this very instant religions are degrading human life by running a 24/7 telethon donation tax free cult on my dime and I have to shutup when they tell me I am hurting their feelings? Close all the churches let them pay their entry fee into the political debate like everybody else. I am mad people believe in dead peoples baggage.

    • Nick, I think you’re exaggerating the significance of churches being tax-exempt plays on your life. PETA is a tax-exempt organization, but there are much bigger problems with the organization I focus on – and I would never think of them as existing “on my dime” when I never give them money.

    • freethinker77

      I think we all are mad at Religion, what it does. Gets away with etc. I think she was referring to Christains saying Atheist are mad, incapable of being happy without a god, etc. I’m happy with my life, husband, kids… But very pissed off at out rights being violated due to Religion, all their BS they get away with. I can go on about that. We’re simply non misrablre as Christains claim we are.

      • bluharmony

        Right, harm and prejudice perpetrated in the name of religion is something that makes me angry, and makes me an outspoken atheist in the first place. But the last thing I want to do is come across as intolerant and hateful myself, especially if those are the things that I find objectionable in others. It simply makes no sense.

  • Great list! I relate specially well to 11 and 12 but the list in general terms is awesome.

  • Ronlawhouston

    It’s interesting – anger is a self-destructive emotion. Yet, many people walk around choosing to be angry. Why?

    • Vic

      Anger can cause harm, to ourselves and to others. But anger has its good sides, too. Anger gives energy. Anger motivates. Anger might stand in the way of reason, but often precedes it. When something makes us angry, we can look for a solution as soon as we calmed down.

      Anger is as human as anything else. It’s part of us, and not something we should detest. Not something we should overly rely on, either.

      I don’t think people choose to be angry. I think people choose concerns, which they can get angry about. Depending on the frequency of their occasions, some get more than others.

  • Clare45

    Although I agree with all the above-I like the last one about Facebook! I do get angry about certain aspects of religion. Pope saying not to use condoms in Africa to prevent HIV. Catholic priest pedophiles. Intolerance to gays and gay marriage in the name of religion Intolerance to women’s basic human rights (mostly Islam and maybe some southern Baptists and Mormons). Ripping off the elderly by asking for church donations and to fund missionaries in nice exotic beach locations. That leads me to missionaries in Haiti handing out Bibles instead of food or shelter. Shunning people who simply ask questions in Amish and Jehovah’s witness communities. I could go on…………….

    • bluharmony

      I agree; I get angry about specific behaviors taken in the name of religion such as the ones you listed above. But I don’t want to paint all religious and/or spiritual people with one broad brush. Many do good things for the poor and the abused, while atheists are piercing crackers and screaming at each other over non-existent (or at least unproven) misogyny. I think leading by example is the best way to start. There are times when anger is appropriate, but it has to be directed at specific harmful behavior, not at the world’s religious population as a whole (except for Muslims?!?) That’s a war we’ll never win, especially since at the moment we have nothing better to offer.

  • Bill Russell

    I have been discriminated for being an Atheist, as I have been fired, and kicked out of a public restaurant because of my lack of a belief in a deity.

    • bluharmony

      I’m wondering how that issue came up in a restaurant?

      • Ronlawhouston

        Yeah, that one has me scratching my head too.

        • It was in the newspaper as I put in for a meeting at the restaurant, which we had met at the month before, and the owner who is a greek orthodox wasn’t going to let Atheists meet at his establishment. He has lost thousands of dollars in business because of it as well.

  • An Ardent Skeptic

    This is a great post, Blu! I’ve been thinking about why I’m not an angry atheist.

    I’m not an angry atheist because I think religious belief is a manifestation of basic human nature. Religion is Just one of thousands of reasons to pass negative judgement on one’s fellow human beings.

    So, I’m not an angry atheist. I’m an angry empathetic person who is appalled at the lack of empathy so often exhibited by my fellow human beings for whatever reason. Religion is not the only thing to blame for this lack of empathy.

    • bluharmony

      Yep. I grew up in Communist Russia. Religion was forbidden, but toxic ideology, suppression of speech, and historical revisionism were still imposed & racist bigotry still existed. I see some of the same things happening in this little bubble we’re in, right now. Except unlike Russia, I’m free to come and go as I wish.

      Blame human nature, blame the universe, but don’t blame religion, which *we* created. Or better still, don’t blame anyone; instead, try to understand the way religion (or any other ideology) perpetuates certain harms, and take positive proactive measures.

      • An Ardent Skeptic


        • bluharmony

          Some people don’t have empathy for others. They can’t. And it’s not their fault. Such people often end up in positions of power, and they’re often compelling and able to influence those around them. The idea behind skepticism was protection from this very thing; but instead, I see skepticism collapsing under it.

          • An Ardent Skeptic

            “Snakes in Suits (When Psychopaths go to Work)” by Paul Babiak & Robert D. Hare

  • Well said. The lists of grievances you sometimes get to the question “Why are atheists so angry” are usually genuine issues, but they are rarely things that you’d think would affect the ranter much in reality. Concern would be a more appropriate response than anger, but there does seem to be a sort of self-winding-up to an angry state that goes on.

  • You are saying that these 15 points mean you are not an ‘angry atheist’?

    Am I understanding this correctly?

    • bluharmony

      No, I’m saying that I’m not an angry atheist, and here are a few of the silly and/or serious reasons why. I explain my views in greater detail in the comments. But in sum, I view the failures of religion as human failures that aren’t specific to religion, but shared with any inflexible dogmatic or ideological stance.

  • This is a nice post, don’t get me wrong, and much of your situation
    resonates with my own life experience. But the reason people are
    anti-theist (take Hitchens as a rather prominent example) is not because
    their own lives are affected by the religious,
    but because billions of less fortunate people are being killed,
    tortured, abused and discriminated directly by religious institutions
    and their members. (The Catholic Church causing agony in millions by
    their insistence on forbidding condoms, the Catholic priests inciting
    genocide from their pulpits in Rwanda, the terrible slaughter of
    innocents that results from the battle of extremist Muslim and Jewish
    parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc.)

    We need to actively rally against the evil brought upon innocents through
    religiously fueled malice or ignorance and stand firm in our resolve to
    curb the institutions of faith that in their fundamental nature call for
    such violent actions. THAT is the essence of anti-theism. I dare say
    that this is a cause worth rallying for if you’re an atheist, and it
    is certainly not the rather vapid anger you portray it to be. The
    essence of anti-theism is not being angry at every religious person or
    actively trying to dissuade everyone from religion. As long as the
    beliefs of people do not cause physical and circumstantial harm to
    anyone else, they are free to believe anything they want. I have a
    couple of religious friends myself and we get along just fine. They are
    not the issue.

    • bluharmony

      Which is what I say multiple times in the comments — that I’m angry at the harms perpetuated by religion, not religion in general. And those harms are ultimately committed by either ignorant or malicious people. That’s what makes me angry — people who would willingly or ignorantly harm others. Religion is not really relevant.

  • MarionDelgado

    I’m a 3rd-gen freethinker and we haven’t got much baggage, as a group. Religion’s not done anything to me. The thing I do resent sometimes is the notion that any of my ethics come from Judeo-Christian values at all.