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Atheists and Anger: A Reply to the Hurricane

Computer_keyboardWoof.

Okay. There is absolutely no way I can reply individually to everyone who commented on the Atheists and Anger post. The size of this thing took me by surprise. It’s still taking me by surprise. So please accept my apologies for this mass reply.

HeartFirst, I want to say to everyone who sent the love: Thank you so much. You have no idea. I’ve spent the last two days either bouncing off the walls with joy… or sitting at my computer on the sofa with tears in my eyes. I’m sorry if that sounds sappy, but I’m feeling sappy, so suck it up. The fact that this piece touched so many people, inspired so many people… that is huge. That is why I became a writer. That is the meaning of my life. Thank you for letting me know.

Thumbs_upAnd I’ve learned a lesson about commenting on blogs. I have a tendency to not bother commenting to a post when all I have to say is “Attaboy” or “You go, girl!” or “Thank you.” Especially when there are already dozens or hundreds of comments in a thread, and other people have already said what I was going to say. But I’ve read every single one of these comments, and I was touched by every “Attaboy” I read. So now I know: Even if all I have to say is “Attaboy,” I should say it anyway.

Now my replies to the critics. I suppose I shouldn’t bother, I suppose I should just let it go and focus on the love. But I seem to be constitutionally incapable of letting unfair or inaccurate accusations just slide. So here are my replies to some of the critical comments’ common themes.

Censored_rubber_stampsvgYou’re censoring/deleting my comments.

No, I’m not.

The new, “improved” Typepad comment format is hard to navigate, and on behalf of Typepad I apologize for that — but all the comments are there. As of this writing, I haven’t deleted a single comment in this thread. Not one. Read this more detailed explanation; it has instructions on how to navigate the comments format.

(BTW: In the future, if you want to complain that a blogger is deleting your comments, you might want to provide an email address or a URL, or even email them off-blog, so they have the option of contacting you and letting you know if your “censored” comments are really just a technical glitch.)

ScreamingWow, you’re an angry person. That’s bad.

Um….

Happy_face_ballActually, I’m not a very angry person. Not most of the time. Generally speaking, I’m a very happy person. Ask anyone I know. I’m usually good-tempered, cheerful, optimistic, easy to please, and inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt unless they prove that they don’t deserve it. My life is full of joy and pleasure: I’m very conscious of how fortunate I am; and I make sure to savor my life… especially since I think it’s the only one I’ve got.

And if you’ll read more of my writing than just this one blog post, you’ll see that. Try this, or this,or this.

There are, however, things I’m angry about. And I think my anger over those things is valid. I spent 4,650 words explaining why I think my anger is valid — and why I think anger in general over injustice and mistreatment is not only valid but useful and necessary. I’m not going to explain it again here.

Computer_keyboard_4I basically wrote this piece because I got very, very tired of hearing believers ask atheists, “Why are you so angry?” when the answer seemed perfectly obvious to me. I wanted to answer that question once and for all, so I wouldn’t have to answer it anymore. (And from the response I’ve gotten to the post — the godless commenters who are saying things like, “I’m bookmarking this page so I can point to it when people ask me why we’re so angry” — I’m apparently not the only one.)

BrokenBut it’s not like I’m running around smashing plates and going “Rrrr! Rrrr! Rrrr!” all the time. It is possible, even healthy, to be a generally happy and upbeat person, and still sometimes gets angry about things. To assume that because I vented my anger in one blog post, I therefore must be spewing rage every second… that’s a little bit silly, don’t you think?

Metallica_st_angerYour anger is just hurting yourself.

I must respectfully beg to differ. Anger, when it’s directed at a real cause of mistreatment or injustice (towards yourself or towards others) is healthy, and it can be a useful, constructive motivator to change things.

Ask any therapist.

What hurts is repressing anger.

Anyway, see above re: me not being angry every second of every day. Really, I’m not. Thank you for your concern, but it’s not necessary.

Angry_womenYour anger is just hurting your cause.

Again, I must respectfully beg to differ. The whole second section of my post was about why I think anger is valuable and necessary in any social movement. And I’ve written at greater length on that point elsewhere.

MartinlutherkingAnd as commenters in the rant have pointed out, even the social movement leaders who generally get tagged as the non-angry, peaceful, “good cops” — Martin Luther King, Gandhi — were very angry indeed. They just channeled their anger in constructive ways. Which I think is a grand idea. But acknowledging that anger and expressing it is an important part of that process.

Islamic_star_and_crescent_yellowWhy didn’t you write more about Muslims? Why did the post focus so much on Christianity?

This is actually a fair question, and I’m just sorry it got raised in such a troll-y way. So I’ll answer it as if it hadn’t.

Short answer:

(a) I was trying to focus on things that I had some personal experience with. I was writing emotionally, and the Christian theocracy is what I have a lot more personal experience with… and thus a lot more personal anger about.

(b) I was trying to keep it… well, not short, obviously, but less than novel-length. My piece could easily have been 100 times longer than it was. It barely scratched the surface. I knew when I hit Send that I would be missing stuff, important stuff even… but I had to cut if off somewhere.

Religious_symbolssvgBut if I were writing the piece all over again now, I probably would include more references to non-Christian religious atrocities. Because I am angry about those things. I am angry about burqas, and clitoridectomies, and women being executed for adultery, and karma/ reincarnation being used as a justification for the caste system, and the horribleness — on both sides — in Palestine, and the destruction of the ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban, and the atheist blogger in Iran who commented in my rant that he could be executed for his blogging. And more.

They just didn’t happen to be in the 1% of things that anger me about religion that made it into my post. That was a mistake, and I acknowledge that.

PaintbrushAll Christians/ believers aren’t like that. It’s just a few bad apples. You’re painting us all with the same brush.

Actually, I’m not.

I was very, very careful in this post to say “I’m angry at people who do (X),” or, “I get angry when (Y) happens,” or, “I’m angry about (Z).” I said that I was angry about specific aspects of religion, specific ways it plays out in the world, specific things people do because of their religion.

I never said that the things I was angry about were universal to all religious beliefs or religious believers. Not once. Read the piece carefully. You’ll see.

GraphBut the stuff I’m angry about is not a case of a few bad apples. I’m sorry, but that’s just flat-out wrong. Do you really think that 55% of Americans refusing to vote for an atheist is a few bad apples? A national public health and sex education policy that’s based on what does and does not make baby Jesus cry? The Catholic Church’s official policy of opposing condom distribution, in Africa and everywhere else? The fact that until the year I was born, it was the law in many states that atheists couldn’t vote or hold office or testify in court?

Apple_2Those are not bad apples. That is widespread, systematic religious oppression. The stuff I’m angry about isn’t universal, but it is not an exception. It’s depressingly common.

Perhaps you missed the part of my rant that said, “I get angry when believers act as if these offenses aren’t important, because ‘Not all believers act like that. I don’t act like that.'” The stuff in my rant may not be true for you and your church or enclave or whatever. But it’s still important, still widespread, and still worth being angry about. And I still think it’s messed-up to dismiss it as a trivial aspect of religion simply because it isn’t universal.

True_faith_2All Christians/ believers aren’t like that. That’s not the true faith.

You’re trying to piss me off now, aren’t you?

Did you read the part in my post about the whole “true faith” thing and how messed-up it is? Did you read the part about nobody having a pipeline to God, about how you have no more reason to think that you’re practicing religion the way God wants you to than anybody else does?

Okay. Deep breaths. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean…

Bible_3_2Look. The whole “Jesus was a cool guy who just gets misinterpreted by those organized religion fascists” thing is kind of ignoring the actual content of the Gospels. If you believe that the Gospels are a more or less accurate representation of what Jesus said, then you have to acknowledge that Jesus said some pretty fucked-up things. Including a whole lot of stuff about how people who didn’t believe in him and follow him were going to burn in Hell for eternity.

Bible1And again: You don’t have any more reason to think you have the true faith than any other believer does. I’ve written about this at greater length elsewhere, as it’s a topic that particularly frosts my cookies. You can quote chapter and verse, but so can the people whose interpretation of the faith you disagree with. That’s sort of the nature of chapter and verse; it can be used to support just about any interpretation you can come up with.

And besides, see above re: Even if the way you practice religion is reasonably cool, the fact remains that there are widespread, systematic practices of religion that aren’t so cool — and the fact that you don’t agree with them doesn’t make them not religion.

HateHow can you be so hateful? You’re speaking out against hatred… and yet you’re so full of hate yourself.

I’m not.

In this entire 4,650-word rant, I used the word “hate” exactly three times… and it was all in one paragraph. It was the paragraph that said, “I’m angry that children get taught by religion to hate and fear their bodies and their sexuality. And I’m especially angry that female children get taught by religion to hate and fear their femaleness, and that queer children get taught by religion to hate and fear their queerness.” In the entire rant, the only times that I used the word “hate” was to speak out against it.

I never once in the entire post said that I hated anyone. I said I was angry. There’s an enormous difference.

MoonPeople need religion. It’s not going anywhere. You’re crying for the moon.

That’s possible. But I don’t think we have any way of knowing that yet. Godlessness has only fairly recently become a remotely acceptable option in human society (and in much of the world, it still isn’t).

But we do have one experimental petri dish. I offer as a counter example: Europe.

European_dreamMany European nations are now more than half atheist/ agnostic. And those nations seem to do fine. Better than countries with a high number of believers, in fact. And while I think the cause and effect actually works the other way around (greater social health leads to more godlessness, not the other way around), the fact that there are flourishing countries with a godless majority puts the kibosh on the whole “religion is a basic human need” theory. These countries aren’t perfect, they have their problems; but no more than we do in the U.S., and in many ways a whole lot less.

Janitor_bucketBesides, I think that the “We educated people don’t need religion, but the great unwashed hoi polloi do” trope is not only untrue, but classist and insulting. Read this brilliant piece by Ebon Muse on Daylight Atheism about atheist janitors… and be sure to read the comments from the atheist janitors themselves.

Biblefire_3Why do you care what other people believe?

Um… I spent 4,650 words explaining why I care. I care because people’s beliefs lead them to do harm to other people, and to themselves. I care because far too many believers aren’t living and letting live. I care because the whole “faith trumps evidence” aspect of religion makes it uniquely resistant to self-correction… and uniquely resistant to dissent.

WethepeopleOf course people are entitled to believe what they want. It’s a right guaranteed in the Constitution, and it’s a right that I treasure passionately. But nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the right to believe what you want means that nobody should ever argue with you, or point out why they think you’re mistaken. Somehow, the very good concept of religious tolerance got turned into the very bad concept that nobody should say anything critical of any religion, ever.

Yes, people have a right to not vote for atheists. They also have a right to not vote for blacks and Jews. Does that make what they’re doing okay? Does that mean that we shouldn’t try to change their minds? Does that mean that we shouldn’t be angry about it?

Computer_keyboard_2If you’re so angry, what are you doing about it?

Mostly, I’m writing. I’m a writer. That’s what I do.

And I don’t think that’s trivial. If my writing, and other godless writing, can change people’s minds, or inspire people to speak out and come out of the closet, then that’s not trivial.

I do other things as well. I donate money. I write my Congresspeople. I pay attention to these issues when I vote. But I totally suck at joining and organizing and anything that involves interacting in person with more than six other people at a time. I don’t even like parties unless I know half the people there. I’m a loner. I’m a rebel. Don’t try to change me, baby.

So mostly, I’m writing. I’m a writer. That’s what I do.

Scarlet_aAtheism is just another religion. And you’re just as close-minded/ faith-based as the believers you criticize.

No, it isn’t. And no, I’m not.

It simply isn’t the case that atheists are 100% convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is no God. I’ve never once met an atheist who thought that way. Contrary to popular belief, atheism isn’t a faith in the non-existence of God. Atheism is… well, it’s somewhat different for different people. But for most atheists I know, it’s more or less the position that God is an extremely unlikely hypothesis, not supported by evidence or reason; and that in the absence of any convincing evidence, it’s reasonable to discard it as a hypothesis. It’s the position that the Christian/ Judaic/ Muslim God is about as probable as Zeus or Thor
 and that if you’re a non-believer in those gods, it makes sense to be a non-believer in Jehovah/ Yahweh/ Allah, too. And Buddha, and the Hindu gods, and the Wicca Goddess. Just while we’re at it.

Computer_keyboard_3And it’s simply not the case that I don’t offer any reasons why I don’t believe in God, and that I just take my disbelief on faith. I’ve written extensively about the reasons I don’t believe in God, or a soul, or an afterlife. You’re welcome to read them if you like; they’re here, and here and here and here (that’s a three-part piece), and here, and here, and here, and here, and here and here (a two-parter). And just generally sprinkled throughout my posts and comments on the blog.

DaylightAs have other writers. If you want a really good source of “why I think religion is a mistaken and harmful idea about the world” arguments, I suggest you visit the brilliant Ebon Musings website (sibling site to the equally brilliant Daylight Atheism blog). He has the most thorough, best-argued, most solidly supported collection of arguments against religion that I’ve seen, and when people ask me why I don’t believe in God, half the time I just point them to his site.

But give us some good, hard evidence that we’re wrong, and we’ll change our minds. (Please, though, for the love of all that is beautiful in this world, read Ebon Muse’s Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists and How Not to Convert an Atheist before you do. And please remember that Scripture and your personal experience do not count as evidence.)

In other words, I have given reasons why I don’t believe.

I just didn’t do it in this post.

Again, I have to say: If you’re basing your conclusions about my entire life philosophy on one ranty blog post, then isn’t that just a little bit silly?

JesusYou wouldn’t be so angry if you just accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Now you’re definitely trying to piss me off.

Okay. First of all, see above re: me not being angry all the time. And re: occasional anger being a healthy part of life.

Second: Do you honestly think I’ve never heard this before? Do you think that, in my 45+ years on this planet, and my 2+ years of being an atheist blogger, that nobody before has ever said to me, “Everything in your life would improve if you just accepted Jesus Christ as your person savior”? Yes, I’ve read the Bible (much of it, anyway). I was a religion major in college, for goodness’ sake. I’ve considered the possibility that Jesus might be my personal savior. And I’ve rejected it. Please. Come up with something new.

Pat_robertson_jerry_falwellAnd third… do you really think there are no angry Christians in the world? I see angry Christians everywhere. America is full of Christians who are full of anger — hatred, even — for homosexuals, feminists, liberals, sex educators, pornographers, and so on. (In other words… for me.)

Look at the comments in this blog post. Look at the person who said I shouldn’t be allowed to vote or serve on juries; the people who said I was angry because I was a lesbo bulldyke; the person who said they wished my mother had had an abortion and I should burn in hell. Christianity is clearly no cure for anger. Christianity often serves to fan anger’s flame.

Oh, and P.S.: I’m not a man. Hence the “being angry about not being able to marry my girlfriend” part. I’m just sayin’, is all.

Tonight: a nice sex post. I promise. I wrote this damn rant to get it out of my system and move on, and instead it’s completely taken over my life. It’s wacky.

Comments

  1. says

    Sounds like you’ve been having fun. =) I’m very happy when I see people making a splash with their blogs – even when people disagree with you, if they make a stink about it it’s because you’re getting to them.
    That’s why I took up blogging, because writing is pretty much the best way there is to reach people; you do it very well.

  2. Leon says

    Wow. I have to say: you kick ass, Greta. I loved your rant, and just now enjoyed reading your follow-up almost as much. You coherently expressed a bunch of things that I could never quite put my finger on or put into words.
    Also, my favorite response to the “atheism is just another religion” nonsense is: atheism is a religion just as much as Independent is a political party.
    I have to spend more time on your site. I think I’m going to like it here.

  3. says

    I didn’t reply yesterday, because I was still thinking and wasn’t sure yet what to say. I’m still thinking (and hopefully won’t stop soon, given the consequences), but my thoughts are at least slightly more resolved now.
    I’m a newcomer to your blog and poked around your archives quite a bit yesterday, and I’m very impressed so far. I am one of the people who frequently wonder why many of my atheist friends are so angry, and your post gave some excellent answers to that. I’m angry about many of those things myself, so it makes sense. And you also have at least partially convinced me of the value of anger when it comes to social change.
    I value anger myself, as it is powerful, and it does lend itself to action, all important things. Most importantly for me personally, it helps stamp down fear, which is a big part of my resistance to accepting the atheist label for myself. I am afraid – not of renouncing God or going to hell, but afraid of death, and giving up on God (my version of God, the Christian one lost me long ago) feels like giving up on the possibility of an afterlife.
    I want to believe these things are separate, but they’re not for me yet. I hope they will become so. And that’s not really what I wanted to say. This is turning into a novel, but bear with me. :)
    What I’m really confused about, or maybe not confused so much as angry myself, is the prejudice that seems to come from general atheist anger. Many of my friends dismiss people out of hand as soon as they find out they’re Christian. The insults go far beyond general mockery (and I agree with you that mockery is part of the price of being part of the marketplace of ideas) to a place of hate and judging and intolerance. This to me seems like the height of hypocrisy, and things I read sometimes about Christians being certifiably insane or all the same in some way prove nothing to me except that Christians don’t have a lock on hypocrisy.
    My concern about atheism and anger is not that you’re angry – you should be. My concern is that anger unchecked can easily become hate, and then we’re back where we started. I’m not suggesting that you are spreading hate, far from it, I just feel compelled to offer my thoughts as a caution, because if there’s anything I’m certain of, it’s that an “us v. them” dynamic is not going to fix this. It doesn’t fix anything. It’s what causes the problems that require revolution to solve.
    And that’s not all I have to say either but I’m shutting up until I’ve reached further coherence. :)

  4. Kagehi says

    Actually, “Independent” **is** a political party:
    http://www.aipca.org/
    A lot of people get a tad confused over that, which I think was partly intentional when it was formed. Its also focused on some of the more asinine things like pro-life, anti-any immigration, anti-globalization (in the form of erasing not just the broken, but “any” trade treaties), and **support** for the idiotic idea that Christianity belongs in the government and in things like the pledge. In other words, they are Repuglican Lite.
    The more common statement I have heard is, “If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

  5. Leon says

    >> Actually, “Independent” **is** a political party:
    No, that’s the American Independent Party. That’s a party like any other; it just has “Independent” in its name. Being an Independent (e.g. Bernie Sanders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders ) means being independent of any party–by definition.

  6. Leon says

    Jenna, I think I speak for others here in saying that open-minded theists like yourself are welcome here.
    What you’re seeing in your atheist friends might be not-entirely-serious sarcastic comments about people who follow a religious belief they think is stupid. It might also be flat-out religious bigotry; that’s certainly not limited to any religious group.
    I can say that hatred doesn’t dominate us as a group, not as far as I can tell. By and large we atheists seem to be a pretty tolerant bunch (I’ll be honest here–that may be PARTLY because we’re an oppressed group; oppressed groups tend to be on best behavior), though there are always exceptions. I have friends and family who are Christians. I even have family members who are devout Christians and I choose to hang out with them anyway because I enjoy their company (I could easily stay away from those get-togethers if I wanted to).
    I try to take a live and let live with religious people, and I don’t think it’s too much to say that that’s more the rule among us than the exception.

  7. says

    Well-played! I am curious as to how many of these things (from your original post) are you are “angry” at and how many of them do you “disagree” with? I am only curious because, as a Christian, I find that I am also quite angry at most of those things as well. I am also not referring to apologetics here (as you were not referring to those things either in THIS post). Nearly all the things you posted are piss poor examples of humanity done in the name of “love” and “Christianity”. THAT angers me!
    I am forced to apologize on behalf of Christians for the ridiculous things hat may have done TO you in the name of Christianity. Of course you would not likely agree that I can individually apologize for the whole, but from our own Christian belief, whether I like it or not, I am a part of “the body of Christ”; so i must associate myself with the whole.
    All that to say: I am sure you do not accept my individual apology for the whole, and you have no reason to. I do, though, need to say, as a Christian, I am also angry about the majority of the same things.
    Have a great day!

  8. says

    Okay, I started a response to the original post that just started going on and on and on and I wound up feeling then that I was just saying “Attaboy” and “You go girl” and “Thank you” so I stopped and didn’t post it. So, reading what you say above now —
    Attaboy! You go, girl! Thank you.
    And the same again for this one.
    Best to you and all in your world.

  9. Casey says

    I just wanted to say thanks, I’ve never seen so many of my thoughts and feelings so perfectly expressed before. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

  10. Ezekiel David says

    I’m quite sad. Because I too wrote a “you rock, thanks for making this post” post, and looking back at the comments i think it went missing forever…. so
    You rock, thanks for making that post.

  11. Robert Madewell says

    I have been asked why I’m so angry many times. I am not very articulate, so I often flounder at such questions. I know why I’m angry, I just have a hard time putting it into words. Reading your rants has allowed me to organize those thoughts a bit better. Thank You for giving me some ammunition.

  12. Anna says

    This (and the original) was a wonderful blog that not only put perfectly into words the reason I am atheist but also opened my eyes to reasons I had never thought of or been aware of. Thank you for being a writer.

  13. Pi Guy says

    Wow. It’s so brave of those commenters of the religious persuasion to have entered a battle of wits against a master so completely unarmed.
    For the record, I found you here after reading Daylight Atheism. You guys are both really good at this. I have learned so much.
    About myself and how to go about being an atheist in a culture that so overtly religious. About how to deal with people – especially family – who insist on telling me how blessed they are for this or that and that I could be too.
    Thank you.

  14. Angie says

    Greta, you are so my heroine.
    I just want to comment about anger. You’re absolutely right to say (I think in the original post) that anger can be useful and that you shouldn’t allow anyone to take your anger away. It is a desire to disempower you. Oh – my – you have no idea. I was raised to believe that, as the child in the family, I had no right to the emotion of anger. Getting angry was cause for punishment. All that lead to was 36 years of of being repressed and frustrated. Anger, when constructively channeled, is vital to the health of the individual and society as a whole.

  15. says

    Your anger piece meant a lot to me. I am sorry you copped some flak for it (much of it apparently ignorant of what you actually wrote), but I really appreciate that you wrote it. And this one, too!
    You seem to find such a clear, insightful way of expressing so many of the things I have wanted to say.
    Since I first came here (originally via a link from Pharyngula a good while ago), I have read so many wonderful, valuable posts.
    Thank you.

  16. Ginevra says

    “I usually point out to the Xians that their belief in everything Jesus said includes Luke 19:27.”
    I was curious about what this said and I read it and it said:
    “But those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over then, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
    And it’s in red, and Jesus said it. But wait, and read back a bit. He’s telling a story of a nobleman. He’s telling them what the nobleman said.
    I’m an athiest and I’m not saying that there are or aren’t place in which the bible has Jesus saying horrible things, but that’s not one of them.
    Also, I am on the authors side of this and agree that there are reasons to be angry, and kudos on the post. ^ ^

  17. Ginevra says

    “I usually point out to the Xians that their belief in everything Jesus said includes Luke 19:27.”
    I was curious about what this said and I read it and it said:
    “But those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over then, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
    And it’s in red, and Jesus said it. But wait, and read back a bit. He’s telling a story of a nobleman. He’s telling them what the nobleman said.
    I’m an athiest and I’m not saying that there are or aren’t place in which the bible has Jesus saying horrible things, but that’s not one of them.
    Also, I am on the authors side of this and agree that there are reasons to be angry, and kudos on the post. ^ ^

  18. says

    Thank you for you logical and well constructed arguments for an atheists anger. I feel these things but could never write them with the sensitivity you do. Its sad that religious people are allowed to get angry and people admire that as a sign of great faith, but an atheist getting angry means that they just need religion. Ugh..sometimes western Europe sounds so wonderful..:)

  19. Vic says

    First – Thanks Greta, for the original post and this one.
    Ginevra – I’ve heard many theists try to decry Luke 19:27 by saying it’s just a parable. But that does nothing to repair the damage.
    In the parable, the noble is a standin for god, who gives people talents and expects those people he gives talents to to put them to good use for god. “Look, I took the 10 talents you gave me and made 10 more to give back to you.” Since the nobleman is, by analogy, god, then god IS condemning those who don’t submit to his will. Maybe he didn’t literally mean ‘kill unbelievers’, but it’s right in line with the ‘throw ‘em in hell’ mentality that jeebus DOES express elsewhere. And is just as reprehensible.

  20. says

    Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed these posts. You’re an excellent writer.
    I wanted to respond to an above post by PC. “Nearly all the things you posted are piss poor examples of humanity done in the name of “love” and “Christianity”. THAT angers me!”
    And it should, and that’s part of the point. Reasonable theists should agree with most of the examples, and should be standing side by side with atheists trying to change them. Unfortunately, all to often that’s not the case. But I commend and appreciate the many who do.

  21. says

    Thank you for speaking out! You said at the very beginning of the anger post that you can only speak for yourself. However, I can assure you that you spoke eloquently for many of us. Myself included. I agree with every word you wrote and I thank you for doing it so well.
    I don’t know you at all, but I am proud of you.

  22. Kagehi says

    Yes, PC. Lets put things in perspective. Speaking in terms of the US. Evengelicals are like 40 million people. Atheists are sometimes quoted as about 5% of the population or 150,000,000 people. If we accept the idea that 90% of the US is Christian, then the other 5%, or 150,000,000 people are Jews, agnostics, Buddhists, Pagan, etc. At a guess, I would say that there are less than half the number of Fundamentalists that there are evangelicals. That means that the wackos, or those that push the idea of a Christian nation *for* the wackos are only about 60 million people, non-Christians are 300 million people, and the rest are moderate Christians, who basically think **both** sides are a bit nuts. We atheists, if the numbers are to be believed out number these nuts 2.5:1, but they have us convinced that *they* are the majority.
    I’ll tell you a secret though. The Evangelicals are currently more worried about stupid wars we shouldn’t be in and the economy right now then the insane BS (from the news yesterday, where they talked about this), the Fundies are harping on. That means, for now, they are marginally on the side of the moderates, and the moderates dislike Fundies as much as the Fundies dislike (nay in their case despise) moderates. What that means is that while we are not going to convince the Fundigelicals to go whole sale to the side of rationality, the extreme fundamentalists are finding themselves with 2,960,000,000 people against them, a large number of which they have to convince that not only are they right about “everything” they claim Christianity means, but also confuse, lie to, and bamboozle, as a means to do that convincing. And their entire message is, “Christianity is only Christianity of you subscribe to *our* definitions of love, truth and justice, and not only will you burn in hell for not following it, we are going to do everything in our power to force it down your throat, rewrite history and replace the laws, to make sure you **do** follow it, even if you don’t want to.”
    Odd how that message, pounded on over and over and over, at the exclusion of all else, is actually “losing” them their biggest and *only* support, the next generation of Evangelicals. lol
    Anyway. Even if the numbers are not 100% right, its still far worse for them, and far better for us than they really have a clue about, or allow us to believe. After all, there are people that call themselves “Atheist Jews”, who get lumped into the “Jewish” category when counted, some religions like Buddhism are basically some class of atheism/secularism with a lot of woo woo added, and the only reason we don’t hear about “Atheist Christians” is because they don’t call themselves that. You can however find people that, “Follow the gospel and teachings, but believe that Jesus was just a man, and strongly suspect their isn’t any actual god.” Its just not politically correct to say that last bit, since pretending you do believe it means you get invited to all the “believer only” parties. lol
    If you managed to get people to fess up to the later, and admit that they are the same sort of Christian as some Jews are Jewish.. I suspect we would have like 10-15% of the population firmly on our side. That ought to really scare these nuts. And I am also willing to bet that the total number of people in those categories in prison is **still** lower than the percentage of the actual general population they represent.
    Its just not something “Christians” of any stripe do though, admit that they suspect they are following some nice cherry picked rules, but that the rest of it is BS.

  23. Scott says

    Wow! I happily was linked to this amazing post by our friends at onegoodmove. You hit so many home runs on things that truly tick me off but did so in a thoughtful almost friendly manner that I doubt I could muster. Sure it was tough love — but you can tell it’s because you *care!*

  24. says

    I came upon this blog via Tangled Up in Blue Guy and I’ve been spending the last half hour reading this post and the Atheists and Anger post. What can I say but WOW! You have managed to sum up so much of what I think and feel in a better way than I can ever manage to get out of my brain through my keyboard. I’ll definitely be reading more of this blog.

  25. says

    I too was linked here from OneGoodMove.
    As I get more into blogging (and writing in general) about atheism, your Atheists And Anger post is one I will be referring to, and linking to, often. Thanks for summarizing so much so concisely, and for coalescing so many things so clearly. I’m definitely a “Good Cop” “Can’t we all get along?” Michael-Shermer-wannabe kinda guy, but (in large part thanks to your reflections about this) I definitely appreciate the importance of the Bad Cops. Keep it up! Seriously.

  26. says

    The Buddha is not worshiped as a higher deity.
    Just an FYI; I am atheist and totally agree with everything, but I’m also nitpicky.
    Which reminds me, in regards to your original post: Thank you. A thousand times over.

  27. says

    Just a quick comment on:
    > Atheism is just another religion. And you’re just as close-minded/ faith-based as the believers you criticize.
    Common consensus (evidence- rather than faith-based):
    1. Humans/predecessors scoured about, more or less at random.
    2. Humans/predecessors learned how to use fire, and started using tools.
    3. Humans/predecessors started embracing nature religions.
    4. Humans/predecessors started embracing monotheistic religions.
    5. Along the way, humans/predecessors introduced selective genetic manipulation by killing/suppressing those that disagreed with these new ideas (and with fair success at that).
    6. Today (well, say, within the last 1 or 2000 years) evidence has emerged that some of these, now old, ideas are fundamentally, logically flawed.
    Given this sequence of events, item 4 is about the place where the God claims came about.
    Personally, before I buy into that, I would like to see some evidence.
    Yet you brand me a believer, whose faith is atheism?
    These days, I wouldn’t go quite as far as calling the God claims delusional, myself.
    On the other hand, I suspect some future generation might.
    I’m not an atheist; an agnostic perhaps, of sorts anyway, if you must entertain these brandnames.
    As for item 5, I’ve liberally borrowed some of Jared Diamond’s terminology (title: “Guns, Germs and Steel” – a good read by the way).
    Please keep it up Greta!
    Thanks
    Jorn

  28. says

    Cool posts. I didn’t have time to read all the comments, but I did want to add an “Attagirl! You stick it to ‘em!” :D
    I really really enjoyed the original post and read the entire thing and the follow up. I will keep it in mind next time someone accuses me of being too angry.
    Thanks!

  29. Nicki says

    I just stumbled on your original rant which lead me to your comments. I don’t have time to rummage through your other articles just yet, but I hope you do write a book about the anger. Your writing style is so much more captivating and riveting than a lot of the more snarky and canonical texts of other authors. It’s also nice to have someone who can relate the anger to other movements as well. You have an abundance of experience which has lead to perspective that makes you even more qualified to keep doing what you are doing.
    I rarely, if ever, go all ‘fangirl’ over a blog or author; but you really have inspired me to stand up to the fanaticals. (Even that only means sending them here.) :)
    Cheers

  30. Patience says

    Kaleigh–what? What the hell?
    “Speaking in terms of the US. Evengelicals are like 40 million people. Atheists are sometimes quoted as about 5% of the population or 150,000,000 people. If we accept the idea that 90% of the US is Christian, then the other 5%, or 150,000,000 people are Jews, agnostics, Buddhists, Pagan, etc. At a guess, I would say that there are less than half the number of Fundamentalists that there are evangelicals. That means that the wackos, or those that push the idea of a Christian nation *for* the wackos are only about 60 million people, non-Christians are 300 million people, and the rest are moderate Christians, who basically think **both** sides are a bit nuts. We atheists, if the numbers are to be believed out number these nuts 2.5:1, but they have us convinced that *they* are the majority.”
    That math and logic was so bad it pains me. It was so bad I couldn’t stomach the rest of your comment to see if it contained the same flaws.
    First, there are about 300 million people in the US. Not 300 million non-Christians, 300 million TOTAL. 5% /= 150,000,000. If 90% of those are Christians, 5% atheist, and 5% other religions (where’d you get these made up stats, by the way? I’ll use them to prove you wrong, but know that they are innately wrong), and half of the Christians are fundamentalists, then 45% of the US is Fundamentalist Christian, 45% mainline Christian, 5% atheist, and 5% other. Surely you are not so ignorant as to doubt that 45% > 5%, but I’ll do the hard math for you anyway. That’d be a theoretical 135 million fundies and 15 million athesits. Using your craptastic numbers, the fundamentalists outnumber atheists 9:1.
    Please. The argument, it is weak. The math, it is shitty. Try again with actual stats (Gallup or Pew or even the US Census should have an accurate count of percentages or even hard numbers of different religious and non-religious groups) and some math that doesn’t seem to throw on a couple extra 0s for shits and giggles.
    Oh, and Greta? This, and the previous post, were excellent.

  31. Dennis says

    You said that they said: Atheism is just another religion. And you’re just as close-minded/ faith-based as the believers you criticize.
    One of my favorite quotes about this is, “If Atheism is a religion, then health is a disease!” by Clark Adams.

  32. says

    I figured I would comment on this post, since the other post filled up faster than Cracker Barrel on Sunday morning.
    I’ll tell you what I am angry about. I am angry about being a human being and having to classify myself into one category or the other. I’m angry that if I don’t believe in god, then I must also agree with all aetheists. I’m angry that if I don’t agree with all aetheists, then people want to label me a pessimist.
    I’m mostly angry as a defense mechanism against being so sad that people can’t appreciate the great depth and beauty that comes from not believing in some higher source of power, but rather exacting coincidence. I think any person of “faith” is missing out on an extreme sense of value and luck and meaning.
    That’s all. At least your post moved me enough to comment :)

  33. Susanna Hill says

    Well, I just spent many a work minute reading your post and your follow up. And all I have to say is……..
    Well done!
    I, myself, am a UU Pagan, which means that I attend a Unitarian Universalist church and identify my spiritual path as Pagan. I’ve only been attending my church for a year and a half and in that time I’ve met many an atheist. From my observances, they are some of the most compassionate, just and fair people that I’ve ever had the priviledge of meeting. I’ve enjoyed listening to them and learning from them. They have enriched my life greatly.

  34. annoDomini says

    Hi, Greta,
    I had hoped that if you read my comment on your previous post you would appreciate that the dangers inherent in the kind of “group-think” that you accuse non-atheists of accepting are found to a lesser or greater extent in nearly all groups, whether the group collects itself by religion or not. While my comment made the point subtlely, other comments were more direct. While you have tried to respond to the argument that “All religious people are not like that.”, you have not responded to the proposition that in the history of humanity, we are ALL to some degree “like that” and there are MANY examples of the nominally religious AND the nominally non-religious that are very much “like that”. The problem is that in your previous post, it seems that your central thesis is that “religion” is the instigator or proponent that causes people to do specific acts that you are angry about. You can argue that I am reading that into your post, but, if you are honest with yourself, you will acknowledge that the sentiment is clearly there. It also seems that you are suggesting that “atheism” is the solution to the problem you’ve identified. You have laid out the evidence by showing that some nominally “religious” people have acted with depravity and malice, but you have not even attempted to present evidence that nominally “atheist” people have not acted with depravity and malice. I submit that it is not religion or atheism that causes human depravity, but rather that humanity at large show a wide variety of behavior including greed, arrogance, and depravity and some people show such characteristics in spades. One comment to your original post made almost exactly the point that I am raising here.
    In this post, you did respond to one argument made in a comment suggesting that “people need religion” by suggesting that Europe be viewed as an experiment where atheism is the norm and then stating that the European nations “seem to do fine”. I may be wrong about this, but I suspect that your response misses the intention of the comment. The statement that “people need religion” is probably not saying that states or governments need religion to be “successful”, but that each person needs religion individually. That seems to be clear in the part of this post where you have written “If you believe that the Gospels are a more or less accurate representation of what Jesus said, then you have to acknowledge that Jesus said some pretty fucked-up things. Including a whole lot of stuff about how people who didn’t believe in him and follow him were going to burn in Hell for eternity.” Therein lies the crux of the “people need religion” statement: the Gospels seem to testify to Jesus making the audacious claim that each of us individually must be willing to put ourselves under the rule of God or be condemned. (I do understand that you do not accept the Gospels as true; I am merely pointing out the disconnect between what was probably the intention of the comment and your response to it.)
    In your response from which I extracted the quote about Jesus, you made another statement that I find interesting: “You can quote chapter and verse, but so can the people whose interpretation of the faith you disagree with. That’s sort of the nature of chapter and verse; it can be used to support just about any interpretation you can come up with.” I am quite dubious about that claim, particularly because in another part of this post, you say “I was a religion major in college, for goodness’ sake.” Having studied religion, it is difficult to understand how you can conclude that the Bible supports “just about any interpretation” except in the most deconstructionist view of literature whereby Proust means just what I want it to mean to me: nothing more, nothing less. (with apologies to Lewis Carroll) If we are truly in that realm of discussing morality, there is nothing to discuss.
    That brings us to the line of reasoning whereby you claim “You don’t have any more reason to think you have the true faith than any other believer does.” – and I would add, than any other non-believer does. While I can’t quite embrace that statement, we are together at least this far: we are both confident that no individual can be sure that his or her understanding of God (or not God) is accurate. Some have claimed that “atheism is just another religion” and I agree with you that atheism is NOT a religion in the strict sense. (It defies the very definition of religion.) But if you are honest with yourself, you will agree that atheism is an understanding or belief about what “God” is; specifically, the belief that God is not. If I were to hold you to the defense you made in your post, I would say that you must admit that you don’t really have any more reason to think you have the truth than any other person does. But I won’t do that because I know that it is not tenable. Most people that I know DO believe that they have MORE REASON to think they have the truth than anyone that disagrees with them. It almost has to be so, because if any person REALLY thought that there was MORE REASON to believe that a different understanding was true, presumably that person would change their belief. Indeed, that is almost the definition of belief.
    My favorite part of this post is the section where you write “It simply isn’t the case that atheists are 100% convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is no God.” as if it were different for believers. I would submit that most theists are not 100% convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is a God. Indeed, doubt is a profound and frequent topic in religious circles. You followed that with “I’ve never once met an atheist who thought that way.” I cannot say that I know the thoughts of anyone but myself, but I have met both atheists AND theists who make the claim of 100% surety. You go on to write “Atheism is… well, it’s somewhat different for different people.” That could be said almost word for word about theism! Getting at the heart of the matter though, you write “for most atheists I know, [atheism is] more or less the position that God is an extremely unlikely hypothesis, not supported by evidence or reason; and that in the absence of any convincing evidence, it’s reasonable to discard it as a hypothesis”. That speaks loudly to me, because for most Christians I know, God is a hypothesis supported by experience and intellect and, with the support of that evidence, it is reasonable to accept the hypothesis.
    I understand that you have rejected the God hypothesis. I am not here to convert you. Yet you may still recognize how similar you are to those who have made a different choice about that, but still see the world with the same anger and compassion regarding human failings.

  35. says

    I unfortunately have not browsed the other comments, so I’m not sure if you’ve gotten a comment like this yet. However, judging from the beginning of this addendum, you read your all your comments regardless (I love that by the way!!!) so here it goes:
    First of all, I should tell you that I am, by every Biblical definition, a Christian. No! Please don’t stop reading! You’ll like this I promise :)
    More importantly than that, and probably more important because of that…I agree with nearly EVERY word you have written.
    Many of the very same things you have expressed make me blind with anger. All the bullshit circling around not only makes atheists look equal with demons (if you believe in those, if not, I’m sure you understand my comparison), but also makes Christians look bad as well.
    I’m not here to preach the gospel message to you. I am by no means a preacher. I am a sinner in every sense of the word. I don’t know if I ever considered myself an atheist, but there was a time in my life I didn’t believe in Jesus and science gave all the answers. It’s been a long journey to get over that in order to embrace the Bible as truth.
    I guess my purpose for posting on this this morning is simply to let you know that atheists aren’t the only ones who are fed up with this. Christians, like myself and my friends who run the website I linked to this, are fed up with the very same things.
    The Catholic church is fucked. The Christians/Catholics (or any sect of the two) are fucked when they think they have authority over God. The president (current and all previous) are fucked (except for maybe JFK…). The U.S. armed forced are fucked. Schools are fucked. It would be quite a long post and take quite a bit of time for me to express all my feelings on this.
    Moral of the story here: this world is fucked up. I’m pretty sure we each have reasons for admitting that fact that are as different as night and day. Just know that there are SOME Christians out there that feel the same way you do. It can be just as hard being a Christian as it is to be an atheist.
    Take care of yourself. And never stop speaking out. Anger is never bad…even God was angry.

  36. says

    Great Stuff. The original, and the reply. I am equally angry, and frustrated by everything you mentioned, and add to that list, the fact that even though you present 100 reasons why atheists are angry, and the first thing the religious people do, is act like you are behaving strangely, or without justification. It is as if they simply never pay attention.

  37. Dan says

    Right on, sister! Your original post was wonderful, and this follow up was great, too. Although I’m a plain ol’ straight white guy, as a non-believer I still feel very outcast and discriminated against in this country sometimes. While I tend to be very happy, optimistic, and joyous overall, I am also angered by the same things that anger you, and I am very grateful that you have given those feelings structure. And thanks for the comraderie. Its nice to not have to go it alone in this “Christian nation.” Keep up the good work!

  38. Blackrose says

    Again…wonderful writing.loved the original as well and commented on it! Behind you 100%
    thank you!
    ~arielle

  39. Blackrose says

    One more thing. reading some of the comments “Christians” left you makes me ill. Personally if anyone had ever said some of those things to my boyfriend or one of my atheist/humanist/non-Christian friends (or even myself because i am not Christian). Especially the one who said that he wished your mom had had an abortion and to go to hell, i would probably beat them to within an inch of their life. I think yo responded to them very graciously, something these so called “Christians” need to learn. you go! again thank you!
    You are a patriot and a citizen and no one has the right to tell you otherwise!
    ~arielle

  40. brimster says

    Thank you, and “you go girl!”
    I haven’t ‘accepted’ atheism yet, nor do I practice any religion (semi atheist?). Your original blog has given me so much to read–I look forward to understanding the atheist perspective thanks to you.
    The idea that the rest of your blogs/essays will be so eloquently written alone is making me want to pull an all-nighter, sit down and read everything linked and referred to!
    Thank you again!
    (writing from Turkey, Istanbul. Originally a Muslim)

  41. says

    I didn’t reply to your initial post as when I finished reading it (after Stumbling Upon it) I immediately followed the link to this one.
    All I can say is that if you were straight and I weren’t already in love and happily married, you’d so be getting a proposal for me. So the best I can do is continue to support the fight for you to be able to marry your girlfriend, and the fight for people like you and me to be allowed to live our lives with the beliefs (or lack thereof) that we hold without the religious majority imposing the writings in an ancient book upon us.
    You’re an inspiration, you’re a wonderful writer, and you’re marvelously and justifiably angry at just the right things. Your post has, indeed, been bookmarked by me to use when people ask me that very same question (as they inevitably do), and I’ll probably end up linking to and talking about it in my blog if my 7-day-a-week work schedule gives me the time.
    Thank you, thank you, attaboy, and thank you. You’re amazing.
    (oh, and I WILL be visiting the rest of your blog now. Your other topics of conversation intrigue me as well)

  42. Shakeel D says

    I wound up on your blog through StumbleUpon…after perusing your site and reading it in much the way I read Wikipedia (see http://xkcd.com/214/) you just became the first website for which I have ever added an RSS subscription. I have resisted in the past because I didn’t want to get distracted from doing something by having something to read all the time, but as you say, “So mostly, I’m writing. I’m a writer. That’s what I do.” And because you’re a writer, you do a better job of expressing yourself than I could hope to, and maybe I could learn something.

  43. Monika says

    I wasn’t going to comment because all I had to say was “Attagirl” but since you are reading and appreciating the love I think I will!
    Beautiful writing.
    Thank you.

  44. says

    Attaboy!
    It’s about all I have to say, but thank you. You make some really valid points that I’ve believed, but never put quite so well.

  45. says

    Ah so many comments, and really… I almost don’t want to overload you with more. But one part of your reply really got me, the bit about europe and the half atheist/agnostic cultures.
    I have a lot of friends who live in other countries. We all came together because we’re all artists. I’ve never, in my entire life, met a more wonderful group of people. We go to conventions together, we fly to each other’s countries to visit. I’ve known most of them for 5+ years and I have to say… they’re almost all atheist or agnostic. One or two follow a religion, but the main part of the group honestly doesn’t give religion a second thought.
    *chuckles* I actually had no idea what religion any of them were until I posted up a piece of artwork that got me rather flammed by several religious fanatics, and they came around to offer support. That’s when it came out what religion everyone was, and I just had to think… wow. I’ve never been attacked by these people. They’ve never asked me what religion I was, never judged me on my opinions. They *don’t care*. Hell one of them said where she comes from it’s deeply personal, asking what someone’s religion is, is kind of akin to asking them what color panties they’re wearing. It’s just not done and no one’s business but your own.
    The only place judgement and hate came from was from a deeply religious source who felt threatened and needed to attack.
    And I just lost my train of thought, sorry about that. I think my point was going to be something to the effect of you don’t need religion to be a decent human being, or treat other people like decent human beings. So I’ll end this before I babble any more.

  46. JimboB says

    Greta,
    I absolutely love your blog! These two particular entries are now on my favorites list. You have written more eloquently than I could ever imagine myself doing. For that, I thank you. Keep up the good work!!

  47. ELBSeattle says

    This is a very important and healing bit of writing. I so fully support you in claiming what is good, clean, healthy anger. There is a vast and vastly incorrect belief that anger is bad, wrong and unhealthy. I learned a while ago that anger is no more bad or unhealthy than fire is. Fire burns down buildings. But is fire bad? No – it is how fire is used or misused that does harm or good. The fire that heats a home can be the same fire that burns it down. And yet no one is marching around with picket signs condemning fire. Same with anger. Anger, clearly defined and taken responsibility for, is a very powerful and potentially constructive emotion. I think you have done something very powerful and constructive with your anger. Huzzah!

  48. says

    I’m one of those people who read blogs sometimes but hardly ever post a comment…
    Good work! Love your blog…
    I think its funny that you fell into the trap of feeling like you have to justify your feelings to some of your readers?
    Fuck em’…
    Its their judgement – their problem and shows more about their internal self than they think.
    I find its curious that a person ‘judges’ the feelings of others…. but as you know, the believer has no compulsion to justify or question their own……(especially if they are called ‘spiritual’ feelings)
    Btw…
    I’m referring to this bit particularly…
    Quotes…
    “Wow, you’re an angry person. That’s bad.
    Um….
    Actually, I’m not a very angry person. Not most of the time. Generally speaking, I’m a very happy person. …………… And I think my anger over those things is valid. I spent 4,650 words explaining why I think my anger is valid — and why I think anger in general over injustice and mistreatment is not only valid but useful and necessary. I’m not going to explain it again here.”
    You are not a bad person for expressing ‘anger’ – all feelings are ‘valid’ to the person feeling them. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ feelings imo – there is only the judgement.

  49. Jules says

    I don’t usually post “Well done”, but you said to, so
    Well Done!
    I read your angry post, and was deeply impressed with the passion and clarity – those are a very rare pair together, and your ability to put together such a strong and coherent argument alone proves you’re in charge of your anger and not the other way around.
    I’ll certainly be bookmarking your post to direct questioning religious folk too, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts and, hopefully, a book or two :)

  50. Lauren says

    I wasn’t going to comment, but you say you appreciate every “attaboy”, so just wanted to add mine. I liked the article.

  51. Vlad says

    I read your “Angry” blog with great interest. I hope you’ll have nothing against me rubbing bits and pieces of it at the noses of some religiots I come in contact with. Please keep up the good work, you are doing great!
    Best regards,
    Vlad

  52. millinniummany3j says

    I tried to make this comment different to all the others, have you given any thought to tidying up your own backyard first before going on the warpath against religion? What do you do about the militents, the antitheists, the Darwin Bedfords, the Madeline Murry O’Haires of the world?

  53. Rallie says

    thanks for posting that follow up, it cleared up my questions…the only thing I would like to add is that it is not, in fact, illegal for you to marry your girlfriend in this country. Perhaps in your state, but it is not a federal law. You can always move to California, it’s nicer here anyway!!!

  54. A Buddhist says

    Uh… The Buddha is not a god, and we all get ticked off every time someone says that he is… Well, I do anyways…
    The Buddha was just a man trying to find happiness in the best way possible. Which to him was avoiding either end of the wealth-o-meter and stay the middle ground.

  55. NervousAboutAngels says

    I just want to thank you for being a courageous atheist voice. Reading your words underscores the fact that someone else out there is just as reasonably fucking angry. Without that reassurance from time to time one can start to wonder if their anger is really justified. Thanks for the reassurance and intelligent observations.

  56. Heidi says

    Wow. I’ve been following links all over the site, my ADD and I bouncing back and forth between various posts. And just… *hug* Thanks.
    BTW, yesterday in Massachusetts, our State Senate approved a bill that would allow out-of-state gay couples to marry here. The bill goes to the House next, and is expected to pass there, as well.
    Governor Patrick has said publicly that he will proudly sign the bill when it gets to him. It expected to be law by the end of the month. So you can come here next month and get married if you’d like. :-) It’s a pretty nice step against the bonds of religious hatred, I think.

  57. says

    My major complaint is that you and your arguments are boring. Your rants fall to the ground like debris from some red neck’s pickup truck.
    The problem with you atheists is that you keep talking about how inspirational it is to be free from religion (=fundamentalist Christianity), but you offer none of the goods. Where is the beauty of atheism? If you want respect then why don’t you take your place in the food banks, nursing homes, orphanages and prisons of this world along side at least some of the people you implicitly label as fucked up idiots who don’t deserve to live. The people who have needs in those places don’t give a shit who is there to help, provided they have something to offer.
    The christian idea is that what we offer is something called a self, and that the act is a sacrifice. The problems of the world will be healed this way, not by diatribes that generalize unfairly and construct nothing.
    Get a life.

  58. Tina says

    It’s the position that the Christian/ Judaic/ Muslim God is about as probable as Zeus or Thor… and that if you’re a non-believer in those gods, it makes sense to be a non-believer in Jehovah/ Yahweh/ Allah, too. And Buddha, and the Hindu gods, and the Wicca Goddess. Just while we’re at it.
    I, for one, believe in all of them. To wit, all religions and spiritual beliefs are imperfect attempts to understand a universal truth that may be impossible to actually attain, much like the speed of light.
    Ps: This post, and the post that spawned it, are both entirely made of awesomeness.

  59. Chris Walker says

    All of your “rants” or religios pieces are well written and I think are excellent food for thought, not because I believe the same way, but because you add credibility to your ideas by mentioning the other side and accepting the fact nobody KNOWS 100% for sure…nobody.
    Feel free to post my comment, even contact me —
    I pride myself on being somewhat articulate and level-headed, but I too get miffed over these topics
    such ignorance and blatant denial only adds to the other side’s cause.
    Thank You
    Chris Walker
    Yes Im in mensa (mensa76 – N. Texas), and I will be the 1st to admit I know nothing — the only thing Im sure of is I’m not smart enough to know the answers.

  60. SH says

    Hello, I know that your post is a year old, but i’m curious as to why you feel the need to get married with your partner..
    If you are don’t believe in God, there is no sense for you to ask about marriage. Marriage is based on God’s principles of man and woman together binded by the law (society) and therefore the law has applied God’s principle.
    SO, in asking for the law to be change is like asking God himself to acknowledge the binding of you and your partner. Since you have no intend of satisfying God, there is no need to abide that hence no need to have marriage.
    If you truly love each other, I don’t think it needs to be justified by law? You can have your own set of celebrations.
    That is my feedback from a Christian’s point of view. And to be honest, I don’t hate “queers” and once upon a time I may have been also atheist. And I’m sure once upon a time, every single person on earth was atheist. But until the time has come for you to realize why everyone saw a God, it will be hard to explain.
    Hope you got read my comment :)

  61. asdf says

    “God is a hypothesis supported by experience…”
    – From what experience(s) do you derive this conclusion? What I typically hear from believers is a massive jump in logic. ex) “my cancer is in remission…thanks for answering my prayers God”. Even if the person would admit that the medical treatment they received had “a lot” to due with their recovery, they’ll STILL jump to the conclusion that some invisible being had some play in it. Why? Is it not simple enough to conclude that the recovery was due to the medical treatments?

  62. April says

    I couldn’t have said it better.
    No, really. I couldn’t have. You did such a remarkable job, I will certainly be one of those who will be bookmarking your site to share with others. I got here thanks to a MySpace bulletin post by TPO (thanks, man!), and I must say it’s the best read I’ve had in quite some time. You expressed so many things that I feel, and obviously so many of us atheists do. You got right to the heart of things and tore right through them, and most importantly, you showed some of us without your eloquence a way to explain our anger and why it’s not a bad thing.
    There were other comments I’d wanted to make, some replies to people who’ve commented on this post. I’ll try to keep them very short. (And probably shorter than you might think, since I’ve forgotten some of them. *laugh*)
    While I’ve liked the “If atheism is a religion, then…” suggestions, my personal favorite will probably always remain: If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color. (Not collecting stamps is another really good example, though.)
    To “annoDomini”, what was said about the interpretations readings and chapter/verse has to do with the fact that 1) there are so many different denominations of the Christian religion because people read the words differently, so I think Greta’s statement holds that it can be read practically any which way, and 2) the entire comment has to do with the fact that if you bring up your verse(s) that say(s) “Christianity is the one true religion”, then you’ll have other religions, such as Islam, which will have their verse(s) which will say the very same thing about their religion.
    Also to annoDomini, it’s incorrect to say that if we’re “honest” with ourselves then we’d see that atheism, while not strictly a religion, is an “understanding” of what (G)od is, and “specifically, the belief that God is not.” This is only true for a specific chunk of atheists. You compare us time and again to the religious in your post, and while I understand, and perhaps even agree to a small degree, with some of the similarities, I’d chalk those up to the fact that we’re human, and as such we often interpret things differently; this is unrelated to said religion or lack thereof. At any rate, those who have no belief in deities (and the like) aren’t necessarily of the brand who would tell you that there are no gods. (Now me, I’d tell you that with the evidence given, there aren’t any deities, but that if evidence came about that could, I don’t know, actually be tested, I’d give it a serious look, just like I do with most things.)
    Anyway, Greta, thank you so much for your post. I can’t adequately describe just how wonderful I found it. I will do my best to keep up with your future blogs, and perhaps peruse your older posts. Keep up the superb work!

  63. April says

    While I’m here, and while I realize that the person to whom I’m responding did so some time ago, I felt the need to reply to “millinniummany3j” who asked: “What do you do about the militents, the antitheists, the Darwin Bedfords, the Madeline Murry O’Haires of the world?”
    Well, you know what we do? We acknowledge that people are people and that it isn’t always religion or lack thereof that causes a person to behave in unacceptable or unpleasant ways. You say “militants” as if we’re the only ones who have those types one might call “militant”. Militant Christians have been around for quite some time longer than any who might be in our ranks. It’s not a characteristic of the religion, necessarily, but of people. (Please note the “necessarily” there.)
    In regards to Bedford… well, I do see a lot of vitriolic ideas on atheists.net, but y’know… some of them read more of a mocking manner than true hatred. Extreme satire, perhaps? *shrug* Again it seems to be a sign that he’s human, just like everyone else. :)
    To “Dan”, I find it preposterous that you tell us to join in the food banks (et al). Do you know why? Because WE DO. Good grief! Do you really expect to see a gigantic percentage of us there when we’re a minority? Moreover, do you expect us to ANNOUNCE to everyone that we’re atheist? Some of us out there are extremely uncomfortable being around that many religious people or that much religion (like me, for one) and so choose to donate money or items as opposed to time? Personally I think you’re obnoxiously ignorant of the whole subject.
    And finally, to “SH”: your comment is all about how marriage comes straight from the Bible, etc., etc. I beg to differ. There were unions long before that one word came into being. And for that matter, the word marriage, when I refer to the Online Etymology Dictionary, shows me that “marry” and “marriage” weren’t used until 1297, quite a long time after the Bible was written. So from where does the idea that marriage is a man and a woman (totally neglecting polygamy, of course) come? Not only that, but if we’re going to contest the name of the union and claim it’s religiously-based, then states should no longer be allowed to give out marriage certificates, since the government should be secular (as per our Constitution). Otherwise, we keep the name as it is, a secular concept on that level (hey, kind of like “Christmas” has become… how coincidental *awe*) and churches can continue to marry whom they please and discriminate as they choose. I’ve not heard anyone claim that churches will have to marry people they wouldn’t choose to. Besides, it’s a matter of rights. If you don’t get that… I’m not really sure what to say to you. *boggle*

  64. juliat says

    This queer former Catholic/ current Unitarian/ soon to be a minister’s partner gives you a big thumbs up for both blogs. Anger can be a powerful tool – thank you for using it wisely.

  65. TonyAgee says

    You’re a class act Greta, keep up the great work! I especially enjoyed your comment that we are required to know the bible better than most xians, in order to keep them straight on it. So true.
    The observation has been made, that religiosity is inversely proportional to level of education. I think its worth making the observation that for me, my belief in the value of religion dropped sharply with my increased knowledge of the Bible. What a nasty book. How willfully ignorant to believe that it’s literal truth!
    You keep telling it your way, and I’ll tell it mine, and with some luck perhaps we’ll succeed in raising some consciousness.

  66. A Mere Servant of God says

    As a Christian, I have read your posts.
    I do not agree with everything you’ve said.
    I do, however, agree with many things.
    You have raised many good points.
    Good job not being hypocritical or intoloerant.
    Now, I’m going to try and do the same.

  67. RebeccaF says

    “Marriage is based on God’s principles of man and woman together binded by the law (society) and therefore the law has applied God’s principle.”
    Marriage is *not* a religious institution anymore. You should really educate yourself on what *legal* privileges come with marriage these days. Then maybe you’ll understand why homosexuals/Atheists want to be married.
    No one ever said anything about wanting to be married in church.

  68. says

    You put it really well. It’s really nice to see that irreligious folk have good representation in the blog sphere. You also handled the responses really well. I probably would have gotten pretty irritated at some of them and maybe responded a bit too harshly in the reply post.
    The only thing I feel I need to bring up is this: It can be very confusing to use the word Atheist to refer to one who does not possess a religion (instead of simply one who lacks a deity of any kind). Because there are religions out there that do not in any way have a god/goddess/deity. Those religions would be atheistic religions.
    LeVayan Satanism is a secularized, metaphor driven atheistic religion. Etherism is not only an atheistic religion but considers worshiping any being to be morally abhorrent. Certain variants of Taoism and Buddhism are both atheistic.
    So just felt I ought to bring that up as a member of an atheistic religion (Etherism specifically).

  69. Jenni says

    You write: “It simply isn’t the case that atheists are 100% convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is no God. I’ve never once met an atheist who thought that way.”
    Well here I am, nice to meet you. I’m a 30 something mom who loves her dogs and likes to swim. And I’m 100% convinced that “god” is the stupidest idea ever and absolutely not real. I’m not sure what evidence such a stupid idea might take to convince me but I’m certain it will never be found. Science works. It helps us cure disease and live life easier. Science is real. God is such a stupid idea that if people didn’t inculcate it at such a young age no one would be able to buy that line of crap.

  70. Kyle says

    I know this post is old but I got redirected to it (the original “Atheists and Anger” actually, but let’s not split hairs). I just wanted to say that as a writer and an atheist I really appreciated everything you said, with one major criticism:
    I personally get angry when atheists decide to rant about religious things that make them angry, especially when they’re talking about Christianity in America, and they don’t immediately think of circumcision, which you didn’t mention at all. You mentioned female genital mutilation, something that happens in other countries and which is illegal in every U.S. state EVEN FOR RELIGIOUS PURPOSES. Unfortunately, the same protection is not extended to those of us with a penis. I will live with the scars of my circumcision, both physical and emotional, for the rest of my life, all because my rights to my own body were not recognized or protected, primarily due to Christian attachment to the practice of circumcision and repressive Christian attitudes towards sex.

  71. Kenneth Polit says

    Greta, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love your mind. I’m a recently self-outed atheist, but I’m trying not to be angry(at least towards things I have no control over). Anger really does serve a function, and I’m happy that you were able to articulate it so well.

  72. Cody says

    I just wanted to say thank you. After reading the original rant, and your response to the comments, I’m so glad I came across this blog. I’ve been on the fence between athiesm and christianity for many years now, not able to accept either one entirely and never finding the facts I considered important enough to make an imformed decision, just hate from both sides at both sides. This however was nothing of the sort and while I was raised christian for the first half of my life, I’ve always saw these problems(well most of them anyway)and always chalked it up to “they’re not reading it right.” Not until now have I thought about the idea as a whole and not until now has someone shown me that, or that I was completely wrong to think just because I supposedly had it right, that it was okay. So once again I say Thank You.
    You’ve definitely played a huge role in my personal battle with the topic and I will definitely be using your post to share that with line of reasoning with others. Keep it up, the world could use many more like you. :)

  73. says

    I know I am barking up the wrong tree, but, I would marry you if I even felt remotely interested in getting married. Great Blog!

  74. Richard Duda says

    LOL! {That’s a good thing.} Just read your ENTIRE rant about being angry, (Call me a dittohead, but I loved the argument. Thanks.) and the pre-packaged answers to the comments, and this bit just killed me:
    [COMMENT:] “You wouldn’t be so angry if you just accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”
    [YOUR RESPONSE:] “Now you’re definitely trying to piss me off.
    {ROFLMAO. They just never GET IT, do they?}
    “Okay. First of all, see above re: me not being angry all the time. And re: occasional anger being a healthy part of life.
    [Here's the REASONED part that I like, in addition to the righteous indignation.]
    “Second: Do you honestly think I’ve never heard this before? Do you think that, in my 45+ years on this planet, and my 2+ years of being an atheist blogger, that nobody before has ever said to me, “Everything in your life would improve if you just accepted Jesus Christ as your person savior”? ”
    [My response:] Get ready to laugh. My response was, “AMEN, sister!”
    ;-)

  75. Stephanie says

    Amazing post and reply. I’m a Christian and I’m not here to tell you that it’s a few bad apples. Most of what you’ve brought up makes me angry too.

  76. says

    Just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoyed – and agreed with – both this and your original post on the subject.
    As an occasionally “angry atheist” I’ll be sure to keep these posts in my back pocket when I get the “why are you so angry?” question next time.

  77. Mark Powell says

    I am sure you have heard this before, but the same can be said about being an angry just about anything NOT main-stream religious. My wife and I are (mainly) happy pagans. Yes, I know, it makes little or no scientific sense, but screw it, I believe what I believe, and I have my reasons, not that I am going to go over them here. You have your reasons for how you live your life too, and they are just as valid, just as true. I agree with everything you wrote both in the original blog and this reply, but still believe what I believe. I applaud your courage to keep your view of the universe and not cow-tow to the massive forces the major religions press down on “unbelievers”. Anyone who does stand up against them has a perfect right, even a necessity to be angry, and I am as angry as you, and for 99% of the same reasons. I am not sure if atheists got burned, hung, pressed and drowned like pagans did, or those so accused, but the modern christians, muslims, jews etc seem to be wanting to bring that treatment back to any foe. Please, keep being angry, and keep enjoying life. Whether we only have this one, or many, or an afterlife, this is the one we have and not enjoy it is wasteful, and we should never waste any resource we have, even the “resource” of happy.

  78. Beth says

    I really enjoyed your post and your response to the responses! I’m not an Atheist, and some of your comments about religion were a little wounding to me personally, but I really agree with you about the relative insignificance of my personal feelings weighed against the massive injustices done in the name of religion in this world.
    The things that make you angry make me angry, too. Oddly enough, though, it doesn’t make me feel any less connected to God/the Eternal/the Great Whatever. Peace to you and to everyone.

  79. Albatross says

    As a fellow atheist, your anger is of course valid, and anger can be a valuable fuel to the determination to make things better.
    The place where we all need to strike a balance is to allow our anger to fuel our work but not to set it on fire. Anger CAN (I don’t say ALWAYS I just say CAN) get in the way of communications. I don’t think that’s the case here, and it doesn’t seem to be the case with you.
    But atheists frequently lose control of their anger, do the detriment of communications. I do sometimes too. To return to your two messages here, we have AMPLE reason to be angry.
    The challenge for all of us is to own and exercise our anger in a way that ENHANCES our communications. To give an example, I’m sure Martin Luther King was angry on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and he shows it, but he doesn’t let it interfere with his communications, in fact his fury energizes it.
    We can’t all be MLK, but we CAN work on that tricky balance between passion and sputtering rage.

  80. says

    “Attaboy!”
    To build on your points about the use of anger in social movements, I have a related challenge that I have issued on numerous blogs, and as yet nobody has met it (and only one person made a serious attempt):
    Name one social movement, anywhere in the world and anytime in history, which was sabotaged because it’s advocates were too outspoken.
    You can’t do it. And I think the absurdity of it should be clear when you think about what it would mean. “If only those Stridentarians had been a little quieter, then the world would have heard them.” Yeeeaaahh…..

    Besides, I think that the “We educated people don’t need religion, but the great unwashed hoi polloi do” trope is not only untrue, but classist and insulting.

    FWIW, I agree the trope is classist and insulting, but I am not convinced we can asset it as definitely untrue at present. As you mention, places in Europe are still only a little over half-godless… it’s entirely conceivable that we may find out in the future that some non-trivial percentage of people are just always going to have theistic or theism-like beliefs. It’s also entirely conceivable that we’ll find religion dwindling to nothing.
    To assert that “Everybody needs religion” is stupid and demonstrably false.
    To assert that “Some people need religion” is elitist, insulting, and condescending.
    To assert that “Nobody needs religion” is perhaps overly optimistic and egalitarian.
    We just don’t know between the last two, yet. In any case, I basically agree with you: Even though I allow that it might be the case that some people need their comforting delusions, to assert that is the case without solid evidence is a really condescending and asshole-ish thing to do.

  81. Niru says

    I’m going to post again.
    My heart goes out to you for your pain and anger and all you’ve been through. But this is life’s experience. You’ve expressed it well in your writing (of course) and don’t need little old me to tell you that.
    Mostly – I wanted to say: this is kind of new to me, because (I am a believer), I mostly notice angry religious people. . . and I actually don’t think I’ve met any angry atheists before. Mostly angry Wiccans. Oh, those Wiccans are plenty pissed off! Usually, atheists are like; “sigh, whatever, superstitious turd.” Which, as you point out, is no better than, “sigh, evil devil child, you’re gonna burn in hell, and I guess I’m gonna righteously send ya there!”
    We do life in a massively fucked up world full of dysfunctional people. I am 100% certain that without religion, we would still have dysfunctional people. I have no evidence to support that. :)
    Anyway, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re angry in this country, that means you’re paying attention. We may not have the same beliefs, but if you’re paying attention, that’s a good thing.

  82. Jimmie in San Jose says

    Years later this is still relevant. Thanks for writing this. Glad to know I am not the only angry person :)

  83. Celestine says

    Greta, loved your post and your reply.
    Since I can’t let things lie, I also wanted to comment on the whole “independent” as a political party thing. (I admit I didn’t read all the comments, so I may be repeating something already said.
    Here in Arizona, you are only allowed to register as either Dem, Rep, or Ind. Independent is not considered a political party, it is a catch-all for anyone who doesn’t fit into the american two-party system. I know this because I tried to register as a socialist and my husband tried to register as a communist and neither party was accepted.
    Bernie Sanders is listed on the congressional website as an independent. He is, in fact, a Socialist Democrat. Same song and dance. If you don’t fit our extremely limited mold, too bad.
    Sorry for continuing this sidetrack, but this is one of the things that makes ME angry. ;)
    Greta, keep up the good work. I admire what you do.

  84. says

    Greta, your ‘anger rant’ was THE BEST! I hope it helps thousands to fearlessly come OUT OF GOD’S CLOSET (q.v.) and join Richard Dawkins’ great OUT Campaign (q.v.)

  85. Jesse says

    Perhaps it is semantic, but I think there’s an important distinction between ‘anger’ and ‘hate’. The feeling of being incensed, enraged at injustice is a very different feeling to that of hatred.
    Certainly anger can turn into hatred, but anger itself isn’t a one-dimensional quality, it’s multi-faceted.
    I think that maybe the best indication of the distinction is that hatred creates more hatred, whilst anger at injustice eventually leads to the exact opposite of hatred and fear. It leads to justice and liberty.

  86. Matt says

    The original post and this post were terrific, and I’m definitely going to go back and read posts you’ve made earlier. You make a lot of good points, and I strongly agree with them. However, there is one part of this piece I object to: St Anger was a horrible album, and bringing a picture of it into an otherwise wonderful blog post is also horrible. :)
    Also, attagirl!

  87. jde says

    Hey Greta,
    It’s clear you take reason and truth seriously. You may want to check out “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Besides, you said you’ve read a good part of the Bible and if you were open-minded enough to do that, then I’m confident you’ll give Chesterton a try :).
    P.S. For me, “you just have to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” never really seemed like an argument to begin with–let alone a good one

  88. says

    I can see that I’m coming very late to this party, but I only just found this post and the one that preceded it. Combined, they did a lot to restore my sense of balance. I’ve been feeling like a girl without a country lately. I usually identify as agnostic, but by the definitions you gave above, atheist is just as apt a descriptor.
    I was going to leave a longer reply, but as it grew in length, I realized I really should just write my own blog post. I’ll link back to yours in my post.
    I wish you well and thank you again for showing me that there are people – not only you, but so many who left comments on your post – left in America, outside my circle of friends, who would not vilify me for daring to be non-religious.

  89. Sarah says

    Wow! annoDomini you really nailed it, thanks! I was sitting here considering commenting but wondering how I could phrase it but now I can stop.
    Thanks for going to the time to write such a long and well thought out post.

  90. says

    I was told Friday night that someone felt pity for me for not believing…because I’m a fan of facts and blatantly corrected the post above me’s misuse of history concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.
    But, I guess that beats the time someone told me DFCS should take my son away.
    Yah. I had to rant that day meself, too.

  91. Scotty says

    Have just read your original post, and this reply, just before going to bed. And now I’m so riled up I won’t be able to sleep! I’ve spent the last fifteen minutes shouting “yes, yes, YESSS!!!” at my computer monitor. Beautifully written pieces full of passion and insight. Damn, you’re a good writer!
    Maintain the rage.
    X

  92. missus webster says

    Hello,
    A friend of mine posted your Atheists and Anger blog post on Facebook, so I read it. You’re right, it was hard to read. I don’t think many of us go looking to deal with angry people, so I could see how people commenting on that one post alone would also react in anger.
    That’s why I’m glad you did this follow up piece. I’m also glad that I didn’t comment on the original.
    In this post, I admire how you graciously responded to people’s comments. (even the troll-y ones) :)
    I learned far more from this article, so I wanted to give you a “thumbs up”. Thank you for expressing yourself so clearly and in such a helpful way.
    I’m not an atheist. I’m a Christian, like the friend of mine who posted this on Facebook. Just thought I’d put that out there too. Thanks for your article.

  93. Veera says

    Well, since other people have commented years after the fact, I shall do so too!
    I come from a “blissful” country where people don’t care about someone else’s religion. Actually, I don’t know if even my family believes in god, cause I don’t really care. I know my twin sister believes in god, and that’s her right. I don’t. She doesn’t try to convert me and I don’t try to convert her. In Finland religion is a private matter. It can be discussed but rarely would someone ask “what’s your religion”. Maybe it’s because we’re still a relatively homogenous society, or maybe it’s because generally we’re pretty private people. Even our president is an atheist which didn’t really come up until sometime after the election, and no one cares.
    Most Finns still (I think about 75% now though the number is going down all the time) belong to the evangelic-lutheran church which is also considered the church of the state, but about 5% of those people go to church. About 5% of them actually have a religion. The rest just want to have a church wedding (as is traditional) and baptism (as is traditional). The desire for baptisms is fading among highly educated people though, because they want their children to be free to decide what religion, if any, they want to belong to. I think that’s very good progress.

  94. David says

    No matter how angry you are (justified or misplaced or not), if you are just as intolerant and extreme in the end than you are just as bad as any of the theists claiming to be the only right way.

  95. eric stone says

    Why we are correct in ridiculing religion
    Religious apologists like Alvin Plantinga who debated Daniel Dennett in “Science and Religion” Oxford Press, 2011, are incensed that we atheists have “sneering condescension” and “ridicule” to their preposterous ideas. He accuses Hitchens and Dawkins of having “hatred and contempt” toward religion and warns us that we threaten the welfare of both religion and science. By the way he does all this while attempting to badmouth us in the most sneeringly sarcastic and underhanded manner.
    Well, I’ve got news for Mr. Plantinga and his religionist cohorts. First, it is entirely appropriate to ridicule absurd ideas rather than to treat them as serious and give them respect. Only serious ideas based on reason and evidence are worthy of intellectual respect. Second, the ideas that we critique and ridicule have historically led to or facilitated war, genocide, ethnic cleansing as well as have enslaved millions, impeded medical and scientific research and are now draining vast sums of taxpayer dollars to propagate more of these ridiculous ideas. These ideas have resulted in untold amounts of violence, death, torture, and suffering as well as the profound intimidation and physical molestation of our young. Ridicule and even sneering condescension are about the mildest critical reactions that we can have for the enormity of the mind-boggling injustices perpetrated in their name. I can readily empathize with those of us who consider the behaviors prompted by these dogma to be illegal and criminal.

  96. Bruce Gorton says

    Posted by: David | April 04, 2011 at 07:02 AM
    I could have gone into a whole long rant about why you are a complete asshole, but sufficeth to say, if you think commenting on a blog is as bad as say, shooting a politician because you don’t like their pro-secularism politics (As happened in Pakistan) then frankly, its not worth the time you “white-man’s-burden-loving” pissant.

  97. says

    Great follow-up! I notice you’re using Buddha in the same breath as the Judeo/Christian/Muslim god and I’m going to be one of those nit-pickers for a second:
    Buddha is not considered divine in the Western sense of the word.
    I’m not negating your point, I just think it’s important to be accurate so that nay-sayers can’t try to undermine the rest of your argument because of an error tertiary to your actual point.

  98. Dragonfly says

    I’m glad you wrote this for all us atheists out there who have no voice. To add my two cents, it makes me angry when the more science confirms reason the more people seem to convert to a faith-based reality. Thanks for being a voice for us all.

  99. JT says

    Thanks for writing this. I’m in college now, and have considered myself an atheist for several years. I still haven’t been able to work up the nerve to tell my family, all of whom are devout Catholics. I think this will help with trying to explain to them why I feel the way I do. Again, thanks. Keep being awesome :-)

  100. Christin says

    Thank you for writing your original post, it is beautiful. Thank you for putting up with the tons of thoughtless, ignorant comments that are addressed in this post, in a reasonable, logical, and humorous fashion, even though they are infuriating, because it’s obvious they didn’t even read your post effectively. Thank you for being brave. Most of all, thank you for being an advocate for positive change. Keep it up!

  101. Kathryn Gislason says

    I loved this post, and the previous one. Every part, I am also wicked angry about the items you stated. So angry that sometimes I can’t breathe.
    What is interesting in that is that I do have a general spirtual feeling, and I am sooo much angrier than my friends who do not have the same inclinations that I have about religon.
    I have read your blog many, many times. You are obviusly much smarter and longer lived than me. But your post(s) on sexuality have really helped me find myself.
    Please, never silence your beautiful voice, and when the anger that we all feel for this bull shit comes to a head, I will be there, screaming and chanting and hoping for change. I might even throw in a prayer when your not looking ;)

  102. Christina says

    You ought to read Talal Asad’s Genealogies of Religion and Formations of the Secular. I think it would be super enlightening/rewarding for you. I respect your anger. Now go write about sex and be happy that you’ve caused so many people to create thought bubbles in their heads. :)

  103. Matthew says

    Hey, I appreciate your honesty. Something to consider that I don’t believe you covered in the reply… You mentioned the usefulness of anger in social movements and while I agree with you, I would argue that those movements are relatively small compared to something like say, the Christian movement. And if I recall correctly, the Christian movement did not expand to its extremely large status by always being angry.
    Arguably, there were the umm… dark ages. And there were large periods of time where Christianity was used (and as you pointed out is currently being used) in anger, but I believe Christianity in its origins expanded exponentially because of its ability to evoke the equally powerful, if not more powerful, emotion of hope.
    As a Christian talking to an Atheist, I think you could do your cause more justice and open more people’s eyes if you can inspire hope in them rather than anger. I personally believe you have every right to be angry btw. But if Jesus taught the world anything, it’s that while anger may get millions of people to follow… Hope will bring you billions of followers for thousands of years. Obama became President because of that one word and no real substance to back it up. What you consider to be fairytales has billions of believers BECAUSE of that emotion. Maybe prominent atheists should begin to consider writing atheistic literature that inspires this positive emotion rather than a frustrating one. Just my 2 cents and it’s probably worth less than that. :) Cheers!

  104. Manda says

    Thank you for summing up (almost) all that I’m angry about in one handy-dandy, bookmarkable post. You’re a fantastic writer, this is my first visit and I will be back!
    Anger has its place and its purpose and as you’ve shown it is a creative force for change. I’ve also learned the value of fucking with door to door Christian salespeople’s minds by not being angry when they ring my doorbell uninvited on Saturday morning, bibles open and ask if I’d like to discuss the bible with them. I just smile ever so sweetly, tell them that I am certainly not the best person to chat with them, cheerily wish them a wonderful day while I softly close and padlock the door. While watching their crushed expressions through the blinds. It feels even better than yelling at them to show them how polite and nice and happy the scary, scary atheist is.
    Oh, and you rock, attaboy, you go girl and I hope the US comes to its senses like Canada did on same-sex marriage. Now there’s a topic that really makes me angry :)
    Cheers!

  105. sunnydale75 says

    Terri @131:
    That may be true for the area you live, but from my experience it is NOT unacceptable to be angry these days. Perhaps a particular form of expressing that anger is seen as unacceptable. But the actual emotion itself? I haven’t seen that at all.

    To the people commenting about Buddha, in at least the religious beliefs of Hinduism, Buddha is seen as an avatar of the god Vishnu. That makes him a god to some, hence he fits (and yes, I’m aware that not all people agree on that point).

    For my part, I’m undecided on the historicity of Siddhartha the Buddha. However, his beliefs are too supernatural for my tastes, so I reject them as being unlikely. The Wheel of Life (for instance) is clearly supernatural in nature (which I reject as part of my non-belief, which encompasses the entire range of the supernatural-elves, fairies, dragons, trolls, cosmic consciousness, satyrs, etc- not just a god or gods) and I see no reason to believe in heavenly beings, hungry ghosts, or hell-beings (just as I don’t believe in angels, ghosts, or demons).

    Tony

  106. colubridae says

    For annodomini #47

    Hi, Greta,
    I had hoped that if you read my comment on your previous post you would appreciate that the dangers inherent in the kind of “group-think” that you accuse non-atheists of accepting are found to a lesser or greater extent in nearly all groups, whether the group collects itself by religion or not.

    So what? believing in demonstrably evil gods is still reprehensible and does lead to violence and hatred.
    :
    While my comment made the point subtlely, other comments were more direct. While you have tried to respond to the argument that “All religious people are not like that.”, you have not responded to the proposition that in the history of humanity, we are ALL to some degree “like that” and there are MANY examples of the nominally religious AND the nominally non-religious that are very much “like that”. .
    Again, so what?
    What are you trying to imply?
    Because everyone does reprehensible/immoral, things we should not condemn powerful institutions such as religion which firmly espouse such behaviour?
    :
    The problem is that in your previous post, it seems that your central thesis is that “religion” is the instigator or proponent that causes people to do specific acts that you are angry about. You can argue that I am reading that into your post, but, if you are honest with yourself, you will acknowledge that the sentiment is clearly there. .
    Of course it’s there. Stop trying to imply that Greta’s words ‘accidentally’ gave that impression and therefore don’t mean that. That’s the whole point. “religion” does instigate and is a proponent of these acts. Are you claiming that it doesn’t?

    :
    It also seems that you are suggesting that “atheism” is the solution to the problem you’ve identified. You have laid out the evidence by showing that some nominally “religious” people have acted with depravity and malice, but you have not even attempted to present evidence that nominally “atheist” people have not acted with depravity and malice.

    She never suggested any such thing. However, it is certainly a valid proposition. People thinking rationally and sceptically may overcome their baser instincts. At the very least it would enable them to dispense with 2000 year-old goat-herder tribal ethics.
    :
    I submit that it is not religion or atheism that causes human depravity, but rather that humanity at large show a wide variety of behavior including greed, arrogance, and depravity and some people show such characteristics in spades.
    “Good men do good; Evil men do evil; It takes religion to cause good men to commit evil”

    :
    One comment to your original post made almost exactly the point that I am raising here.
    In this post, you did respond to one argument made in a comment suggesting that “people need religion” by suggesting that Europe be viewed as an experiment where atheism is the norm and then stating that the European nations “seem to do fine”. I may be wrong about this, but I suspect that your response misses the intention of the comment. The statement that “people need religion” is probably not saying that states or governments need religion to be “successful”, but that each person needs religion individually.

    Her point addresses your statement perfectly. People don’t need religion.

    :
    That seems to be clear in the part of this post where you have written “If you believe that the Gospels are a more or less accurate representation of what Jesus said, then you have to acknowledge that Jesus said some pretty fucked-up things.
    Completely correct. Just baffling that apparently intelligent people fail to see the horror described in the gospels. “Abase yourself before me, or suffer eternal torture. Do not even question my commands” What a guiding light [/sarcasm]

    :
    Including a whole lot of stuff about how people who didn’t believe in him and follow him were going to burn in Hell for eternity.” Therein lies the crux of the “people need religion” statement: the Gospels seem to testify to Jesus making the audacious claim that each of us individually must be willing to put ourselves under the rule of God or be condemned. (I do understand that you do not accept the Gospels as true; I am merely pointing out the disconnect between what was probably the intention of the comment and your response to it.)

    What a load of mumbo-jumbo non-sense. Is it your belief that stringing together polysyllabic verbiage hides your meaning which is “I am your god. Abase yourself before me, or suffer eternal torture. Do not even question my commands”
    :
    In your response from which I extracted the quote about Jesus, you made another statement that I find interesting: “You can quote chapter and verse, but so can the people whose interpretation of the faith you disagree with. That’s sort of the nature of chapter and verse; it can be used to support just about any interpretation you can come up with.”

    True it can support most interpretations, but the most common ‘instructions’ are ones of hatred and oppression.
    :
    I am quite dubious about that claim, particularly because in another part of this post, you say “I was a religion major in college, for goodness’ sake.” Having studied religion, it is difficult to understand how you can conclude that the Bible supports “just about any interpretation” except in the most deconstructionist view of literature whereby Proust means just what I want it to mean to me: nothing more, nothing less. (with apologies to Lewis Carroll) If we are truly in that realm of discussing morality, there is nothing to discuss.

    Yes, you can find support for any interpretation. Unfortunately, as I said, most interpretations end up as hatred and jealousy. The most common biblical act performed by yahweh is to kill. Second most common act is to command killing.

    :
    That brings us to the line of reasoning whereby you claim “You don’t have any more reason to think you have the true faith than any other believer does.” – and I would add, than any other non-believer does.

    There I would disagree with Greta. The claim that god exists has zero supporting evidence. The claim that god does not exist has plenty of supporting evidence (especially when it’s Yahweh).

    :
    While I can’t quite embrace that statement, we are together at least this far: we are both confident that no individual can be sure that his or her understanding of God (or not God) is accurate. Some have claimed that “atheism is just another religion” and I agree with you that atheism is NOT a religion in the strict sense. (It defies the very definition of religion.)
    “if atheism is a religion, then health is a disease”

    :
    But if you are honest with yourself, you will agree that atheism is an understanding or belief about what “God” is; specifically, the belief that God is not.

    She is being honest, unlike you.
    :
    If I were to hold you to the defense you made in your post, I would say that you must admit that you don’t really have any more reason to think you have the truth than any other person does.
    Yes she does. She views the world with rational scepticism. You view the world through a book of mumbo-jumbo.
    :
    But I won’t do that because I know that it is not tenable. Most people that I know DO believe that they have MORE REASON to think they have the truth than anyone that disagrees with them. It almost has to be so, because if any person REALLY thought that there was MORE REASON to believe that a different understanding was true, presumably that person would change their belief. Indeed, that is almost the definition of belief.

    Once again, her ‘belief’ relies on rational scepticism, your ‘belief’ relies on mumbo-jumbo.

    :
    My favorite part of this post is the section where you write “It simply isn’t the case that atheists are 100% convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is no God.” as if it were different for believers. I would submit that most theists are not 100% convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is a God. Indeed, doubt is a profound and frequent topic in religious circles.
    Don’t confuse doubt with scepticism. They are not the same thing by any means. I have no doubt that there is no god. That doesn’t mean I know that there is no god. My evaluation of the world around me, shows me that a god (and esp Yahweh) is highly unlikely, that doesn’t mean I doubt my conclusions. From the evidence my conclusions are sound, I don’t doubt them, but there is a vanishingly small chance that I could be wrong.

    :
    You followed that with “I’ve never once met an atheist who thought that way.” I cannot say that I know the thoughts of anyone but myself, but I have met both atheists AND theists who make the claim of 100% surety.
    Most theists I’ve met certainly claim 100% certainty that god exists. I’ve never met an atheist who is 100% sure that god doesn’t exist.
    :
    You go on to write “Atheism is… well, it’s somewhat different for different people.” That could be said almost word for word about theism! Getting at the heart of the matter though, you write “for most atheists I know, [atheism is] more or less the position that God is an extremely unlikely hypothesis, not supported by evidence or reason; and that in the absence of any convincing evidence, it’s reasonable to discard it as a hypothesis”. That speaks loudly to me, because for most Christians I know, God is a hypothesis supported by experience and intellect and, with the support of that evidence, it is reasonable to accept the hypothesis.
    Experience and intellect are not evidence. E.g. Flat earth, phlogiston, Aether, fire-earth-air-water, etc. These are examples of understandings’ developed through intellect alone, and all complete bollocks.

    :
    I understand that you have rejected the God hypothesis. I am not here to convert you.
    Liar! Your are here for stealth proselytising.
    :
    Yet you may still recognize how similar you are to those who have made a different choice about that, but still see the world with the same anger and compassion regarding human failings.
    No. This is not about human failings. This is about a specific human failing, religion.

    Apologies to Greta for assumptions about her beliefs.

  107. says

    I do trust all the ideas you’ve presented on your post. They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very quick for novices. May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

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