Watch Out for those Terrible Atheists

A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that atheists are more distrusted and despised than any other minority and that an atheist is the last person for whom Americans would vote in a presidential election. “Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians” all ranked higher than atheists in public acceptability. Furthermore, Americans are “least willing to allow their children to marry” atheists.

State laws instill and perpetuate this attitude. Article IX, Sec. 2, of the Tennessee constitution states: “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.” Arkansas, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas have similar laws.

George H. W. Bush while campaigning for President in 1987 exhibited this same attitude, “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

Apparently all theists good and all atheists bad. If this is the case, atheist and agnostic businesspersons like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, investment guru Warren Buffet, Apple’s Steve Jobs and CNN founder Ted Turner should all be exiled for their unbelief. Don’t forget to include the 93% of National Academy of Science members who lack belief in a personal deity. What about atheist Pat Tillman, Arizona Cardinal football star, who left a $3,600,000 salary to enlist in the U.S. Army and subsequently got killed in Afghanistan? The oft-repeated theist claim, “there are no atheists in foxholes” insults a true American hero.

Is there a rationale for this prejudice against atheists or is this just plain theist bigotry? Why are atheists more “despised and distrusted” than any other minority? Why do theists promote this malicious slander? Has it ever occurred to theists to judge themselves by the same standards they judge others? Didn’t Jesus say something about taking the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of another’s eye?

How about the theist record? Theist Roman emperor Constantine had 3,000 Christians plus a wife and son murdered. Roman Catholic theists instigated the murderous Crusades and the Inquisitions. Theist Charlemagne had 4,500 Saxons beheaded all in one morning. Protestant theists arbitrarily tortured and burned at the stake tens of thousands of women because of the Bible’s admonition against witches. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli advocated death for heretics. Christian theists have persecuted Jews for the past eighteen centuries–most notably by the Roman Catholic theist Adolph Hitler who murdered 6,000,000 Jews.

Naively, many Americans assume theists never act immorally nor lie for fear of their God’s anger. Yet a recent study by The Center for Public Integrity finds that President George Bush and his top administration officials (all theists) issued 935 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attack. The study concludes these false statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.” That’s 935 good reasons to question god-fearing theist morality.

The January/February 2008 Psychology Today magazine contains an article, “An Atheist in the Pulpit, what happens when religious leaders lose their faith.” The author interviewed Lutheran, Pentecostal, Catholic and Episcopalian clergymen and recorded theism’s cognitive dissonance in their own words. “We tend to ignore how much cognitive effort is required to maintain extreme religious beliefs, which have no supporting evidence whatsoever.” “The disjunction between what clergymen say publicly and what they believe privately is so common that serious cognitive dissonance comes with the territory.” “We spend our lives impersonating who we think others want us to be and end up living as impostors. So when someone comes to me and tells me they are losing their faith, I congratulate them. You’re starting to embrace your own thinking self – the essential, immutable, immortal self – as opposed to the accidental criminal you have been made to think you are.” Integrity and cognitive health are theism’s real sacrifice.

So why this centuries-old acrimony against atheists? Granted some atheists have committed atrocities too. Communists Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung are two heinous examples. Does such justify the entirely one-sided bigotry and prejudice commonly accepted among Americans? America, the land of intellectual freedom, has granted hard-core theists free reign to preach their bigotry against Jews, Blacks, women and homosexuals. However, the deep-seated prejudice against atheists merits special attention because atheism challenges theism’s very existence.

A question seldom asked is what does the prejudice against atheists tell us about those who hold that prejudice? Are theists fearful that their god may not really be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent? Does the cognitive dissonance experienced when trying to explain their god’s indifference to events like 9/11, Katrina, and the 2004 Christmas Tsunami trouble their psyche? Maybe their religious fire insurance has been shaken. When theists must struggle with the ineptitude of their god, who better to lash out at than atheists?

Has religious tolerance for prejudice and bigotry toward atheists so intimidated Americans that they do not even recognize it? Evidently yes, especially when one might be branded one of those terrible atheists. Nevertheless, an intellectually free America, as intended by our founders, remerges as more and more atheist/agnostic freethinkers come out of the closet and stand against theism’s last bigoted prejudicial stronghold of intolerance. As one astute college student said to me, “a man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle”— who needs it?

Lee Salisbury was an evangelical minister for 14 years. After a sabbatical leave in 1986, he finally looked objectively at the bible and Christianity. Lee began Minnesota’s Critical Thinking Clubs in January, 2001. Read other articles by Lee, or visit Lee's website.

43 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Eric Patton said on February 12th, 2008 at 9:33am #

    There are no Christians in foxholes either.

  2. greybeard said on February 12th, 2008 at 9:41am #

    Gotta watch out for people who don’t think like me!! That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Curiously, for the “non-religious” atheist (one who does not believe in a Supreme Being, but doesn’t care if I do so believe), that position is often a more advanced stage of emotional development than one who believes because everyone “he knows” also “believes”. Our tribalism goes deep indeed!

  3. Larry T said on February 12th, 2008 at 10:15am #

    Within the last year I have felt a huge weight lifted from me when I finally realized that there is no God and that Jesus was a fictional character. I am actually happier and more caring person. Maybe because I now understand that each day is precious and needs seized. But Jesus fanboys believe that they will live forever with Jesus.

    With my new perspective I see how stupid the whole thing is. Ashes on your head for Ash Wednesday? WTF is that all about?

    I am so happy that God is imaginary. I want to put up a billboard or something.

  4. Michael Kenny said on February 12th, 2008 at 11:11am #

    I suspect that many “atheists” are not really atheists at all. They just don’t like any of the Gods on the market, so to speak! Logically, it’s “no God, no motality”, because without some over-reaching body of rules by which we are all bound, something like what Catholics call the “natural moral law”, there is no reason to refrain from doing something “wrong” if we can get away with it. Mr Salisbury points to Hitler as an example of the misconduct of theists, but if there is no God, why is it wrong to murder 6 000 000 Jews if you dislike them enough and can get away with it?

    It seems to me that as soon as you postulate a morality which binds us whether we like it or not, you have admitted the existence of God.

  5. Brit said on February 12th, 2008 at 12:26pm #

    Michael,

    We can have morality without religion. Morality predates religion. The golden rule is one of the most intrinsically obvious things I’ve ever contemplated. I assure you that I would have thought of it without every having been told. Likewise, nobody ever told me that a person shouldn’t contradict themselves, but they can’t be taken very seriously if they’re making two opposing c laims.

    Do you mean to tell me that, if someone murdered your friend, you wouldn’t feel like an injustice had been done? Do you need the ten commandments to tell you that? Was murder ok before the ten commandments were written?

    You might disagree that the golden rule is obvious. In that case, I say that religion doesn’t have a monopoly on ideas. If a theists has a good idea, I’m free to apply that idea to my life. Who says I have to become superstitious to use the idea?

  6. HR said on February 12th, 2008 at 12:51pm #

    While I will admit there are lots of Christofascists, and other superstitious folks in the society, I just do not buy poll results like this. I would like to see how the sample was drawn from the population as a whole (i.e., did it target Christofascists?), what the raw data were, and how the questions were worded. Statistics, like everything else we do, can be manipulated to produce results the pollsters desire. I’ve run into too damed many nonbelievers in my 58 years to take seriously such findings, or to buy into the nonsense that 95 percent of USans believe in some magical being.

  7. William Rayner said on February 12th, 2008 at 1:08pm #

    As a freely-admitted atheist and former deacon in the presbyterian church I can obviously relate readily to much of what is written in Lee Salisbury’s article. My issue is with the common-place comment by Michael Kenny where he equates the existence of morality with god – no god, no morality. If there is no god, why be good, in other words. A shallow belief at best. Does this mean the only reason you try to be good is to gain god’s approval and reward, to avoid his disapproval and punishment? To quote Richard Dawkins “That’s not morality, that’s just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base thought.” If you believe that in the absence of god, you would commit robbery, rape and murder then you reveal yourself as an immoral person and as Michael Shermer says “we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you.” If you believe that you would continue to be a good person regardless of your belief in god, then you have undermined your claim that god is necessary for us to be good. Einstein said “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

  8. Morse said on February 12th, 2008 at 1:33pm #

    “there is no reason to refrain from doing something “wrong” if we can get away with it. ”

    Really? Then you, sir, need to keep going to church. The rest of us have sufficient morality to exist without threats and bribes.

    Why is it wrong to kill 6 million people? Because we have empathy, and can understand that because it hurts us to be harmed it hurts others to be harmed. Because we don’t believe in an afterlife, and so this life is so much more precious, and worth holding on to.

    And perhaps the most selfish, because we don’t want to be killed in return.

    Atheists sit down and think about what is right and wrong. Theists are just told what is right and wrong by their books. Which makes atheist morality so much stronger.

  9. Grace said on February 12th, 2008 at 2:42pm #

    Larry, I can relate. I too felt relieved when I finally admitted to myself (after reading a lot of Science and reading atheist websites in the 90’s) that I had been brainwashed by Catholic parents, who never stopped to think. I am actually a better person now than I was as a “Catholic”. My morals are strong and I treat others with respect. I raised two fantastic young and bright women without religion, and guess what: they good students, have good morals and drink responsibly, never did drugs, don’t fool around and don’t believe in a Buddy in the Sky. I remember the hypocrisy of Catholic school girls. They would do everything hidden. Anyway, my ATHEIST friends are amongst the most intelligent people I know. Doesn’t that tell you something?

  10. Seven said on February 12th, 2008 at 2:49pm #

    I think what Michael attempted to touch on (and if it isn’t please correct me, I don’t want to put words in your mouth) is that without some sort of religion the words “good” and “evil” become subjective. This is obviously the case because atheists, and I am a confirmed atheist, do not have to put themselves in judgement against some abstract, archaic ruleset.

    So, it is clearly “wrong” to kill someone for no reason, it is clearly “wrong” to kill six-million Jews, and it is clearly “wrong” to rob someone’s house.

    But it is only “wrong” because I deem it so, not because I am dictated by some mysterious writing on the walls.

    But, that is why we have laws of the land, to have a moral set to refer to when people start to get a little crazy. That way we are all on the same page, so to speak. You know, that whole social contract thing.

    There is an inherent conflict of interest between laws and religions. And I would much, much rather burn my Bible (if I owned one) than my Constitution.

  11. Erik Rose said on February 12th, 2008 at 5:24pm #

    NO GODS, NO RULERS.

  12. HR said on February 12th, 2008 at 5:41pm #

    Morality is not dictated from above, or by some nonexistent god — and there is NO evidence of any existing god. It is simply a fancy name for application of common sense, a set of rules, based on experience, that allow a society to function in harmony. In that sense, morality could be considered a result of natural law, but that’s a stretch.

    Murder, for example. would have been considered bad, even in early, primitive societies because of its negative effects on society as a whole. If I kill someone from your family, then your family will retaliate, and so on. Kind of hard to find time to hunt or grow crops, if you’re constantly retaliating and defending. Similarly for other “moral” tenets.

    If I recall correctly, Hammurabi’s Code preceded the Jewish commandments (and similar codes that are found in other ancient societies), but, except for the religious references, was very similar. So, who was the “real” god? Taking a nap, perhaps?

  13. Rob said on February 12th, 2008 at 6:12pm #

    As soon as a Theist can understand why it is that they reject all other known gods, like Zeus, Osiris, Allah, Xenu, Apollo, etc. then the sooner they’ll understand why I’m a complete Atheist.

  14. John Hatch said on February 12th, 2008 at 6:45pm #

    I think theists become angry at atheists in inverse proportion to the solidity of their beliefs. Why should a Christian care what I belief if he/she is convinced? My thesis is that belief in religion is so counter-intuitive that very few people can pull it off without becoming mentally ill in the process.

    Nietzsche called it ‘voluntary stupidity’. It takes a lot of energy to become ‘stupid’ and maintain that state when all of nature and evolution is straining in the opposite direction. The same applies to morality. On the larger scale we will survive as a species only if we work together. Had we decided that cannalism was the way, we probably wouldn’t be here to discuss the matter.

    Dostoyevski said “If there is no God, then everything is permitted’. Indeed. Everything is, but not everything is moral. Morality is a purely human thing. How could a ‘Christian’ nation such as the US engage in the kind of genocide to which it has always been addicted? It kind of makes the argument moot.

  15. DavidG. said on February 12th, 2008 at 8:07pm #

    I am an atheist! There, I’ve said it! I am waiting to be turned into a pillar salt or struck by lightening so if this comments stops all of a sudden you’ll understand why.

    Religion is the greatest con that has ever been carried out upon gullible humans. It is unsupported by even a shred of scientific evidence.

    The con is carried out by a variety of powerful and wealthy Religious Institutions. The members of these Institutions, most of whom know it is a con, should be ashamed of themselves.

    That nearly a whole nation embraces the fantasy of religion and looks down upon those who spurn it is almost unbelievable. Religion is the most divisive force in the world.

    It should be banned.

  16. Hue Longer said on February 13th, 2008 at 2:14am #

    Since the new DV format, I’ve been waiting for a Salisbury article just to see the choir react.

    I am agnostic in the literal sense which means I don’t bother professing answers saying this or that does or doesn’t exist. I treat Christianity (or the rest of it) with the nonchalance it deserves (concerning the belief on its own anyways) and can think of hundreds of god(s) or godess(es) myths which make more sense.

    Spirituality (or whatever word we may ascribe to being connected to the unknown) is something I find staring at stars or feeling a bond with another life…I believe (hehe) morality (or love) is more than common sense and is not just a selfish detached reasonable conclusion–though that sentiment makes more sense than a sentient god driven law. And yes, I have the basics of cell reproduction down

    Mono deism is a pre-bronze aged notion which is the hardest of all to swallow, It truly is an act of God that it managed to trump pantheons and enlightenment in popularity (just kidding).

    The Salisbury stuff is good and I find his Robin Hood myth vs. Jesus myth to be the best…it just gets hard finding new angles on this “debate”. The more we pull examples of Spaghetti Monster God or Keebler Elves God to compare the absurdity of the God of the three majors, the more I laugh at the absurdity of doing it. It’s like having a serious discussion with a 4 year old concerning Santa.

  17. Ugly American said on February 13th, 2008 at 3:02am #

    The “one nation under God” bit was added in the 50s at the instigation of the infamous Reverend George MacPherson Docherty (yes, the one obsessed with Sparta) who wanted to force US Citizens to bow down to the god that happened to speak to him. Organization was carried out by the secretive international society the Knights of Columbus who’s members claim the Pope has more authority than any countries that they are supposedly citizens of.

    Only atheists can truely put their country first.

  18. giggling my arse off said on February 13th, 2008 at 5:31am #

    If you want to know why atheists are despised, look around you. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but calling people inferior morons may not be the best way to get them to like you. Sorry but it’s nothing short of hilarious to watch you wringing your hands about all this ill-will toward you when the source of it lies in your own attitudes. It isn’t because anyone is scared of you or intimidated by how bloody awesome you are or any of the other nonsense you tell yourselves like some scrawny dweeb flexing nonexistent muscles in his bedroom mirror. It’s because you’re jerks. That’s it. Full stop.

  19. Skeptic said on February 13th, 2008 at 7:22am #

    This is an excellent article. It covers almost all the major points. I have linked to it from SecularEarth.com. Thanks for the read.

  20. Seven said on February 13th, 2008 at 8:14am #

    Hue is right in the sense that discussing atheism v. theism is like having any philosophical discussion – running on that same damn mouse wheel until the end of the time.

  21. Seven said on February 13th, 2008 at 8:42am #

    “Giggling my arse off”

    It would serve you well not to generalize. Those of us in here who had an actual conversation and discussion about atheism have not hurled any of those insults.

    But you’re right, I mean, a Christian or a Jew would never look down on anyone. . .

  22. RODNEY SHEFFER said on February 13th, 2008 at 9:57am #

    I am not sure that the Christofascists are afraid of just atheists per se, they feel threatened by anyone whose beliefs (religious or secular) are in contrast to theirs. An argument can be made that these people are genetically xenophobic in the extreme. Maybe someday we will have a definitive answer on this.
    Fear is a great motivator and these poor, ignorant people seem to be overwhelmed by their fears. But fears are largely the product of ignorance, and when these people do their homework they can divest themselves of most of their fears. As long as they buy into the idea that they can explain natural phenomena by invoking their deity du jour they will remain ignorant and fearful. This doesn’t especially bother me about them–it is when their cognitively arrested brain dictates policy, like GWB and Mike Huckabee, that threatens me.
    CURMUDGEON

  23. Sunil Sharma said on February 13th, 2008 at 10:33am #

    Another unrepentent atheist in the house.

  24. davidgmills said on February 13th, 2008 at 10:34am #

    To giggling:

    So all atheists are jerks? Every single one? I am glad to know that I am a jerk because every single human who has similar beliefs to mine is a jerk. I didn’t know that was how one became a jerk. Thanks for the education.

    I’m probably a jerk for not knowing and pointing out I didn’t know.

  25. stephan geras said on February 13th, 2008 at 12:13pm #

    All the dialectics give credence to the atheist position that god’s existence can neither be proved nor disproved, and faith is consequentially irrelevant. And so in fact are all notions and representations only “manifestations” of illusions. Atheism, then, is only a call to reason, to reality. If faith is even still possible, better to put faith in humanity, which may be a limited concept, but renewable.

  26. John Wilkinson said on February 13th, 2008 at 12:25pm #

    Religion and patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. That’s how you keep the population in check. That’s how you can continue with your stealing. That’s how you get others to do your dirty work for you.

    Small minds need God to fill their empty lives — no need to agitate for yourself in this life, to be the best you can be, when you’ll be rewarded later, much later. Those on top know it’s all a scam, otherwise why aren’t they following this “morality” that religion supposedly prescribes? (“Morality” when it suits them, just look at all the blood through history enumerated above, and all the other hypocrisy).

  27. John Wilkinson said on February 13th, 2008 at 12:43pm #

    and where does it follow that morality issues from religion? I have volunteered, I have helped others, I try not to hurt others, yet I am somehow immoral because I don’t believe this superstition (I don’t submit to being manipulated)? Where does it follow that marriage is a “religous institutions”? And all the other things that religion calls its own — because no-one challenges them on it? If you’re married and an atheist/agnostic, you’re not really married according to this logic, you really don’t have a family? And we’re an obstacle to freedom, according to these nuts. What’s next — a holocaust for the infidels?

    Why don’t they talk about the bigotry and intolerance, which are the halmark of religion, instead of the so-called “morality” which is just a set of common sense rules for living in a human society, nothing to do with religion.

    And by religion, of course, they mean just the Christian religion, all the others are faulty. This country is run by the christian Taliban. This is so-called freedom, just don’t use your brain for thinking and then you’ll be free.

  28. giggling my arse off said on February 13th, 2008 at 4:16pm #

    To those who think I’m being unfairly general, look at your fellow posters. Broad brush? Mine doesn’t even compare.
    The public face of atheism in the US is made up of insults and condescension. If you want to actually be respected instead of stomping your feet that you are disliked (and frankly I’m inclined to think you lot prefer the latter) then denounce your louder brethren when they say bigoted things. Or do you really, honestly think that sitting around on your blogs and forums and calling everyone who thinks differently names is the best approach? Many of you seem to, and that is why I continue to be giggling my arse off.

  29. corylus said on February 13th, 2008 at 7:06pm #

    What being an atheist has meant to me:
    A greater sense of not just tolerance, but respect and acceptance of those who think or believe differently;
    Increased compassion for all life, including humans, even those who would kill me or others for material or emotional gain;
    Enhanced appreciation of the need for humans to understand our place in the universe — perhaps in this a sense of humility;
    A newly discovered blessing (from the universe, of course!) that my values, morals, and ethics are amusing to some! Atheists = the world’s finest comedians!

  30. giggling my arse off said on February 13th, 2008 at 7:54pm #

    And by the way, the Bible was written by a big invisible man using a great big crayon. Whoaa! Giggling my arse off . . . But not before I defecate the last of my reptilian brain.

  31. giggling my arse off said on February 13th, 2008 at 7:57pm #

    Ignore the person calling themselves giggling my arse off. They are not addressing the point of my previous posts, which is that atheists tend to be judgmental and insulting. Christians, instead, listen and don’t call people names, except when you do not follow God’s word. In that case, you are deservedly punished. For example, if you are a child and disobey your parents, you should be beaten by your parents. Stuff like that. Atheists are simply mad because they can’t beat their children the way Christians can.

  32. Earth to Giggle Man said on February 13th, 2008 at 7:59pm #

    Earth to Giggle Man. Time to go on decaf. You are way WAY out there, dude.

  33. 7. said on February 13th, 2008 at 8:22pm #

    “giggling”

    I will never refute your contention that many so-called “atheists” are teenagers running around with the guise of non-conformity with the mission of trying to offend and insult as many people as possible.

    I just wanted to tell you that we are not ALL like that, which is why generalizations are never good. The atheists I personally know are typically respectful of all people, including those who happen to believe in religions – our chosen lifestyle just happens to be without it, that doesn’t mean we actively try to burn it down and stick up our middle finger every time we drive by a church.

  34. Catherine said on February 13th, 2008 at 8:52pm #

    giggling- I’m sure all those loser sciencey-types who have no belief in a personal sky daddy are truly wringing their hands worrying about all the meanies out there making fun of the big brain thing. For someone who seems to frequent atheist blogs (based on your comments) you sure seem to want to come across as wholly amused. When I was in high school I remember those people who were the most insecure using comedy to mask actual pain. You should seek a professional.

  35. Rev. José M. Tirado said on February 14th, 2008 at 2:32am #

    One of the great difficulties in engaging this discussion is the lack of recognition that, were we all to be honest, absolute answers about Absolute issues will never be found among limited beings such as ourselves. How can I “know” anything about the ineffable, that is, the Unknowable. I can´t. I can, however, choose to accept poetic descriptions of ideas and utilize such to make my life more meaningful. thus I can be an agnostic (a=not, away from; gnostic=knowing), admitting I don´t “know” and still “believe”, which can be a comforting element in my life.

    Now, one problem arises when those poetic metaphors become hardened into dogmatic presumption. A big problem. Because I think we are fundamentally insecure beings, who express wonder and awe at the largeness of our universe and the smallness of our lives in comparison, once we have found “an answer”, it undermines our confidence in that answer when others don´t share it. I believe this is the source of the mischief and outright murderous frenzy that propels those with tightly retained views to oppress others who don´t share them. the presence of a “non-believer” amongst those people is a grave threat to those who use such beliefs to exercise control over others, in this case, using the hierarchy of metaphors to deny others an appeal. So the priestly classes clinig too tightly to their metaphors in an excuse to exercise what they otherwise would pursue anyway: domination over others. In this case, with “religion” as their trump card, thet win since the belief that they are possessed of an inside track , so to speak, grants them some immunity.

    But if we accept wonder and awe, meaning and poetry as just as human as science and knowledge, surety and firmness, then we can acknowledge that ultimately, we are all agnostics who need each other for support (the human, not supernatural, origins of morality and ethics,) and yet some of us require “more” in the form of poetic imagery and anthropomorphised metaphors.

    Without the notions of surety in religion, we of course would have all benefitted by the non-existence of innumerable slaughters and tortures in the name of religion. But we would also be without Bach or Beethoven, Mozart or Angkor Wat, Kinkakuji or the Acropolis, or a million other expressions of the human desire to express a relationship to that which they cannot “know” but which they can “feel”.

    The problem is those for whom such wonder implies exclusivity, and an excuse to dominate others.
    At least that´s how I see it…
    Best,
    José

  36. alex said on February 14th, 2008 at 4:43am #

    I think the most fundamental point about religiousity in America is that it’s woven into a sense of nationhood and the history of the state – a kind of patrio-religiousity if you will. It’s one of the those pleasing unthinkables – if there’s no God, then why believe our nation is special and chosen by The Man Himself as the best place to live dot dot dot? In other words it’s a misplaced and slightly childlike optimism against which atheists must seem like a bunch of weird minimalism-loving party-poopers who are at best y’know, hiding something? ;-)

    I say this as a European atheist of course, one who finds most Americans very open minded and warm. I think polls like this, in postulating an A / vs / Not-A response bring out the fuzziest answers and don’t really capture any of the US’s nuance about such ideas. True, I speak now about the people-who-live-on-the-coasts but i’m guessing it’s their wealth that’s driving the nation forward etc.

    On a separate point it may well be that once we’re a good 200 years into this wonderful war on terror we’re all having that the idea of being a religious maniac might begin to pall, rather. One can only hope.

  37. Henrietta said on February 14th, 2008 at 5:09am #

    Giggling. A fundamental flaw in the premise of your argument is revealed by applying your own argument to Christians. According to you, atheists are so roundly despised because as a group they take an insulting and condescending view towards those who do not join them in their belief (or lack thereof). In other words, public perception of atheists is the result of atheists’ opinion that non-atheists are unenlightend, morons, etc.

    Now, let’s apply that principle to Christians. As a group, Christians puport to believe that non-Chirstians are heathens, lack the gift of grace, are sinners, are fallen, defy the word of God, are immoral and will be damned to suffer the torments and tortures of hell for all of eternity.

    Now, if that is the Christian position of those who are non-Christians, then it would follow that Christians would be among the most despised of all groups in the U.S., and Christians would be among the least likely persons for whom Americans would vote.

    I mean, ask yourself: which is worse; being called stupid? or being called immoral and damned to suffer torment and torture in hell for all of eternity?

    Go giggle into your own shirt-pocket.

  38. Sister Margaret said on February 14th, 2008 at 8:42am #

    Henrietta, great point. I am a nun and DO believe in our Lord, Christ the Savior, as the way to righteousness. I DO believe that non-believers are putting their immortal souls at risk of eternal damnation. (Hey, I’m here to help!) But if it were true that strong adverse opinions of others were a guage of lack of public popularity (as “giggling my arse off” suggests), then one would expect Christians (who admittedly have a disparaging opinion of non-believers) to be among the least popular citizens — less popular than gays and lesbians, muslims, recent immigrants and so on, as was stated in the original article. They are NOT! So much for giggling’s “theory”.

  39. Arch Stanton said on February 14th, 2008 at 12:40pm #

    Looks like we’ll all meet again in the concentration camps. We can sing a few choruses of “Unamazing Grace” together.

  40. D.R. Munro said on February 17th, 2008 at 9:48am #

    I don’t know, I just feel that my atheism is somewhat my way of being spiritual, by being absolutely aspiritual. And, my main issue with theism is not so much with the institution itself, that is – the instituation of sentient chruches and the like, but of the Gods they worship.

    That is to say, if there is a God, and He allows all the suffering, pestilence, pain, and sorrow to permeate the Earth as it does, and has the power, as they say, to put an end to it but does not – I want nothing to do with such a monster anyway.

    Hell does it exist. We are all living it right now.

  41. AceNZ said on February 19th, 2008 at 6:12am #

    I’ve been an atheist my whole life, but until just recently I was afraid to admit it to anyone but my closest friends. My occasional attempts to do so when I was younger met with intense ridicule and anger.

    I suspect that the reason atheists are hated so much by theists is because we directly threaten their belief system. Imagine basing your whole life on a particular belief system. If the possibility was ever raised that your it was invalid, it would result in a tremendous sense of loss, grief and anger. So rather than confront those feelings in one’s self, it’s easier to direct them at the people who raised the doubts: “If you’re right, then I’ve been living a lie my whole life, so you can’t be right”.

  42. ahmad mustolih said on April 23rd, 2008 at 8:32am #

    actually there is no atheist in the world. people who admit and declare that they are atheist, they do not believe to the existence of god actually they tell that they have god, their belief, because belief is actually god.

  43. Brian Juntunen said on July 31st, 2008 at 12:57pm #

    I haven’t read all of the articles or the comments but so far what I have found is that there a few people out there in our society who have a problem with the fact that I choose to believe in God.

    This astounds me! I’m not sure why it bothers you. What do you care? If there is no God…and we evolved from whatever it is that we came from, why don’t you live and let live?

    Why should it trouble you that I am one who trusts in a God that you are numb to…a God who exists only in my mind and in the pages of some old texts…a God who said that I must declare His news to the world, the God who says that you now have minds that are incapable of finding Him because you have denied the evidence of nature that is not found in a laboratory but happens to have been programmed into your consciousness from your nativity, a God who teaches that you will have to give an account to His Son someday?

    Why shouldn’t you let me go ahead and live by the morality and the light that I have? Why insist on converting everyone to your way of thinking?

    I read a quote from Lee: “Creationists know their a priori conclusions in advance, independent of any scientific inquiry. They then massage their superficially scientific assertions to justfy their desired answers to match their religious doctrine. The circularity and philosophical bankruptcy of this perspective is obvious.”

    – Lee Salisbury, Essayist,
    Axis Columnist, Founder of
    the Critical Thinking Clubs &
    Former Christian Minister

    Where he has placed the word, “creationists”, you can easily place the word, “atheists”. We are all the same…you and me…that is what your science teaches and thus my motives and your’s are the same because of that survival thing…you are trying to survive something and reap some kind of reward from it and so am I. This is the survival of the fittest and it seems that the most fit throughout history have been those who have believed in a designer and the atheists are just the late comer, new kids on the block and it is not we who will bring you to nothing, but your own lack of ability to use reason.

    You use uncommon language to conceal your ignorance. You obfuscate by use of pseudo scientific lingo to hide the fact that you have shut your own minds down by your own priori conclusions.

    As to the golden rule: Jesus said, “Do unto others…” All other quotes that I have heard from human philosophy teach, “Don’t do unto others…” Big difference! You have to do something if you believe in Christ. You don’t have to do anything if you are an atheist or Buddhist or whatever.

    Brian Juntunen