I’m an atheist. I’ve never practised any religion of my own volition. I went to a Catholic school as a child, but all that’s left me with is a fondness for elaborate churches with stained glass windows, as I spent most of my time staring out of them and daydreaming.

I find it odd when atheists trumpet themselves as more conscientious and intelligent than believers. OK, so not having a religious doctrine to give you a moral code for “free” might seem like it requires more mental effort. However, you also have legal and social frameworks to provide you with a moral code, and those are probably a bigger deterrent for bad behaviour in practical terms. No one wants to pay large fines, spend time in jail, or be Billy-No-Mates. I think those are the things that keep most people, religious or not, from being arseholes.

The assumption that every practitioner of a religion believes in the same moral code also bothers me. Have you seen the news at all, ever? I can only imagine what it must be like to be a practising believer, well-versed in one’s doctrine, watching some dickhead on television saying he’s just slaughtered a bunch of people who were worshipping in their house of faith, which they thought was a sanctuary, because God told him to. It must be heartbreaking, seeing someone who’s allegedly read the same texts, extracting that message from them.

As for intelligence, the very definition of which is highly problematic, especially when people get competitive about it, what makes anyone think that atheism is an automatic pass to ranking oneself above others? There are atheists who are also stupid, who speak and act illogically, and are ignorant and determined to stay that way. There are people of faith who are not.

Anyway, the point of this ramble was really to send a message to my friends who are believers: I don’t think I’m better or smarter than you because I’m an atheist. I think this is worth saying because there are an awful lot of atheists who do. If you want to talk about your faith with or around me, please do. Or don’t! That’s also okay, of course. I love you.
cmcmck: (Default)

From: [personal profile] cmcmck

Well, I'm a Quaker and we tend to accept all views of how things are and how things work! :o)

There are atheists, it's true, who seem to have created an alternative religion which is a bit baffling to me!
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)

From: [personal profile] recessional


(Being a poly-henotheist highly based on personal gnosis: having all sides look at you, go " . . . ", try to fit you in their conceptual framework, give up, and go back to pretending you don't exist.) (Not aimed at you, so much as just a wry chuckle: the kind of twerp-atheist you're NOT is often very confounded with what to do with me, because the phrase "generally speaking [one of] my god[s] thinks I should do X but I think they're overreacting so I don't" doesn't WORK in their brains . . . )
haggis: (Default)

From: [personal profile] haggis

I had a quick google but it's not helpful!
recessional: a small blue-paisley teapot with a blue mug (Default)

From: [personal profile] recessional

Compromise term: henotheist is someone who worships one god while accepting the existence or possible existence of multiple gods and conceptions of god. I am affiliated with multiple divine entities, but I have primary allegiance, and work within a specific system/conception, while being perfectly comfortable with the idea that there are many (many, many) other divine entities and ways of interacting with them.

The nature of the compromise term and how it's a compromise just underscores how much the entire monotheistically-influenced way of even talking about this shit in English applies badly to how I experience this stuff, though. laugh

redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)

From: [personal profile] redsixwing

Thank you for this.

Oh, stained glass windows. <3

I admit to giggling aloud at "Billy No-Mates."
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)

From: [personal profile] alexseanchai


This is a welcome counterpoint to a Facebook friend of mine observing on her blog, probably in response to me, that she gets irritated when people of minority religions point out that people in monotheist-usually-Christian–atheist debates haven't considered our position. Well, A, you obviously haven't, because if you had—well, I won't say you'd be a polytheist, 'cause I don't have any way to know that (and atheism is a perfectly reasonable response, in my worldview, to never having experienced the presence of a Deity to know it; I have no real quarrel with atheists). But you'd certainly have better, which is to say less tuned-to-Christianity, arguments for why you're an atheist!

(None of which I am saying to A herself because it would come out so much more vicious than I want it to. I am so sick of this murderpain!)
haggis: (Default)

From: [personal profile] haggis

I grew up in the Scottish Baptists, became a believer myself at about 13 and I spent 7 years wrestling with my faith and my beliefs which was strongly encouraged in my denomination, although the assumption was that you would end up agreeing with the mainstream church doctrine. (My impression was that is was assumed that Christianity and our church's various positions on doctrine were logically derived from a combination of Scriptural texts and reason, without much space for new revelations or alternative conclusions.)

I wrestled myself out of the church at 20 when I finally decided I could not square the church's teaching on LGBT relationships and the loving, just God I had always believed in. (I wasn't out to myself yet - that was about 18 mos later).

One of the great reliefs of no longer being a Christian was not being mortified and furious that my church was associated with the Southern Baptist interpretation of Christianity which I recognised as rulebound, power-hungry and cruel.
delight: (Default)

From: [personal profile] delight

Well put and appreciated, from a Humanist Jew. ♥ We're also a ... "faith" isn't the right word? We're a non-religious religious group that confuse the crap out of most people, and tend to get hit hard by confused militant atheists.
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)

From: [personal profile] hilarita

There's something very shouty and over-certain about some rationalist communities. It's the same kind of rock-hard certainty and absolutism I've encountered in some converts - "I have wrestled my spirit to the ground, interrogated it about its beliefs and assumptions, and now I am completely certain that I am right and I will tell you about this at length because otherwise How Can You Be Right Too." I find it best to back away slowly and shake my head gently.
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid

I am so sick of the smug neo-atheists. I'm mostly internally yelling "YOU DON'T REPRESENT ME!" but occasionally I get into why.

I don't know if you have seen the facebook page Mean Trots, but they had this recent gem:

[Image: Regina George from Mean Girls. Text: "So you agree? New Atheists like Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens are better characterized as Imperial Athiests?" #MeanTrots]
mummimamma: (Blue Mummimamma)

From: [personal profile] mummimamma

Thank you for writing this.

I'm an atheist myself, coming from a protestant-pietist low church background, but I have never believed. I have tried to believe, I wanted to believe at one time, but it doesn't work for me. Sometimes I am envious of those who can believe without questioning it, even those who question, but come up god(s) I sometimes envy. For me life seems to be easier with belief, but perhaps I am biased from by references. My family are all believers, and the idea that you can not believe is totally foreign to them.

Of course it doesn't mean I live in a world devoid of moral and ethic; both my own and the institutionalized ethics that surround me are primarily Protestant in origin.

Normally I am pretty laid back, and of the opinion that as long as you don't push your religion on me, I will not push my atheism on you. But I will push back. And I have read the Bible in more languages than most of those I debate with - my Classics degree has been pretty useful that way.
tommx: (Default)

From: [personal profile] tommx

I kept my atheism quiet for a long time. Initially, I would either demure or suggest that I was agnostic blah blah blah, but I eventually decided that I was not only being untrue to myself, but I was leading people to believe something about me that was fundamentally wrong.

I don't begrudge anyone their own beliefs, but I tend to think of most organized religions as little more than frameworks for controlling large numbers of people. However, since many people are able to adapt that framework to their lives in a positive manner, and basically aren't complete dicks with religion, (i.e. using God as an excuse to be homophobic, racist, etc.) we're good.

The only possible exception is Buddhism, but I don't really consider that a religion.
Edited Date: 2017-05-08 07:40 pm (UTC)
chickenfeet: (death)

From: [personal profile] chickenfeet

I think it's a bit odd to define oneself as an "atheist". There are lots of things I don't believe in and having an invisible friend is only one. Also, try to get any theist to come up with a complete and consistent definition of what a "god" is so that I can not believe in it/them. I prefer to identify with things I do believe in like humanism, socialism and really good red wine.
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)

From: [personal profile] fred_mouse

I'd probably identify as a multi-ist then, as a beer-ist, a wine-ist, and a scotch-ist.

ETA - and probably a soda-ist as well.
Edited Date: 2017-05-09 05:38 am (UTC)
forests_of_fire: A picture of a brilliantly colored waterfall cascading into a river (Default)

From: [personal profile] forests_of_fire

Fundamentalists of any stripe are assholes.

And that includes atheistic fundamentalists, which are the type you're talking about. When you start putting yourself above others due to your superiority complex and say shit like "any sane person would follow my religion", you become a fundamentalist.
gwendraith: (ely from the fens)

From: [personal profile] gwendraith

I think I'm more of a humanist. I do know that I'm not a fan of organised religion for many reasons but I respect the beliefs of others (with certain caveats). I do love our cathedral for it's beauty and the peace and tranquility it exudes.
meepettemu: (Default)

From: [personal profile] meepettemu

I've been an atheist, religious, and agnostic/atheist again. My morals haven't really changed in that time significantly I guess.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)

From: [personal profile] purplecat

So much this.

I was a little dubious about sending G. to a school that described itself as "multi-faith" rather than secular, but in retrospect the lesson that all faiths should be treated with respect and, by and large, it is the actions of individuals upon which judgements should be made not the belief systems they use to justify the actions is a good one.
zasu: (Default)

From: [personal profile] zasu

I'm a lifelong atheist/agnostic. I was raised without religion, and don't care enough to decide one way or the other (between atheist and agnostic, not between disbelief and belief). I really just think I lack a part of the brain that maybe 80-90% of the world's population apparently has, sometimes called the "god spot."

I consider myself the defective one, not them.

I've looked at atheist communities in the past, thinking I might find some like-minded people, but was turned off by the incredible arrogance of many of the, usually though not always, men there. I noticed they were usually also socially inept computer guys, probably guys with Aspergers. Now, I have scored well into the "probably have Aspergers" range myself, but somehow managed to avoid the obnoxious (at least I hope I have) arrogance that so many Aspies exhibit in all or many facets of life, not just their atheism.

Anyway, I suspect that virulent atheism (not the easy-going, no big deal, humanistic kind) attracts people who are already virulently obnoxious in many ways. It's not the atheism that makes them that way - they arrived at atheism already so inclined.
Edited Date: 2017-05-09 02:05 am (UTC)
paw_prints: (Default)

From: [personal profile] paw_prints

I just tried to write something very similar about missing something that others have (what you term the "god spot"), but I gave up and deleted that bit of my reply. My extended family are SUPER religious and growing up I always felt like I must be wired up wrong or missing something that I just couldn't get it... couldn't feel or experience what they were. It was all going through the motions for me, there was no integrity involved, which made me feel like a fraud and an imposter.
zasu: (Default)

From: [personal profile] zasu

Luckily for me, my extended family aren't super religious - just a little bit. And their particular brand of religion, Christian Science, is actually very open and accepting of all other religions. Or of not being religious. They believe the bible is only a collection of apocryphal stories meant to educate and guide, but not any more magical or set in stone than Aesop's Fables or Greek mythology. They also don't believe in prayer, since they believe that every thought and action one does is a conversation with God, which they call "our Father and Mother."

It's kind of a neat religion, other than the whole needing to believe in a spiritual being who oversees all. People think CS's are faith healers, but they actually just believe that the physical world, including our bodies, isn't real - we just think it is, and we create our own reality through our beliefs. God is love, and man was created in the image of God. God is perfect, therefore man is perfect, and when we become ill, it's because we've allowed doubt of God's love and of Man's perfection to creep in. When they "pray" over a sick person, they're not appealing to God for help, they're just trying to remind the sick person of God's, and their own love and perfection.

Anyway, sorry - this turned into a big long thing about Christian Science. LOL. But even with me thinking this is kind of a cool religion as far as religions go, I just can't get into it, because, like you, I'm missing that wiring in my brain for spirituality and ritual of any type that so many people seem to need.
Edited Date: 2017-05-10 01:59 am (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)

From: [personal profile] silveradept

Many thanks for sharing this. And for being an atheist that doesn't have issues about their own superiority.
roarofsilence: (Default)

From: [personal profile] roarofsilence

I think we tend to see a lot of 'smug atheists' because, like someone upthread has said, when people spend a lot of time/effort thinking about something and come to a conclusion, they tend to think they're better because of it as no one else has taken as much time as they have and therefore they know best.

I think the high prevalence among atheists is because I feel like a lot of people are brought up agnostic but have to make a conscious shift to atheism, which takes though and processing and ends up with the result above. Whereas lots of people are brought up in a particular religion, don't really question it much and so aren't so smug about it.

When people do convert to a particular religion etc, I do think there is a similar GENERAL inclination toward fundamentalism and smugness. Which I get: I mean, why bother converting to another way of life unless you're planning to embrace it whole-heartedly?
sunflowerinrain: Singing at the National Railway Museum (Default)

From: [personal profile] sunflowerinrain

Thank you!

I tend to be a bit reticent about my religion because so many friends are strongly something else; some atheist fundamentalists of my acquaintance get very insulting, which I don't mind too much but feel that friends who are followers-of-other-faiths should not have to endure. Your attitude is perfect!
telegramsam: Sarcastic Pee Wee Herman (peeweeblah)

From: [personal profile] telegramsam

Oooh, I know the type you mean.

And I think any person who spends their time endlessly pontificating about their specific beliefs (or lack thereof) is... probably someone I would prefer not to spend a lot of time around.

Because in either case you're dealing with someone who clearly thinks they Know More Than You. And that's not really a good starting point for an actual conversation, anyway.

(FWIW as a not-atheist, I do know the difference between an atheist and an anti-theist. I never figured you for the latter, you're far too decent and kind. Thankfully *most* of the atheists I've known aren't the shouty variety, I don't think they're even close to the majority - just the loudest.)
mysterysquid: (Default)

From: [personal profile] mysterysquid

Well put.

And seconded - except for the Catholic school bit.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

From: [personal profile] davidgillon

Still catching up, and just wanted to say how much I liked this for articulating something that's always bugged me. If you think your moral choices are superior, then shouldn't their very superiority stop you using them to claim superiority over other people? (Looking at you, Richard Dawkins...).