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Why Are Believers So Hostile Toward Atheists?

Atheists get labeled as offensive and bitter when we express anger, when we express hope, morality and meaning. What are believers scared of?

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And happy, moral atheists undercut the truth claims of religion in yet another way -- with the insoluble conundrum of why there are atheists in the first place.

When atheists make it clear that we gave religion a sincere try, that we considered the question seriously and thoughtfully and finally came to the conclusion that the god hypothesis was implausible and unsupported by any good evidence... religious believers then have to come up with an explanation for why God hasn't revealed himself to us. And they either have to conclude once again that God doesn't much care whether people believe in him... or they have to assume that atheists have hardened our hearts against God, out of anger or bitterness. The idea that we're okay without God in our lives? The idea that we're not angry at God for the bad things that happen to us, any more than we're angry at Santa Claus for not giving us a Big Wheel? For many believers, that's intolerable. They have to conclude that we rejected religion, either out of pissy resentment over our lives not turning out how we wanted, or out of selfish resentment over God's moral rules and restrictions. If atheists lead happy lives, it cuts the foundation from the first assumption... and if we lead ethical lives, it cuts the foundation from the second.

So of course these believers are going to reject the idea that atheists can be both moral and happy. And of course, anything that atheists do will get framed as evidence of our bitter, hostile, joyless nihilism. When we express righteous anger at serious injustice being done to ourselves and others... it's evidence of our bitter, hostile, joyless nihilism. When we express our deep sense of morality and compassion and empathy for others... it's evidence of our bitter, hostile, joyless nihilism. And when we express profound, transcendent joy and wonder and gratitude, for existence in general and our lives in particular... it's evidence of our bitter, hostile, joyless nihilism.

It's a very crafty bit of rationalization.

There's just one problem with it.

It's ridiculous.

It's not just unfalsifiable, and therefore a bad hypothesis on that basis alone (although it is that). It's absurd on the face of it. It requires an entirely willful ignorance, a blatant rejection of obvious facts, a deliberate covering of one's eyes and sticking of one's fingers in one's ears, a conscious and entirely sincere willingness to reject reality and substitute one's own.

It is, in a word, untrue.

And if you care whether the things you believe are true, you might want to re-think it.

Read more of Greta Christina at her blog.

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