The falsities of a nicompoop

There is a war of ideas being waged. The war has small players and big players, rich and poor, famous and regular. When such a war of ideas is waged respect toward your opponent can take the battle lines forward. It can give you the higher ground in debates that otherwise have no other outcome than pointless screaming combined with the sticking of fingers in ears.

Such is this post: http://jeffshort.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/why-there-are-atheists/

Jeff makes three points in prose form that can be summarised in point form (no surprises there). He asserts that there are atheists only because:

  • Atheists are attention seekers. Being different affords them attention they would not have gotten otherwise.
  • Atheists love to argue, and that is why they become atheists, just to annoy and argue with theists
  • Atheists want ultimate freedom from god, and want to do just as they please as long as they can get away with it and answer to no one.

Attention Seeking

"I’m afraid to say, there are people who use atheism as means of getting attention. And make no mistake, someone professing atheism gets lots of attention."

There isn't much support for this claim, but I will elaborate on my experiences. I generally don't seek out discussions about religion. It is something that is unfortunately annoyingly pervasive. Pretending just to make people happy and nodding and smiling gets old after a while. Then you state it openly. "I am an atheist". That singular statement is all I ever really want to express. The reason is simple. I want to have a pleasant time with everyone free from discussions that will make them angry and compromise our brief/professional/happenstance social encounter. It is usually the believers that choose to start a conversation about religion at this point. Often I just nip it in the bud with a "I don't want to talk about it". In person I don't want to go around making enemies. It is horrible to know that your lack of belief will cause people to dislike you and discriminate against you unfairly or start lengthy debates all the time, so it is often wiser and easier to just hide it. Sometimes though, you just have to speak up. 

When I am online it is different. This is where the war of ideas is being waged. I will engage with people online because here I don't owe anyone the courtesy of respecting their belief systems. I don't work with them nor are they my family. This means we can get straight to the meat and potatoes and discuss the issues. Far from seeking attention, it is a process of learning and adjusting points of view.

The love of arguing


"I’d assert that they are atheists mostly because they like to argue, and that their profession of atheism supplies them with plenty of opponents to argue with all day long. We see this especially today with the New Atheists and their followers. Theses guys (and some cases, gals) like to argue, a lot."


I love to argue, but only if it is a peaceful discussion where both sides of the argument are contributing something interesting. I have had many arguments like these. My best arguments are the ones I have lost, because they have afforded me extra direction on the path towards truth. Conversations with believers hardly ever hit these lofty levels of debate. It is no fun being called a commie baby eating satan worshipping nazi. It often boils down to that, although I did exaggerate with the baby eating bit. Creative license and all that. 

The point of arguing is not just to argue, but to find the truth. If you hold the truth I want it for myself. I want to know why it is true and why I should believe it. I want the knowledge you have that gives you the upper hand. As proven time and again though, believers hold no special knowledge, always repeat the same tired old bullshit, frustrate and irritate atheists and bask in their own pools of ignorant certitude. A believer almost never concedes a point, almost never adds anything interesting atheists have not heard before, and are generally condescending, self righteous, hypocritical, factually incorrect and intellectually dishonest. I have even been threatened with physical violence, though in the empty trollish online format, not in person. Hint: It is still very unpleasant.

In an atheist's quest to find out why believers are so sure of themselves, they only find self delusion. In some hopeless attempt to find some better reasons for belief or convincing believers that belief in a deity is irrational, some atheists carry on talking to believers. More often than not though, we are merely defending the values we hold and dispelling the myths and lies constantly propagated about atheism.Gay people should be allowed to marry, atheists are not nazis, and the earth is not five thousand years old.

Freedom from God


"One of the strongest motivating factors towards atheism is an overly exaggerated conception of freedom. For atheists, the idea of a Higher Authority, the concept of a Moral Lawgiver, or basically a Supreme Being over them is repulsive."

Contrary to this point, when I relinquished my faith I felt feelings of extreme fear and anxiety because the world no longer had a handler. People don't become atheists for this freedom. This freedom comes at a cost. There is no longer an afterlife, no longer a plan B, no longer will "everything happen for a reason", no longer will god fix everything up in the end or deal out ultimate justice to evil. When you become an atheist your entire world first comes crashing down. 

The freedom comes after a while. Sex is better, thinking is clearer, the world becomes more interesting, and there are no more ghosts, demons, angels, heaven, hell and all that garbage. It really does take a while to realise this freedom but it shouldn't be understated. It is an amazing feeling. What it doesn't mean is that we don't get to answer to anyone. 

We get to answer to ourselves and our fellow human beings. Humanistic values favour humanity above all else. god's rules do not apply. What is good for our species? What is good for our ecosystems? How can we make our one and only life on our one and only home better for us and everyone else? Knowing that you have the mechanism of making even the smallest change matters deeply. It makes life profound and invaluable, not just a little hiccup before an eternal life in some cloudy utopia.

Conclusion


Jeff is not only a nincompoop for getting everything wrong, he has bigoted feelings toward atheists. He has sour grapes (butthurt) because atheists don't leave him alone when he steps in their private space. He doesn't like the idea of dissent, which is nothing new in religion. He even disables comments on his blog. There is only a like button. Like it or shut up seems to sum up the attitude of the religious. The only thing new about new atheism is the internet, and for the first time atheists are coming out and giving their points of view. The fact that people like Jeff have to resort to cheap shots such as the poorly linked blog post is telling. In the war of ideas it seems, we are gaining ground. 

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