Sunday, January 16, 2011

Atheists are Arrogant!

I can't tell you how often I have heard "Atheists are arrogant!", or "Atheists don't believe in a god or gods because they only believe in themselves!", or "Atheists don't believe in anything!", and "Atheists don't know how to love others and only love themselves!".  Believe it or not, I can assure you that I have heard theists make these exact claims.  It is hard for me to understand the reason why I keep hearing these statements against atheists, but, to me, it is just liable and slander from people who are ignorant of what atheists actually believe.  I don't even think theists attempt to use this as an argument for anything or to prove a point, but rather these statements are used to sway the fence-sitters to theism by making them think, "Well I couldn't be an atheist because I am not arrogant and I know how to love."  Let me preface my arguments by reminding the readers that atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods.  I cannot stress that point enough (see "Atheism is a Religion!" for an explanation on how atheism and theism are position statements on a single issue).  Let us systematically make our way through the four aforementioned statements.
  1. "Atheists are arrogant!"
This falls into the fallacy of sweeping generalizations.  I do not think that all atheists are arrogant, surely some, but not all.  I have a suspicion that the reason this is said is to suggest that atheists positively say that there is no god or gods.  Turn off your irony meters for a second, but I guess this is try to show the listener that atheists are trying to make a claim they cannot possibly defend.  The positive belief that there are no gods is called strong atheism.  Even saying that "strong atheists are arrogant" is sort of uncalled for.  Even I wouldn't call a theist arrogant unless they said that their view couldn't be changed under any circumstances and asserted their beliefs as absolute truth.

    2.  "Atheists don't believe in a god or gods because they only believe in themselves!"

Correctly stating that atheists lack a belief in a god or gods and then stating, "therefore atheists only believe in themselves," is a complete non-sequitur.  I think that theists sometimes have the notion that because atheists lack a belief in a god or gods, they treat themselves as gods or think they are better than gods.  Maybe some atheist, somewhere, sees themselves as a "god", but that's like saying, because I do not believe in unicorns I think I am one.  This statement is another sweeping generalization if the statement is implying atheists see themselves as gods.  Taken at face value however, of course we believe in ourselves, we're here aren't we?  There is evidence for our respective existences, but under this assessment, theists would have to believe in themselves as well (although the theists may be using a more religious definition of the word "belief", equating the subject of the belief to a greater power).

    3.  "Atheists don't believe in anything!"

Theists believe in a god or gods, therefore they believe in everything.  Perfect logic right?  I may lack a believe in a god or gods, but I hold other beliefs.  I believe that gay marriage should be legalized, I believe that governments should spend more money on education, I believe that we shouldn't be teaching abstinance only education, etc.  I hold a lot of beliefs even though I reject supernatural claims (i.e. gods).  If what the theist is actually trying to say is, "Atheists don't believe in any supernatural entities or anything that there isn't evidence for," then I would agree with the statement.  However, as the statement stands, it is nonsensical.

    4.  "Atheists don't know how to love others and only love themselves!"

I think that theists, mostly Christians, hold a belief that someone cannot love without believing in a god or gods.  I would like someone to explain the causal links from atheism to not being able to love.  Atheism, again, is a single position of skepticism.  If I do not believe in unicorns, what could you possibly tell me about my emotions or any charactistics I have?  Please leave a comment below if you can explain how atheists wouldn't know how to love.

Please e-mail me at brbailey@umd.edu for any reason, I am willing to discuss anything!  Comment below if there is something you do not understand and, more importantly, if I am incorrect.  You may also suggest a topic for me to write a post on if you are interested in a certain topic!  Have a great day!

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