Why do atheists make assumptions that are unfair?

I am a Christian, but not a practicing one. I do believe in a connectiveness in our world that may go beyond our human understanding. Call it God, Allah, Brahman, what have you, but I have faith in something beyond this life. I have Atheist friends and I do not find them at all wrong, or think less of them, they simply have a different belief system than I do. What bothers me is that I often hear Atheist snicker and refer to people of faith as ignorant, foolish, not educated, and gullible. As if we are less evolved. I am highly educated, and I do not believe the Bible to be spoken truth,or that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. And I understand it is not easy speaking your mind as an Atheist, and that religion is given a bit too much power, but I think there is a nasty habit to lash back at all people of Faith and to see them as stupid, or not evolved. So the question is since Atheists have yet to prove God doesn’t exist, why does it seem Atheists are quick to judge those who believe?

Posted: October 22nd 2008

Dave Hitt www

What bothers me is that I often hear Atheist snicker and refer to people of faith as ignorant, foolish, not educated, and gullible.

That’s because so many of them are. Not all of them, of course, but a significant percentage. Judging people by the group they’re in instead of as an individual is a pretty common human failing, and we are pretty common humans.

Some people who are new to atheism are as obnoxious about it as someone new to fundamentalism. They assume that anyone with unsupportable faith is a blithering idiot. I was guilty of that myself, but very very quickly (in a matter of months) realized that I was being the idiot, and there were many fine, intelligent, cool people who were also religious. While we would never agree on the question of God, there were plenty of other things we could agree on.

Posted: November 13th 2008

See all questions answered by Dave Hitt

flagellant www

Here are some serious questions for you: how did you become a Christian? Did you ever practise? Why are you still a Christian? Why don’t you practise now? Think about these questions carefully. I’ll suggest some possible atheist answers later.

Of course, there are things about nature which we don’t currently understand. This has always been the way: earlier, less-informed people used to think that disease, storms and earthquakes were punishments from God. Secularists see these as bizarre, unsupportable, and arbitrary explanations of natural phenomena, given our recent knowledge of bacteria and viruses, weather systems, and plate tectonics.

The more knowledge we as a species acquire, the less likely a 'God’ seems to be: the chances are vanishingly small. And the closer scientists are to biology, the more likely they are to be atheists. This is not an appeal to authority but a statement about how deeper knowledge leads to rational understanding.

If atheists think believers gullible, this is hardly surprising; you (I hope) think faith in astrology is misplaced, given that there’s no genuine evidence in its favour. People who believe in astrology, or 'God’ for that matter, do so despite the lack of supporting evidence and the variety and strength of criticisms. They believe for no better reason than that they’d like to believe it. The onus for believers ('hopers’, in that they can do little more than hope they’re right) is to show that 'God’ exists, not for atheists to disprove 'him’/'her’/'it’. A feeling or hope just isn’t good enough.

It appears that you, as a non-practising Christian, have discarded the more obviously risible concepts: the Nicene Creed, the arbitrary vengeful nature of 'God’, and hellfire, for example. However, you continue to cling to some fluffy feelings that have no justification. You wouldn’t claim special status for religious 'truths’, would you, just because of a feeling you have? You wouldn’t do that for any other part of your life, so you ought to understand and appreciate atheist scepticism.

Isn’t it rather more likely that you are well on the way to atheism yourself? Finding some atheists objectionable – I have this difficulty myself – isn’t a reason for rejecting the argument; it’s more a matter of looking at the evidence, or lack of it, more objectively.

Posted: October 24th 2008

See all questions answered by flagellant


First of all, the vast majority of people are religious solely because their parents were religious. It’s hard to respect somebody for a belief that they have simply because somebody told them that it was true.

You answered part of your question yourself. Atheists are a minority in most countries (though some European countries have a lot of non-believers), and are therefore subject to the decisions of the religious majority. If these are religiously-based opinions, then they can have a big effect on public policy. So, that’s part of it.

At the end of your question you ask,

So the question is since Atheists have yet to prove God doesn’t exist, why does it seem Atheists are quick to judge those who believe?

That you ask that question is a pretty good indication to me that despite your description of yourself, you haven’t really thought hard about the nature of religious belief in general. I’ll get you started…

When it comes to existence claims, one cannot prove a negative. You cannot, for example, prove that there isn’t an invisible pink unicorn on your front lawn.

There are also an infinity of things that could exist, and only a small number of things that do exist.

It therefore falls on the person making the positive claim – in this case a claim for the existence of god – to provide evidence. Until that evidence is forthcoming, the only rational choice is to withhold belief.

Or, to put it another way, one cannot believe in everything that could exist, and therefore one has to have a standard to use to decide what does exist – that standard is evidence.

My guess is that you apply that standard to many things in your life, but you use faith only with respect to god.

Finally, you seem to be asking for respect for your beliefs. Why do you think you deserve respect for beliefs that don’t have a rational basis?

Posted: October 23rd 2008

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

SmartLX www

Atheists come to various conclusions based on the fact that believers each accept something which atheists think is completely unsupported by available evidence, if not flat out wrong. These conclusions can take the form of the derogatory adjectives you listed, especially in response to anti-atheist rhetoric. Let’s look at them carefully.

  • “Ignorant” simply means that there is something they don’t know, and need not be an insult at all. Richard Dawkins has unashamedly said that those who deny evolution are “ignorant, insane or stupid”. His intent is for creationists to pick “ignorant” out of the three, and go and read about biology. Ignorance, unlike the other two, can be easily fixed.
  • “Foolish” and “gullible” relate to many believers’ decisions to accept doctrines, donate money, deny their children medical care, blow themselves up and so on in the face of no evidence, clear contradictory evidence or sometimes outright fraud. Religious belief itself, if wrong, isn’t necessarily foolish or gullible; it might be incorrectly reasoned, correctly reasoned from incorrect premises, drilled in from a young age, etc. Many religiously motivated acts are foolish, but not all believers are fools. (Compare this to the all-encompassing first line of Psalm 14: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”)
  • There is data to suggest a “negative correlation between education and religiosity”:http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=%22correlation+between+education+and+religiosity%22&btnG=Google+Search but of course not all religious people are uneducated. It comes back to the point about ignorance: the idea is that if religious people could be educated about subjects related to their beliefs, many would find ample reason to abandon them.

All of these terms may well be used simply as insults, and that’s not on. However you will often find the terms appear justified by the actions of the subjects. Please consider the context in future.

Posted: October 22nd 2008

See all questions answered by SmartLX


But you are making unfair assumptions, yourself! Is there an official atheistic organization that promulgates such a perception of religious believers? Is there an official book claiming such an opinion? Of course there isn’t!

And if it makes you feel any better, I know of at least one atheist that is so blinkered that it is depressing being with her. Though possessing at least average intelligence, she clings to ignorance with a vengeance. And I know 'fuzzies’ (a descriptive term coined by Daniel Dennet to cover folks whose religious beliefs are hard to pin down) like you, who are very intelligent.

However, atheists are now being upfront and clear in their criticism of non-evidential faith. Criticizing that aspect does not mean that such critics are equating faith believers with being stupid though the beliefs themselves are quite stupid. And believe me, despite being an atheist, I can certainly hold some stupid beliefs also. Though holding such beliefs do not make me stupid.

In addition, the burden for proving god’s existence is on the believer.

Posted: October 22nd 2008

See all questions answered by logicel


Is your atheism a problem in your religious family or school?
Talk about it at the atheist nexus forum