Am I An Angry Atheist? No, I'm Just Mad as Hell and You Might Be Too.

Atheists are typically described as being angry people. I don't know whether any scientific polls have been done on this but it stands to reason some of us are. While some level of anger isn't healthy, I'm angry to some degree. It's part of what motivates me and many other skeptics. Passion. It's a great motivator if kept in check. But I'm not angry at a God who does not exist just as Christians are not mad at Allah. Nor am I angry with believers as a whole. I know many good Christian people.


I have met some angry atheists though, who are angry at the very people who taught them to believe. I have never been angry at this. The people who taught us to believe didn't know any better. They just taught us what they were taught to believe. They did not think they were teaching us to believe lies.

So what am I angry about? Several things off the top of my head (in no particular order):

I am angry at ignorance and uncritical thinking.
I am angry at what the church has done in the name of God.
I am angry at the oppression of women due to religious beliefs.
I am angry at the suppression of scientific progress.
I am angry at the political power of the religious right in America.
I am angry at the witch-hunts taking place in Africa at the hands of evangelicals.
I am angry at how some believers demonize non-believers today.
I am also angry, in some sense, that I basically wasted much of my whole life on Christianity, as a student, preacher, defender and now even as a debunker. I hope my story and my arguments can keep many young people from going down the same path so they can enjoy a more fruitful and productive life (not that I haven't experienced this to a great degree).

In some ways I picture the very people who suffered greatly at the hands of a once powerful church so that I can have the freedom to speak out against these kinds of injustices. I will not let their blood be shed for nothing. I picture the sufferings of the heretics during the Inquisition, or the medieval witch hunts, and it motivates me to speak out on their behalf.

Again, I'm not angry with God or believers as a whole. I'm mad as hell at the delusional and barbaric beliefs they hold to which cause brainwashed believers to commit horrible deeds in the name of faith. If you were to see it from my perspective you might be mad as hell too.

Khan in the Star Trek movie The Wrath of Khan expresses this anger very well. Okay, okay, maybe that's a little over the top. ;-)

14 comments:

Stephanie said...

John, I could have written this post. I'm angry for all the same reasons. My anger stems more from the feelings of hopelessness from witnessing people being completely unaware of the real world they live in. Their minds have been hijacked and manipulated into thinking nonsense. It pains me I can't do anything about it. I'm angry.

Cole Houx said...

I just let it go. When my enemies anger me I just remember that God said "Vengeance is mine, I will repay. Rather if your enemy is hungry feed him."

I turn it over to God and let Him deal with it however He sees fit. Granted, I don't think God takes His wrath out on people today. I think that since the comming judgment on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. when God poured out His wrath and destroyed the temple through the Romans the old Jewish Age came to an end. We now live in a new age where God's wrath will be poured out in the future at the end of history to torment and then annihilate the reprobate. Jesus said "Let him who has no sin cast the first stone."

I also believe in healthy anger but it's not something that I hold onto for long and let it drive my life. God's anger only lasts for a moment. His mercy endures forever.

Jer said...

God's anger only lasts for a moment. His mercy endures forever.

Except for the people in Hell, of course.

stamati anagnostou said...

Unless of course you're in hell, in which case that situation is somewhat... reversed. Cole, I don't think John is driven by wrath but by the desire for justice and progress in the world. Your attitude as expressed in this post makes me angry, actually, because I see it as just another way that people make excuses for floating through life without taking any responsibility for it into their own hands. I'm angry because it seems to me to be a waste of a life.

Cole Houx said...

Like I said I don't believe the Bible teaches eternal concious punishment of the reprobate. They will perish in the end.

I take responsibility for my actions. I just don't hold on to my anger and let it be the driving force behind my actions. I've learned to let Go and let God.

Mark Plus said...

Cole Haux writes:

Like I said I don't believe the Bible teaches eternal concious punishment of the reprobate. They will perish in the end.

So, Annihilationists say that the materialist philosophers got it partly right after all? Then why don't they add De rerum natura (at least Book III) to their bibles?

Therefore death to us
Is nothing, nor concerns us in the least,
Since nature of mind is mortal evermore.
And just as in the ages gone before
We felt no touch of ill, when all sides round
To battle came the Carthaginian host,
And the times, shaken by tumultuous war,
Under the aery coasts of arching heaven
Shuddered and trembled, and all humankind
Doubted to which the empery should fall
By land and sea, thus when we are no more,
When comes that sundering of our body and soul
Through which we're fashioned to a single state,
Verily naught to us, us then no more,
Can come to pass, naught move our senses then-
No, not if earth confounded were with sea,
And sea with heaven.

Tyro said...

"Angry" huh? That seems to be applied to any minority group that seeks to upset a prejudiced status quo. It's good company to keep

stamati anagnostou said...

As Mark would say: "But Cole, at least their lives would have meaning if they spent eternity in hell." ;)

But more to the point, I agree with John that anger can be funneled productively, and I also agree with Cole in that it is best to know when to be angry and when to let it go.

Piratefish said...

In Marlene Winell's book she says if you don't have anger, you don't know what's right and wrong, I think it's true. Do you think John, atheists having anger at the level of Pat Condell is rational and justified?

http://www.youtube.com/user/patcondell

Not that I didn't like him, I do.

John W. Loftus said...

One thing about Pat Condell is that he has balls! We need everyone in our common fight.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

This was written:
"I am angry at how some believers demonize non-believers today."

Then this was written:

"Again, I'm not angry with God or believers as a whole. I'm mad as hell at the delusional and barbaric beliefs they hold to which cause brainwashed believers to commit horrible deeds in the name of faith."

One cannot escape the pattern of condemnation and hypocrisy by natural means. We can always use our woundedness to justify 'demonizing' those we view in enmity or antagonistic towards us. I do agree that anger can serve as an impetus to either perpetuate the same cycle of 'fight' or 'flight' and 'survival of the fittest', but there is a third option to be rescued from this destructive, repeat pattern if one desires.

Good luck,
3M

goprairie said...

I'm pretty angry at Pat Robertson and his followers today.

Stephanie said...

I love Pat Condel. He's amazing! He fires me up when I'm feeling down.

Cole Houx, I'm glad you can let go of your anger to your imaginary friend. However, Atheists don't believe in imaginary friends. So we are stuck with dealing with our anger like rational adults. We find real and tangible solutions.

I'm angry at Pat Robinson too. What an vile and despicable person. I'm angry at his followers and the 50 million other Fundamentalists in this country. However, I was totally SHOCKED that some Christian leaders (Graham and others) have spoke out against Pat on ABC News w/ George Stephanapoulos. It's about time that they voiced their disgust at the Christian Right. I'm hoping this will be the start of a push back against the Christian Right in this country.

srizals said...

About a small percentage of Malaysia population, which is Roman Catholic Christians, mostly of Indian lineage, won their claim in a secular court of using Allah as a reference to God, imagine that, after more than 50 years, they suddenly realized that their god should be called Allah too, imagine that John.

By the way John, could you write something on why Christians invented secularism on the first place or why Romans ended up embracing Christianity after getting bored watching them died in Coliseum, engaged in gladiator’s fight to the death. Should Christians nowadays trust the Romans that persecuted the early Christians and amazingly spread Christianity all over Europe back in the good old days? Thanks.