The third of the three Apologetics Fails #6: Atheists Hate God
A frequent attack on atheists (and sometimes agnostics) is that atheists hate God, hate Christianity/Islam/put a religion here, or hate Christians/Muslims, &c. This is frequently framed in terms of religious apologetics (atheists just want to sin, therefore atheists hate the godly, &c). A variant of that is when an adolescent or child says they don’t believe in (any) god, they are told “you’ll grow out of it” (I was told that around age twelve or so by my grandmother), as if it’s a phase.
It is something of a special pleading fallacy on behalf of religion. I don’t hate the former theory of spontaneous generation, or ridiculous claims of a flat earth. The first was simply debunked when more information came about through experimentation, the second is ludicrous, but I don’t hate either proposition or their adherents.
The attack of course is baseless, but plays well with religious people to reinforce their beliefs about us. That plays a great part in why polling consistently shows atheists to be less trusted in the USA than rapists and paedophiles. With an entire propaganda network of priests, pastors, magazines, television and radio shows, communities, &c constantly reinforcing the refrain “atheists hate Christians,” it is not surprising that said Christians in the USA believe it. That in turn reinforces atheists staying out of sight, and when one pokes his or her head up, gets it (figuratively or sometimes literally) lopped off.
When faced with someone who does not fit the stereotype of “atheists hate Christians” (such as my wife and me in my tiny village), the religious belief has to be protected at all costs. “You’re the exceptions that prove the rule” or “But you’re good ones.” That allows the religious person to ignore the black swan sitting right in front of them so they can continue to generalise all the strawman white swan atheists they’ve been told about all their lives.
That is sometimes expressed in the colloquialism “Propaganda is a helluva drug.”
It is awfully tough to hate something you don’t believe in (a god). You can certainly dislike the structures (religions and churches) that support an unfounded assertion of a god (and oftentimes support and defend corrupt leaders), but hating a god? I don’t think I ever met an atheist that would claim “I hate Kail-ma. I really hate Odin, and I absolutely despise Zeus.” (Is that the gods they’re talking about? Do Christians or Muslims hate Odin, or do they simply not believe in Odin?)
As for hating religious people, that is also an untrue statement concerning the vast majority of atheists. It is not atheists who end family relationships and friendships over religion: Almost universally it is the religious who end those relationships when they find a member is an atheist.
A personal story: All of my cousins have disowned me. My eldest cousin has dropped me for daring to vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Dr. Jill Stein. My other four cousins have all disowned me over atheism long ago. (They are also working on my aunt to try to get her to disown me as well, but my aunt still likes me.)
That atheism was outed in a circuitous way (since it is often dangerous to relationships or jobs if you do come out as I’m already aware). It came about from my religious cousins asking me why I defended my sister’s “lifestyle choice” (back to that phrase I used before “when did you choose to be straight”). Defending her turned to my religion, and I decided I wasn’t going to lie about it anymore. That was it: They could somehow see that my sister was somehow “redeemable,” but atheist is too far. They have never spoken to me again (it’s been more than twenty years, except for my eldest cousin who dropped me last November as noted above). The only family members who will have anything to do with me is my wife, my mother, and my sister (and my in-laws from my wife and my sister).
I cannot count the times I’ve been called evil, physically threatened, told (when he was a child) my son could not play with other people’s children, &c. I received threats in the Eighties when I ran a computer BBS (remember those) on freethinking and scepticism that was profiled in the local newspaper (that resulted in my sudden transfer to Navy recruiting duty to a different state, to get away from the threats).
None of those relationships were ended by me. They were all ended by others when they found I was an atheist. While I am not owed a relationship with anyone (even my family), the reason given (atheism) is a protective method for their faith. Atheism stands as an open rebuke of everything the religious person believes in, and to defend the religious belief, that person will even throw family members out rather than come to terms with the idea that someone doesn’t believe as they.
You could even write it up thus:
a] My religion says you need God to be good.
b] There is a person who is good without God.
c] Therefore, I need to reject that person, because I cannot reject premise a, it is part of who I am.
That is because a person confuses what they believe (whether supported with evidence or not) with who they are. Even if I made virulent attacks on the foundations of religious faith directly to my family and friends (I don’t except for copying these apologetics fails to certain ones), that is not an attack on the person. Many religious people centre their entire identity on what they believe; they precisely view it as an attack on who they are.
Politics sometimes suffers the same problem, but never to the degree of religion. Most people can hold different political views, even get into heated arguments over those views, and still remain friends. It is why my Libertarian Party wife and my socialist self can have some really knock-down, drag-out political or economics arguments, but we still love each other deeply. Our political positions are not who we are. For that matter, neither is our atheism.
There are numerous videos collecting news clips on YouTube of people who have been denied housing, fired from jobs, disowned by families, &c, all for believing differently than they. There are also news segments where television presenters in the USA tell people how hateful atheists are when they do things like demand the I Amendment be respected in regard to religious iconography on public property.
Goes to The Atheist Experience YouTube channel, 10:27
The reason I put this video clip up is to note it is others who end relationships with atheists, not the other way round. The clip is of a woman calling into the show, who’s family several hundreds of miles away called her to tell her they disowned her en masse a few days before. She breaks down crying on the show as she relates her story to the hosts.
One advantage of the Internet today (if we can maintain Net Neutrality) is that atheists can find each other. Atheists have often been described as “the last group it is okay to discriminate against in the USA.”