Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Understanding the Angry Atheists

Rabbi Marc Gellman takes a stab at understanding me (an angry atheist) in his latest commentary at Newsweek. His lighthearted respect-me-and-I-will-respect-you opinion piece was a refreshing read. Atheists were not vilified or pilloried as normally happens when a pious person pontificates. No, instead atheists are encouraged to

...see things as Spinoza urged, sub specie aeternitatis—“under the perspective of eternity.”
In other words, atheists are encouraged to get religion. Rabbi Gellman, shame on you. Why am I an angry atheist? Because few days go by without somebody, usually a fundamentalist Christian, attempting to tell me that I am (i) evil, (ii) blind, or (iii) need Jesus. The effort is so insidious, so pervasive, so overwhelming intrusive that in the end, a simmering anger lies just below the surface of my jovial smile. Sometimes it erupts, but rarely in public. For my part, these eruptions take the form of sarcastic commentary. I enjoy poking fun at the insanity of modern fundamentalist Christianity. Humor is my therapy.


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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In this article, the Rabbi says that he doesn't get it. Obviously. I think the reason that most atheists (and agnostics) are uncomfortable with fundamentalists, and particularly the so-called religious right, is not what they believe, but that so many of these people are determined to force their dogmatic beliefs on everyone else in this country. If these people want to go into their churches and hoot and holler and hosanna and jump up and down and roll on the floor aspeakin' in tongues, HALLELUJAH, JEEEESUS!!! that's fine with me. In this country, they have an absolute right to do so. I would be one of the last people to try to deny them that right. If they want to come out of their churches, get involved in the political process, and try to get people like themselves elected to public office, they have the right to do that. And if they want to work with those of their own kind who do get elected to try to get laws and ordinances enacted that would force everyone in this country to live according to their superstition-based moralistic beliefs, they have the right to do that, too. But I believe that I, and every intelligent person in this country, have both the right and obligation to oppose those efforts and to make sure that these poeple never have the chance to turn this country into the kind of ultra-right wing theocracy that so many of them would love to see. That they do not have the right to do. Just look at what's happening in Iran for an example. And I doubt if Rabbi Marc would care to see people with the philosophy of Rabbi Meir Kahane running Israel. Would you?

Mojoey said...

Amen brother - very nicely said.

Simon said...

Just because it's socially acceptable for the leader of our country to talk to his imaginary friend (and boast about it too!) doesn't mean we shouldn't get angry about it.

Alex Merovan said...

Anger in any form is only an attempt to make other's feel guilty. Your anger reaction only points to the fact that you have not found a better way to look at things. The Spinoza quote illustrates an attempt to generalize. Bible thumpers do not know how to generalize. Everything has to be written and nailed down specifically. To them a moral person cannot exist without this form of specificity and enslavement. God does exist with or without scripture or beliefs. God is beyond belief. Be ye a thumper or atheist, you are both wrong but not guilty of anything except ignorance. A small crime. Go and sin no more.

brad said...

Alex,
Your statement "God is beyond belief" is your dogma regarding knowability. Why should we start with this presuposition that God is beyond knowing enough to place our faith in a beleif system. The Judeo-Christian worldview is based on these cultures experience with men and women who were the picture of moral clarity (Moses, Isaiah, jeremiah, Jesus, Paul etc) and who claimed to speak for a God of love and grace. why assume that such a spiritual knowing is impossible. I instead think it is very common and normal. I claim it for myself.


MoJoey has his belief system and I have mine. I think his is wrong and i argue with him. He thinks I am wrong. But of all of us the one who is the most arrogant is you sir.

You think we are fools for even having the gall to make claims to knowing but for myself such knowledge is hard faught and requires much discipline and struggle. Your assumption that such things are beyond knowledge is just a self-righteous psuedo intellectual cop out.

I respect MoJoey for struggling to understand and attempting to be a thinker, but for this un-knowability cop out for that I have no respect. This is a total neglect of all the history of the great men of the world. Such a neglect is the height of egocentric intellectual laziness.