Friday, December 07, 2007

Why Are Atheists So Angry?

A response to Dinesh D'Souza's post, "Why Are Atheists So Angry."

Dinesh, you say "angry" like it's a bad thing. Is that so? Is anger really a sign of moral failing as you imply?

If so, why is it that Christians and the authors of Scripture so often wax eloquent about the "wrath of God"?

Let's say you had a dog that got into the garbage, or did something else worthy of punishment. In response, you rig up a system by which you can keep the dog continually in agony without killing him. And let's say that for ten years you listen to the dog's howls of torment with teeth gritted in fury thinking, 'You deserve it, you bastard!' before your wrath is sated and you can put the dog out of its misery.

You'd have to be awfully mad at that dog to do that, wouldn't you? Most likely, anger and vindictiveness like that is not something you would really be capable of. You or nearly any human being, save for the sort a sane society would have to keep trussed up like Hannibal Lechter in "Silence of the Lambs."

Now, the canonical Gospels portray Jesus (that great icon of peace and mercy) as claiming that God will torture people in fire *forever* for failing to have the proper set of beliefs. After Gandhi has screamed in agony for ten trillion years for the crime of believing in the wrong deities, King Tutankhamun for having been born a few centuries before Yahweh decided to start any of his One True Religions, etc., the nightmare is only just beginning.

Yahweh will continue to hear the cries of the damned with teeth gritted in fury thinking, 'You deserve it, you bastards!'...forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. If the New Testament is to be believed, the creator of hundreds of billions of galaxies will never, ever be at peace in his own heart (or equivalent thereof), for all eternity.

While he may dote on the relative handful of people who managed to grovel before him in the proper way so as to become his little pets, he will still spend all of eternity seething with wrath at the majority of his children, whom he tortures unrelentingly.

Think about that for a moment. Think about the sheer magnitude of hate, anger, and sadism it would take for any being to want any other being to suffer so horribly, and keep right on suffering, forever.

Now, if you are going to worship a being whom you believe manifests anger and hate on this level and call this being the epitome of moral perfection, what basis could you possibly have for criticizing the anger of an atheist who merely writes commentary in a book?

You imply that atheists are hypocritical, since they cannot really believe God does not exist if they're so angry at him. The immediate flaw in this 'analysis' is that if atheists "really" believed in God (and did not choose to toady before him in hopes of currying his favor), their response would be one of stark terror, unless they had some expectation of being able to defeat God somehow. At the very least, we would expect "atheists-who-really-believe-in-god" to invest in a chariot of iron (Judges 1:19).

"Atheism" as an untrue denial by someone who actually believes in God would be silliness on the par of a capitalist in Stalin's Russia saying, "Bah! Stalin doesn't exist!"

That is, if we define "God" as some omnipotent super-spirit of the Universe. It is quite possible and rational to say that the Biblical God does exist--as an idea. People can hate ideas and the practical results of those ideas without agreeing that the ideas are true. In fact, it is more common for people to hate ideas they genuinely consider to be false. Or would you accuse the people who show up at Ku Klux Klan rallies to shout angrily at the Klansmen of being closet racists themselves?

As to the claim that the Biblical deity exists as anything other than an idea in people's heads:

You feel a stabbing pain in your side, and you think it could be appendicitis. Quick! What do you do?

A) Call the elders of the church so you can be healed by the prayer of faith (James 5:14-15)

B) Call 911 and have an ambulance take you to the hospital

If you chose "B," you are acting on the premise that the passage in James is inaccurate, that healing comes from science and reason and human effort, rather than the miraculous power of God. Oh, you can try to give God credit for the surgeon's skill afterwards (regardless of whether the surgeon was an atheist or a Hindu or some brand of Christian you consider to be heretical), but when push comes to shove, you trust in "the arm of man" rather than in God.

You live in the same godless Universe we do.