Why do Atheists ridicule religion and people of faith?

A post on Facebook started simply enough:

If you think prayer can cure cancer, why didn’t prayer prevent it? Did the tumors start growing the day you forgot to pray you wouldn’t get cancer? I just don’t understand the premise, nor the false comfort it seems to brings to those who accept it.

Facebook Post

The first comments came from likeminded people who had a propensity for snark. But then came the inevitable _friend_ who found the post and comments questionable. He wrote:

A question for all of you. What is it that so many Atheists get out of ridiculing religion and people of faith? I couldn’t care less about what other people believe or don’t, spiritually – but I don’t understand your apparent need to feel intellectually or morally superior to other people. To be so convinced you are right about the absolute non-existence of God, or some superior intelligence seems supremely arrogant to me. And the faith you have in your beliefs seems strangely religious and even fundamentalist.

That’s a question I see often, especially by religious people are offended by some of the things Atheists say. I’ve also found that even the term Freethinker is offensive to some of my Christian friends, even though it’s not meant to be.

In theory, a Christian could be a Freethinker if they lived open-mindedly and determined that Christianity made the most sense to them and represented the best truth – at lease at that moment. Of course, I say in theory, because the true nature of Christianity and other religions is ultimately tyranny of the mind.

But I digress.

Two people replied to the question, and I thought their responses were so good, that I’d share them here.

1st Response

There is no evidence for the existence of beings we call gods. you wouldn’t say it’s supremely arrogant to not believe in the existence of unicorns an fairies, would you? You don’t _believe_ 2+2=4, but if someone insisted to em it was 3, yeah, I suppose I might come off as a bit fundamentalist about it.

A large portion of the world believes that a fucking fairy tale is literally real. Each major religion (and individual exclusive sects within) are bent on making the world in their image, at times with violence and force. So you can imagine how we atheists would get pretty sick of such idiocy being paraded around as truth.

At least our “weapons” are words, humor and snark. Despite the term “militant atheist” being thrown around, atheists don’t advocate for violence against believers. They have every right to believe as they will, and we have every right to point out to them how stupid it is because having a right doesn’t free a person from consequence.

2nd Response

It’s frustration at all the energies and passion going into something completely unreal. It’s that religion blocks progress. It’s that American religious communities have become overtly political. It’s that we atheists cannot expect salvation so we rely on continuity instead. That continuity is threatened by American religiosity, especially in relation to serious issues like climate change, gun control, and providing health care to the needy. It’s that Americans’ sense of religiosity has been twisted by marketers and politicians into something that is not religion at all.

So let me ask you, why do so many in America hold onto cultures that bear little to no resemblance to the religions that sparked them in the first place?

It thought both responses were spot on, and they represent why many atheists don’t hold back when they observe what they perceive as the absurd.

The “New Atheists” are not what you think

When most people think of the New Atheists they think of Hitchens and quasi-militants. However, the title New Atheists belongs to a different group of people. Richard Haynes of Atheist Nexus wrote an amazing post on who that group is, and provided seven clarifications of these newer atheists – all of which I identify with.

  1. Atheism is not a religion.
  2. Newer atheists are not militant.
  3. Newer atheists are not ignorant of history, nor are they doomed to repeat it.
  4. People do not become atheists because of traumatic experiences with church.
  5. The decision to become an atheist is proceeded by great fear and emotional heartache.
  6. Many “newer atheists” long for the sense of community they felt in church.
  7. Newer atheists are open-minded and desire honest discussion with believers.

This list is just a list without his full explanations. I encourage you to go read hist post now: Understanding Newer Atheists

Questioning the Soul

Excerpt from Annabel’s post, Why I am an atheist.

And one day, I finally caved to my doubts and actually considered a question that had been hanging around at the edge of my consciousness for years. It’s accepted among most Christians that humans are the only human beings to have souls. Dogs, cats, horses, goldfish – nothing. Chimps, nothing. We assume the Australopithecines had no soul. So what about Homo habilis? Or Homo erectus? No. So when had the soul appeared? Which individual was the first Homo sapiens and had the first soul? Of course, I knew that was a ridiculous question. But it had to be asked, because if there was no soul, there could be no afterlife. No heaven, or hell. And if there was no afterlife, there was no god, and it was all an invention of people who were afraid of death, and so convinced themselves that they would live forever.

My Human Condition: A Letter to a Friend

I recently emailed a friend who was interested in learning about my loss of faith. This is what I wrote him.

Chris,

As with most things in our life, Dan B. had a role to play. He’s probably the person who pushed me to think more critically about what I believe. I’ve basically told him this, but he has yet to respond to me – either through fear of believing he could play that part in someone’s life like that or quite possibly he doesn’t even care. Other than that, I would say that my journey away from believing started with George Bush. Sounds silly, but it was then that I was able to see all too clearly what religion, politics and fear can do to people. It controls them, irrationally so. It was then that I knew if I were going to understand any type of truth – truth being a life quest for me – I would have to break myself away from “fear” itself. Fear of death, damnation, etc…, because ultimately, it was that fear that controlled my beliefs and actions. One of my favorite bands, Over the Rhine, put my situation into vivid perspective with the lyrics from their song Spark

Obsessions with self-preservation
Faded when I threw my fear away
It’s not a thing you can imagine

You either lose your fear
Or spend your life with one foot in the grave
Is God the last romantic?

Through my loss of fear – not all fear mind you – I was able to pursue the truth about my religious beliefs. What I found, through much contemplation and much reading, was that we are superstitious beings that have an insatiable desire for hope and meaning in our life, and for most people, like myself, religion has been the antidote. However, as I slowly learned, Christianity was no different from any other system of supernatural and meta-physical belief – in that it became obvious it was simply a form of superstition and an attempt for humankind to make sense of their existence.

The problem with any religion is that it requires belief, not facts. All religions, including Christianity at its core, are simply make-believe. For example, there’s literally no difference between a relationship with Jesus or God and that of an imaginary friend, because they are imaginary friends. I have to say that weening myself from my adult imaginary friend, Jesus, was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, and I experienced the loss that someone would experience with the death of real person.

Simply put, there is no religion that can stand up to rational and logical thought, which is where I choose to put my faith for the time being – that of a skeptic and a freethinker. It’s currently the only thing with substance and which makes sense to me. I also throw “agnosticism” into that mix, because I don’t believe for one second that I know why I exist, the true meaning of life or how everything got here. However, I can say with certainty, that there is no evidence for the existence of god or gods and religion is obviously a human-made coping mechanism for the condition and experience we call “life.”