Social Question

Setanta's avatar

Why are people so obsessed with atheists?

Asked by Setanta (1680points) August 14th, 2016

People act as though atheists were some monolith, all atheists thinking the same, all atheists participating in a belief system (it ain’t necessarily so), all atheists behaving in a predictable manner.

I don’t get it. Categorizing atheists is an activity as effective as herding cats. What is the obsession all about?

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35 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Superstitionists believe that morality comes from their god, and that you can only be moral if you believe in their god.
Atheists are therefore immoral, evil, the scum of the earth, and secret devil worshippers.

Setanta's avatar

But i worship Satan in the broad light of day!

(For the spiritually challenged, that was sarcastic humor.)

elbanditoroso's avatar

Two reasons.

First, the god-believers are so into their world view, that they can’t fathom how anyone else could not share their world view. Sort of like “I have drunk the Kool-aid and it tastes good; I can’t understand why you don’t like the flavor too.

Second, which for some more self-aware people might be related to the first, is jealousy – the god creatures look at the intellectual openness of atheists and compare it to their own closed religious lives – and they envy the freedom that an atheist has.

Now, #2 isn’t true for all, of course, but I think it’s true for some.

But the underlying obsession is befuddlement on the part of the religious is that someone can have a fundamental world view and structure that is different from theirs.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I come from the South and aside from a couple of old ladies, I don’t think I’ve ever met the kind of person you describe in your details. If I have, they certainly didn’t bother to mention any of these prejudices out loud and to my face. Maybe they were afraid to. I have come across a few on the net, however, which is probably due to the false sense of anonymity people have behind their avatars. I don’t really think this is a big problem. Are you sure you aren’t just making a mountain out of a molehill?

kritiper's avatar

Theists are so certain that there is a “God” that they just can’t understand how Atheists could believe that there is no “God.” So much of this is due to the religious brainwashing most Theists undergo in their youth.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

For brownie points with the church .

Seek's avatar

Atheists are a novelty in America, or at least were until fairly recently.

Until certain popular science authors, philosophers, and journalists started publishing books about atheism, and the concept of Humanism gained popularity, most people just kind of went along with the prevailing assumption that everyone believed in a god or gods.

In many families, there was and still is no way to safely “out” yourself as an atheist without experiencing severe or extreme negative reactions.

The Pew Forum has revealed that the number of “nones” – that is, people claiming no specific religion – is growing, as is the number of people who claim that feared word, atheist.

We’re well on our way to not being a novelty anymore, and that is through education and fighting for our Constitutional rights (like running for public office.)

Because we have finally begun to make progress – , there are those standing in the way of that progress. Religious legislators in Virginia wanted to deny atheists high school diplomas unless they recited a pledge including the words “So help me God” – the bill failed. South Carolina wanted to mandate daily prayer in public schools, with the kids’ only recourse being to leave the room (singling them out and causing psychological distress – you know how kids are.)

The louder the religious crowds bark, the more I have to roll my eyes and laugh. It’s a sign of good things to come. Namely, a time when someone isn’t assumed to be religious, where I can buy a 12-pack on my Sunday morning grocery run because the law saying you can’t buy beer until after church has been abolished, and where’s it’s (correctly) considered abuse to send your kid to a religious brainwashing camp if they’re gay.

Until then, I’ll continue to tell the door-knocking Jehovah’s Witnesses that I’m not only an atheist, but an apostate.

Just because it makes them a bit green around the gills.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Because our mere existence challenges peoples faith.
People also greatly misunderstand what it means to be not religious

Kardamom's avatar

Because it scares the sh*t out of them to think that they might be wrong, and that there might not be big Jesus waiting in the clouds for them when they die. Because if that’s true, then their whole lives have been spent thinking and doing things that are not in any way useful (at least not to save them, or to provide them with an afterlife, or to give them rules on how to live).

Sometimes it’s easier to believe something, even if it’s the tooth fairy, or “God” (whatever that means to anyone in particular) than to try to fathom that there isn’t anything driving the car, other than ourselves.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It’s become somewhat clear to me that the categorization of Atheism is most helpful in discussion. People don’t like being lumped into any one category in most subject matter. People seem to want a more clear definition of their beliefs or lack of beliefs. I can understand that.

Setanta's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus What I have described is by inference. If you come ask about atheists, it implies that one expects that there will be one answer for what atheists think and believe. Right there there is a problem—except for those atheists who assert that there is no god, a group which I believe is the minority, it’s not about belief. The majority of atheists are people who don’t believe. So I wasn’t describing a type of person,I was describing the implications of those who haunt the internet. At another site I visit, you get god botherers all the time who show up asking goofy questions about atheists or launching full-out attacks on atheists.

This never comes up in daily life in the real world, I consider it an artifact of the internet.

Pachy's avatar

They’ve gotta believe in something !

Mariah's avatar

I think some religious folks are only prevented by doing shitty things by their fear of hell / whatever punishment their particular religion believes in. So they think atheists have no reason to not murder and rape and shit.

Those people terrify me.

LostInParadise's avatar

Part of the problem is due to militant atheists like Richard Dawkins, who I think set a bad example for the rest of us. Though most of us are willing to defend our beliefs, we do not generally rub people’s faces in them.

ragingloli's avatar

I do not remember Dawkins ever cutting someones head off, or murdering a camp full of children in norway.

LornaLove's avatar

People? I’m not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

” At another site I visit, you get god botherers all the time who show up asking goofy questions about atheists or launching full-out attacks on atheists.” You must be talking about Quora @Setanta. That is the damned goofiest place on earth.

@LostInParadise …we do not generally rub people‚Äôs faces in them. A lot of Christians often do just that. Come knocking on your door at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Taking out million dollar ads of TV proclaiming it’s the end of the world so repent. If you don’t believe you’re going to hell. Or a long time friend, going back to Jr. High, unfriends you on Facebook the instant she gets a whiff that you no longer believe. “Like this meme or go to hell.” “You don’t believe? Well, I will pray for you.” There is a LOT of pressure from Christians out there.

Seek's avatar

Yes… Militant Dawkins. Firing fully automatic nonfiction books from your local Barnes and Noble directly into the local parish congregation…

LostInParadise's avatar

Dawkins keeps insisting that the theory of evolution is incompatible with religion. Is this really necessary? It is okay to say it once, but why dwell on it? There are some scientists who are religious. How they maintain both beliefs is their business. You can promote science without trying to debunk religion. If someone can believe in both, that is fine with me.

elbanditoroso's avatar

It occurs to me that all of the answers above are verbose bullshit.

The pithiest answer to the OP’s question would have been…

God only knows!

ragingloli's avatar

@LostInParadise
because it IS incompatible, at least the abrahamic religions.
They insist that at least humans are a special creation by the hand of god.
Through evolution we know that humans, like every other life form on the planet (that was not artificially bred by humans) arose by natural processes without any divine intervention.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I worship Stan…. lee

Setanta's avatar

@Pachy Why?

@Mariah They scare me, too.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

The only people obsessed with atheists are atheists. Same with any other label that people give themselves trying to strike a sense of individuality. They try so hard only to actually not be a stand out individual. Yeah.

Setanta's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Nonsense . . . in my entire life—which is to say my real life—the subject came up just once. Online, the interwebs are haunted by onward christian soldier types who go around looking for fights with atheists, who start threads to tell atheists what’s wrong with them, that they’re immoral, illogical, deluded. No one does that to me in real life, probably in large measure because in real life, nobody asks me about it, and I don’t bring it up either. It’s no different from not telling people that my hobby is not collecting stamps.

Do you have a chip on your shoulder about atheists? I started this thread because we’ve had two threads started in as many days focused on atheists. It wasn’t atheists who started those threads.

Setanta's avatar

By the way, it’s the god botherers who label me an atheist. I describe myself as a human being.

Pachy's avatar

It was meant as a joke, @Setanta… a joke! Per my own belief system, nobody has to believe in anything.

Setanta's avatar

@Pachy Cool . . . you know, one cannot always tell on-line.

Sneki95's avatar

As far as I know, it’s more like “atheists” (read: angsty teens with God complex who think they are somehow smarter then the other plebs just because they disbelieve, and who usually have no idea about science and especially not religion) tend to be annoying assholes who feel obliged to preach their atheism even (especially) when no one gives jack shit.

Behaviour like that tends to tick people off. The fact that atheists who are decent human beings with enough self esteem, maturity and basic respect not to attack and act high and mighty are more silent than a corpse, does not help. (neither do religious extremists, though.)

Cue people rolling their eyes every time an “atheist” shows up and starts preaching.

TL DR version: Too much dumbasses on every side. They also tend to be the loudest ones.

@Dutchess_III You take televangelists, Facebook idiots and cult members as representatives of Christianity?

Seek's avatar

Yeah. When I visited the city courthouse downtown last week, there were three atheist preachers with bullhorns, one reading out of Copernicus’ De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, one singing some off-key Hymns to Nothing, and the third shouting at every passerby the dangers of keeping unconstitutional religious blue laws on the books.

Oh, wait, that’s not what happened at all.

Mariah's avatar

@Sneki95 Much as you take objection to Christianity being represented by its worst followers, atheists are not fully composed of angsty teens or superior neckbeards either.

Pachy's avatar

You’re right, @Setanta. No problem.

AND, full disclosure, my “wit” has often be called, er, strange.

Sneki95's avatar

@Mariah I know. I did mention decent atheists who are normal enough not to behave like described. They just seem to be more quiet in comparison to loudmouth assholes.
There is a reason why I used ” ”.

It’s the same with religious people. We hear about cults and extremists and all kinds of idiots and think all of them behave like that, while in reality, most religious people just live their lives in peace.

People get annoyed with atheists, and atheists get annoyed with religious people, because we both encounter loud assholes easier than quiet, decent members of the crowd.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Sneki95 You take televangelists, Facebook idiots and cult members as representatives of Christianity?
No.

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