Calm Down, Angry Atheists

“Calm down? CALM DOWN? The whole planet’s being bombed back to the stone age, and there’s no stop to anti-science campaigning, and the women are being oppressed, and the people are dying, and money’s being wasted and..”

There, I got that out of your system for you. Now huddle up and listen..

This is an angry blog by an angry atheist. Most, if not all, posts here include detailed explanations of how religion’s messing up the world. But that’s not all I do. I publish a maximum of two or three blog posts a month, and then go hang out with my Muslim friends either in person or online. I haven’t had a God debate with them in ages, even though we often disagree on things because of our markedly different perspectives.

The New-Convert Syndrome

When you first convert either to or out of religion, you tend to view the world in black and white for about a year. You’re excited about the new change in your life, and wish to express it as much as possible. If the world around you is particularly intolerant of your views (like in Pakistan), you naturally feel tormented, and the neo-convert phase is significantly prolonged. Eventually, varying shades of grey begin to emerge before you, and your tone changes – harshening at some places, but softening at most.

I have evolved. I view religion with the same contempt that I used to, but as a veteran atheist, I’ve now assumed a more nuanced approach. I no longer see myself as LoneLiberal, the Atheist. I’m many things: doctor, brother, writer, PC gamer, food-lover. I don’t reduce my identity down to my disbelief in God.

The faster you escape the angry, neo-convert phase, the happier you’ll be. You’ll also be able to sift out the hopeless haters from the simple dissenters, and learn to use arguments custom-crafted for each.

Don’t be a dick

Sarcasm is good, as it forces people to face the flaws in their logic. But outright insulting statements simply drive away the fence-sitters. It’s completely counterproductive, and weakens the movement….just like PTI trolls are weakening the support for PTI instead of bolstering it.

This is because of one simple fact – you cannot insult or shame a person into agreement. You can only impress them with your patience and argumentative skills. Theists will make you angry. If they succeed, you lose.

I understand that the threshold for what counts as “insulting” is relatively lower when it comes to discussing religion, and that’s annoying. But in any case, avoid ad hominem attacks and spiteful statements like “your beliefs are crazy”. Your opponent will simply become more defensive.

You CAN convince a religious person

It’s common for despondent atheists to throw their arms in the air and declare that theists are simply non-responsive to logical argumentation.

Rid yourself of the expectation that right in the middle of a heated debate, a theist is going to shout out, “You win! I recognize that your arguments are superior. Just tell me the kalma for atheism and I’ll say it!”. Ego simply does not allow that.

You express your viewpoint, and argue in its favor. Your opponent will do the same for his views. Each of you will leave the forum with the same set of ideas you walked in with. But the ideas that you plant in your opponent’s head will stay there for a long time. He’ll continue to meditate on them, and if you’ve argued well, will eventually realize that you were right. He may not convert, but he’s likely to become more tolerant of your perspectives. That’s progress..relish it.

Coexist!

You’ll frequently come across religious people with beliefs that are simply too dangerous to ignore. These are the fanatics you cannot hope to get along with. But that’s not always the case.

Nearly all theists believe in a variety of things that you understand are detrimental to social stability and scientific progress. You don’t have to like a certain theist’s homophobic attitude, but realize that this is not the sum total of his identity. Every human in the world bears an idea that you fear is potentially harmful, but try to uncouple the idea from the follower and deal with each separately. The follower may be a believer of a lot of things, many of which are truly beneficial. Hate the sin, but love the sinner…and pardon the excruciating irony here.

Advertisements
    • ATHEIST
    • June 3rd, 2012

    Brilliant blogpost. Having stumbled onto your blog a few moments ago, I must say I am happy to know that their are people who are not afraid to express themselves even in a country like Pakistan. Being a 14 year old(no kidding) Pakistani atheist myself, You sir serve as an inspiration.

  1. / Just tell me the kalma for atheism and I’ll say it!/

    I giggled at that ^_^

    And I loved the rest of the post. I’d like to point out that some of the angry ones I know don’t even have the excuse of being neo-converts, they’re just generally hateful ya have had bad experiences ya kya, I don’t know. But they really do harm the cause. Like extremists in any genre, they are the most vocal and visible and tend to give the others a bad name.

    /But the ideas that you plant in your opponent’s head will stay there for a long time. He’ll continue to meditate on them, and if you’ve argued well, will eventually realize that you were right. /

    Exactly. Thats the only reason I participate in online debates. The great majority of people really can be swayed by honest, convincing arguments. At least they work better than insults do.

    • Thanks. I believe atheist extremists aren’t as bad as their religious counterparts, but they’re still quite repulsive.

      And the reason I know that these debates work, is because that’s how I became an atheist myself. I used to be a religious person debating with atheists online, and I’d never admit even to myself that they were making tons more sense than I was. But subconsciously, I kept ruminating on their ideas and gradually left religion.

    • liberal
    • July 6th, 2012

    “This earth is higher than all the heavens; this is the greatest school in the universe.-Swami Vivekananda”

    I would recommend you read the below article it would be little change for you

    THE METHODS AND PURPOSE OF RELIGION

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_6/Lectures_and_Discourses/The_Methods_and_Purpose_of_Religion

    • sadia
    • September 13th, 2012

    you are intelligent and witty and wise…a rare combination in people

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: