Today, I’d like to continue where I left off last time. My last post dealt with my annoyance when theists claim that I am not a true atheist, and then proceed to define what they believe atheism is – a “definition” that has nothing whatsoever to do with what atheism is actually about. Again, I was reading an article by another atheist, and his fourth point resonated with me. I don’t agree with everything else in that article, but I thought it might be a good idea to explore that single point briefly in my own words.
Another frequent “argument” presented by theists is that we atheists hate god. But the argument/criticism is seldom presented either plainly or alone. Normally it is assumed and stated as the first part of a verbosely worded argument, a more complicated version of this: “Atheists hate god because of some contrived/projected reason. This in turn means that some slippery slope of effects, which in turn will lead to some kind of appeal to consequences. A few paragraphs of nonsense related to the points after the initial argument. But you can be saved from this. Just repent and accept some deity as your personal saviour, as it says in some holy book written when man knew nothing of modern science and blamed the fictional gods for everything.” The first part of the argument, not necessarily phrased directly, makes the implicit assumption that atheists hate god. It then goes on to propose a reason for this alleged hatred, and continues on down a slippery slope that assumes the previous parts of the argument are correct, and proposes the disastrous effects of this view, followed sometimes by a solution. (You must repent to be saved because it says so in the holy text.)
The interesting thing about this line of reasoning is that when debating such a theist, they are not interested in the first part of the argument, that is the assumption that we hate god. Their actual argument begins with the proposed reason for this hatred and continues downhill from there. So the bulk of their statement is typically something that someone like myself doesn’t even read. They don’t expect to be debated on that point because they assume it to be true, but instead would like to debate the points they follow it up with… But the follow-up is irrelevant! You got there by going down a slippery slope, where the initial assumption is wrong. And it’s not just wrong – it’s absolute bullshit. I’m not interested in debating the nonsense you derived from your flawed starting argument and it would not make any sense to do so. So we end up talking past each other, with the theist debater not in the least interested in understanding why the argument is going nowhere. This often leads to atheists getting frustrated and possibly rude, and calling the theists stupid – perhaps rightly so. I’m starting to think that the types of theists who participate in such debates are not the smartest around. They do not represent theism at all, but rather a vocal subset of some very stupid theists who do not understand what they are arguing against. (I strongly suspect that intelligent theists are well aware that what they believe in is unfalsifiable – is a matter of faith in something that exists outside the bounds and laws of physics. That is, smart theists know that there is no valid way of arguing faith against logic, so they don’t debate it. The ones who debate are the idiots who think that Ray Comfort’s arguments have merit.)
As usual, the argument starts out by assuming the existence of god, and of a specific god. They think that we hate god… but we can not hate what does not exist. I’m not angry with god. I don’t hate god. How could I? As an atheist, I see no difference between any of the gods that were ever worshipped in the whole of human history. Which god should I hate? Should I hate Mithras? Should I hate Odin or maybe Thor? Should I hate Osiris? I don’t elevate your Abrahamic gods above any of the others – they all have creation myths and all have doctrine. Some of them are older and no longer worshipped, but that doesn’t make them any different to the gods currently being worshipped. While I’m at it, should I also hate ghosts, fairies, goblins, trolls, unicorns, dragons, bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, the Illuminati and the boogeyman under my bed? By your logic, since I don’t believe in those, I should hate them too.
To conclude… debating theists is a pain in the arse. I constantly have to remind myself not to be rude and that the debate is not for them… it’s for other more intelligent people who might read or observe the debate.