What is there about the word "atheist" that makes normally sane people act crazy?

Help! I just got off the phone with my best friend. I started telling her about an event I attended recently. When I mentioned the group's name (which included the word "atheist") it was like I had rung a bell for Pavlov's dog! She immediately went on a rant about how she is "sick of atheists," and how "stupid" they are to be "angry at God."

This shook me up because normally she is a wonderful friend. She is a non-practicing Jew who was raised completely secular. I've been open with her about the full extent of my apostasy, and I've even identified myself as an atheist to her before. Perhaps she didn't believe me? What is there about that word?

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Ironically, I was raised with the claim that Christianity was based totally on truth and evidence and could stand up to any amount of honest scrutiny. It took me decades to realize that this wasn't true. I can't believe I was that brainwashed but I was! Most Christians just accept this claim without actually doing any testing.

I'm noticing more and more that religion is like a big shortcut. If you just have faith you can automatically feel like you are a good person. There is then no need to do the hard work and thought it takes to be a truly virtuous person.

I'm hoping to show my believing friends that I can be a truly happy and good person without any faith in supernatural powers. I think this will be both more threatening, and more convincing, than any logical argument.

I like your summary: "And at some point or other, they have to be asking themselves just WHY they bother with all the folderol."

If only, huh?  Usually I feel more like a spider with two legs. 

Maybe we ARE two-legged spiders, ...imagining we are humans living on a web with a BB origin.

Thank you, Michael. This is a perfect coming out pic for my writers group in a few hours.

Oh yes - people are scared of that word - sorry you had to go through that. Maybe you can help your friend understand.

Oh and once I did tell someone and they said they didn't believe I was atheist - so I have had that happen too.

Idk what is up w your friend. Tho a couple of things come to mind.

First off, if i am recalling this correctly, someone, Sám Harris, I think, did FMRI studies that showed that an individuals religiouse believe are held in t brain in a location about as close as possible to ones central core being. Us rationalists hold rationality close and seat, i suspect. So for someone to attack their god believe might be like someone trying to convince us that two plus two doesnot equal four and such.

Or maybe your friend is one of those atheists that still cling to t notion that we should keep quiet about our atheism and continue to show resect to religion even if we dont actually beieve in it ourselves. Personaly i dont understand this position věry well. But, i think, it might be based on t belief that religion is a force for good even if it is untrue. I think such atheists figure that they can continue to live a moral non suiciding life w/o religion. But that it is just too much for others. So we ought to just keep quit about it for their benifit. These atheists believe it is not our place ro tell everyone else that Santa is unreal

Fuck 'em! I say we should tell everyone that Santa is unreal. They messed up my life by preaching that mofo to me from the beginning!

I recently told my mother that I was an atheist and she reacted kind of funny. I didn't pay any mind though. She is religious, but she will not get angry or turn her back on me. Partly because I am her only son. 

However, anytime I discuss anything with her about me being secular, non-believer and my findings of ridiculous dogma fanaticism in the bible. She gets quite. Like very quite. I don't go out of my way to attack people's religion. I don't have a problem with it.

However, I do have a problem when people force their beliefs into my space of tranquility. Yeah, when that word is brought to light, people do weird out. It's very strange.

Social cohesion depends on people giving at least lip service to common beliefs. Many who claim to be believers are in fact beset with serious doubts about one or more elements of supernatural theology, but suppress their skepticism in the interest of belonging. Many do not accept eternal punishment, the existence of Satan, or an afterlife, but never say so explicitly. What atheists do with their open skepticism is make these supernatural delusions much less reasonable, and challenge the social cohesion on which they rest for most.

Of course it's not possible to be angry with a God whose existence you don't accept, but that is the theistic explanation of atheistical denials. Attirbuting it to rational examination of the story gives too much credence to skepticism.

it's not possible to be angry with a God whose existence you don't accept

That's a literal interpretation of "angry at God".
Translating "angry at God" into atheist terms, it becomes "angry at life" or something like that.

Does the idea that atheists are angry at life, resonate with anyone?

I, and the atheists and non-believers that I discuss these types of things with, don't seem to be angry with life. I am really incensed when adults speak in childish ways, i.e. "I'll pray for you" ... you know the drill. It is time to take responsibility for oneself and not rest on the power of some delusion.  

I really get annoyed when children hear and see their parents act like that. At some point in the lives of those children, they will doubt, question and rebel against their parents. Often, when that happens, many of them have to go to boys' or girls' ranch to get straitened out. I found, when working with these youngsters, it was the parents who needed the ranch.

No, not angry at life, I am angry at immature, irresponsible, untrustworthy parents. After all, what good parent would teach delusions to a child? The tooth fairy, OK; Santa Claus, Ya, that works; the virgin birth, a boy turning water into wine, a man healing the leper, a crucifixion and death, then a resurrection and a flight into heaven, COME ON! THAT GOES TOO FAR. 


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