On various discussion threads on AN, you can often find questions or statements about atheist attitudes towards various subjects, as if there is an atheist position on gay rights, climate change, or politics. I've found that that just isn't so.

People always try to pigeonhole other people (and to an extent themselves as well) into specific categories, but the truth is that atheists come from all walks of life, and have different backgrounds and outlooks. Atheists can't be easily catagorized. That fact is what makes social networking sites so informative at times. (I for one have learned a lot from other AN members.)

However, one thing that I have noticed again and again is there is an ongoing debate as to whether or not atheists should or should not be angry at religious people (or at each other). Some people think it is too aggressive or counterproductive to be angry, while others think that is is justified and acceptable.

But my questions are: Do we have to choose one or the other? If people feel anger, aren't they entitled to their feelings, and shouldn't they be allowed to express them? If others aren't angry, why do some people try to encourage them to get angry? What purpose can be served by that?

Personally, I am often angry at many people, especially the religious. But not always. Sometimes I am sad, or excitable, or irritable, or impatient, or patient, or forlorn, or giddy. Shouldn't that be okay? And why do I have to choose one perpetual state in which to be, as if perpetuity is the only mark of sincerity or validity?

What are your opinions and experiences in dealing with personal anger, anger from religious people, or anger from atheists?

Is anger ever a persuasive argument? Is it effective or ineffective?

Can anger be a catalyst for change?

Tags: anger, atheism, debates, discussion, politics, religion

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I get into angry athiest mode sometimes. Like the time my Catholic roommate told me she thought homosexuality was unnatural. I got VERY angry, info-dumped the evidence and finished by telling her that whoever told her that was either a liar or an idiot and in either case was untrustworthy. But I think it was a personal thing - here is someone I respect and she's spouting this nonsense. I was angry at her, and at the lies she'd been told. My anger definately had some effect, because she never said it again in my hearing, but I don't know whether its because she changed her mind, or she was just too scared to bring it up again. I eventually stopped trying to talk to her about religion as I got very emotional and her friendship was more important than the arguement.

But I don't get angry when I'm approached by theists at university or in the street. I don't have enough emotional investment in their opinion to bother with an emotion. My country doesn't suffer from religious nut-jobs in power like some others do and we tend to look at them as people with serious mental health issues: someone to be pitied.

I would not like to use anger as a catalyst for change. Which is not to say it can't be, just I think it's not as helpful as other feelings. "Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering" as the little green guy said. Our religious nut-jobs tried to campaign against gay civil rights by marching through the capital wearing black shirts, fists pumping and yelling "Enough is Enough". They involved kids, and they were all extremely angry. Damn near a hate rally. Any support they might have had from the centrist majority kind of evaporated then, because of the anger. "What the hell do they think they're doing, teaching their children to hate?" was the general thought.
Anger is an emotion,it needs no justification. The question of what a person "should" feel is irrelevant.The question also implies some kind of moral imperative for/against angry behaviour.

Is the expression of anger acceptable? (especially aggression,in word or deed) A moral relativist,I argue "of course",as the situation requires.EG in self defence. Do we have the RIGHT to express anger? Only in the political sense,where supported by force of custom or law. I deny the existence of innate rights of any kind.

I do not argue a right to set any moral standards for others. In fact that's one of my pet peeves with the sanctimoniously religious. (as well as some militant atheists driven by the same arrogant personal certitude)

The question also implies some kind of moral imperative for/against angry behaviour.

Yes, I guess it does, doesn't it, when asked that way.

I deny the existence of innate rights of any kind.

Meaning that rights are only human inventions we impose or deny upon ourselves?

I do not argue a right to set any moral standards for others.

Hmmm...so a community doesn't have the right to establish a law saying that murder is wrong, and impose that standard on everyone else? Is that what you are saying? If you say that you "do not argue a right to set any moral standards for others", aren't you implying by default that others have an innate right not to have a moral standard imposed on them? I mean, it sounds like a contradiction to me -- perhaps in irresolvable one -- but a contradition nonetheless.
One of them is that I feel like I was tricked...I am all the angrier because I have no one person that I can forgive and come to terms with. I am angry at a pervasive social idea...

Oooo, I can totally see that...right there with ya. Why do people believe that telling children that there is a Santa Clause, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Heavenly Father is a constructive and fulfilling way of making children happy, healthy, and well-balanced, when none of it is true?
My kid has no clue who Jesus or Santa is.
Good for you and him/her.
I know some individuals that are angry more often than not. Some theists, some atheists. I can't recall ever seeing uncontrolled anger producing a positive outcome. I have seen it harm health, ruin relationships, traumatize children, adversely affect the progress of projects and lead to incarceration.

Understanding can dissipate anger.
Yes, I there are different types of anger. That is true.
Anger by itself isn't an argument, but clearly, anger can enhance an argument by playing on the passions of others. It's a dangerous game, though, since it's difficult to control. Still, it's hard not to be angry with all the harm that religion has done and continues to do. Morality isn't particularly complicated, really. The Golden Rule (which is not original to Christianity by a long shot) more or less sums it up. Legitimate anger does require justification (otherwise, you're just talking about a neurological disorder), and the myriad violations of the Golden Rule perpetrated by the religious amply provide just that.
So true. And I often get angry with people who express anger towards me, almost always unfustified. Their anger illicites an angry response. Also, anger in other people often scares me. Like when I see radical Muslims storming the streets, yelling for blood over imagined insults and injuries. I find that anger and mob mentality to be quite frightening, because it is, as you have said, often without justification.
There is a big difference between anger and rage. Anger can be an extremely positive thing, providing the rage is controlled. Given my experiences with theists, and nutjobs in general, the only alternative to anger I find is resignation. You tell me ? Which is the more positive option ?
Between anger and resignation? Anger is the more positive. No questions.


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