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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@Nate:

...disappointment and frustration- all healthy psychological responses to not getting our needs met...

I'm moving in a little bit different direction than I intended here, but I struggle with these emotions all the time. I am often very lonely and have little or no companionship, and that makes me depressed. But then I feel bad about feeling sorry for myself, but after a while I tell myself that self-pity, to an extent, is natural and normal, because the things I want (companionship, love) are good and desireable things, so it is perfectly fine to be upset over the lack of those things in my life. But that inevitabley leads to anger and resentment as well, especially when I see really awful people perpetually consume and conquer other people (and other people are ready and willing to be consumed and conquered).

But still it runs me down, and I feel like I am in a constant swing between acceptance and patience on one end, and frustration and self-pity on the other, and never quite sure where the pendulum should come to rest, if it is able to rest at all.
You sound like a human being, Dallas. I think your angst is far more common than you may believe. You're just being more honest than most. :)

You've made me think of one of my favorite songs, Let Down by Radiohead.

I'll send you a link to the music and lyrics.
@Dannyisme:

If I see someone hurting someone else for no apparent reason, hopefully I will get angry enough to intervene.

In this situation, I think my immediate response would be one of a protective instinct, of defending the weak or innocent, and not immediately one of anger. I think anger would come in reflection after the injustice of the act.

Having read everyone's opinions and insights on all the types of anger (or frustration), I realize now how poorly defined (or overly broad) my initial questions were. I had in my own mind for them to be more to the debate between atheists and theists, and between atheists and atheists, and how we interact, and less on social injustices like genocide or slavery. Not that it really matters, I guess. Everyone's input is good nonetheless.

Good quotes by the way.
I suggest it can sometimes happen that the anger makes both parties more aware that the other's position may have some validity. The anger can administer a strong dose of respect where there was none before; caused them to back off to a point of rethinking their own position and sometimes even changing it.

Very true. If not validity of the position in question, then at least the seriousness with which it is held.

I recall a moment when my sense of frustration with my father had pushed me to my limit. I said words to him that left both of us shocked and then hung up the phone. He called back and apologized for what led me to say what I did. My words jarred him to the point that he was able entertain my point of view.
Alex: ...trolling...

troll (trōl)
v. troll·ing
1. The act of making Alex feel stupid
Um, while trolling might be unattractive it is actually permitted, unlike the illegal activities of physical violence, verbal abuse, etc.
I think oftentimes people direct far too much anger at the religious when they should be directing their anger towards religion.

It's like blaming students for a destructive school system. Religion is manipulating the religious, in my opinion. They believe in all of these things, so when they spout what to us sounds like "nonsense", it's hard, but important to stay impartial, because more often than not, they mean no harm. I know the Bible doesn't seem to mean "no harm", but oftentimes Christians have never even read their own Holy Books, or really understood what they mean. So when I see a person who is very religious, it's odd, but I always reassure myself that they don't understand or endorse a lot of biblical standards like slavery, racism or misogyny. They just believe in a higher being, and have situated themselves in a religion that suits them socially-- or more likely, that they were raised in.

I can't help getting mad when it comes to the specifics though. I strongly dislike hearing about religion in school-- by the end of the year I know all my teachers are LDS, and all of the students around me are as well. I get asked what "ward" I'm in, and when I take "seminary", and to their credit, it's an easy assumption. When people make ignorant remarks about evolution, when they slander homosexuals or homosexual rights, when they make sexist comments... that's when I get angry. That's when Jezzy smash things. But these things are not limited to religious people at all, and religious people obviously don't have to feel this way.

Sort of among the lines of "pigeonholing", I think we too often look at the religious as one entity that endorses all the things we hate about religion, when in reality, they just believe in some things we don't. I think patience, understanding, and a hell of a lot of intelligence are what can win this battle. Anger frightens people; and it makes them want to defend even what they already know is a losing battle. If someone admires you, if someone respects you... then they'll listen to you.

We have enough of a stereotype of being angry. Use your anger for a purpose-- defend womens/gay/children's rights. Want to expose religious faults? Expose the faultiness of the Priesthood, not the Priest. Study up and no matter how much you know, remember to act impartial and collected. Be a good person. Show them that you give a shit for what happens in the world. We're not all nihilists, and we're not calloused self-righteous asshats. We don't beat kittens for fun and we don't eat babies. I think a little compassion will show it.
Religion is manipulating the religious, in my opinion.

But isn't it people who are manipulating the religion to begin with? People manipulate religion which manipulates people who manipulate religion to manipulate people, ad infinitum. I mean, religion is not an external force that exists outside of human construct which exerts itself on our will. It is a man made institution. So what's the difference between hating religion and the religious? Isn't that like saying "I hate the symptoms but not the disease?"

...or more likely, that they were raised in.

So true.

I can't help getting mad when it comes to the specifics though.

I can see that. Personally, I don't spend a lot of time worry about how other people spend their private time. They can waste their time praying if they want. But I hate it when they act out on these crazy beliefs, like picketing funerals cuz god hates fags.

But these things are not limited to religious people at all, and religious people obviously don't have to feel this way.

Well, that's true as well. But these people will not show you this same consideration. They'll lump you into the same camp as serial killers, just for being an atheist. At least for the most part.

I think patience, understanding, and a hell of a lot of intelligence are what can win this battle.

I'm not sure about that. I don't think it is a winable war; just an endless battle.
Great response Jezzy. I think the majority of religious people are really just seeking to live moral lives, attain happiness, and raise their children to get along well in society. It's the doctrines I object to - but the problem is, the people (often unwittingly) support and pass on these doctrines, to poison and manipulate the next generation of humans.

Kind of like, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" for atheists - be kind to individual religious peoples, but bash religion like it owes you money
Don't give me that I'm a confused teen mess!! You sell yourself short some times Jezzy. THAT was a wonderful, well thought out response. Which just reminds me of how under educated I am. Good job.;-)

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