I think nearly all of us have experienced this. I found it even worse in the United States than I do here in conservative, heavily Catholic Costa Rica.
Why are Americans afraid of atheists? The belief that god does not exist is not hard to come by these days, and appears to be growing throughout the world. But as a Pew Research Center report put it, when it comes to religiosity, “the US is closer to considerably less developed nations, such as India, Brazil and Lebanon than to other western nations...”
I submit that one of the main reasons they fear atheists is for the simple fact that the majority of us know more about the bible than they do. I was raised in a christian home, I always had my doubts about the bible even when I was young. In order for me to totally abolish what I was taught, I felt that I needed to read the entire bible and know for sure what I did not believe in.
Most christian people believe because of the possible consequences if they do not so they have no reason to know exactly why they believe. all religion is fear - based. but the ones that just believe out of fear are not the ones we need to worry about, it is those who actually believe in a talking snake and a virgin birth that scare the hell out of me, I guarantee that I fear that level of logic just as much if not more than they fear Atheism.
True but Faith goes hand in hand with propagating consensus and people's innate need to be part of the party. If ever the consensus becomes agnostic in the sense of " I believe because I don't know know for sure" then a lot of people ticking the religion box will surprisingly fall away. I come across a lot of religious people who firmly believe as an insurance policy hand in hand with wishing a healthy sense of community . The statistics not what they seem. Hopefully Internet is scrambling consensus in the future with its plethora of alternate information let alone substituting its own nonsense for non sense.
Definitely true where I live. I am the endless subject of campus gossip... "Did you know that he is an atheist?" To them, it is as strange as having 12 fingers.
Much is definitely the fear they feel of the whole silly house of cards falling down around their ears if they dare let any rational thought in - this is also why they always feel we are being "mean", "aggressive" and "militant" by simply existing.
Much spookier to me personally is that so much of the structure of their delusion is propped up with fear - many of them live in a constant state of low-level terror, walking on eggshells for fear of their imaginary god, like kids both hopefully loving and terrified of an abusive parent. They fear that their god will rain horror down indiscriminately on us but also on them for tolerating the existence of the whole list of unacceptables which includes smarty-pants rationalists, gays, uppity women, uppity poor people, and pretty much anyone and everyone - and I fall into a few of these categories.
Very well reasoned and expressed Carolyn
Its nice to hear that people worldwide are waking up. I see the opposite here in California lately, seems the churches have mastered brainwashing. My wifes family puts their children in these bible quiz tournaments now. As young as 5 pretty sickening to me.
the establishment has always used religion as a control mechanism for the masses. Religion also helps to galvanise political and idealogical thinking. there is also the idea that without moral imperatives we would all run around killing, stealing and raping which i have some sympathy with for it does seem looking at historical and contempary evidence where the rule of law breaks down men do indeed run around stealing, killing and raping. Also people do not like to be told they are stupid and in essence thats the message they get from the atheist community and rightly so.
Part of the problem, too, is that believers have been told repeatedly that They Are SINNERS, that they can't redeem themselves on their own, that they were born broken and only through the Blood of JEEEZUS can they extract themselves from the predetermined course to hell which their deity has ordained.
They've been told this in one way or another since they were kids, and so naturally, they're already scared. Now they've got US telling them that they've been conned, that the whole business is a bunch of Big-Lie-enhanced bullshit. They've been raised to be dependent on the church, and, as I've stated before, they are addicted to it.
I think we need to be more cognizant of the fact that we're asking them to quit cold turkey, then to face what would look very much like withdrawal symptoms. I'm not saying we need to lighten up. I just want us to be more aware of the state of our audience.
Perhaps since the underlying pathology is a belief in unworthiness, we should begin by communicating, "I'm OK, You're OK." Address the underlying "lie" which facilitates addiction.
Hmmm, addicted. That's more appropriate than you may think! Churches are rarely just theology-delivery systems (like some sort of weird turkey baster...) They offer a whole variety of social interactions. If you are the "Right Sort", there's instant community, instant friends, instant warmth - at least in theory. All your emotional needs in one stop! Saves one from having to go out and build a web of friends, interact with people who may be different, and figure out their own values. The ease must surely be addictive, in a way. Just from that perspective alone, I can understand (but not condone) complacency and distrust of those outside the campfire circle, atheists.
Simply put, the country as a whole is afraid of atheism and its rising numbers because it represents a loss of control and authority over the people. When religion controls thoughts and beliefs, it also controls behaviour. There are so many people who ask questions, and when they get answers like "because the bible says so" or "because god says so", they take that as a good enough reason and go on with their day. With the increasing numbers of atheists who do not accept these as legitimate reasons for doing things, the people in power now have to come up with other explanations and reasoning, which they are often incapable of doing, in turn making themselves look weak.
Given the secularism of the founding fathers and how consensus looks to authority it is an anomaly. Their openess set the spring-board to no monoply by christians and belief than is seen by comparison in muslim counties where it can be against the law. Then again the shakiness of the founding fathers to religion and belief is not propounded if not deliberately lied about. For example in education where the atheism of Mark Twain is not mentioned and his belief in God insinuated. The founding fathers must truly be unnerving to theists who do read their biographies.More reason then to shut down and be adamant. More interesting is how some of the founders may have diluted or even hid their Doubt in order not to alienate the masses as statesmen. Lincoln is a good example of this especially later in life.
As far as America being closer to more older and less developed nations who always had a problem with too many poor people and therefore a need for sublimation to make life worth it-the issue is that America is so comparatively young culturally. Young=immaturity. Given the mature standard set by our founders there is is some catching up to do and culture takes time. Luckily the supreme courts are not disposed to grant them favouritism or theism would snow-ball with their blessing by promoting concensus.
If the younger generation is the future they are prone to agnosticism although not giving it a label. I think it is misleading as theists ( led by the Chritian Right ) make more noise about religion than agnostics and theists who quietly mind their own buisness. Possibly the south is spear-heading the American voice because they are poorer. If America can mature enough they can address the disparity. Then as Europe the welfare Statel did more to loosen religious grip than anything else.( although I mean more a fairer distribution of wealth than necessarily increase in welfare payments)