Why are you Atheists so Smug?
I’ll start with the short answer: we aren’t.
Now for the longer answer.
Why is it presumed that if someone chooses to explain what they believe and why that they are smug? I say that I’m an atheist because I think it is tremendously important for other atheists to know that they aren’t the only one and that it is OK to conclude that there is no god. Is that smug?
Is the simple choice to stand up and be counted smug?
No, of course it isn’t.
Now if I go further and say that I believe all religions are equally wrong, have I crossed over into smug territory? Do I sound like I’m saying I’m better than all those religions because I’m so sure I know everything about god (or the non-existence of god)?
Well, no. But I expect I need to go into more detail.
See, I’ve frequently classified myself as an agnostic atheist. That means I am pretty sure there is no god but I’m not positive. Some might call that agnostic but given that I’d say I’m over 99% sure there is no god, I just round up and say I’m an atheist.
Imagine you are betting on a horse race and someone tells you it is 99% certain that a particular horse is going to win. Would you make the bet knowing that you have the tiniest possibility of losing or would you hold on to your money because you don’t want to risk even the smallest chance that you could be wrong?
I’d take the bet. If I thought the odds were closer to even, I might call myself an agnostic. I don’t think the odds are anywhere close to even.
I go further and say that I don’t believe there is any way that we, as humans, can possibly understand the nature of a divine being if one happens to exist. So while I acknowledge that I may be wrong, I’m far more positive that everyone who follows an established religion is wrong.
Why do I think that?
Because they can’t even agree amongst themselves. I’m not talking about Christianity/Islam/Judaism/Hinduism here. I’m talking about different sects within each religion.
If Christians can’t agree with each other over the subject of gay marriage, how can they be so dead to rights certain that their particular god hypothesis is correct? The same with the followers of Islam. Or Hinduism. Every single religion has hundreds of individual interpretations, all of which think that they have the mind of god all figured out.
So what is more likely – that one of them has it right or that all of them have it wrong? I’m not arguing against the existence of god, mind you, only the idea that any one of the thousands of people who are peddling their particular brand of god has it right.
It’s like people are throwing darts at the wall in a vain attempt to understand god and the reason none of them are getting close to the target is because they are aiming at the wrong wall.
Do I hate people who profess a particular religion? No.
Do I think that I’m better than them? No.
Do I think I’m smarter than them? No.
Do I think that my answer to the metaphysical puzzle of the universe is accurate and theirs is not? Yes.
That’s why I call myself an atheist. Because I think that my hypothesis about how the universe works holds more validity than theirs.
So I guess that makes me smug, right?
No more smug, of course, than the follower of a religion who is dead certain that their god hypothesis is the right one. No more smug than any other person who feels that they have a right to state and defend what they believe.
I’m sick and tired of people who say ridiculous things like “Richard Dawkins is no better than the Westboro Baptist Church!” That statement is bullshit.
One group mocks other people’s pain in an attempt to spread a message of hate and intolerance. Another writes books and gives talks about the fact that he believes the god hypothesis is flawed.
Has anyone who said such a thing ever read one of Dawkins books? If they have, how can they equate the one group with him? It is one of the most offensive attempts to create false equivalence that I’ve ever seen.
Dawkins believes religion is harmful and you know what? I do too. I feel religion provides an unassailable citadel from which people can push their followers in any direction they wish. Because religion is entirely based on faith, there is no test of the basic hypothesis. Rather, there is interpretation of a written text that lacks detailed historical fact to back it up. And the interpretation changes with the individual reader.
Do you think I’m smug because I’m saying that? Do you think I’m an intolerant asshole because my basic issue with religion is that it is the only thing we are expected to accept without any verifiable evidence?
I honestly don’t care what anyone chooses to believe about god until they use that belief to influence what other people do.
If you honestly believe god hates gay people, I think you’re a dick but I don’t care until you use that belief to act against other people.
Don’t like gay people? Fine. Don’t hang out with them. That’s your right. The moment you start holding up signs saying “God Hates Fags” or lobbying to have anti-gay laws passed, I’m going to get in your face. You stepped over the line between believing what you want to believe and believing that what you believe should dictate what others can say and do.
So that opinion is smug, right? Believing that no religion has the right to dictate how all people live is a smug point of view, right?
Or is it only smug when I choose to say it out loud?
I know a lot of atheists because I’ve chosen to be out about my conclusion to the god hypothesis. None of them are smug simply because they are atheists. Some of them are smug about other things. They are good writers, good thinkers and good comedians. They have every right to be smug about such things.
But the minute any one of them is forward about their atheism or, worse, forward about why they believe the god hypothesis is flawed, they are labelled as smug (or “asshole”) atheists.
I’m calling shenanigans on the whole thing. The religious get to talk about what they believe all the time. And even though they are in the majority, they are inexplicably labeled as “brave” for doing so.
Atheists are labelled smug. Or assholes. Well fuck that.
I’m not going to be told to shut up by people who think that I’m speaking up for myself in the wrong way. They have no better idea what the “right way” is than I do.
Reblogged this on myatheistlife and commented:
This is a really good post. I’ll add to this this that it’s not religion in general that pisses me off, nor the idea that someone might choose to believe in something I understand does not exist. It’s when they attempt to force their morality and doctrine/dogma on others … when they are generally being caustic to society at large that I get pissed off. It’s these very people that call atheists smug or say that atheism is a religion.
To be fair, you and the writer in this blog have kind of contradicted yourselves. To sum it all up both of you are basically saying you don’t like it when a religious person starts expressing their religion out in public but it is OK when when an atheist do just like the person who wrote this blog has done. For example the writer is basically stating that she doesn’t smug and says as I quote “No more smug, of course, than the follower of a religion who is dead certain that their god hypothesis is the right one. No more smug than any other person who feels that they have a right to state and defend what they believe.” Assuming that you agree with this (because you said this is a really good post), Aren’t you both doing the same thing?. Like really c’mon, You both believe your hypothesis is correct and the writer is stating and defending their own belief. Lastly, the writer also says “I honestly don’t care what anyone chooses to believe about god until they use that belief to influence what other people do.” By the writer logic, There should not have gay parades, Homosexuality should not be taught in primary schools which they are trying to do here in England and it should not be shown on TV. Even though I don’t agree with same sex relationships I don’t have any hatred towards them. What annoys me is when they use it to influence what other people do…… See my point?
Nope. I sure don’t see your point. I never stated that I have a problem with people publicly stating their religion. I said I had a problem with people forcing their religion on those who do not share it.
Gay parades have *nothing* to do with religion. Homosexuals don’t want to be out because of religion. They want to be out because being forced to hide yourself because of bigotry and homophobia sucks. Your conclusion is illogical.
Telling gay people they have to stay in the closet and out of your face has everything to do with religion. If you honestly believe in god as the final judge of morality, you need to leave that up to god and let them live their lives out and proud.
Then let god toss them into the lake of fire.
“I’m not going to be told to shut up by people who think that I’m speaking up for myself in the wrong way.” – This is such a common silencing technique against any minority…controlling “how” you speak out is just an extension of controlling you. Good for fighting back! Keep talking! *fist bump*
Personally, I find fundamentalist Christians—on the whole—to be far more smug than the average atheist.
But when the reverse is true….well, maybe the smugness is more than just the claims being made. Both sides are making claims. Maybe the smugness comes from the assertion that your knowledge of the other side entitles you to make sweeping generalizations about the other side, generalizations that aren’t properly supported by the evidence you’ve presented. ‘Cause that does seem fairly smug.
Example: “I feel religion provides an unassailable citadel from which people can push their followers in any direction they wish. Because religion is entirely based on faith, there is no test of the basic hypothesis.”
What I’ve written is an opinion piece. I have, therefore, framed my statements about religion in a way that makes it clear that it is my opinion. Would you like me to provide evidence that supports my opinion? That’s a whole different blog post but I do believe there is a great deal of evidence to back up my statement.
Thing is, if I start to provide evidence to back up my claim, I start sounding pretty smug, don’t I? It’s a catch-22. The moment I go to the extent of supporting why I’ve come to the conclusions I have, I’m dismissed becasue I’m attacking someone’s deeply held beliefs.
I’m not attacking them, mind you. Only their beliefs. But that, apparently, is not OK.
Obviously, it’s perfectly fine to challenge someone’s beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. But broad generalizations based on personal perceptions can come across as smug even if your challenge is perfectly justified. That’s all I’m saying.
The other side does it too. How many times have you heard “They’re only atheists because they hate God” or “They just want an excuse to sin”? Same idea.
Here’s the thing: any statement of opinion can sound smug. I think that is the nature of opnion. The question becomes, is someone “smug” because they are an atheist or are they smug because they aren’t afraid to express their opinion?
Neither. Smugness isn’t the claims you make, but what you believe about the people who disagree with you.
Note that I’m using “you” in the general sense, not the second-person sense. 🙂
Why am I so smug? Because I can’t save people from religion if I pretend that being atheist is not a better option.
ianbrettcooped, you sound like a real cocksucker. Being an atheist doesn’t make someone “better,” it’s just a way of understanding the world. You saying you want to “save” people from religion makes you no different than a self-righteous evangelical.
”There’s a lot of different ones so they’re all probably wrong” assumes that they’re all equally likely but that’s poor reasoning. If one person says to me the Earth is flat and the other says it’s round that doesn’t mean there’s a 50% chance the Earth is flat. You have to actually look into the individual claims.