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Anger, how to deal with it?
Posted: 03 November 2006 02:01 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I perused the site a bit and I have not yet seen a thread about whether or not anger is a positive force in spreading the atheist message.  I cannot speak for anyone besides myself, but I must say, I am quite angry over the state of the world.  More and more I find myself with a severe antipathy towards those who not only believe in God, but profess any belief in dogmatic tenets whatsoever.  I am so brutally frustrated by the lack of free thinking in the world, that I fear my own desire to do good is being interupted by my inability to see nothing but red.  Does anyone else get this frustration?  How do you manage it?  I just cannot sit idly by and watch the world waste money on efforts that are fruitless while scientific/philosophical/psychological advancements are impeded due to a lack of funds.
I appreciate anyone willing to comment on this and hope for some thought provoking feedback.

Thanks

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Posted: 03 November 2006 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Mike,

I understand your anger and frustration as i’ve often felt similar feelings for years. The problem with using anger to force atheism is that in a sense anger leads to the use of force, and force will never get you anywhere useful. It may provide a short term solution, but will never be stable.

Its not easy to change a few millienia worth of commonly held ideas and beliefs, so getting angry over the fact that its not proceeding quickly is frivolous.

I think the best thing we can do is get behind people like Sam and Dawkins, support their foundations, get them more into the spotlight. Religion won’t go away if only a few people are shown their true evils. In order to get rid of religion, the effort is going to have to be made by the religious, as they are the ones who are in need of a positive change to their worldview.

Try to relax. I’m almost positive religion on a grand scale won’t die out in the next 50-60 years (maybe a miracle smile )So, we need to take it in stride, and try to fight the battles where we can make very strong stands: evolution, social morality, using science to prove things contrary to dogmatic beliefs of many religions.

Once science can take a stronger hold over reason for the masses, I think we will be able to affect a change in childrens education. If kids grow up learning that gods and bibles are mythological symbols, and that morality comes from the social pursuit of happiness for all, then we will see a major decline in religion. We will hopefully see a return to seperation of church and state, and overall we will see people paying real attention to this life, not the afterlife.

What I think we really need are more visible ways (movies/documentaries/billboards/i dont know) of showing the public how religious dogma causes suffering for human beings. For the sake of arguement, its unfortunate that we can’t have everyone who opposes stem cell research, to suddenly have all of their young children succomb to a disease where stem cells represent a potential cure. Those kinds of situations often bring about change, so we need to make those examples clear.

Good luck!

Adam

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Posted: 03 November 2006 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“MikeLewchuk”]

You are not the only one who gets angry.  For me personally, I get depressed easily and sometimes have to retreat from the world rather than engage in it.  I tend to be sad rather than angry, but what can whip me into righteous outrage is the way religion preys upon the weak and causes so much unneeded suffering.

All I can do about it right now is support others with money, and vote of course.  I do not believe that posting here has much effect and I don’t think getting angry at people in person does either.

It will be the slow drip-drip-drip of reason onto the stone of irrational belief that finally makes the difference.  Sometimes that can happen faster than you expect.  Within my own lifetime I have seen Christianity become faddish again.  We are going through another Great Awakening here in America.  In the past, those have always been followed by more fruitful periods, probably because Great Awakenings leave so much harm in their wake.

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Posted: 03 November 2006 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“MikeLewchuk”]Does anyone else get this frustration?  How do you manage it?  I just cannot sit idly by and watch the world waste money on efforts that are fruitless while scientific/philosophical/psychological advancements are impeded due to a lack of funds.

mike -

i feel you man.  i get rather upset when i watch the news, read the papers, etc anymore.  all i ever seem to see is religious conflict.  and when its not conflict, its the impeding effects religion has in our culture (almost always at the expense of science). 

i think thats why the last person to tell me that they believed in God got a smooth punch in the throat. 

ehhh. im just kidding.  but i have thought about it.


in any case… i think our best bet is the KKK approach that was described in “freakonomics”.  people will stop believing the untenable crap they beleive when they see that its all rather intellectually childish.  who wants to be the guy that thinks aliens are talking to him when he sleeps?  No one… and the same will eventualyl be said for the guy who thinks Jesus Christ was a superhero.

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Posted: 03 November 2006 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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that last one was me… sorry

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Posted: 03 November 2006 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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All of you have made very worthwhile statements, I especially appreciate the one refering to the drip, drip, drip of rationality.  However, I want that drip to escalate into a downpour.  The battles that are being fought out there in the freethinker/ignoramus wars seem a tad silly to me, almost as if I cannot believe that we are fighting them at all.  How low grade is the opposition, how unbelievably weak are their assertions…and we amass a fine collection of minds/wills to answer back to the intellectual equivalent of lint.  Seems a precious waste of time and energy on our part, to the point that I feel sad that intellect the caliber of sam harris and richard dawkins are wasted on this issue.  My favorite author in the world is John McWhorter and I once wrote him asking if he was an atheist.  He answered me, said that he was, but that religion was so obviously false that he wasted no time on it, save to use it for pragmatic means to enhance the lives of the poor/oppressed.  I wish I could take that attitude, but at the same time I know the value of non-religiosity…and the importance of striking it from societies fore.

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Posted: 03 November 2006 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“Michael Lewchuk”]All of you have made very worthwhile statements, I especially appreciate the one refering to the drip, drip, drip of rationality.  However, I want that drip to escalate into a downpour.

I do too, but don’t know how to achieve it.  Support it with my dollars is the best I can do.

<snip>

I wish I could take that attitude, but at the same time I know the value of non-religiosity…and the importance of striking it from societies fore.

This is what happened with creationism and intelligent design for a long time.  Scientists didn’t want to debate the question because it suggested that evolution and creationism or ID are on an equal footing.

That was probably a mistake, in retrospect.  Creationism and ID got a foothold because their blather wasn’t countered by science. 

Then again, it seems to me that basic information about evolution isn’t that hard to convey.  Surely people who visited the Grand Canyon understood the information provided by the National Park Service?  Surely the people who read Newsweek or Time or USA Today have the 8th-grade-level of knowledge with which those popular outlets present the news on evolution?

Evidently not, since most Americans now say they don’t “believe in” evolution.  Now the Park Service has had to add information about “alternative theories”.

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Posted: 03 November 2006 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I have always found it amusing how people say it is difficult to understand evolution…how can we have come FROM APES, yet in the same breath they can lay claim to believing in something so wrought full of holes, inconsistencies and contradictions that it seems only a mad genius could devise it and still make it reputable.  The real issue in regards to evolution, to me, is that people do not want to think at all.  Do not understand gravity?  Simple, its gods will.  Do not understand life? Simple, its gods will.  (on and on and on…)  Its this culture of fear, fear of thought, that perpetuates this disgusting outlook of life that starts with the belief in a supreme being.

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Posted: 06 November 2006 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Mike, you’re scaring me… you sound exactly like me…

I think that the best way to deal with the anger is to convert it into passion, passion for the cause.  Whenever you get angry just start working on spreading the word, and you’ll get less angry because you’ll know you’re doing something to fight what makes you angry.

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Posted: 06 November 2006 03:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Hey guys,

I hope I am not unwelcome in your discussion since I am one of the intended recipients of “Letter to a Christian Nation” and one of those that is the source of your anger. It has been good for me to be exposed to the anger you experience as atheists or whatever you may describe yourself as. I have recommended Sam’s letter to the congregation I serve as pastor because I so appreciated Sam’s fearlessly honest arguments.

There was a time when I believed that christians had to be the stupidest people on earth but it has been long enough that I have forgotten what it felt like to be on the outside of a faith family. Your comments have exposed for me how pitiful we must look when we whine about the “oppression” we think we face as christians in America. I apologize for that.

I don’t have any defense to offer for the Jesus that I follow. If he really is the God he claims to be I figure he can defend himself. I also have no condemnation for your or Sam’s excellent questions and arguments. If Jesus really is the God of love he claims to be he should be able to handle the criticism without getting angry and speak to you directly regarding your concerns.

If it would help at all, you’re welcome to blast me with any and every angry word you would like to say to the christians that drive you crazy. I don’t know if you have any christian friends you can vent on. I apologize for how poorly we make friends with people that don’t agree with us. Jesus was really good at that and we suck. I’ll pass your thoughts onto our congregation.

Sam offered and excellent question in his letter that I would ask you. Why do you accept being labled and defined by what you don’t believe? I think I would be as frustrated as you are if I was defined by what I didn’t believe. Maybe you would find some outlet for your anger by giving christians a new name. We didn’t pick that name. Historically it was given to us by those that opposed us. It was a taunt that actually meant “little christ.” Why don’t you do to us what we did to you. Give us a name that defines us by what we don’t believe. Call us antievolutionists or something even more mocking. I’m sure you can get more creative than that. Even working on a new name would have to have some theraputic value.

But back to my original question. I think you should work on giving yourselves a name that doesn’t speak to what you don’t believe but speaks to what you do believe. What do you believe in? If you believe in the inherant ability of man to solve his own problems call yourselves something that reflects that. I think that would be a really healthy way to deal with the anger. When someone lables you an atheist you can gently and lovingly correct them and speak about what you believe in. If you want the drip, drip of reason to turn into a downpour learn from us. Movements that change the world have never come from people who are defined by what they don’t believe in. They intentionally go about defining what they do believe. Quit whining and get behind Harris and Dawkins help them define your movement! Turn your anger into positive action. If you really believe reason can turn the tide against the stupidity you see in the followers of Jesus then get in the fight.

I hope my thoughts are constructive. If they are not, let me have it.

respectfully,
jmisloski

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Posted: 06 November 2006 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“jmisloski”]Hey guys,

I hope I am not unwelcome in your discussion since I am one of the intended recipients of “Letter to a Christian Nation” and one of those that is the source of your anger. It has been good for me to be exposed to the anger you experience as atheists or whatever you may describe yourself as. I have recommended Sam’s letter to the congregation I serve as pastor because I so appreciated Sam’s fearlessly honest arguments.

There was a time when I believed that christians had to be the stupidest people on earth but it has been long enough that I have forgotten what it felt like to be on the outside of a faith family. Your comments have exposed for me how pitiful we must look when we whine about the “oppression” we think we face as christians in America. I apologize for that.

I don’t have any defense to offer for the Jesus that I follow. If he really is the God he claims to be I figure he can defend himself. I also have no condemnation for your or Sam’s excellent questions and arguments. If Jesus really is the God of love he claims to be he should be able to handle the criticism without getting angry and speak to you directly regarding your concerns.

Why do you accept being labled and defined by what you don’t believe?

 
I am not defined by what I do not believe.  I am defined by what I do believe.  Because I do not believe in god (the lack of a belief is, of course, still a belief), I like being known as an atheist.  There is really no other way I can describe it but to say that the lack of a belief in god is a premise around which I base virtually every thought in my life.  It is not necessairly ‘step 1,’ (step 1 is actually, believe what the evidence tells you too) but it is quite high on my list of priorities.

One other point. I do not think what I am saying should be constituted as whining, just a concern I have for the future of something that I do care about. 

I respect the fact you shared your thoughts, although I have no respect for someone who thinks without any evidence whatsoever that they might be correct.

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Posted: 06 November 2006 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Michael,

Sorry about the choice of the word “whining.” I didn’t mean to criticize but I can totally see how it would come across as disrespect for your concerns. My bad. I hope you can forgive me for that.

My intent is not to be disrespectful or criticize but to understand. I don’t have any friends who are atheists so I appreciate some of the information you offer. I was surprised that you said you liked being known as an atheist. I wouldn’t have guessed that but it reveals my own bias. So thanks for that. Your reply already has revealed to me that some of my assumptions were wrong. That’s cool.

I’m ok if you can’t respect me as a person for believing in Jesus. And yet I can totally respect you and your ideas. I wouldn’t be asking questions if I didn’t. Even if you can’t respect me as a person, I hope you can respect my desire to learn more about what you do believe.

You said, “I am defined by what I do believe.” and yet you really only followed that with what you don’t believe. You went on to say “the lack of a belief in god is a premise around which I base virtually every thought in my life.” I’m simply interested in hearing about what you do believe in or at the minimum, examples of what it looks like to base your thinking around the lack of your belief in God. I don’t want to force you into answering in a way that wouldn’t be natural for you but I am assuming that a life that is based on reason and scientific discovery would be easy to articulate. I was surprised to hear an atheist say, “There really is no other way I can describe it but to say that the lack of a belief in god is a premise around which I base virtually every thought in my life.”

Please don’t take that as a criticism, I just mean I was surprised. It sounds a lot like what a christian usually says when faced with an untennable position.

I can read books about what athiests believe by people who are trying to dispute them but I don’t trust them. I’ve read books and watched movies by Sam Harris and David Dawkins but they are only speaking agains the establishment of religion. I really want to hear from an atheist’s own brain what they believe. I don’t have any other agenda other than to understand. I am safe. I’m not trying to win an argument. I want accurate information and I thought this would be a great place to find it.

So can you help me, or should I leave you alone?

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Posted: 06 November 2006 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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jmisloski,

I agree that the word ‘atheist’ doesn’t define what one believes, but what’s wrong with that?  It seems like a fairly decent starting place.  If you peruse this forum at all, you’ll find a wide spectrum of political, social, environmental, and other views. You’ll also find general adherence to logical thought and rational arguments, which more than anything else, is how people who claim an atheistic or agnostic world view tend to behave.  Ideas uncolored with a religious overlay.  Ideas unburdened with dogma that many of us believe impedes rational thinking.  In other words, pure thought.  It’s quite refreshing.  In any event, the term ‘atheist’ doesn’t bother too many on this forum. 

It’s interesting that you found Harris and Dawkins attacking only the establishment of religion.  Their tomes were critiques on how one thinks in addition to what one thinks.

Welcome to the fray.

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Posted: 06 November 2006 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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The above post is mine.

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Posted: 06 November 2006 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“jmisloski”]Michael,

Sorry about the choice of the word “whining.” I didn’t mean to criticize but I can totally see how it would come across as disrespect for your concerns. My bad. I hope you can forgive me for that.

My intent is not to be disrespectful or criticize but to understand. I don’t have any friends who are atheists so I appreciate some of the information you offer. I was surprised that you said you liked being known as an atheist. I wouldn’t have guessed that but it reveals my own bias. So thanks for that. Your reply already has revealed to me that some of my assumptions were wrong. That’s cool.

I’m ok if you can’t respect me as a person for believing in Jesus. And yet I can totally respect you and your ideas. I wouldn’t be asking questions if I didn’t. Even if you can’t respect me as a person, I hope you can respect my desire to learn more about what you do believe.

You said, “I am defined by what I do believe.” and yet you really only followed that with what you don’t believe. You went on to say “the lack of a belief in god is a premise around which I base virtually every thought in my life.” I’m simply interested in hearing about what you do believe in or at the minimum, examples of what it looks like to base your thinking around the lack of your belief in God. I don’t want to force you into answering in a way that wouldn’t be natural for you but I am assuming that a life that is based on reason and scientific discovery would be easy to articulate. I was surprised to hear an atheist say, “There really is no other way I can describe it but to say that the lack of a belief in god is a premise around which I base virtually every thought in my life.”

Please don’t take that as a criticism, I just mean I was surprised. It sounds a lot like what a christian usually says when faced with an untennable position.

I can read books about what athiests believe by people who are trying to dispute them but I don’t trust them. I’ve read books and watched movies by Sam Harris and David Dawkins but they are only speaking agains the establishment of religion. I really want to hear from an atheist’s own brain what they believe. I don’t have any other agenda other than to understand. I am safe. I’m not trying to win an argument. I want accurate information and I thought this would be a great place to find it.

So can you help me, or should I leave you alone?

I think that Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins perfectly represent what nontheists believe. 

I’ve referred to myself as Atheist, Humanist, and Freethinker.  Of these, I most prefer Humanist, as it more accurately describes my belief that Humans are import and should be respected and treated kindly.  I truly believe that invisible supernatural beings from another dimension should not have preferential treatment over actual living humans. 

I see all deistic religions as being harmful to humanity.  They can do little pockets of good on an individual basis, but mostly they do enormous amounts of evil when even semi-organized.

I feel the original poster’s anger.  It’s become nearly impossible to get through a day without having someone refer to God, Jesus, prayer, miracles, etc.  I work in a small programming department; there are eight people in my unit, which includes 1 Mormon, 2 Baptists, 4 Catholics and me (Humanist/Atheist).  Not surprisingly, I’m the only non-Republican in the bunch.  I’m sure you can imagine how much religion is casually thrown around the office all day!  At times it’s become very ugly in here, when they start talking about issues such as abortion and stem-cell research.  These are highly intelligent people who seem to have absolutely no rational or logical thoughts about science.  Everything they believe is based on religion.  At least one of these people insists the world is only 6,000 years old because the church says so. 

It’s hard to keep from getting angry, and harder to keep quiet.  I’ve learned that you can’t beat them over the head with logic the way they beat you over the head with their bibles.  All you can do is take any and every opportunity to point out to them (quietly and logically) why you believe what you do, and why you don’t believe what they do.  If the person you’re talking to starts raising their voice (apparently under the impression that the loudest voice wins), just maintain a level tone and stay calm.  It’s hard to continue yelling at someone who’s not.

Anger isn’t the answer.  There have been many times I’ve wanted to scream at someone for being ... well, stupid ... but that wouldn’t help anything, it will just cause them to dig in harder and ignore everything you say.

Here’s what you do:  Learn the bible.  It’s your best weapon against the lunacy out there.  Someone once mentioned that the world is in such horrible shape because of the lack of respect for life, that God considers all life precious and abortion and stem-cell research is disrespectful of life.  When I asked that person to please explain Passover in light of that, they couldn’t.

I’ve made it a point to read the bible, and to read various books and websites concerning biblical writings so that I can be prepared to answer whatever lunacy comes my way.  This has helped me take the edge off of my anger and deal with religious fiction in a cool and calm manner.

One of my favorite reference sites is http://www.evilbible.com—it’s a great resource for arming yourself!

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Posted: 06 November 2006 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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I hardly think that there is enough room here to post even a fraction of the ideas that occupy my mind, but a simple list:

-free-thought/evolution/social justice/the importance of understanding history/physics/chemistry/biology/life saving medicines/human nature/political theory/philosophy/economics/wars affect on human progress/genetics/the human mind/etc…

All of it matters to me, all of it I study and believe in, or at least believe that there are reasons to learn about each of these divisions.  And saying that I am defined (to a degree) by a lack of belief in God is saying something important: I require EVIDENCE (that oh-so-little guidepost to everything worthwhile) to have any belief in what is around me.  So to say I am defined by not believing in god, means I am defined as believing in the testable, and the confirmable.

As far as what I believe, I would challenge any non-atheist or non-evolutionisht, to offer me one school of thought more worthwhile of thought than evolution.  Nothing is more complex, and yet, nothing could be more simple…and the real beauty of it all? Its perfectly rational and explainable!

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