I gotta admit… in between swimming laps every morning, playing with my son every evening and hiking the gorgeous trails around my town every weekend, it’s hard to make time to be angry. You know, sometimes writing self-deprecating jokes on Twitter, and coming up with funny religious puns for my posts just get in the way of my fuming rage. Rest assured though, I am an atheist, so we know that rage is there.
Now, Oliver Burkeman recently wrote a post over at the Guardian asserting that recent data indicates atheists are no more prone to anger than anyone else. I appreciate that Ollie, I really do, but we both know the data must be skewed.
You yourself say,
Go back and read Sam Harris’s or Bill Maher’s denunciations of Islam as a whole in the wake of atrocities committed in its name. Or Dawkins’s insistence that being raised Catholic might be more damaging than child sex abuse.
And you’re so right about this. I mean, how can you watch men run from a building full of bloody, dead human beings, shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad! Charlie Hebdo is dead.” and think, “Gee, the doctrine in which it is written that the Prophet must be avenged should anyone depict him in any way, is kind of a shitty doctrine”? Clearly, anyone who thinks or says out loud that such a doctrine might be a problem for the world, is suffering from serious anger issues. Amirite?
And Ollie, let’s face the fact that religious freedom and secular rage are entirely two different things. Shall we take a quick refresher?
This is religious freedom:
and this, is clearly rage-driven and not chuckle-worthy at all:
Write your MP. Cartoons showing David Cameron with a condom on his head should be illegal. Hurtful to Tories. http://t.co/9grfRmJnav — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 4, 2015
It's a scandal that we haven't put more pressure on Saudi Arabia to #FreeRaifBadawi: http://t.co/09fj8D9cQa — Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) January 8, 2015
Oliver, I appreciated when you said this,
Whether you think this anger toward religion is justified will depend, of course, on whether you share the New Atheists’ firm conviction that religiosity per se is to blame for outrages such as the Charlie Hebdo attack, or the murders committed by Isis. (This is a huge, incredibly complex question that New Atheists bafflingly treat as straightforward on the grounds that the killers themselves claim to be motivated by faith. Terrorists, apparently, are to be treated as entirely trustworthy sources of information on this point.)
Because up until I read your post, I was a new atheist who believed that the problem of Islamic terrorism is much more complicated that just one cause. I did not believe that if Islam suddenly disappeared from the world, that terrorism would also. I also didn’t know any atheists who would ever be so brazen as to say there is just one cause. I would have said that terrorism is way more complicated than just Islam, but that taking Islam out of the equation, would unquestionably be better for everyone and perhaps fewer cartoonists and bloggers and authors would die for things they said or drew. Now that I’ve read your post, though, I realize that in order to be considered a “new atheist” I must only blame terrorism on Islam. Thank you for that.
I also realize now, that getting angry over something such as the execution by machete mob of an atheist blogger like myself, doesn’t mean that I am responding in a healthy way to something horrific that hits home to me. It means, instead, that I am an angry person.
I was pretty silly to think of Dawkins as a humorous, intelligent man who was not afraid to criticise things that systematically harm great numbers of people at a time. I was foolish to describe Sam Harris as “Mr. Cool” because clearly his calm, collected persona and his ability to explain anything with ease, clarity, and simplicity, is a ruse. The fact that I have hardly seen a photo or video of Lawrence Krauss without a smile on his face driven by the sheer love of science, well I now know that’s an act. Last but not least, behind those warm, sparkling eyes of Hemant Mehta, who outrageously calls himself the “Friendly Atheist”, there lurks a dark, surging furor.
I realize you wrote this piece to debunk the idea that atheists are “angry”, but what really hit home, Olls-Balls, is when you pointed out the foaming-mouthed anger of my favourite high-profile atheists. You were right when you said,
Then tell me these aren’t strikingly angry men.
So right! These high profile “new atheists” are so, so angry and I guess I was just taken in by their masterful manipulation. I mean, just look at how cleverly Dawkins makes us think he’s actually a pretty fun loving guy:
I for one, thank you Mr. Burkeman, for making me see through this and realize that I have been had.