What do you think about the charge that atheists are arrogant about their lack of belief? I have to admit, I hear that a lot, and for myself, I cannot deny it. I DO consider myself intellectually superior to someone who deludes themselves with magical thinking. We (in this group) have all shrugged off thousands of years of superstition to see reality for what it is, so isn't a little bit of arrogance understandable?

I am new to this site, so please forgive me if I posted this incorrectly. Also, I hope it is clear that I am not flaming or trolling; I am truly curious about what others think on this subject.

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It does not matter what theists think. Atheists will always be seen as arrogant if a theist observer not only believes that obedience to their God is more important than seeking knowledge, but such a quest for knowledge is sinful and evil. 

Theists seem to fear that atheists will destroy the social cohesion which religion provides, but the divisions among believers do far more to fragment society than the actions of atheists, who are after all a relatively small proportion of the population.

I agree, Allan,  fragmented society comes more from divisions within and between religions. 

The Catholic Church is still waiting for Protestant heretics to return home to the One True Church, at least as far as the orthodox among them believe.

James you are right in fact "Catholic" means "the whole" so Catholicism is by their definition the whole church.

Allen, religion does increase social cohesion and believers' attacks on each other do weaken the cohesion they need.

We nonbelievers are taking mandated religion from government (especially public schools) and our doing so also weakens the cohesion believers need.

Believers are more likely to downplay the weakening their fellow believers do.

We are fewer and our successes stir fear in many more than our number.

Did I successfully deconstruct your conclusion?

Nicolas Kristof has an interesting article in today's NYTimes about religions departing from the tenets of their founders and morphing into something entirely opposite:


This has happened many times in the past and usually the change is presented as a return to the original intent of the founder, whether or not that is the case. That adherents find this an acceptable process shows how weak their tie is to the founder's message.

While I have no evidence to reveal god to me, I experience a sense of something full of wonder. I see the compassion in people coming together to end slavery, or racism, or sexism, or domination, and exploitation. As Kristof states,

"It is not the bureaucracy that inspires me, or doctrine, or ancient rituals, or even the most glorious cathedral, temple or mosque, but rather a Catholic missionary doctor in Sudan treating bomb victims, an evangelical physician achieving the impossible in rural Angola, a rabbi battling for Palestinians’ human rights — they fill me with an almost holy sense of awe. Now, that’s religion."

To the catholic missionary, an evangelical physician, and a rabbi human rights activist, I add a secularist who takes on the challenges that respond to unmet needs. 

Hypocrisy rears its ugly head when a person prays and believes he or she has done the noble act. I see bigotry when a group takes holy scriptures to a war-torn world and does nothing to end the war in a way that brings justice. I see injustice when a whole society remains silent in the face of exploitation of the poor.

I am an atheist who seeks to stop the religionization of the USA. I do not want Christian or Sharia Law. I do not and will not conform or convert to religious dogma or doctrine without evidence. Freedom is my human right and responsibility .  

The USA Constitution spells out the rights and responsibilities of citizens, it does not speak to the rights of humans. To do that we have to go to another document. What is needed is a Declaration of Rights for the Earth and all its inhabitants. We no longer one nation protected on two sides by vast oceans. We now exist in a World Economy and an Earth Environment. 

UN Declaration of Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice
and peace in the world,

~ 1st paragraph of Preamble of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

I suspect that atheists are perceived as arrogant because:

  • We do not subscribe to the bible, from which believers get their "answers."
  • We actively criticize the bible and point out its flaws.
  • We do subscribe to answers which are supported by evidence, which the bible lacks.
  • We have the unmitigated nerve to disagree with believers' faith traditions, in favor of the scientific method.

In short, we're seen as arrogant because we shake things up, disturb what up until recently has been the "status quo" or "the natural order of things."  We're upstarts, and we're dangerous because we don't hold to the conventions which believers take as automatics and givens.  As I once said, believers think of their belief as air, something which one cannot do without.

And we don't breathe their air.

I agree, Loren. They also will never see that the presuppositionalism that undergirds their religious belief is one of the most blatant forms of arrogance.

Bertold, I agree! 



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