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.
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.
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.
I just wrote the great author Sam Harris about this subject. That "void," that Mr. Harris speaks of is very real to someone of faith. Below is a small portion of the story that I sent to Mr. Harris. My nephew was only 21 years old when he took his own life. Here are the txt messages sent to him, from me, a week before his passing.
August 20 4:27pm
Me: Do you study debate/psychology or have speech classes.
CJ: I'm gonna have a psych class in the next semester
Me: Ok cool. If you wanna get a heads up on the competition do you know who Sam Harris is? (Meaning it would be a great debate subject)
CJ: No i don't
Me: This guy is fearless. I enjoy debate watch it all the time. This guy is the best speaker I've ever heard.
CJ: Ill look him up
Me: Watch: "Sam Harris simply destroys Catholicism while in debate at Notre Dame" (YouTube)
Me: I've read the moral Landscape its good but the end of faith is supposedly his best work
My fiancee woke me up, screaming about the tragedy, and my first thought was the debate video.
Did depression,inevitably, kill CJ? Will the autopsy find a tumor on his brain? Was he murdered? Or the question I ponder the most in my mind...Did the video I sent him (Sam Harris Simply destroys Catholicism in a Notre Dame Debate) taken in the wrong context, plus depression, make him feel that void (you speak of) was too much to handle? Did this void make him think it was acceptable to commit the selfish act of taking ones own life?
Mr. Harris, that void you write about is very real. I can attest. I often ponder all the time wasted in my life with the absurd Catholic religion that I participated in as a child and young adult. Its easier for me to deal with it because I'm used to being an outcast (politically) for being transparent and honest.
Interesting article, thanks. Glad I live in an urban area.
Well, being a polite rooster bye and large, I will be gentle with my thoughts as to why Religious-Americans fear Atheist-Americans, not wanting to offend anyone. =]
I feel it is because right from the first European invasion of the American shores, people have been telling themselves (religious) stories that excuse their behaviour there. It is just human nature after all.
"Bringing the Civilising Word of God to the Benighted Savages" was one of the very first stories, and the moral blemish of actually being a ursurping, nation destroying, rapacious pack of pirates to the Native-Americans was washed out of the French, English and Spanish soul by sticking hard to the story.
Later, with the slavery thing, it was justified again by the same "But we lifted them out of Benighted Savagery in Africa, of course they are better off here in a Christian land, as slaves".
Also the "We Escaped from Religious Persecution to practice Our Faith in Peace and Equality" story was told, as a pleasant mental wash to dissolve all the instances of Religious Persecution the "Pilgrim Fathers" indulged themselves in.
To this day the Religous-Americans have preferred the story to facing the past straight on. And if they have to give a place to people who refuse to believe the story, look at all the crimes they will have to acknowledge as their heritage. Just mho of course.