You're just an atheist because mommy and daddy never hugged you!!!

Of all the insults, of all the absurdities and smug assertions of superiority, this one will always have a special place in my memories. This post, my friends, takes the cake.

I was arguing with somebody on Facebook, and she got so fed up she left in a huff. As is sometimes the case with online debaters who get really worked up about a debate they're in, she set her husband on me. Click the link for the full post and my response to it. Here are some excerpts:

"There are multiple reasons people are atheists. One, which I speculate is your reason and which you will undoubtedly deny, is because you suffered some sort of Childhood abuse or have been deeply hurt by someone close to you. The reason I make that assumption is because you lash out at the idea of being subject to anyone or anything."

This is just low. The only post I can compare it to is when someone on Gaia said that the only reason that we pro-choice women were pro-choice is that we were abused or raped. Only that time, he actually had the guts to come right out and say that we were "damaged goods"!

In both cases, they're trying to say that our negative experiences make our opinions invalid. The suggestion here is that we couldn't possibly have arrived at our conclusion through logic and reasoning, and that our experiences have damaged us in such a way that we're incapable of actually thinking rationally on the subject. It's a cheap, petty way of trying to make your opponent feel bad about themself. It's nothing but an ad hominem.

The sad thing, though, is that it's really hard to refute. A lot of the women in that pro-choice debate had been sexually (or otherwise) abused. But a large proportion of women [i]in general[/i] have been sexually abused! I'm sure the same could be said of atheists. And anyway, even if you were abused, that absolutely doesn't make your argument invalid, and it most certainly does not make you "damaged goods". He hasn't figured out anything. He's just taken a common experience that many people have and used it in an attempt to make you feel like he's got you pegged.

The other great thing about this form of attack is that it can't be confirmed or denied. Like he said " will undoubtedly deny...". Even if I told him that I had a priviledged and fortunate childhood and that my parents were very loving and supportive (I did and do!), he could call me a liar. If I told him that I was bullied to the point of extreme depression in middle school and much of high school (also true), he would ignore my otherwise very happy childhood and attribute it to that.

Then, he proceeded to reaffirm my suspicion that Christianity is inherently misogynist:

"The same reason you choose to deny there is a God is the same reason you don’t understand the principles of biblical marriage. My wife loves fulfilling her role as my wife. A biblical husband isn’t set up to be a dictator, but a helpmate."

Funny, 'cause the bible says it's the other way around.

When Paul wrote, he wrote to establish a deeper rule of love. That was that I don’t need to be called equal, if my spouse loves me than I will be treated like an equal.
"In no way is my wife any less than I. She has an obligation to respect me and love me the same as I do her. She trusts (which trust is fundamental to a marriage) me enough to be subject to my decisions."

*shudder* I will never understand how someone can like being subjugated. I mean, in BDSM there are rules about safety and consent, and it only applies to one part of your life. In this... submission is your life. It's not just a game. You can't just go "I don't want to play anymore." If that life really works for you, I guess I'm fine with that. But I am not okay with being told that my egalitarian relationship is inferior to that, or that everyone's relationship should be that way.

Here's part of my response from the thread:
"[b]Listen, I understand that you like your little dom/sub relationship. I've got no problem with that. But call it what it is, okay? Your bible says that a woman should be subject to her husband in the same way that her husband is subject to God. Until you start telling me that you think you and God are equals, don't try to tell me that you think you and your wife are equals.[/b]

I know that you can love someone without them being your equal. It's like loving a child or a pet. It's still valid, but it's nothing compared to a love in which two partners see each other as equally important and equally-ranked."

Yeah, I know it's a bit unfair to tell him that his love is less valid than anyone else's. But you know what? If you see that loved one as inferior to you, I really do think that you love them in the way that someone loves a dog. Maybe even in the same way that someone loves their car or their money.

I hate to use this excuse... but he really did try to invalidate my relationship first:

"I pray that God would open your eyes to true love, and you would quit basing your perception of love on what you’ve been shown. You may think you know what true love is, but until you have a relationship with Jesus Christ you will never understand how deep it can go. "

That crosses the line for me. I'm in the happiest, healthiest relationship I have ever been in and he has the audacity to tell me that it's wrong because we don't believe in his notion of God? Or because we see each other as equals?

I am never going to understand people like this. -_-

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Comment by Becky Garcia on March 17, 2009 at 12:11pm
Thanks, JCM.

Bill, doesn't just ignoring them mean letting them get away with it and letting them feel that their views are valid?
Comment by jc morrison on January 19, 2009 at 12:30pm
hi becky,

i know it was a long time ago, but i just read through your facebook discussion and i think you did a great job at pointing out the inherent misogyny of christian marriage.

Comment by Bill Flowers on September 13, 2008 at 10:02am
Of course you're never going to understand "people" locked into such a delusional mindset. Why waste time with them?

I used to tell my students there was one sure fire method for finding someone being foolish -- whenever they saw someone trying to have an argument with a fanatic, there was the proof. There simply aren't enough common assumptions to provide traction for an actual argument, there is just simple disagreement.
Comment by Tanushree on August 11, 2008 at 10:29pm
I've been asked questions like this too. Recently at the watercooler, a born-again christian asked me what religion I belonged to. When I told him I was an atheist, he looked so stricken, and asked with the utmost concern, "what happened? why did you become and atheist?" It was as if I was an object for his pity and that there must definitely have been something terribly wrong in my life to have made me this way.

I followed the link to the facebook conversation, and, lke all conversations with the "brainwashed" this made me feel like frustrated, like talking to a rock. People like this have their views so firmly set in their minds that they do not even consider that someone else may have an equally valid and workable worldview, let alone admitting that theirs may be wrong. But I guess as atheists, we need to develop thick skins and just shrug off comments like this.

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