Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Why are atheists so rude?

It was Orientation Day on campus. People can sign up for clubs (including the UWA Atheist and Skeptic Society), and there are always tons of church groups doing their schtick. So I like to see what’s out there.

Here’s a conversation I had. It went pretty much just like this.


  1. I love this. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. It's true. Religion has been protected from criticism and questioning for so long, theists assume it is natural and deserved.

    Respect must be earned. If it is demanded, that's an admission that it isn't earned but the perks are desired anyway.

    Most of the problems of the world have been caused by religion. Think of the crusades, the inquisition, the dark ages, the witch burnings, the restrictions on learning, free speech, instilling guilt and shame into children, and the wars fought in the name of religion.

    More recently, think of family planning clinic bombings, oppression of gays and non-believers, murders of doctors and homosexuals, imposition of religious beliefs by force of law, and illegal use of public funds to promote particular religions.

    Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.

    • Give me a break! You could make a list just as long of atrocities of secular man. By far most of the people involved in the Crusades, witch burnings, greedy land owners and oppressors of the poor, had no notion of serving a god, or caring about Christ's sacrifice. How can you call them Christians? Christians were building hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, homes for abused women. And think about out own day! The only "restrictions on learning", core curriculum disasters, restrictions on free speech and freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof, is coming straight from our atheist public school system. And a whole lot of "instilling guilt and shame into children happens there. I'm not saying Christians are without fault; I'm saying they bear no more blame than non-Christians. If you want to feel better by lumping all the wrong-doers in society into one group and labelling them "Christians, I'm sure you can and will and will be applauded for it, but you're just fooling yourself. The sinner is I. and You. How many people do you think have participated in bombings of family planning clinics? About as many as have bombed and burned down churches?? It's Christians who are being oppressed and maligned and falsely accused, scorned unjustly and hated, more than any other group in society. Get your statistics straightened! And are you saying Christians are murderers of doctors and gays? Who exactly is doing all this? I can tell you who is murdering millions of pre-born human beings every day, and it most definitely is not Christians. The "conversation" above is right. From my experience, athiest are rude know-it-alls, judgemental, angry people suffering from superiority complexes who like nothing better than to try to force their "religion" down everyone else's throat like religious zealots.

    • One thing: Christians are trying to teach our kids creationism, which is the image of detrimentality.

  3. "Mankind shall not be free until the last king is strangled in the entrails of the last priest." — Denis Diderot

  4. I wonder if Diderot considered just how difficult it is to strangle anyone, let alone a king, with someone's entrails? Those things are slimy, and hard to get a good grip on. And in the end, they're just entrails; they'd snap before you even got that king to wheeze once or twice.

    • Yeah, but when you wrap it around the king's neck enough times, it tightens more and more as the priest squirms and writhes. It takes a while, but it works.

    • You've obviously never handled human entrails, have you.

      They're way tough…

    • That sounds like the voice of experience.

    • I suppose you haven't heard of catgut?

      In Diderot's day, before steel and nylon, the strings of violins, guitars, harps, and so on were made from animal guts.

      Catgut is still used in some countries for sutures, because thread isn't plentiful or readily available. Catgut is strong enough to keep a wound together despite the movements people will make that pull on it.

      You were saying?

    • Respect must be earned. Muslims don't get any respect because they go berserk every time somebody burns their worthless Qur'an. Christians don't get any respect because they try to stick their dead Jeebus everywhere, even in science classrooms if they can get away with it.

    • Also, the king-to-priest ratio is kind of low these days. One could accomplish the job with simple suffocation.

    • I respect people's rights to believe in whatever nonsense or sense they want to, as long as they don't try to persuade or influence others on the basis of their unevidenced beliefs. You believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Fine, no problem. You want to persuade me to believe it? Not fine, piss off.

    • someone hasn't heard of surgical clamps, apparently.

  5. If you want to know why religions don't deserve respect, read "The Heathen's Guide to World Religions". It's the history religions don't want to talk about; who slept with who, who screwed who over. All the stuff we know historically actually happened in religions.

  6. @aquaria: "I suppose you haven't heard of catgut?"

    Just to clear up a slight misunderstanding. Cat-guts are horrible as strings, and what strings actually were made of (and is still made from) is sheep guts. There's a theory that cat guts as "the best gut for strings" were put out so that competitors to some string makers would be led down a garden path, to flatten and stretch the red herring, as it were.

    The expression is still with us, but if you buy gut strings (and as one who have some experience with HIP and baroque string playing) I can assure you that no cats are involved. Unless it sounds dreadful. 🙂

    • I always thought that the cat-gut thing was a diss about the sound of a vio(screeech)lin.

    • False etymology, it's probably short for "cattlegut".

    • "However, I heard on BBC Radio 4, some years ago, that it came a rumour put about by the best violin string makers, that their strings were made of cat-gut (rather than sheep gut) in order to discourage the competition from trying to imitate their strings, it being terribly bad luck to kill even one cat! Here’s a version of this account of the origin of the term ‘catgut’:"

      Also, "kit" is an old word for two things; a kitten, and a fiddle.

    • The Online Etymology Dictionary goes for the 'fiddle' etymology for 'catgut', but I'm not sure.

      Oxford lists the earliest instances, and they really seem to have to do with actual cats.

      1599 Warning for Faire Women i. 9 What, yet more cats guts? oh, this filthy sound Stifles mine ears‥I'll cut your fiddle strings If you stand scraping thus to anger me!
      [1607 J. Marston What you Will iii. i, in N. & Q. (1886) 10 Apr., The musitions Hover with nimble sticks ore squeaking crowds [fiddles] Tickling the dryed gutts of a mewing cat.]

      They think maybe people thought it was funny to compare the sound of the strings to cats' howling.

  7. Hmmmm, I was informed by my first instructor, a German Expat, that the confusion arose because "kit", meaning violin or fiddle, also is an term meaning "little cat" or simply "kitten", hence the words "kitgut" or "kitstring" led, unsurprisingly, to the misapprehension.

    Of course I'm a violist and, as you're probably aware, we'll believe just about anything we're told.

  8. I love skeptics. Good post about religion, and within ten comments we have an argument about the utility of various species' guts for the purpose of making music.

    Proof if ever it were needed that it's not just religion we'll argue with.

  9. I like his hat. I need a hat like his now. TO EBAY(or Amazon)!!!!

  10. I find it amazing that the religious, especially members of the Abrahamic faiths, have that gall to say anything at all about respect. Most religions have some form of intolerance of anyone outside their brand of faith built into their religion. Faiths with some sort of punitive after-life concept are even worse. With Christians, for example, it is even more galling that they should ever make even a whisper about respect. Their faith holds that anyone who doesn't believe is tortured forever. Their Bible takes a great amount of glee in proclaiming this.

    These faiths have disrespect, intolerance, and hate baked into their holy books. No matter how much the religious try to ignore those aspects of their religion, they will always be there. I suppose they could talk about respect if they wanted, but they loose before they've even started.

  11. I like how the comic glibly affirms that all atheists share certain characteristics, which doesn't mesh particularly well with the notion that they are all free, independent thinkers. My favorite is that they are universally well educated—this coming directly after the panel which casts the notion that they're also arrogant, into doubtful light. Regardless of whether or not atheists are, on the whole, better educated than theists, it does come across as awfully self-assured (taken on faith?) that no atheists are mediocre students, drop-outs, or otherwise academic failures. Having an affirmative regard of science doesn't mean that you're knowledgeable about science—that atheists don't comprise some of the idiots on those hilarious segments à la Jay Leno's Jay-Walking, where people on the street are shown to be lacking in extremely basic, grade-school knowledge. The comic evinces a certain inability to grasp nuance which unfortunately plagues much of the online and IRL atheist and "new atheist" communities.

    • He was arguing that atheists are poorly educated. I called BS on it — I wasn't prepared to let that go by as a blanket statement. We have a lot of highly educated people on our side.

      So when he qualified it with "Well, SOME are," I let it go as trivial. You could say that about any group.

    • Gary
      Any group as it's misfits and it's misfit thinking, it's misfit beliefs. Religion has a no larger societal misfit than any other group where in some one will attempt to use that group for power. Recently the peaceful Amish had their dust up. If the atheists ever get their act together and form a group it to will be treated with off the wall leaders. Hmm, try herding cats.
      There is some indication that there is some hormonal drive behind the need for religion; the French are known as the most unreligous, but a large consumer of antidepressants. Perhaps a rather meaningless out of the ether fact, but…
      Aside, the more one doubts, then more gets emotional over issues.

    • "He was arguing that atheists are poorly educated." — Ah, gotcha. I wonder what specific experiences with atheists, or things he's heard about them, led him to conclude that they're poorly educated. Is it because they might lack a religious education, or strong religious background? Your theist interlocutor might well shit his pants with surprise and incredulity to learn that atheists are more knowledgeable than Christians about Christianity.

    • All subsets of people fall within a bell curve of intelligence. They have their morons and they have their geniuses. I have read that somewhere around 90% of scientists are nonreligious while 99% of prison inmates are religious. (Research it for verification and actual numbers, I am going off memory) Suffice it to say, I'm fairly sure the center of the bell curve shows the nonreligious with a higher average IQ than the religious. But both sides definitely have their fair share of morons.

      Additionally, I would speculate that the more vocal atheists that will choose to debate the subject in a public manner are generally more well informed and intelligent that the average religious person willing to debate it. Often, the religious idiot will be happy to shout out stupid comments based on faith, where the average basic nonreligious dummy will simply keep his mouth shut.

      Again bell curves and averages. You have to generalize, when talking about people in general.

  12. And here I thought it was because our underwear pinched.

  13. Well I know violin bows were made with horse hair, so if i rub a horse on my ever-handy cat guts what kind of sound will i get and in what key?

  14. Love it! Had to share on FB.

  15. I'm not buying it sorry. Granted religion has it's issues and it hasn't been question enough in the past, but that doesn't justify Atheists self-righteous, and blatant offensive attitude they've taken on. They act like a bunch of self indulgent know everything teenagers who interpret atheism to mean "lets piss off anyone religious" more then the simple idea of not believing in a higher power. I've known plenty of pretty skeptical agnostics who don't feel it's their personal duty to offend every singe religious person they come into contact with just because their argumentative bastards. I also know plenty of decent religious people who just want to be left alone to believe what they believe and don't try to push it on anyone and who still get battered by these atheist assholes. These atheists who feel it's their duty to act just like the Christians and convert everyone to their way of thinking, saving them from themselves. They are doing the exact same thing they complain the religious people do. I think people just like to use atheism to justify being arrogant, egotistical, self-righteous pricks. It is completely ridiculous to believe that just because you believe in nothing means your smarter then everyone else, the very fact that you leave no room for error proves how flawed your theory is. Even Richard Dawkins, the most self righteous atheist of them all, recently admitted that he can't prove God doesn't exist, it only took him a decade. I'm just saying get off your high horse already and let it go, if you don't believe in God fine, why the hell should you care if anyone else does.

  16. These atheists who feel it's their duty to act just like the Christians and convert everyone to their way of thinking, saving them from themselves.

    If atheists sent missionaries around the world to knock on people's doors every single day, then they would act "just like Christians". As it is, they espouse their point of view. Are we not supposed to? Would sir approve?

    Even Richard Dawkins, the most self righteous atheist of them all, recently admitted that he can't prove God doesn't exist, it only took him a decade.

    I can see you've never read any Dawkins, including the chapter titles. He's always said that God "almost certainly" does not exist, and that it's very difficult to prove something doesn't exist, including leprechauns and unicorns.

    Your tone trolling has been duly noted. Next time, try and understand the terrain you're blundering into.

  17. This is too extreme. As an atheist I don't really care about what other people believe as long as they aren't pedaling it in political campaigns or shoving it down my throat.
    But to prove his point in saying we are rude and mean is not going to help our situation as Atheists wishing to be taken seriously
    Don't you remember the line? "Everyone is entitled to their opinion"?

    • But, cs, they are pedaling it in political campaigns AND shoving it down our throats.

      They can have their opinions, and express them. And then I'll express mine. That's how it works.

      Don't worry about tone! Just say what you want to say. We are making noise, and we are being taken very seriously.

    • Peddling. Sorry. Grammar nazi. Some of them are pedaling. Typically the Mormons, although some Jehovah's Witnesses as well.

  18. I see no reason why atheists have to be any more rude and hate mongering than the average Fundie Christian is towards the average atheist. In fact, I think atheists should take the moral high ground and behave a lot better. If we claim that it is easy to be "good without gods" then we should at least demonstrate that, don't you think.

    Blatant blasphemy may feel good to those who have been religiously oppressed or screwed over but it does nothing whatever to help us overcome the negative stereotyping and hatred directed towards us by so many poorly socialized Christians.

    It is eminently possible to show disrespect for religous ideas and the insidious and outright evil that they wreak without being anything but polite and good-natured to those who are still in the grip of these ideas. After all, most atheists were once religious, many of us being extremely devout. We are no more intelligent now than we were then although we are obviously much better educated about matters relating to religious beliefs.

    Those who have not yet crawled out of the cocoon yet may be frustrating, infuriating, rude, hurtful and hateful, but that does not mean that we have to return their dysfunctional behavior tit for tat. While we may not have a commitment to proselytize atheism we can at least try not to provide fodder for the continuation of the hateful stereotype that theists love to paint of us.

    • I think these are very good ideas. Good to be polite, good to be kind, yes, yes, yes.

      However, I don't think we should worry overmuch about 'not appearing rude' when theists have set the bar for rudeness so very low. Just saying you don't share their superstitions would be enough to be considered 'rude'. As we've seen in so many areas, stereotypes don't have to be true for people to hold them.

      So I'll be the rude atheist who pushes the boundaries of acceptable communication, and you be the nice atheist who sits down later with them and makes them some tea. Both of us are necessary.

    • Nice theists should be treated nicely, rude theists should be treated rudely. A nice theist, rude atheist pairing is not necessary at all.

    • I can get behind that.

  19. I'd like to get back to the notion of strangling kings with entrails…

  20. I would like to clarify my above statement, I am agnostic and tend to lean more towards the the atheist view point of things. My girlfriend is christian and not one of those who knocks on peoples doors pedaling her religion. My biggest issue is that while she hardly ever mentions the fact that she's christian to our group of friends or to anyone for that matter the moment one of our atheist friends finds out, she is instantly belittled and battered with a series of "but your so smart how could you be christian", and "what the hell's wrong with you, you should know better" comments thrown at her. She obviously isn't judging anyone she's with an agnostic who might as well be atheist. Because of the blatantly rude behavior she's had to deal with from friends, and even co-workers, I find myself defending a belief system I don't even believe in. It's even worse in school, academia now feels it's ok to equate christian with stupid. I sat in on some of her classes while her teachers make one ruthless attack after another about how foolish, naive, and ignorant it is to have any sort of faith . Talk show hosts like Bill Maher can make ridiculous documentaries like religulous which, while funny, are clearly biased seeings as he didn't even attempt to find even one remotely competent speaker for the opposing side of his argument. I'm just saying maybe it held true twenty years ago that the religious right got a free pass for a lot of things but the back lash of that has proved that atheist can be just as judgmental, callus, and self-righteous. I guess my point is that I was always highly offended when religious people pushed there beliefs on me, judged me, and attacked me with insults and persecution, why would i ever want to behave that way? If my point is to prove that I'm better then they are how can I possibly do that by behaving in the exact same manner.

    • Just to point out again, pedaling is something you do typically on a bicycle (ie. something with pedals) and peddling is trying to sell something. Pet peeves.

    • I feel that the inquisition may have been slightly more rude than calling someone, who believes in invisible alien faeries, stupid.

      While your point is valid about not needing to be rude, when some dimwit approaches me asking whether I "had found jesus" I feel obliged to reply that if he has lost his pet parrot, he may want to stick an ad on a pole, alternatively, he can fuck off.

  21. I'd also like to point out that every time a source is attempting to turn people away form religion they used the crudest and most rude people they can find to depict the entire group. This is very effective because no one wants to listen to or be associated with that asshole…it works the same way with atheists, so really you kinda are hurting the cause.

  22. If someone in your family or someone you cared about — a good person — held a fixed superstitious belief that carrying a blue painted rock will prevent him (or her) from getting mugged at night, would you go out of your way to mock and ridicule him for that belief? If this person had a certain concern for the rock and took extra measures to keep it safe, would you look down on him, subtly (or not so subtly) call him an idiot? Would you threaten to piss on the rock, or portray the rock in a manner that would offend or hurt this friend/family member's feelings, just to make the point that you believe the rock deserves no such special care because, hey, it's just an ordinary rock?

    Perhaps some people might think it's OK to piss on a friend's beloved rock. But I think this is the epitome of scumbag. And this is exactly what a lot of atheists end up doing.

    Yes, I agree that there are certain specific religious beliefs that should be pissed on (punishing/executing apostates; that a woman's testimony is worth half a man's; caste system). But other religious beliefs and rituals should be treated with at least some degree of empathy. There is no need to be rude to religious folk simply to prove a point that their rocks mean nothing to us atheists.

    There is a difference between being critical of a belief, questioning it and poking holes in its logic, and even making intelligent satire — and being rude, cruel, or just downright mean-spirited and stupid.

    Unfortunately, a lot of atheists do fall into that second category.

  23. It's odd how many times I've had similar conversations with people who really ought to know better.

  24. Welllll… when i was little i used to believe in gods and religions, it's always been in the guidelines for a good life and even affecting choices in everything we do! Its sickening to me when i see my friends neglecting new experiences just because of restrictions from religion. I mean it always feels good to know that someone "more powerful" and "omnipotent" is taking care of the world, therefore you get a sense of peace wherever you are. i do not ponder on the good in those that don't have belief or religion but pity at those that need religion to be good. its just a lame excuse for saying i leave my paths of life to the person sitting silently on top.
    Live life on how well your understanding and perception of life itself, not by how others teach you to view it.

  25. I actually have alot of respect for atheists. The ones I encountered are intelligent, well read, logical, need I go on? Would be great to have a discussion with if they weren't busy calling people who worship stupid and insulting their beliefs. Most of us Christians (the logical ones at least the ones I know) are not trying to force our belief(Catholic Protestant, whatever) down anyone's throat nor are we condemning anyone who doesn't believe what we believe to hell. We play video games, watch anime, read, think, we question and doubt. Hell we even like the religious jokes. I'm partial to the Catholic jokes myself. You're an atheist great! Be the best atheist you can be! I respect and if need be will fight to defend your right to be an atheist because while I am a theist(demographically a Catholic), I believe that the individual should have the right to choose for themselves. Live and let live. Insulting, judging, and degrading people for what they believe or don't believe never solved anything. That applies whether you are theist or atheist. Just ask the Christian protesters at the Fanime and DragonCon. Standing around waving placards shouting bible verses and threats of damnation through bullhorns at people minding their own business enjoying themselves at a convention did not win them anymore followers then they already had. However some of atheists I have encountered behave the same way. Self righteous, condescending, rude, judgmental. Remind you of anybody much? Although you don't read from a religious text, your attitude and mentality portray the same message "I'm right you're wrong/stupid/deluded/etc. because you don't agree with me and what you believe is wrong/stupid/etc". You know, my belief may be wrong but that is something I would like to explore on my own time and discover in my own way. If you can provide any points or directions in that journey of discovery you're welcome to come along. I'll be the first to concur that Christianity is f**ked up. Its a mixture of almost every religion that came before it from Judaism to Zoarastrianism to Greek legends, Gnosticism, etc. I could go on. Its been mistranslated and twisted even today to suit every one of mans wicked agendas against his fellow man and woman from burnings to genocide and everything in between. And you could say that for most of the religions in the world. Now if I am stupid, deluded, narrow minded etc. Why would I freely acknowledge this? I'm merely asking stop for a moment and talk to one of us. You be surprised how many of us are out there: thinking, rational, open minded people who happen to believe in a being/presence in their lives. (whatever name they are called by)

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