Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Atheist Columnist Writes Ranty Rant About How Annoying Atheists Are

Picture of a gathering of atheists with a giant Flying Spaghetti Monster in the background.
Some of those smug atheists.
So there's this op-ed that has appeared in the Telegraph Website written by Brendan O'Neill.

Go read it and I think you'll see. I can only imagine he's trying to one up Rex Murphy's latest anti-atheist screed. Perhaps he's going for honourary title of anti-atheist or mis-atheist-ist.

How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet

You know, the atheists, all of them a bunch of smug and annoying people. Let's write them all off.

He starts out by pinning for that long-past day when saying you were an atheist didn't make people think you were a self-righteous loather of dumb hicks given to making pseudo-clever statements like, "Well, Leviticus also frowns upon having unkempt hair, did you know that?"

Oh yes, what a dismal situation, indeed. Never mind, people losing their jobs or being shunned and disowned by their relatives.  These are pretty minor things in the grand scheme of things now aren't they? Buck up people! Bear witness to the true persecution! Apparently, Brendan can not attend a party anymore without having to pretend his a theist so people won't think he's a smart-ass or a Dawkins drone. Jesus wept!

As for these Bible statements I presumably spew ad nausea. I get plenty of Biblical references from my presumably non-smug non-atheist Christian relatives. They bring them up nearly constantly. So what is Brendan's point precisely?  I think he's rather he's lucky to have these problems, because I have no clue what my pious relatives will do to me if I brought up my atheism. I suspect it wouldn't be the same reaction he's getting.

You may not think it, but apparently Brendan has quite a few atheist friends and they apparently annoy the hell out of him.
Atheists online are forever sharing memes about how stupid religious people are. I know this because some of my best Facebook friends are atheists.
Hey! "I'm not prejudiced! Some of my best friends are atheist!" But I doubt he would be any fun at the next Skeptics in the Pub.
To that end if you ever have the misfortune, as I once did, to step foot into an atheistic get-together, which are now common occurrences in the Western world, patronised by people afflicted with repetitive strain injury from so furiously patting themselves on the back for being clever, you will witness unprecedented levels of intellectual smugness and hostility towards hoi polloi.
I don't think there is any problem there, Brendan. You do your own thing now and give the meetings a miss then.

If we all lived in presumably highly secularized Britain there would be less need for the safe havens that North American atheist clubs and groups provide.  I'm not certain, but I think that something is getting lost in translation here and Brendan doesn't seem to recognize how embattled and marginalized non-believers are in North America and possibly also rural UK and Europe.

I think that there is a need for these communities and as such an atheist identity is inevitable. As for positive outcomes of atheism, we do have Secular Humanism and, for some, Atheism+ for others and just being a decent human being counts for a lot.

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  1. This silliness again? "My friends are jerks" does not mean "all atheists are jerks." All it means is that this guy is really bad at picking friends. My Facebook friends list is full of atheists and I can't remember the last time I saw anything about how stupid or silly religious people are.

    The atheist community - to the extent that there is one - does have a lot to answer for. The recent sexual harassment and assault allegations, for example, tell us that there are some very disturbing systemic issues in our biggest and most powerful groups. But to complain that a bunch of "little guys" with no real social power are expressing either their "convert enthusiasm" or frustration seems rather silly, especially if they are trying to complain that this is a trait shared by atheists generally - which it most certainly is not.

  2. Yes, there are big problems with sexism and misogyny in particular in the atheist community. There is also gross under representation of racial and cultural minorities as well.

    I can't help but think he may have gotten the tone wrong. He could be wanting it to be a funny satirical piece to act like a kind of wake-up call. But if he did, then I think it was a fail.

    Basically, this article is sounding like he's calling us all a bunch of annoying little nerdy dweebs. He's cool, we're not.

  3. Exactly. There's so much that could (and should!) legitimately be said, and he's focusing instead of the caricature of a stereotype of a straw-atheist.

    I mean, dismissing atheist get-togethers as a whole like that? A large percentage of the friends I've made as an adult were met at atheist get-togethers. These are people who identify has atheists, but that's not what defines them. Many of them are social activists, or they spend their free time volunteering, they have hobbies and careers and families. They have better things to do than sit around complaining about "those religious people" (many of them are related to and love religious people). But our lives happened to intersect at atheist get-togethers, and we're been able to explore each other and our friendships from there.

    Perhaps this guy's problem is that he just showed up and refused to get to know anyone, so all he saw was the "common cause" that got them all in the room?

  4. He's clearly a concern troll. You're right, though - in the UK there's no problem; I don't think I know anyone that's religious, and I live in a small town. There are a number of churches that hardly anyone goes to.


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