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Why are believers ignorant about atheists? (an article)

When believers talk about atheists, they often don't bother to talk to any first.  What are they afraid of?

Did you hear the one about the Anglican minister who said atheists have no reason for grief?

I wish I was joking. I’m not. In a widely disseminated and discussed opinion piece, Anglican minister Rev. Gavin Dunbar made an interesting and even compelling argument that grief is necessary for love and humanity… and then went on to argue that, unless you believe in God, you have no reason to care whether the people you love live or die, or even to love them in the first place.

The new atheists proclaim their gospel with the fervour of believers: God is dead, man is free, free from the destructive illusions of religion and morality, of reason and virtue. But then a someone dies, suddenly and cruelly, like the young man known to many in ..[this] parish [in [Eastern Georgia] who was killed in a freakish accident last weekend. And his death casts a pall of grief over his family, his friends, their families, his school, and many others. Yet if he was no more than an arrangement of molecules, a selfish gene struggling to replicate itself, there can be no reason for grief, or for the love that grieves, since these are (we are told) essentially selfish survival mechanisms left over from some earlier stage in hominid evolution. Friendship is just another illusion. But of course we do grieve, even the atheists. And in so grieving, they grieve better than they know (or think they know).

The grieving atheist cannot provide any reason why he grieves, or why he (rightly) respects the grief of others.

The rest of the article, by Greta Christina, goes on to explain the many, many ways Rev. Dunbar, and so many other religious, are wrong when they make assumptions about atheists without ever talking to one.  She goes point-by-point for a while, then gives up because the question always hovering is:  why?  Why make these assumptions, and why not take the time to speak with an atheist or learn more about what they do believe, and why they believe it?

I found the article to be insightful and intriguing, although I won't hold out hope that everyone here will take the time to read it.  For those who do, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

For those who don't, please don't bother.  You will have missed some important points.

Answer Question
 
jsbenkert

Asked by jsbenkert at 5:53 PM on Jun. 30, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,140 Credits)
Answers (33)
  • I read part of it. I find it bullshit that someone said that they can't grieve. WTF? I am a believer, but I make no assumptions about people that don't believe. I have friends that don't necessarily believe in God (not sure if they consider themselves atheist or not).
    AF4life

    Answer by AF4life at 6:00 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • I am a witch as well as an atheist. It is my view that death of the body is just another step in the cycle of life that begins with our birth. I have grieved for myself, as being separated from a loved one is a difficult adjustment, but I rejoice that the death of their bodies have sent their spirits home. I would no more grieve for my mother's transition into death than I would my grand-daughter's transition from childhood into adolescence. Both are natural events. And necessary steps in the growth of a human soul.

    I think that believers MUST believe that atheists are incapable of human feelings or basic morals. Otherwise, there is no purpose for their beliefs...or their non-existent deity. If they realize that feelings and morals are human--and NOT religious--in nature, they lose their sense of superiority.
    witchqueen

    Answer by witchqueen at 6:27 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • First off, I believe in God. Second of all, I don't think it's fair that you labeled all believers as ignorant because that is not the case. Although, that article gave me an epiphany. As a believer of God, I do not feel that atheists value life more. It is my belief that my actions here in earth will determine my afterlife. Therefore, life is VERY important to me. However, I think I have to agree that atheists may grieve more than those who believe in God. As a believer, I know that my family is waiting for me on the other side. For an atheist, death is finite, so the sadness, and anger, and missing a person is so much stronger because there is nothing else. The priest should have gotten more facts before he made a fool of himself, but I think that there are some atheists who should get their facts straight about believers. Witchqueen, you are one of those people.
    krissyvelazquez

    Answer by krissyvelazquez at 6:57 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • Second of all, I don't think it's fair that you labeled all believers as ignorant because that is not the case.  Where did I do this?  As you might have noticed, this was the title of the article, not my own words, and as titles go, I'm sure it was chosen to catch interest, as well as to economize words.


     

    jsbenkert

    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 7:05 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • For an atheist, death is finite, so the sadness, and anger, and missing a person is so much stronger because there is nothing else. Where did you get this idea? Did an atheist tell you this? I think we all grieve and feel loss in much the same way. I see death as a part of the process of living, and don't think I grieve or feel anger or sadness any more or any less than any person who believes in a god or gods. When I was religious, I felt as sad at the loss of a loved one as I do as an atheist, and the depth of those feelings haven't changed. Now you have a real answer from a real atheist, rather than one you made up for yourself.

    jsbenkert

    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 7:05 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • I think it's because some are so arrogant in thinking that their belief is the only correct one so, why even bother hearing another point of view.

    3libras

    Answer by 3libras at 7:27 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • For an atheist, death is finite, so the sadness, and anger, and missing a person is so much stronger because there is nothing else.


    *******


    okie dokie then... I havn't experienced that personally- In fact, I think I may take it a bit easier now.  I look at it like the person had to go to make room for a new life.  I also don't think there is NOTHING-  I love the line in Powder where he says "She didn't go some place... your wife. I felt her go. Not away, just out... everywhere."


    *I havn't  read the article yet-but just thought I'd add my two cents...


     


     

    charlotsomtimes

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 7:39 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • For an atheist, death is finite, so the sadness, and anger, and missing a person is so much stronger because there is nothing else.

    **************************************************************************************************************
    um, wrong. Would you like to know what an another atheist feels about death? I do not believe death is finite b/c I believe our entirety is part of the energy of th Universe. We come from the same energy that makes up the sun, stars, planets, moon, grass, wind, etc. It is this energy that we share in this lifetime and the same energy that transfers back to the stars and planets when we die from this body.
    I don't know if it is in a sense that we understand it like we do in this life....but I do not find it to be finite, but rather an extension of what we are now. Do I grieve at death of loved ones? Absolutely. who doesn't??
    sahmamax2

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 8:13 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • It goes both ways. Many believers feel atheists use broad stereotypes and extreme examples when describing religious people and a persons belief in God. As for the article we all face stupidity sometimes, yes atheists grieve like anyone else.
    RyansMom001

    Answer by RyansMom001 at 8:13 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

  • You have a point, RyansMom, but there is a slight difference.  Most atheists were once "believers", whereas few believers were once atheists.  That means that not only have we spoken to religious people on countless occasions (we couldn't avoid that if we actually wanted to) as religious people and as non-religious people, we've been religious people, so we truly understand that way of thinking.  Having been religious, we can speak for how we felt when we did believe (or when we tried to).  The point of the article is that so many people who speak in the manner the reverend did, do so without having ever asked an atheist how he or she feels about life, about death, about wonder, about grief, about love, or about any other human emotion or experience.  They have pulled these ideas out of thin air, then speak about them as if they had any idea what they were talking about.

    jsbenkert

    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 8:20 PM on Jun. 30, 2012

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