Rejecting God: Why are atheists so hated?

On YouTube is an atheist named darkmatter2525. About two weeks ago he posted a video called “The Real God: An Epiphany” (see below), in which he argues something similar to what I said here back in January: that God is all in your mind and nothing more.

His epiphany, so to speak, comes about from what is a flawed line of thinking. He starts out talking about the premise by Christians that atheists are “rejecting” God by going into what rejection means and analogizing it to a person trying to set a friend up on a blind date. Now with some Christians – the proselytizing kind  — they are trying to set you up on a blind date with God. For most Christians, however, such as those who continually say “I’m praying for you”, they’re not trying to set you up. They’ve already given your number to someone else and at least had the courtesy to tell you that they’ve done that, though they lacked the courtesy to ask permission before providing your number.

And the Christian might say, “Oh He’ll call, just you wait.” And so far, my phone’s yet to ring, but I digress.

Now darkmatter does properly assess that the person being set up (the atheist) can express doubt toward or even flat out reject the premise that the friend (God) even exists. So to the Christian I respond, “I’m still waiting for that phone call.”

From there, darkmatter asserts that the Christian does in fact believe we are rejecting God and becomes angry at this rejection because God and the Christian are one in the same. While he is correct that Christians do see atheists as rejecting God, it isn’t because God and the Christian are one in the same. It is because the Christian thinks that when they pray for you, God is actually trying to turn you back toward him. And if you repeatedly assert yourself as an atheist all the while they are praying for you, in their eye you must be rejecting God. Yes it is that simple.

In other words, you can only either accept or reject what God offers since God is “very real”, kind of like you can only accept or reject that person’s best mortal friend.

While the atheist may perceive the Christian as not having any legitimate reason for feeling rejection, as the God of the Bible does not exist, the Christian “knows” their God does exist, hence their feeling of rejection. It is also true that a person may not have any legitimate reason to feel rejected if you reject their best friend, but the feeling of rejection comes from association: the person may feel that by rejecting their friend you are rejecting a part of them. In the case of Christians, we’re talking about rejecting a friend and mentor believed to have a major influence on that person’s life, which is why the sense of rejection appears amplified. They hold that particular friend in high regard, and the atheist rejection of that friend causes that sense of rejection, and the accompanying anger.

This rejection, however, is not the reason atheists are hated by Christians, in my opinion.

A person who hates everyone who does not accept their friends or one particular friend (i.e. God) is a person with deep psychological issues that need to be resolved. And while plenty of atheists would say that religion is a mental disorder, I do not share that point of view. All Christians, except the most reclusive, have other friends and family members that you can choose to accept or not. Your rejection of a subset of those individuals may cause the person to feel a sense of rejection, regardless of how you justify it, but your refusal to accept any particular among them I doubt highly would cause that person to hate or demonize you. Now if you refuse to accept any of that person’s friends, then there’s something to be said on that, but again I digress.

Instead I feel there’s another dichotomy that darkmatter does not consider, and that it is the proper answer to the question of why a lot of Christians hate atheists and atheism: “you’re either with us or against us”. And Christians have, at least for the last several decades, seen atheists as the opposition. In other words: it’s tribalism. To put it in more religious-style terms: you are either the persecutor or the persecuted. And which would you rather be?

One thing that is rather interesting is how Christians can play both the persecutor and the persecuted at the same time:

As True Christians, we are called upon to marginalize other faiths or people with no faith and to scream “PERSECUTION!” when they rudely return the favor.

— Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian!

And before anyone responds, yes I know the whole “Betty Bowers” is nothing but an act, but many of the statements attributed to her are rather accurate observations, including the one quoted above. All you have to do is look at how Christians operate in this country. They are the majority and continually try to assert that majority, attempting to demonize and marginalize atheists and “secularists” in the process, and scream persecution or that their rights are being violated whenever they are opposed or don’t get what they want or what they think is constitutional. Actually those are one in the same, as they seem to think that anything agreeing with their politico-religious beliefs is constitutional. They don’t like that the government is being forced by the Courts to obey the Constitution (something it’s members took an oath to do before taking office) and are blaming a politically powerless segment of the population for it.

They need to keep us marginalized, which is why they react harshly to attempts by atheists to organize and advertise those organization attempts (see “Advertising Atheism“). If we organize, we become an unmanageable threat to their majority and their power. It is not irony nor coincidence that Christian conservatives will readily support the idea that this country is a republic until their majority religious view is challenged, then they assert the existence of that majority – a democratization of their view – as tacit authorization to do whatever they want – creationism in schools, Ten Commandments and other religious displays on government buildings, a cross as the 9/11 memorial, and so on – regardless of whether the Constitution actually permits it.

And this marginalization is not anything new. It has been going on for centuries. And marginalization is not a weapon exclusively wielded by the pious. It has been used by majorities of all flavors, both political and religious, for millennia.

So getting back to darkmatter2525 and his video, he correctly points out that atheists are a demonized, marginalized, hated minority, but incorrectly points out why that is the case. It’s association with the psychological response to rejection exists only to the extent that Christians do feel you are rejecting someone they believe with their whole heart and soul is real. But the reason atheists are hated by Christians has little to do with that rejection and everything to do with seeing us as an opposing force to their politico-religious goals and ends.