Atheists Are No Different Than Religious People

At least once a week, I get an email or a comment that claims that there’s no difference between an outspoken atheist and an outspoken religious person.

Which is kind of like saying that there’s no difference between David Duke and Martin Luther King Jr. Just because people speak about their beliefs with the same amount of passion doesn’t mean that their beliefs are the same*. They’re confusing enthusiasm with substance in a tired argument made up entirely of rich creamy FAIL.

Now, if you want to amend the statement and say that atheists are as annoying as religious people with their constant rants and arguments then I’ll agree.

*Oh and how they’re different. If you don’t agree with a Christian they tell you that after you die you will burn for all eternity in a lake of fire. If you disagree with an atheist they’ll tell you, “Ok, sure. Care for some bacon?” (We can’t compete with eternal damnation when it comes to threats.)

20 Comments

  1. I think the argument as I understand it is that the opposite of a religious person is not an atheist, but a wishy washy agnostic who doesn’t really take it seriously either way.. Take a Spinoza like view, almost pantheistic.. God is Nature.. or the laws of physics ARE God.. then it becomes a different argument. It becomes more of an argument of what it means to believe. Religious people and Atheists feel the same passion about something undefined in the first place. If you start with – I don’t believe in GOD.. well define what it meant by your object.. if it is a man in the sky who watches what you do.. then no. If you start with something like God is the material world.. then another question. This is just the argument as I understand it..but I guess I have to recognize where I am posting this and expect a bit of reaction. So.. sorry if I offend.

  2. i think a agree with wishy washy. main stream religious belief or disbelief is so ambiguous, very few ppl i’ve met have actually spent time to define and practice a spiritual belief (or disbelief) mainly because north america and many other western countries lean more toward secularism that a religious/ spiritual affiliation is just an after though in a lot of cases. i actually enjoy coming across a person with a strong belief about religion because it’s so rare to find someone willing to put the time in, either to learn about the subject in general or to establish how he or she fits into the belief. scepticism is at an all time high, so much so that it’s become the new ‘religion’. theres actually an interesting book i read a while ago called ‘God is an Atheist’ by nossiriah or something… i wrote a review of it on amazon, it was good. but its basically about this guy who has a coffee with god and discovers that god isnt religious. it’s a good and short read, like 100 pgs, i recommend it.
    i think when people say that atheists and religious people are alike they mean that both groups give credence to the same idea, enough so to strongly agree or disagree with it.
    this goes off into another discussion of what an atheist or religious person actually is. i mean many of my ‘atheist’ friends are not atheists, they just aren’t religious, which isn’t necessarily the same thing. but that’s another discussion i think.

  3. Firstly, I don’t consider myself much of anything. I try not to believe in anything over-zealously. I certainly don’t believe in God but I also studied religion in college, enjoyed it enormously, and sincerely appreciate the general message put forth by Jesus.

    To say that there are no differences between atheists and the religious is absurd. But I think its hard to deny that there aren’t striking similarities between the two in certain respects.

    Most often, those similarities are leveled when hard line Atheists criticize their religious counterparts for being over-zealous and for outright refusing to even consider the possibility of other systems of thought. Of which, at times individual atheists (or anyone for that matter) can also sometimes be at fault.

  4. “Now, if you want to amend the statement and say that atheists are as annoying as religious people with their constant rants and arguments then I’ll agree.”
    sometimes i wish that this blog had a ‘like’ button like on facebook.
    😀

  5. I have yet to find the first news article or history book mentioning either:
    1) An atheist that went nuts and went for the rifle and the watchtower…
    2) A great massacre or senseless war fueled by atheist thought.

    However, it’d only take me seconds to find such cases in subjects of almost every major religious belief (ok, granted, budhism is hard). Religious societies or circles breeds and nurtures zealous bigots, aggressive zealous bigots with a greater lack on reasoning capabilities, who are often easy to manipulate.

  6. I would agree with the statement in the sense that to me your average outspoken atheists are just as uncomfortable at keeping their beliefs to themselves and just as keen to have everyone agree with them as your average outspoken religious folk.

  7. The comment is generally made in the view that “If you’re preaching that Atheism is the ‘correct’ belief people should have then you’re just as wrong as every other preacher”

    And I would support that.
    Now, I use the word “belief” for a very good reason. If you’re actually interacting with people then you should not be shoving your beliefs down their throats. Your belief should not be considered “the law”. And your belief should not be considered “the truth”.

    Your beliefs are not Science, at any point. No one’s are. And atheists claiming otherwise are the people who tend to get those complaints sent to them.

  8. I’m a part time atheist and when I spend time with my Bible banging relations I’m very polite and nod and ask non-probing questions. I don’t try to undo their faith and am very respectful of their beliefs.

    But in the public marketplace of ideas it’s no holds barred.

    I can’t say that the opposite is true as my relatives continually hold my nose and try to get me to swallow Jesus whole, assuming I’m a heathen because I’m not all “praise god” and “praise jesus” 24/7.

    Atheists may seem strident because their public ideas make sense and are difficult to attack any other way. But I’ll bet most of them are very polite in private company.

  9. “We can’t compete with eternal damnation when it comes to threats.”

    Oh yeah? Well, after you die worms will eat your corpse and your consciousness will simply evaporate into the inky blackness that is the void. You will simply cease to be. Within 100 years, no one will remember your name at all. It will be as if you never did or accomplished anything.

    The worms will remember you better.

    Sounds like a reasonable threat to me. 🙂

  10. Jim, that’s not exactly a threat. It’s almost the opposite, since atheists don’t say “if you won’t stop believing in god, this will happen to you”.

  11. “We can’t compete with eternal damnation when it comes to threats.”
    How about: “When you die, you will cease to be, but you will have wasted the speck of existence that you had praying to a God that never existed, rather then spending more time enjoying your life.”

  12. @Sheldon. Bah. That has no pizazz. Burning in a lake of fire with buzzards pecking out your eyes being forced to listen to David Hasselhoff albums, now that’s a threat.

  13. @WishWashy Stalin et-al just didn’t want any opposition of any sort, didn’t bother him if you were christian or not, no other organisations of any sort full stop. You’ll be getting shot, and your building destroyed, just so they could say ‘it never existed’ – remind us of anyone ?

  14. Funny link, second line mentions a third of population being religious, a good deal of them of the ortodox church, further reading proves that the stance towards religion was rather varying from ban to encouragement depending on state and local population.
    Not to mention that i fail to find any greater case of #2 in the soviet union: no invasion or war or massacre was justified with atheism, and in general, they didn’t do much different than a certain other world power.

  15. When one speaks comparatively of “outspoken this” and “outspoken that”, the “this and that” are merely modifiers, or flavors, if you will, of “outspoken”. Being outspoken is not intrinsically annoying or intrinsically anything. How one is perceived when functioning as an “outspoken person” I think is principally determined by style of presentation. My experience with people of opinion thus far suggests to me strongly that all artistic, political, philosophical, and religious preferences, are their core aesthetic preferences. One favors what “feels right”. Interestingly, a deist telling an atheist that they are “going to hell” is equivalent to an atheist telling a deist that the god they put their faith and hope in does not if fact exist. Do not both points of view, though for different reasons, ultimately suggest a “separation from deity“?

  16. About atheism fueling massacres: spanish civil war. Although it could be argued that it was due to anti-clericalism rather than to atheism.

    And to us agnostics, atheist are as boring and tiring as religious people. Are they different? I don’t know and I don’t care…as much as I don’t know and I don’t care about afterlife.

  17. John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me” – If this is the truth, and I believe it is, your comments will be meaningless after you die. The truth will set you free.

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