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Austin Cline

Mailbag: Bitter Atheists

By January 27, 2013

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From: "Joseph"
Subject: Anger
Hey Austin, it must really suck living life so angry all the time. you appear to be a very bitter individual. Im not judging you, Im just saying it appears that way.

More than one writer has assumed that I must be an angry person who is bitter about religion. Why? As near as I can tell, based upon the "evidence" I have been shown of my anger, anyone who criticizes religion generally and Christianity specifically qualifies as "angry." Perhaps it is just wrong to criticize religion?

Actually, I think that it stems from a failure of imagination on the part of the writers. For them, their religion is all happy and wonderful and joyous; ergo, it just isn't possible for a happy person to make criticisms. They are taught that True Happiness can only be found within their religious community; ergo those who are outside the community must not understand what True Happiness is. I fit it in both categories, so I must be really unhappy, right?

And, all the time, the claims that I am angry and bitter allows a person to simply avoid dealing with the critiques they read and ignore anything else I might offer.

Please dont judge all Christians by the fact that some Christians pissed you off. You have stooped down to the very level that you speak out against. You have designed a web site thats sole purpose is to bash Christians. You take the scriptures out of context, and you violate the text.

Actually, I don't judge all Christians based upon my experiences with a few and I have often cautioned other atheists not to do that either. Some Christians may judge all atheists based upon their encounters with a few (I see it often), but that doesn't mean that I do the same.

It's always amusing when someone says that the "sole purpose" of this site is to "bash Christians" or "attack Christianity." Such people have invariably read perhaps a dozen pages... out of over nine thousand! They think that gives them good grounds for judging the site as a while. All the while, they are ignoring the extensive information on atheism, philosophy, skepticism, the paranormal, Islam, etc.

I never really believed in God util I turned 21. I was a Severe cocain addict, approx $400.00 a day. I overdosed on cocaine in front of my mother on her living room floor. The fact is , I was very lonley and depressed. Maybe a smart guy like yourself who's witty and well educated would'nt know where Im coming from. I could be in room filled with a hundred of my closest friends , but I would still feel lonely and empty inside. I felt like I just had this void that needed to be filled. When I was laying in the abulance on the way to the hospital I began to wonder, what happens when I die. It was at that time , I said " Jesus would you save me! "

I do feel sorry for what this person went through - it sounds like a horrible series of experiences. At the same time, I do wonder if he simply traded one addiction for another. Granted, religion doesn't ravage the body in the same way that cocaine does, but it can ravage the mind. Too often I've seen people engage in bizarre mental contortions in order to defend the most illogical beliefs, all because those beliefs were part of their religion. And then we have those who appear to have had their moral compass damaged by religious doctrine, defending the most heinous situations all on account of what they believe their god told them.

I cant make you believe what I believe and I wont try to, Im not a salesman, Jesus is free. Your hurts are very obvious in your writing, and you come across as someone who is very confused about life. Maybe Im way off base, but I doubt it. talk to you later, hopefully.

"Off base" would be putting it mildly. Too many Christians assume that if you don't accept their beliefs, their doctrines, and their mythology, then you must be "hurting" inside - and of course all of that will go away once you take Jesus into your heart. What would it take for them to imagine, just for a moment, that someone can be happy and content without their religion? I don't know. I've never met anyone who managed to move from one position to the other.

More selections from the Agnosticism / Atheism Mailbag...

August 5, 2007 at 9:38 am
(1) superhappyjen says:

But if someone was hurting inside I can see how religion would be very inticing. It offers tidy solutions to all problems.

August 5, 2007 at 11:19 am
(2) 411314 says:

Probably depends on the religion. My aunt is a Christian conservative and she often seems uncomfortable. I think Christian fundamentalism doesn’t give people inner peace like some other religious beliefs do because it teaches adherents that they are always at war. According to this warped worldview, Satan’s influence is everywhere.

August 5, 2007 at 3:24 pm
(3) Tom says:

You know, I always hear how someone’s life was a mess, then they found Jesus and now everything is o-kay. I’d like to hear one person say something like, “Yeah, I had a great-paying job from which I gained enormous satisfaction, a wife and two kids whom I loved dearly and whose presence in my life gave me a sense of purpose and confidence, and I can’t ever remember experiencing anything other than general good health and a sense of well-being and contentment. So I decided to ask Jesus into my heart.”

Never have. I wonder why.

August 5, 2007 at 10:17 pm
(4) JonJ says:

I think there are two kinds of Christians (probably believers in other religions, too, but I’m most familiar with Christianity). Some are fairly happy and at peace with themselves, but believe the Christian mythology for one reason or another. (Not a *rational* reason, of course, but for reasons that they consider reasonable.) These are the ones you rarely hear of on the Internet or elsewhere. They just go to church, hang out with their fellow believers, and so on, and are pretty quiet.

The ones who make all the noise on the Internet, etc., are usually the “bitter” Christians. They call us “bitter,” so we should be quite frank about pointing out that they are the real bitter ones.

Usually, I think, they feel that they would be worthless without Jesus (perhaps because of the mess their lives were before they “found him”–childhood sexual abuse, drugs, or whatever), and Christianity, with its emphasis on original sin, the innate corruptedness of human nature without the correct religious beliefs, and so on, encourages them in this feeling.

Now they hear people challenging the very beliefs they think of as their lifeline–their last hope before jumping off the bridge. So of course they lash out bitterly at atheists.

Unfortunately, there seems to be nothing that we can do to calm them down; they are wrestling with their own internal demons and projecting them outward in a desperate attempt to achieve peace of mind. I think we will continue to see this kind of bitter Christian again and again until the therapeutic community finds some way of successfully treating what is tormenting their minds.

August 6, 2007 at 9:22 am
(5) tracieh says:

>What would it take for them to imagine, just for a moment, that someone can be happy and content without their religion?

Not only do they need to discount the possibility of atheist happiness, but happiness that people find in all other religions–including Buddhism, which often disregards the idea of “gods”–or, when it does accept them, labels them as inconsequential.

People who make the assumption they have the key to happiness for other people, are disregarding what they can actually observe–happy people who don’t agree with them.

Are there things in life I’m dissatisfied with? Certainly. Am I a generally unhappy person? No. If a person thinks there is nothing in life to be concerned or dissatisfied with, I wonder about their level of empathy for others who are suffering on the planet.

My atheism stems from the realization that the god I believed in was a metaphor. And the church has sold many people on this “metaphor as reality” plan–at the expense of people’s real lives. Can they be happy? Sure. Are they missing out on reality? Sure.

It’s happiness in the same way that the three Napoleons down at County in Ward 8 are happy being revered world leaders.

August 15, 2007 at 12:35 pm
(6) Michael F. says:

There is no more anger in my dismissing religion than in my dismissing ghosts, faeries and Santa Claus.

August 15, 2007 at 1:01 pm
(7) Todd says:

i’ll admit to being bitter. 32 years of taking BS from Xians will do that. i’ve learned to direct that bitterness in better ways over that time as well.

August 15, 2007 at 5:42 pm
(8) Chuck says:

Good comment Tom, I always wondered about that also.
Austin,do you ever get in to that point when you wish you could just grab a theist by the head and do something like a “mind meld” so they would finally understand?! No amount of talking seems to convince them no matter how much proof and perfect logic/reason you can humanly muster. They can’t get it through their heads that “just because your weak minded and can’t live right w/o your god don’t mean that I can’t.”

Anyhoo Austin, just keep “hurting” like the rest of us atheist. ha, ha


August 15, 2007 at 6:26 pm
(9) Em says:

They don’t realize that *THEY* are the ones coming to *US*.

They come to our ‘hiding places’ on the internet and make the effort to send unsolicited mail and commentary to us. We do not ‘do something’ to provoke them, we don’t DO ‘bitter’ things, which point them to our spots, and they then tell us about that ‘bitter’ thing we said to them.

They come looking for us, to tell us, we’re bitter. I don’t go track down bitter people to tell them they’re bitter, seems like a waste – unless *I* were bitter, *about* them ;)

August 15, 2007 at 11:00 pm
(10) tr says:

Why is it ďJesus saved meĒ? Why is it that ďItís in godís handsĒ Why is it that we wonít take responsibility for who we are? Itís always someone or something else. So who got you into drugs? If you took drugs and got lonely and felt empty then Iím sorry for you, but you did that on your own. If you are lucky enough to walk away from that then you are doing it on your own. There is no great sky spirit that gets you out of a bad situation. You were able to break the habit on your own – and should be proud of it. Take the responsibility of doing right or wrong on your own shoulders and stop pawning it off on sky gods. Fact is the good doctors probably saved you and you should be happy they were there when you needed them. That is the bitter truth.

August 17, 2007 at 2:49 pm
(11) DamnRight says:

When christians make unfounded assertions… & when I don’t buy into them… it’s because I’m angry… now that makes me angry…

August 17, 2007 at 4:10 pm
(12) RMHK says:

You don’t seem bitter to me, Austin. I think Christians like to perceive it that way.

September 3, 2010 at 11:19 pm
(13) MikeM says:

“it must really suck living life so angry all the time. you appear to be a very bitter individual.

Nothing like a little name-calling and label-pinning in trying to knock the other guy off balance. Didn’t work this time did it?

April 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm
(14) dionysus says:

Call me jaded if you will but I don’t believe this guy. I’m sorry but why is it that such a huge proportion of evangelizers claim they were heavy drug users, gang members, thieves, you name it until they found Jesus? Granted, I’m not doubting that such a thing can potentially happen but I sincerely doubt that every one of these people is telling the truth. What baffles me is what they’re trying to accomplish with this. Clearly a non-believer isn’t going to make the connection between non-belief and being a drug addict/thief/gang member/what have you and it’s not like this sort of story is very flattering to Christianity if you really think about it as it implies that Christianity appeals to drug addicts and the like so I have to ask again: what’s the point of these atrocity tales?

October 28, 2011 at 9:33 am
(15) SWS says:

Re your tweet: “Why is it “Jesus saved me”? Why won’t we take responsibility for who we are? Always someone or something else”:

I too have often pondered these questions. And I don’t get it either. I know that I have been “guilty” of this same behavior a few times in my life, crediting people or philosophies for saving my ass at any given point in my long & painful life. In all seriousness, I have to ask, is it possible that humans are “hard-wired” to have this attitude, be it permanently or temporarily?

Is there any culture out there that doesn’t have at least one individuals believing that someone or something has saved them?

Is it somewhere in our DNA? I am not being superficial or attempting a joke here; I honestly wonder if this is a possiblility.

But meanwhile, I think we that in the final analysis, we should credit ourselves for finding and/or opening up to these “saving graces”, whatever they may be and however long their influence is in our lives. Said “someones” or “somethings” *don’t* find us, we find them.

(As there are many aspects to one’s self, perhaps there is a Higher Self within who is responsible? But it doesn’t really matter.)

January 27, 2013 at 8:33 am
(16) Mike Tilton says:

I accepted Jesus as my savior in 1980…I had a lot of questions about what I considered contradictions in the Bible. The different Pastors brushed off the glaring contradictions or said it was a test of my faith. Upon further study I renounced Christianity and theism as a whole. Now I’m a happy Agnostic Atheist and very glad to be free of that yoke of bondage called religion.

January 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm
(17) Cousin Ricky says:

Of course I can’t know what’s going on in Joseph’s head, but his claim still puzzles me. It sounds like the old “no atheists in foxholes” claim, which makes perfect sense to believers who are projecting, but no sense at all to non-believers. Why would someone pray to a god that he doesn’t believe exists?

His turn to Jesus certainly stems from being immersed in Christian surroundings, but how? Did a Christian proselytize to him shortly before his crisis and he decided to give it a try out of desperation? Was he raised as a Christian but just didn’t buy it until his crisis? Or was he a believer all along who found his lifestyle incompatible with Christianity, or spent his life in rebellion against his own beliefs (ironically, a charge that Christians often use against atheists), and mistakenly considered that state of cognitive dissonance to be non-belief?

February 6, 2013 at 9:25 am
(18) JTL says:

The most bitter, unhappy miserable people I have ever met are also the most vocal Christians. I believe there is a connection.

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