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« Religion and moral valuesChapters... »

Why do atheists care?

  • By: Qwaider

  • On:Wednesday, August 27, 2008 8:10:26 PM
  • In:Thoughts
  • Viewed: (4430) times

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    It baffles me at time, of how sensitive some of the people who consider themselves atheists, and I really can't even start to imagine why they care what people think of their beliefs?

    Let me, and for the record, state my position on atheism. I'm a believer, but, I respect people's beliefs. If they choose to believe in God, the trinity, Buddha, Satan or nothing at all that's their own decision. I respect it. I don't really care what people believe in. They can be whatever they want to be! That is fine by me!

    In fact, I don't care if someone in my immediate family was atheist, or too religious. It doesn't bother me in anyway. As long as they don't start projecting ideas and concepts that applies only to them in their belief system and no one else.

    Now, I've known atheists since the 80's (yes, I'm an old timer, I know). I've argued with these folks on every aspects of thought. We agreed, we disagreed and we continued to be friends and relatives. Back in the times when Atheism wasn't such a "cool" trend.

    Today, I'm just surprised to see neo-atheists becoming as sensitive as some of the most fanatic religious people. In fact, I've seen some defining the beliefs to the point that you would be surprised if they're really asking for freedom of belief of freedom to force everyone to believe as they do.

    What's even more surprising is that some started to claim that everything bad the happens to them in the society is completely based on people hating them. Now, I would never dare to claim the middle eastern societies accept or allow certain ideas to circulate. But that doesn't mean that someone is going to run after you with a stick and attempt to beat some faith into you... It just doesn't happen! At least, not in the societies I've encountered.

    Many people, go by their merry lives, completely not caring. I'm just surprised that some feel more sensitive that their ideas are being ridiculed. Some more than others!

    So why do atheists care?

    Could it be due to the fact that people equate religion to ethics? Does that mean that people are projecting their lack of faith as lack of morals? Or social guidelines!?

    I wonder!

    Disclaimer: With all due respect to any sensitive atheist out there. This is not an attempt to ridicule or make fun of you. For religious people who feel offended. This is not really intended to offend you. I'm just wondering!

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    • #1
    • Naser
    • Windows Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 8/27/2008 10:27:58 PM
    Its normal!
    just like any other group in any society there will be some who'd be extra sensitive about whatever they believe in.
    and just like any group of people in any society there will be some who'd blame society,fate,luck,God,or whatever for their problems !
    Right Naser, but Why do they care? I'm surprised! I mean there's nothing that their defending no god, no supreme being .. nothing. So why the sensitivity?
    Is is true these folks are suffering from what the way people view them, as immoral or unethical? I really wish any one of them would give an answer
    Maybe this is really not a correct observation...
    • #3
    • Yazan
    • Windows Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 8/28/2008 3:18:34 AM
    Dear Qwaider.
    Thank you for this great post indeed.
    I am an atheist, and not because I think it's cool ;), I just don't believe in God. And that's simply how I view the world.

    To say that everything bad that happens to me is due to discrimination against my beliefs is illogical. And I don't think that's a popular view amongst atheists.

    To answer your question of 'Why do I care?' one should firstly address the question of 'When do I care?'. And that would be your answer.
    I get annoyed when someone calls me a 'sinner' because of my beliefs. I think that's disrespectful and annoying.

    Let me elaborate more on this. Religious believers don't commit murders, not because they are scared of an imaginary being out there who would send them to the fires of hell if they did. They don't commit murders because it's human nature to see it as 'wrong'.

    I don't steal because I don't think it's right to take whats wrongfully yours. It's just how the human mind operates. And for those who don't get such concepts (that difference between bad and good doings), won't be stopped by God from committing 'sins'.

    History has proven that even the most religious people commit the most horrible sins, and vice versa.

    I hope that answers your question.
    Thank you Yazan, I appreciate you taking the time to answer this. But I don't think that is the point. You see, I am a firm believer that ethics are really not related to religion. They exist outsider of religion and people may or may not have them. Same goes for committing Sins although, sins are by definition religious misconduct, believe it or not, it might not even be ethically a problem at times. Ethics as I explained above might be the reason why they care. It might not be the complete story.

    Anyway, my confusion remains, I'm not really sure why someone atheist would be so sensitive about their belief
    • #5
    • 3awwakkhalaf
    • Windows Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 8/28/2008 10:44:15 AM
    religion is "the" plague!
    • #6
    • Naser
    • Windows Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 8/28/2008 2:22:07 PM
    oh yea,WE do suffer from wut people think of us once they hear you're an Atheist .
    however in my case,i managed to have a good respectable relationships with almost everyone I've dealt with ! I'm not aggressive i don't go attack believers for the heck of it but if asked I'll answer,its really simple,atheists are just like anyone else,you like some ,you hate some u respect some,you don't respect some,not based on wut their religion is,based on wut kind of person one is !no ?

    I do understand though why some would think I'm such a horrible person with no ethics and boundaries ,i take it easy and prove them wrong .easy :)
    but a general thought though ,one could argue : why are Arabs and Muslims so sensitive about being called "Terrorists" ,there are Arab and Muslim terrorists so why sensitivity !?
    its a matter of being judged with pre-set idea about you.that wut make some extra sensitive.
    • #7
    • Yazan
    • Windows Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 8/28/2008 3:44:16 PM
    That's what you believe, but it's not necessarily the popular stand in society.
    I once had an argument with a believer, who said that if he owned a company, he wouldn't higher and atheist, because he can't be trusted.
    lol @ the disclaimer.

    Even though I work in a company with a religious Muslim corporate culture, never for an instant did I sense any discrimination from any of my co-workers. Also it never really came up except for a one-time confrontation with my extended family (my nuclear family have known for a while about my being atheist and while they don't like it, they've accepted it).

    The last paragraph sums up any sensitivities I have as an atheist. In any case even if someone assumes I'm immoral if they find out I'm atheist, once they get to know me, they change their mind quickly :)
    I didn't see how the title fits with the rest of the post, but if you mean why some of us care about other religions, it's simple, I need to understand what the people around me believe and I need to justify to myself my continued disbelief!
    3awwakhalaf
    It might be, but for centuries, thousands of years and up until today. Religion has been the best control system for humans.
    And besides, we're not talking about religion in specific here, but rather lack of :)

    Naser
    I totally sympathize with anyone who has to suffer like that.
    I agree, I don't stop people to ask for their religious affiliations before deciding if I want to talk with them or not
    I like the analogy you presented. Why do Arabs feel upset about being called terrorists? with a little thought, I think it's because it's a false generalization. However, calling someone atheist who is atheist isn't a generalization nor is it untrue.. I'm confused more now!
    But I guess, it's about how people will find a way to judge and link Morality to religion

    Yazan
    I'm sorry you had to hear stuff like that. I guess it's a good thing that he doesn't own the company :)

    Hani
    Thank you for sharing your experience... That is what I usually had in mind when I thought of atheists. I really didn't care what they believe in. They're just like anyone else! human!

    Now you all do realize that you're all going to hell right?
    Lol, I was surprised that you understood what I meant. :D
    Lots of spelling mistakes.
    God I should start check-reading my post before I actually post it.
    no Qwaider i dnt have a problem being called Atheist :d thats not where the "generalizing" part comes.its when you're labeled as a "bad" person by default .
    I should add that there were 3 expressions I was unfamiliar with that I only learned since I started working with Muslims:

    1. When someone does something really bad to you, people say (ma 3andoosh deen) (he doesn't have a religion)

    2. or (ma bikhafesh allah) (he is not scared of God)

    Of course for both item 1 and 2, you only have to list all the bad things people who claim to be afraid of God, and who do believe in a religion to realize they are totally irrelevant to morality.

    3. Finally you'd be surprised how many Ayat in the Quran have the phrase (la3natu allahi 3ala al-kafireen) (God's curse on the heathens). Of course as you said, why would I be afraid of a curse from a none existing entity ?
    Now you all do realize that you're all going to hell right? hahaha.good one ya rafeeg.
    • #15
    • KJ
    • Windows Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 8/29/2008 11:29:53 AM
    I'm not an atheist so I can't help  here!

    But to comment on Hani's last comment, these two phrases I think have become more of a cultural thing rather than a person meaning it literally (like telling someone is a khawal without meaning it literally).

    As for the last comment, I find it amusing too that an atheist would be offended if our God has a curse on the heathens. I mean if you don't believe that god exists then why are you offended!

    In any case the sensitivty issue probably arose from the fact that they have been discriminated against inthe past for so long that now when it has become more mainstream to be an atheist it's a sort of fighting for a position.

    But each to their own! I have a mix of friends and they're all awesome!
    KJ, I never said I was offended, I'm just remarking on those statements. The la3natoo aya is an example showing that Theists are happy to criticize atheists, so when atheists return the favor, it should not be seen as a personal insult, just a difference of opinion.

    KJ Said:"I mean if you don't believe that god exists then why are you offended!"

    That's exactly what i said :)

    Hani said:"why would I be afraid of a curse from a none existing entity "
    • #17
    • KJ
    • Windows Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 8/29/2008 2:30:17 PM
    Sorry Hani :D ana ajdab LOL!
    KJ, your rock! Me ruler!

    You two, get a room! Next to fadi and moey

    Z*****r, I'd be honored to meet any or all of the people you mentioned, and if you have problems with people being nice to each other, try it sometimes and maybe you'll have friends of your own instead of being emptied by transparent jealousy. Cheers.
    • #21
    • MD
    • Suse OS Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 9/3/2008 9:23:04 AM
    Hani,
    would have been nice to show a reference for the verse you brought.
    It has by the way nothing to do with atheist, so don't take it personally, its about a little group of jews, who refused to believe in Mohammed's Quran that is similar to what they have in their books.
    there is a huge difference between atheist and "Kafir". and no one on earth has the right to label another by Kafir or believer. Maybe it is enough for God to believe in a nature force, in ethics, or simply that we have to do our job the right way. God decides this, not you , neither me. lets just be all good, and if there is someone up there then he decides what his priorities are. I won't do that for him.
    ( إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَأَصْلَحُوا وَبَيَّنُوا فَأُولَـٰئِكَ أَتُوبُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَأَنَا التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ)

    MS here's one example (Al-Baqara - 160/161), and trust me there are many. The 2 ayat are pretty clear, either you repent, and are forgiven or you're a kafir, and are cursed. Many disagree on your political definition  that Kafir refers to jews jews. Mos define it as simply someone who doesn't "believe" in Islam or God period. Here are 3 different translations of the 2 ayat above.

    002.160
    YUSUFALI: Except those who repent and make amends and openly declare (the Truth): To them I turn; for I am Oft-returning, Most Merciful.
    PICKTHAL: Except those who repent and amend and make manifest (the truth). These it is toward whom I relent. I am the Relenting, the Merciful.
    SHAKIR: Except those who repent and amend and make manifest (the truth), these it is to whom I turn (mercifully); and I am the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.

    002.161
    YUSUFALI: Those who reject Faith, and die rejecting,- on them is Allah's curse, and the curse of angels, and of all mankind;
    PICKTHAL: Lo! Those who disbelieve, and die while they are disbelievers; on them is the curse of Allah and of angels and of men combined.
    SHAKIR: Surely those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers, these it is on whom is the curse of Allah and the angels and men all;

    "lets just be all good"
    I completely agree.
    • #23
    • MD
    • Suse OS Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 9/3/2008 3:10:29 PM
    Hani,
    Oh please, I did not say Kafir is Jew , where did i say that?,,,political definition?? lets concentrate please.
    I said the verse you brought (2:88 "la3natu allahi 3ala al-kafireen") talks about that little jew group, only the exact one you brought (2:88), not all of them, but i excuse you, coz you seem to know little about Quran. which is very normal.
    The other example you brought is about another group of people, you can check in tafseer if interested.
    One last (and important) point, you can NOT be Kafir until you know that God exists... So its nothing about atheists.... This means that you even do not understand the meaning of Kafir, or Atheist (which you say you are).
    English versions of Quran are not Quran, they are human-made objects, full of mistakes.
    MD, I didn't really need the English translations since those 2 ayat are quite straight forward, but only included them as a matter of convenience and courtesy since this is mostly an English blog, and English post.

    you are right, I do not understand Quran very well, however I happen to have access to people who not only understand it implicitly but have it memorized. The definition of Kafir to me and to them is quite clear. The most basic expression of Islamic faith says it all:
    أشهد أن لا أله إلا الله و أن محمداً رسول الله
    • #25
    • MD
    • Suse OS Firefox Browser
    • Said
    • On: 9/4/2008 9:04:56 AM
    Hani,
    So what if you know people who memorize it?
    the definition of "kofr" in the dictionary is :
    "والكُفْرُ: جُحود النعمة، وهو ضِدُّ الشكر
    so its only for those that KNOW there is a bless (by getting the message) and refuse to thank, so to be able to be Kafir, you have to know inside yourself that God exist, which atheists don't.
    A proof of that is again the verse you brought (2:88), those who were labeled as "Koffar" were a little group of the people who named themselves Jews, So they knew God existed,because they followed Judaism.
    It is known in Islam that God doesn't punish those who didn't get the message. If they didn't know he exists, then how could he punish them? He (if existed) is the merciful. a person has to be only honest to her/him-self.
    I think it's those who didn't receive the message, not those who received it but didn't believe it that your statement applies to. I'd say anyone who lived most of their life in a Muslim country and was taught Islam for several years in school, and raised by Muslim parents received the message more than enough to determine faith.
    You too can have your Memories Documented

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