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Atheism and negative reactions


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#1 Kevin Irmiter

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:09 PM

This is responding to the comments Matt said in episode 29 about atheism, and why they encounter more negativity than religious people.

I think one reason is that even the most fanatical Christians know they have to tolerate other religions. Because Christians have been persecuted in the past, and of course many Christians like to imagine they are still being persecuted, now, in America and around the world. So they know it would be blatantly hypocritical to openly antagonize other religions, or try and deny them freedom of worship. The same courtesy need not be extended to atheists.

There's also the fact that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom to worship, but it doesn't specifically say you have freedom not to worship. I think any rational person would think that was intended to mean freedom in all things related to religion, whether you believe it or not, but when we're talking about extremists rational thought will go out the door.

Another reason, and maybe this is the reason non-extremist Christians sometimes get negative, is that there is a certain type of atheist out there that is just insufferable. I think a lot of us know the type--pompous, condescending. Often very educated and smart in some ways, but then they also act like this makes them superior and more enlightened than everybody else. Richard Dawkins is the first famous person to come to mind. Bill Maher can be like that sometimes, too, but usually he's funny and charming about it rather than pompous and condescending, so it doesn't really bother me.

But it is extremely annoying, even as a fellow atheist, to encounter people like this on places like internet forums. Often saying that religion is a poison that is the cause of all society's problems, throughout history, and defending any ridiculously farfetched theory they come across that says something bad about religion. What's more infuriating is that they'll use their intellectual abilities to put huge amounts of thought into these crazy arguments, and if you try to answer them with simple common sense they'll come up with convoluted answers that are a pain in the ass to even answer. They will also dissect everything you say and pick apart any little inconsistency or flaw they can find. So even though I would say the extremist Christians do more harm in the real world, there's a certain level of obnoxiousness that the bad atheists have much more than even the worst Christians.

That said, I have found a lot of obnoxious atheists do grow out of this as they mature, whereas fanatical Christians tend to stay that way for the rest of their life.

And by the way, I have never heard Matt say anything that I had problems with. I think it's mostly just experiences with the bad atheists that sometimes make people biased towards atheists, and makes them hear antagonism where there is none. I would say the best way to respond is to just be clear that you're not antagonizing anyone, just saying things that even moderate religious people should agree with (like how intelligent design should not be taught in science class).

#2 Digital Jizz

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 03:47 AM

I never even thought of this issue until the email was read on the podcast. The Tebow episode was one of the best, I show it to my friends who haven't listened to any episodes and it usually makes everyone subscribe to the pod (with one exception).

:huh:

#3 gibbering ape-faced moron

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 06:44 AM

I went back and forth on the decision to post this, because I definitely don't want to antagonize anybody, and I certainly don't want to hold myself up for ridicule, but, as a religious person, I was a little uncomfortable during that part of the show. I don't know what that guy in that email was talking about, I'd never heard Matt go on anything I could call an "atheist rant" before-- but in this one instance, it was kinda hard not to feel a little put off.

Honestly, I'd be happy if things stayed like they were before this episode - I never took anything Matt said about religion (the opposition to gay marriage) personally before, because those aren't my beliefs and I agree that people who discriminate against homosexuals are pretty loathsome. I'd hate to see this one guy's rude email spur on an actual trend of actively anti-religious rhetoric on the podcast, for the selfish reason that that would make a program I really love harder for me to enjoy. I'm not threatening to stop listening or something equally petulant though, and I can't claim to speak for all religious people. Just trying to offer my personal perspective. I really hope I haven't come off as obnoxious or anything.

#4 sarel

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:53 AM

I found the letter to Matt about atheism was really strange.

This is a comedy podcast that contains very dark humour (just look at episode 29 with the brother sketch) so any possible complaint about religion is moot.

#5 Lemon Session

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 11:42 AM

I think anybody who writes "bro" in a serious letter to someone they don't know should be ignored, no matter what the subject. Frat boys have nothing to contribute.

#6 Kevin Irmiter

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 01:55 PM

I totally agree that the guy who wrote that was out of line, and that this really should be a non-issue. But I also know that Matt is the kind of guy who has a hard time ignoring stuff like this, so I thought it might be a good idea to have a discussion. Even if only to show that pretty much everyone agrees that Matt never said anything remotely offensive or out of line, and the original commenter was being oversensitive if not silly.

Also I wanted to agree with Matt's statement that atheists often DO get more negativity than they deserve, and I was giving the reasons I think this is so.

Finally, I want to say that I have never been an atheist who attacks religion. I do not think it is the root cause of society's evil. I actually had pretty positive experiences with religion growing up because I grew up surrounded by moderate, liberal Catholics. So I see a lot of potential for good in religion, too. Mostly I disagree with religions because I think they are factually inaccurate. I believe that religion is neither good nor bad in and of itself--it is a force within society that can be used for good or evil purposes. It's just that it's human nature for people to use it for evil purposes.

So coming from this perspective, I thought there was NOTHING WRONG with anything Matt said. It's just common sense. Intelligent Design has no place in a science class. Tim Tebow is ridiculous, and totally deserves to be made fun of. And 50 years from now, I believe the Christians preaching homophobic propaganda in the gay marriage debate are going to look just as bigoted and backwards as the Christians who preached that interracial marriage was a sin.

#7 Dave1326657684

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 01:28 PM

As a believer in the same God that Tim Tebow believes in and a believer in intelligent design, I absolutely love this show and have never been offended by anything said on it. I've listened since the first episode and will continue listening to it until podcasts stop being a thing. There have been things that Matt has said that I personally disagree with, but he's entitled to his opinion just as I am to mine. I want to make it known that there is at least one "Christian" (which I consider myself to be even though I don't like the term's connotations) who listens to this show and has no problem with the subject matter.

#8 Jacob C

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 07:13 PM

I found the comment surprising, really. I understood what the person was trying to say, I guess. There are a lot of Atheists that are absolutely vitriolic toward any sort of religion, sure. As much as I love Ricky Gervais' comedy, I can't stand his blog, for example. Every post is a mini soap-box, and if there's not some backhanded remark against God, then there will be three in the next post to make up for it. That sort of thing is annoying. But...man, improv4humans just is not that show. I just don't see it.

I do believe in God and the Bible, but one of the things I've always loved and respected about this show (and Matt Besser as a comedian) is that it doesn't discriminate against people of differing faiths. The "Big Foot Descendants" sketch (as I have apparently decided to name it) is possibly my favorite one the show has ever done (and I'm actually in favor of schools teaching other theories in addition to evolution) Because that sketch isn't making fun of Christians--it's making fun of ignorance and extremism. Even in this episode, after a rousing discussion on Christians' general hatred toward Atheists, the gang did a sketch that encompassed the emotions behind the issue without even using the words "Christian" or "Atheists." It would have been easy to do a sketch bashing Christians, but they didn't. This is what's great about improv4humans: whenever it gets political, the improv gets down to the emotions behind the issues rather than the issues themselves. And that's more interesting. And fun.

We don't all have to believe the same thing, but we should be able to at least talk about those differences honestly once in awhile, and at the very least, for God's sake, laugh about 'em. And really, if we can't laugh about ourselves every once in awhile, what's the point of waking up in the morning? Not to mention, if you can't see the corruption and hypocracy that's so prevalent in religion, then you must be actively closing your eyes and plugging your ears at all hours of the day. Religion has earned a few judgmental improv sketches at the very least.

Personally, I like having my faith challenged. As it is written: thou must checketh thyself, or thou shalt most certainly wrecketh thyself.

#9 BarthRevan

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 04:49 AM

I'm a southern atheist, which makes it sometimes difficult to handle all the religion thrown at me, but in having been surrounded by it and raised with it, for a little while at least, it's really easy now to just chill out and let people believe what they want to believe. It's best to go by the eloquent mantra, "don't be a dick." Not being a dick really solves all problems, because people who are dicks usually have skewed views and have to have their opinions be the most aggressive and one-sided. Guy who wrote the email, stop being a dick and just let everyone believe what they want. What's it hurting you if someone's Christian or Muslim or Agnostic or even just spiritual? Just because you believe one thing, that doesn't mean you can shit on someone else's beliefs. This episode is hilarious and it embodies the notion that extremism is just a real dick move.