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).