If there are a thousand different gods most people would be an atheist to 999 or 1,000 of them. People only hate atheists who disbelieve in their god, and they never think about themselves being an atheist to other people’s gods.
Which leads me to believe that the dislike of atheists is not about disbelieving in a god, but hating people who don’t agree with you. Most people who are insecure in their beliefs join groups of like minded people. This reinforces their beliefs and makes them feel more secure. The most insecure people will spend all their time trying to convert other people to believe the same way they do because it strengthens their view on reality. It’s a mechanism for maintain sanity.
For these insecure folk encountering people who disbelieve what they believe hurts their confidence and insults them personally. But they do not think about how their own disbeliefs hurts other people. People who are riled the most by meeting an atheist, are often just as riled at meeting someone from a different political party, or even meeting a fan of another football team.
Few people are happy to believe what they believe and not be bothered at all by what other people believe.
Among Jews, Christians and Muslims who claim to worship the same exact god, there is no agreement and a lot of lethal animosity. Which again makes me think it’s not about the deity but the sensitivity of believers. If you asked the followers of the god of Abraham about the gods of Greece, Rome, Persia, India, China, or all the religions of the Americas and Africa what they think of those gods and they will flatly reject them all as superstitious nonsense in the same way as Dawkins or Hitchens dismiss their god. They think nothing of being atheists to other people’s god, yet they puff themselves up about their own hatred of atheists.
What we really hate are people who disagree with us. The trouble is some people hate this more than others. Some people want to wipe out everyone who disagrees with their beliefs, or at least seek to convert the unbelievers. It’s like that Paster Mike Stahl who wanted to create a national registry for atheists patterned on the registry for sex offenders. Of course even that isn’t as severe as in some Muslim countries where they just kill the atheists or anyone that they think insults their god or prophet.
Why do they feel the need to do this? If their god is all powerful can’t he handle unbelievers in his own way? Like I said, it has nothing to do with gods. It’s all about hating people who challenge your beliefs, no matter what they are. In some cultures disrespect is a reason to fight or kill.
For the faithful, the strength of hating unbelievers is directly proportional to their own insecurities.
The problem is we don’t all think alike, and on some level we’re all atheists to other people’s beliefs. We need a system to protect everyone from this war of beliefs. That’s why the founders of the United States created the concept of separation of church and state. And it’s why we don’t want Rick Perry and other political evangelicals leading a New Apostolic Reformation in the 2012 Presidential campaign.
These apostolic and prophetic folk are so insecure in their beliefs that they want to take dominion over the government of the United States, and if you disagree with them you’re an atheist. This is pretty scary. It’s just as scary to me if absolute atheists wanted to take over the government and outlaw religion. Not all atheists are alike, and neither are all religious folk. Us people in the middle have to always fear the extremes at both ends.
Citizens in the middle feel everyone should have their own beliefs and keep religion out of politics, whether we’re religious or not. The trouble is if one extreme or the other tries to take control it will force everyone to take sides in a civil war of beliefs. Do you really want that? Even if you’re very religious, will you believe in the same way as the New Apostolic Reformation believers?
Like I said, atheism isn’t always about god, and sometimes believers in god will become atheists to other believers.
The solution to the problem is simple. Never vote for anyone who campaigns on a religious agenda. No matter how religious you are, you actually do want the government to be impartial and atheistic to all religions, otherwise it can’t maintain the concept of freedom of religion.
JWH – 9/5/11