Why do atheists worry theists so much?

Atheism display at Borders
Image by Colin Purrington via Flickr

There are loads of direct responses by theistic authors to atheist writers like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, et al. Books with titles like The Atheist Delusions, The ‘New’ Atheism: 10 Arguments That Don’t Hold Water, Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong, and The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief, reveal themselves to be desperate and fallacious attempts to refute the surge in atheist titles on the bookshelves. Their arguments are circular, appeal to biblical scripture and not reality, and fail to adequately address the very real and pointed questions that the New Atheists pose.

Christian faiths have developed various celebrities of their own, with names like D’Souza, Turek, and Craig turn out books, videos, podcasts, radio shows and lectures of their own, but their appeal seems largely limited to those who are already believers. Few atheists are moved toward their arguments, but probably many theists find justification to remain resolute in their cognitive dissonance. It has to be cognitive dissonance, otherwise propositions like a young earth, virgin birth, zombie messiah, and other fantastic, extraordinary claims could never survive to be believed by people who readily accept the science behind computers, artificial hearts, space craft, and nuclear power.

The Christian apologists will say they’re merely responding to the “New Atheists” but their efforts have the appearance of being contrived, forced, and desperate. The seem emotionally involved and vehemently opposed to anyone who dares question, query or critique their dogma, doctrine, and beliefs.

And their blogs are eager to insult, disparage, and deride. To be fair, there are a number of atheist blogs that do the same. I won’t pretend it isn’t happening. But we’re a minority. Our rights and liberties are being questioned and imposed upon by theists who want their superstitions codified in public policy.

Still, I don’t mind fair criticism. I welcome their arguments since they ultimately fail to remain rational and realistic. Ultimately their arguments have to appeal to ignorance and the supernatural.

But occasionally, a Christian blogger simply exhibits his or her pure, unadulterated hatred and bigotry. No argument is involved, just derision and insult. Sometimes under the guise of “humor.” Take the post, Atheists are like mosquitoes at Zwinglius Redivivus, a Christian blog by “Dr.” Jim West. Yes, my inverted commas indicate my skepticism of his doctorate. If its in “theology” or “biblical studies,” it might as well be in “fairyology” or “Harry Potter studies.” Perhaps I might be more patient with his honorific if not for his clear and pure insult toward atheists in general. My daughter is an atheist. I don’t like “doctors” who make fun of eight-year olds.

Here’s what he said:

Like mosquitoes, they buzz around.  Like mosquitoes, they carry diseases (spiritually speaking of course, though I’m sure many of them carry other equally deadly physical diseases).  And like mosquitoes, the only useful purpose they serve is to become food for higher up the food chain creatures.  Mosquitoes are eaten by bats and birds and atheists are eaten by worms. [...] Note carefully the family resemblance.  And note too the way to rid yourself of those pesky atheists in your life…. urine.

I posted a reply, which promptly went into his moderation queue. Where I doubt it will emerge. Never mind, I’ll post it here:

Interesting analogy. Fallacious, however, but interesting since atheism is more accurately described as the absence of a “virus.” That “virus” being the meme of belief in [insert favorite deity(s)].

I agree with your assessment that we’re always “buzzing around” and I might add that we’ll occasionally “bite” (metaphorically speaking), but what gets transmitted is an antibody with a hopes of breaking the spell of religious superstition. But I don’t know what “higher up the food chain creatures” you might be referring to as able to consume the atheist in your analogy. Perhaps that’s one of the places it utterly fails since, even metaphorically, there are so few among the superstitious who are able to “consume” an atheist-mosquito. Particularly if by “consume” in this metaphor, we’re referring to refute or rebut.

Instead, we’re constantly bugged ourselves by “mosquitoes” of our own who seem to have an intense hatred and desire to disparage those who refuse to accept their own superstitions. All that little ad hominem posts like this on a blog serve to do is raise a flag to atheists that says, “look at me. Respond if you dare.”

I dare.

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