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Does aggressive antitheism beget anti-atheism?

I consider myself a fairly live-and-let-live atheist, as well as a freethinker and secularist. I will argue occasionally in social media, but as long as believers don't try to inflict their beliefs on others I don't care what those beliefs are. Folks can worship a god or gods, bribe the tooth fairy, supplicate to ghosts and saints, or worship the Great Pumpkin, as long as they leave everyone else free to believe or not believe as they/we choose.

Having said that, I find occasionally the reaction to my stated atheism is one of defensiveness with resulting hostility, assuming that I'm here to dissuade or ridicule their religious beliefs. People in general seem to be unaware that the famous atheists they see on TV or in public debates or YouTube videos railing against religion and what I would consider irrational beliefs are in fact antitheists.

So my own feeling is that, yes, the public arguments of antitheists create a backlash against atheists in general that might not be there otherwise. To my mind, proselytizing is a trespass against someone, no matter who is doing it.

Gene_in_SoCal 4 July 18

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I disagree.
We are all subjected to the influences of the believers.
If they weren't so insistent upon forcing everyone to live according to their beliefs, I'd be quite happy to go back to "live and let live".
But they are insistent, and they're getting worse, so I have no choice but to be very vocally anti-theist.

In light of the current political crisis, a good friend made the same observation. - - - "If we care about the future, we can non longer afford to ignore these stupid people" Stupid people are defined as those who use faith (the foundation of religion defined as belief without evidence) to establish their belief system.

@NoMagicCookie Those who deny accepted and PROVEN science cannot be permitted to make, or in any way influence, policy.
Those who insist that their beliefs must be upheld should be made to commit the First Amendment to memory, with full comprehension.
ALL churches should lose their tax-exempt status. They think they're
special. They need to be made to understand that they are NOT.
"Live and let live" is no longer a reasonable option.

@KKGator Yes, that my position and it is shared by all those I consider good friends.

@KKGator - I understand your feeling. Unfortunately, unless some sort of pre-registration test is created, people who deny accepted and even proven science can't be prevented from influencing policy through their vote. Neither can ignorant or radical voters or anyone else we might think unworthy of the vote be prevented from using it. "Live and let live," is in fact the law and tradition of our country.

@Gene_in_SoCal I wasn't talking about the voters. I was specifically referring to anyone who serves in any governmental position, from school teachers to presidents.


Really? Who exactly were the strident antitheists during the first 1600 - 1700 hundred years of Christianity that motivated true believers to exile, imprison, torture, and kill atheists for no more than not believing?

True believers will always vilify and attact as a defense mechanism simply because they have neither logic nor evidence to rely on.

The fact is that today non-believers are not only safer, but more accepted than ever before because of those willing to speak truth to myth and superstition.

Thanks for responding. I said "...famous atheists they see on TV or in public debates or YouTube videos..." which sort of counts out the first 1600 - 1700 years, and I don't limit my arguments to Christianity. It's one of the most virulent religions, in that it almost demands evangelism on the part of its believers, but religions in general are all equally insupportable. Speaking truth to myth and superstition doesn't require reverse evangelism. I don't want anyone, religious or rationalist, to be coerced to change their world view.


i disagree, considering the religiously skewed state of the world. the aggression already prevalent is wielded by theists, messing with society. i am society & will not keep my mouth shut & play nice in the face of politics, contaminated by idiotic religious fanatism.


Franklin Graham, James Bakker, John Oliver, Ken Copeland, Benny, Hinn, Joyce Meyer, etc, etc, don't seem too worried about their aggressive theism creating a backlash against Christianity. I don't think we should be worried, to that same extent.

I don't agree that we can allow ourselves to do something to others simply because they do it to us.

We're not "doing" anything to anybody. I don't feel we need to stifle ourselves for fear of causing offense. We have a valid point of view which, moreover, is scientifically accurate... and we don't ask people for money. When religionists go around claiming that condoms don't really prevent AIDS, or that polio vaccine is a plot to eliminate all Muslims, or that evolution is all a scam... well ffs, we need to be just as loud telling the truth as they are when they lie. They're taking offense at being called out as liars, which they are.

There's a difference between arguing against what someone says and demanding that they stop believing what they believe. It isn't necessary to convert someone away from their religion to argue that science is valid, or that certain laws are unjust, or that one person's beliefs shouldn't dictate what anyone else believes. When we demand that someone give up religion, we're doing to them exactly what they do when they try to change us to their beliefs. That's my whole point.

Thank you Gene. I don't care if someone believes in shrubberies. I don't. Live and let live.


I do not view myself as an anti-theist, as I find it difficult to summon animosity toward something I don’t believe exists, much less may be defined. But as a nullifidian, I detest with every fiber of my being organized religion. Churchgoers are not the enemy, rather it is the doctrines, dogmas, values and assertions of their religions that are to be combated, at every turn. It is organized religion that has given us that unhappy mixture of ignorance and insanity called faith, and that seeks to turn credulity into a virtue. It is religion that poisons the mind of children by teaching them about invisible beings who will torture and punish them in fire for disobedience. And it is religion that seeks to influence secular government with its own set of policies and laws.

Belief in a God, in and of itself, isn't a problem. My avatar, along with many of his fellow Revolutionaries, was a Deist who believed that the Almighty created the universe and the laws governing it, and then moved on to other pursuits. No divine interventions, no doctrines, no prophets, nobody to answer prayers, no creeds, no clergy, no so-called holy books, none of any of that. Consider a world without the following terms, made meaningless in the absence of religion: apostasy, apostle, atonement, baptism, blasphemy, canonize, clergy, conversion, crusade, curse, divine, eucharist, exorcism, faith, fundamentalism, gospel, hajj, heathen, heaven, hell, heresy, holy, infidel, jihad, laity, martyrdom, messianism, miracle, occult, prayer, profane, prophecy, prophet, proselytize, purgatory, resurrection, ritual sacrifice, sacred, salvation, scapegoat, scripture, shamanism, shrine, sin and worship. How much better off the world would be had these words and what they stand for never been introduced! Now that’s a world I would happily live in!


Many religions deserve to be called out, & especially many practices & political moves made against the wishes of non-believers. Also, philosophical or political debates in a forum expressly for that purpose are wholly different from knocking on doors or haranguing people in public, so I think that argument is specious!
The idea that these outspoken activists are creating a 'backlash' is ludicrous! We have been marginalized, discriminated against, jailed & killed for our lack of beliefs for centuries, I think the fear & hate directed at us by some theists need no excuse & would be there regardless!
Also, I will not hide in the shadows! If we don't make our views & voices known, expect some version of "The Handmaid's Tale", sooner rather than later! I won't be complicit, or afraid!


I know, all those atheist channels on TV are overwhelming. I'm not sure how the faithful don't curl up in the fetal position each day from the bombardment. 😀

dokala Level 7 July 21, 2018

It hasn’t been my experience so far. I’ve only really talked about this with family and online, and the atmosphere has never been aggressive, although you have to be careful that to make sure that people realise that rejection of their god is not a rejection of them. Bringing this viewpoint with compassion can be a challenge.

Denker Level 7 July 18, 2018

Valid point! Gotta make them feel comfortable and aware that you aren't rejecting them.


I am not an anti-theist. God does not exist so why be anti it? I am anti-religion especially creationist who want to impose their beliefs on others primarily by overturning the USA constitutional Separation of church and state. That makes me angry and scares me.

The public atheist that I follow some times do come across as aggressive but when you check into the situation they are facing the reason becomes apparent. In Texas for instance there seems to be an on going battle to keep religion out of the public schools text books.

The ark in Kentucky has cost tax payer money and is trying to get public schools on field trips so they can be indoctrinated.

The story goes on. I believe there are times when we need to be aggressive and times when we should soften our stance.


You seem to be making the fatal mistake that Xian apologists make, in assuming that atheism is a faith and as such is like any other religion. Atheism is not a faith, it is the very opposite, an active doubt! Proselytizing? When an atheist demands of a believer evidence for their beliefs, this is not proselytizing, but an attempt at education! We have a social responsibility to protect the wells.

I would have thought there's enough in the answers I've posted since putting up this topic to show that I don't assume atheism is any kind of belief at all. I've argued with enough people who claim that atheism is a religion to know how to disabuse them of that idea. I wouldn't go so far as to describe it as an "active doubt," but maybe I don't know what you mean by that. I see it simply as a not-believing, an absence of belief in deity or "supernatural", due to a lack of any evidence at all.

I also don't believe that "demanding evidence" is a means of education. As an atheist and a secularist my goal is seeing that believers don't have the political power to influence the rest of us. As long as that is the case, what they believe is of no immediate concern to me. I prefer an activist secularism to an aggressive anti-theism.


No! I am not aggressively anything and I don't know anybody that is aggressively anything be it theism or atheism people in my part of the world keep most of their thoughts in this area to themselves you would have to know them quite well for them to share their thoughts about this.


I don't know about that. I mean certainly it can. I mean some of those that believe are anti-theist for many of the same reasons. I know plenty of believers that will not follow any particular denomination because that isn't "their" God.
However I do think it is difficult to be an atheist without being a bit anti-theist.


I don't know I am slightly conflicted by this as i feel all views are valid and that saying some are worse than others is limiting our capacity to make our own judgements - i seriously only care about my own thoughts; and so what if there are backlashes! this is what discussion and self-will is for - we are doing it here, right now & just because i don't agreee with you doesn't mean that I will not defend your right to say it

jacpod Level 8 July 28, 2018

I agree! Share thoughts, ideas and supporting information. Don’t criticize the person or make the person feel that you believe they are dumb/stupid. People don’t respond well to that type of attack.


I think it can, as many who are newly arrived to their atheism are angry and can be prone to attacks on others’ beliefs. It usually tempers itself with time as one becomes comfortable with the idea. I used to get pissed when I was told to have a blessed day or that someone would be praying for me. As long as their heart is in the right place I accept it graciously. I need all the help I can get, lol.

Jimm Level 4 July 27, 2018

I completely agree. When one becomes aggressive in their beliefs, or lack thereof, it's time to step back and take a deep breath. I have run into a few rabid ones on here, and they tend to turn me off of this site, but I stick around to see where the tide goes.


It seems silly to divide up into groups based on who believes or doesn’t believe stuff, and attack each other. Nobody knows or understands our underlying reality. All we know is that we are experiencing conscious awareness in a beautiful and magnificent reality that we don’t understand.


Aggression from atheists is understood as proof of being in the right place.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. - Matthew 10:22

So it is counter-productive to get testy about it.


Well, I would argue that, two or more competing ideas necessarily will at their extremes collide. I personally have no problems with non-violent extremism. The US are the last standing bastion of western Christianity. I think they feel threatened like never before and defend themself. And it is okay, I don't expect them to be replaced without any resistance. But I am an European, maybe my view of America is somewhat inaccurate.

I hope that if they are replaced it will be by people who believe in science and rationality, or at the very least practice a form of religion that doesn't depend on or ask its adherents for conversion of others.


I am with you in your first paragraph. In England we don't talk about religion so much and don't seem to have so many religious proseletysers. No one has ever in my whole life tried to make me believe in a god and I am 70 years old - I might be telling a lie here as htere was someone preaching at me on a train once and I couldn't get away from him as I was on the wrong train and had to wait till it stopped before I could get my right train back home


If we live quiet lives in the closet and do not rally for separation of church and state, the religionists will expand their power base, spread their beliefs and suppress free thought. Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence are living proof that our government is being highjacked. Of course there will be a backlash against atheism. We are just lucky it's not the Middle Ages and we can speak without fear of extreme torture and death. Resistance must be loud.

You're conflating secularism with atheism. Atheism doesn't have to be activist. It's merely a non-belief in deity. Secularism is the belief and activism to separate religion from government. There are religious people who are secularist in that they believe government and religion should remain apart from each other. I'm both an atheist and a secularist. I advocate and work for the separation of church and state. Not all atheists do, and some religious people do.

Also, notice that among the choices we have for our profiles in this group are atheist, secularist, and anti-theist. I'm sure there are overlaps, but the three are not basically the same.


I agree that disagreeing with the popular perspective begets a conversation. When it comes to religion, that conversation often gets hostile. I just don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. If I recall from our recent history, ending segregation met the same kind of hostility. My ability to keep my job should not be based on my beliefs about religion, and I'm fine with being vocal about that, among many other things.

The difference is that I'm not hanging out in front of libraries trying to express my views at hapless pedestrians. I'm not filling a building with people that agree with me every weekend and talking about how evil Christians are, how they're taking away our rights and threatening our children. I'm not overly expressing my opinions. I'm just defending my rights.

If that offends people, so be it.

But there are people who do those things in the name of atheism. They're whom I refer to as anti-theists, and to my mind aggressive anti-theism is as much of an assault on personal space as aggressive evangelism. They're not content to live and let live, but seek to force the issue.

As a secularist I'm active in resisting religion's inroads on personal freedom and in maintaining the separation of church and state, but I feel no need to stop people from believing what they want. My secularism is separate but related to my atheism. Christians can be secularist, and many of them do support the separation we seek. They don't want the state interfering in religion any more than they want religion interfering in politics. A hands-off policy is really beneficial to all, if only people would see it.


You are absolutely correct!

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