Review: A History of God, by Karen Armstrong's (see link)
I've been reading and commenting all over in here, and I see a lot of angry non-believers around. Anger is a secondary emotion usually base on fears or a lack of knowledge. I used to be such an atheist.
I feel I became a much better, less bitter atheist when I stopped choosing to loathe and ignore religion, and instead decided to learn about it's roots (specifically the roots of the Judaic/Christian/Muslim God, Yahweh). It took the actions of 19 guys riding in 4 airplanes to bring me to the point that my lack of understanding about the topic of religion was a detriment to myself, and I sought out to find out how what was purported to be something grand and wonderful had gotten twisted into what it has become today, at least for an alarming large segment of people who profess to believe in God.
I faced my fears--not even realizing at the time that they actually WERE fears--and I found when I did a level of peace and acceptance that I had been lacking. Knowledge is indeed power, and the book that I've linked to is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of where and when and how Western society came to have these beliefs in a higher power, and what it means today.
The book is written as a historical tour, using resources that most of us will never have access to, and will give you insights that will reshape your views on religion all together. It takes us from the dawn of Judaism through to about the 16th century, detailing what was happening in the societies in which each part of the 3 books (the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur'an) were written, providing context and understanding of the past that most of us share, and of which we are decendent from.
The follow-up book from the same author, "Battle for God", is a must-have to understand our current religious and, yes, political environment, for the two are intertwined throughout history, and serves as a fine basis to not only grasp, but also challenge the beliefs of current religious believers.
I cannot recommend highly enough that you consider and follow through reading both of these books, and it is my hope that in doing so you may let go of some hate and/or fear, for in doing so we have the best chance of becoming our best selves, which in turn may help others find their ways out of the harsh and hateful religious views that pervades our society today.
I am not angry about a religion or a person's beliefs. I have just as much fun with a devout Catholic as I do a devout Muslim.
I am, however, angry at:
People that use their religious power to take advantage of others
People that use their religious influence to protect the above
People that use their religion as an excuse to try and shoot me
People that use their religion as a reason to act terribly towards others
People that use their religion to lecture others
People that try to force their religion on others that state they have no interest
People that hide behind their religion when confronted about what they've done
Notice every one of those starts with a person, not the religion.
I have read frustration expressed on this site, but this site is a safe zone for us. We can rant and rave if we so choose. I'm frustrated at times with religion and the religious. I'm human and can be annoyed.
Empathy is something that comes with maturity.
I studied religions in college, 45+ years ago, plus I can quote the babble with the best of them.
My Rage comes from seeing, every day in every way, the awfulness of humans to each other "in the name of (some) gawd", never mind reading history. I should turn the other cheek?
i have a healthy loathing for everything that spells religion. too much harm & damage has been done by the church, atrocities suffered by millions. & there seems to be no end: usa - in god we trust, israel, sharia law in islam.... i've had a gutful of holding back & acknowledging religion's sanctity, & i'm just gonna spill it all out to my heart's content. religion is not just opium to the people, it is a foul poison that will destroy our society - if we keep looking the other way.
When everything you see and hear is coming from the religious side it can make you want to scream. This sight is one little small corner of the Internet that isn't for those who are religious, so naturally some may air their grievances. I think you may be perceiving anger that isn't there. There are a lot of legitimate complaints that can be made about what we have to live with, being outnumbered 5 to one by the religious. I read tons of books about religion before I came to the conclusion that we'd be better off without it. I am not interested in reading another one.
Simply put no amount of historical knowledge will excuse or condone what is done in the name of those religions. To further suggest that this allows the challenge of another's belief is both presumptuous and arrogant, not to mention no better that pushy bible-thumpers. In the same essay you attempt to "relieve" one person's anger while simultaneously suggesting that person invoke that same anger in another.
The problem doesn't fall on any religion, it falls on the morals of a person. Atheists and Agnostics can be just as immoral as any other person, and I would include gearing a person to challenge another's faith in that slot. A good person does not need to "find their way out" of anything.
Here's a thought: It's like the person who complains about there always being bad news in the newspaper. The response is that no one writes about train wrecks that DON'T happen. There won't be a headline that announces "No houses burned down today." Could it be that it only SEEMS like all the atheists are angry because those are the voices that are writing and speaking, posting online, and making YouTube videos? Just a thought, not a claim.
I'm only ever angry about religion here. In real life, I keep it to myself.
If I have to read about religion(s), I prefer Reza Aslan. As it is, I prefer not to read any more about it. I don't care what people believe. There are those who seem to really need some kind of faith to make sense of the world. As long as they don't try to push it down my throat, or pass laws using it to affect the lives of others, they can pray to whatever deity they choose. When they try to insert themselves into matters of state, I do get angry.
I also have seen angry atheists. Maybe even a few uneducated ones. You see that on both sides of the issue. If we as human beings could get past our us vs. them mentality and realize that not everyone is going to be a clone of your ideas, then perhaps that anger level will lower.
As a teacher and student of history I see that human beings are very tribal. Those who are not in our tribe (ie. Christians, non-Christians, Americans, or any other groupings of humans) are looked at as outsiders and a threat. It is natural to see this when you look at humans throughout history all the way back to the Paleolithic hunter/gathers.
As a fellow human being, I am trying to look at others as a collective group of folks just trying to make it through this thing called life and less as those people are different than me and therefore should be looked upon with suspicion.
I understand the anger issue regarding atheists who were former Christians. A feeling of being lied to and being subjected to what we might perceive as stupidity can cause ill feelings. Like the Wizard of Oz being revealed as a little man behind the curtain instead of the great and mighty Oz. But the anger will just burn us out and cause a third degree injury to our hearts. We've got to get past it.
Just my opinion.
Possibly people are angry because they have been mistreated by theists? Or maybe people are angry because theists are concrete thinkers and refuse to admit they have no evidence in their favor? Or maybe the anger stems from a dislike towards weakness (many theists need religion because they can not stand the fact that they ultimately have no control over what happens to them, they aren't strong enough to face reality). Education of antitheists on the origins of religion don't really help these things, but it a good to be informed of the world around you (knowing things never hurts even if it is knowing fairy tales and their origins).
I'm sure that for most people anger is not a way of life and it is not something that they continually experience. There are times in life when someone is justly angry because another person has done something that is deeply upsetting. There are those who may make a career out of anger, that is, they use every situation to vent their anger.
Personally, I am not angry with religious people and I know people from different religions with whom I have enjoyed some good times, I simply do not share their beliefs.
I will probably read them BUT my anger is informed by the multitude of ways the religious have sought to dominate our society and their refusal to mitigate their arbitrary rules when confronted with the harms they inflict. Religion itself is rather meh, and has at time been of benefit to our civilisation.
I've read every major religious text over the years, as well as many remaining extinct and minor religious texts. I think all atheists should read about religion to better understand its role in human history. Religion used to serve as an invaluable tool for the rise of civilization. Now that we have science it is antiquated and counter productive at best.
I think that it is a misnomer to see Atheists as angry by and large. There is, for a certainty, a segment, even a large segment, of the Atheist demographic which is angry and bitter when they first become Atheist; but that is the result of them breaking free of a lifetime of indoctrination and feeling conned or duped for all those years, perhaps a lifetime.
That is a legitamate emotinal response, and one most Atheists work through.
There is another segment of Atheists who are not Angry, but labled as such, when they are in fact adamant. They see religion as a false pancea which is bad for society as it was bad for them, they see it used as a political lever to coerce others into conforming into a religious mold whether they believe the religions claims or not, and they resist that.
That political resistance is seen as anger, when it is not anger, it is resistance.
There is a further group of Atheists who are labled as Angry because they point out critcal flaws inside a religions claims, dogma, or positions. I am oft placed into this group when the reality is I am far from angry, what I am is truly perplexed because I see a conflict, a contradiction, or immoral/amoral idea being touted as either good or worse, divine.
If I point that out, the authoritarian nature of the underlying religion tends to present in the believer and they tell me I am angry (in an angry way), tell me I am "rebelling against God", when I see no God or evidence of a God to rebel against. What I am in opposition to is some very human idea about some god model or other with which I have had the ytter audacity to find fault (when the believer never really considered that before)
I havent found this to be the case -, I am reading thoughtful submissions havent met any bitterness yet - maybe I am not reading the same posts as you? And I wonder if you need the idea of a lot of angry uneducated atheists to validate your sense of having got over this particular hurdle.
I agree with your premise that understanding the historical formations of religion can help alleviate some of the resentment toward religions in general. It helped me deal with my own resentment toward Traditional Christianity. However, my resentment was merely due to it's inaccuracy concerning (what I believe) was the original meaning of the gospel writers. My experience with people who show up at my alternative church is that their resentment is much more personal and based on their experience with Traditional Christianity. I believe that is the case with most of the writers on here as well. Their feeling rum quite a bit deeper, and I think that expressing their resentment on this site and the sense of community this site offers,aids in their healing.
Great. I can't wait until I'm a less angry atheist and can be condescending to other atheists. When someone starts out by saying they used to be like me, I am already put back. If you were right I'd agree, but it's you you know not me, so I must disagree.
Anger the obverse of the fear coin. Lashing out at the unknown is a common response for humans who cannot deal with the fear of the unknown. Knowledge, brings enlightenment and drives out the fear taking the anger with it. I wish I had discovered that principle at a much younger age. I might have avoided much otherwise unnecessary pain.
I haven't encountered these people on here unless its me, but I doubt it. I don't need to do all that research to prove a point or write a book because its a personal issue and I have never been angry or upset with believers - most people out there are good folk and its not a sin in my book (A sin in its original meaning of 'without love' ) for them to worship whoever they wish it isnt hurting me.