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Daylight Atheism 7: Shattering Stereotypes

12/17/2012

Lee is confronting some typical stereotypes against atheists, including that they are communists, angry people, hateful against the religious, and arrogant.

He confronts the communist craziness pretty well. There really aren’t many modern day atheist communists. It may be a fact though, that atheists are angrier than average, and all Lee has to say is that in his personal experience, atheists are not angrier than theists (139), and then he brings up some examples of angry theists sending angry threats in response to critics of religion. I don’t really buy Lee’s case. First, there are many more believers than atheists, so if a small percentage of theists react angrily and threaten violence, this is going to lead to a lot of angry threats. When a religious person criticizes atheism, they have a much smaller base to draw anger from, and so I would expect less inappropriate response over all. Second, many non-believers threatened sexual violence against people like Rebecca Watson for her opinions on how appropriate certain types of sexual advances are. If Lee can fairly use religions threats as evidence for angry theists, one can easily find evidence for angry atheists as well.

I would like some harder empirical data, over and above anecdotes and personal experience to support Lee’s points on this. He also contradicts himself, saying that although atheists are not angrier than theists, they have reason to be angry given all the horrible religion based wrong-doing that occurs. If religion is as bad as Lee paints it, I would expect atheists to more angry, since there is so much to be angry about. Lee even says that lack of emotion would be a mark against atheism (142). How can Lee have it both ways?

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