The end of the “angry atheist”

Well, folks, it’s time for my weekly dismantling of Christian apologetics, but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen. As some of you have pointed out, Lewis is appallingly easy to deconstruct and falsify, to the point that the continued effort is becoming both tedious and repetitive. Also, my own life is taking somewhat of a different direction, and in the spirit of the New Year, I’ve been doing some thinking and course correction.

I’ll give you a little of the background below the fold, but if you’re impatient, you can just skip to my new blog over at Changing Religions.

It was early in the year 2000 that I admitted to myself that I no longer believed the Gospel, a confession that was followed by a good few years of “angry atheist” mode. I’d wasted the first 40 years of my life on a swindle and a con job, and I was seriously pissed off about it. I turned up on Usenet in talk.atheism, and made almost a career out of mocking and haranguing those few smug, self-righteous, and self-appointed evangelists who showed up to share with us the good news that we were all going to hell.

Eventually I mellowed out somewhat, and ceased raging and lashing out, at least publicly. I still harbored a deep resentment that would occasionally spill out, but by and large I moved on. I retained one lesson I learned, however; a seed from a chance remark by a Christian I was arguing with. He informed me, with predictable smugness, that I was a worshiper too: I worshiped the truth. He thought he was accusing me of idolatry, but it struck me that worshiping the truth was not really a bad idea, and that Truth made a far better God than anything he could come up with.

Thus was born my vision of Alethea as the One True God. I originally used it against him as a purely trollish maneuver, mocking him by showing how my “god” was better than his despite not even being a real god. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to see how Alethea might actually fill the role a genuine God would really play, if such a thing existed. Not of course the kind of Divine Person you might see walking down the street, but then again would a genuine deity be either? If you’re omnipresent, you can’t walk down the street, because anywhere you might go, you’re already there!

Anyway, the idea grew on my. I played around with it some, but wasn’t all that active. Then my home state passed a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage—a purely spiteful act of Christian persecution against gays that got me riled. I started Evangelical Realism partly to exercise my faith in Alethea, but mostly to speak out against the vile and hateful religion that was abusing the law to oppress an innocent minority. The angry atheist rose up again, and I was out to strike some blows against tyranny, ignorance, and superstition.

This is 2011, the first year after my first decade as an ex-Christian, and I think it’s time the angry atheist went away. I needed him for a time, and I think he may even have done a teensy bit of good while he was here. But now there are better things I could be doing, and I’m anxious to get started doing them. I’ve become comfortable and even predictable in the things I’ve been doing, and it’s time to shake that up.

So I’ve started a new blog, Changing Religions, that builds on the understanding I developed on my post about “Getting Religion.” Some of the comments on that post were along the lines of “Yeah, but what can we do?” and I even ended the post with a question about who will bell the cat. But the more I think about it, the more I think we can do something, and I think it’s time we, or at least I, gave it a try.

So thanks for all your support here at ER. It’s been good to have you all as readers and commenters. Some of you may want to join me at CR, some of you may not find its new direction entirely palatable. Either way I wish you all the best of luck.

ER probably won’t go away entirely; I may have a new post here now and then, and someday I may even finish the series on Mere Christianity. I’m going to focus the bulk of my attention on the new blog, though, so for those of you who will be joining me there, see you later, and for the rest, farewell.

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13 Responses to “The end of the “angry atheist””

  1. Nemo Says:

    This is a black day.

    I’ve been an atheist since I was 14. (I’m 41 now.) When I was about 17, I too had the idea of starting a new religion — one that would be sane. But I’ve long since decided that was misguided. The only change I want to see to religion is its end.

    I’ve loved this blog, with one exception: I cringe every time you bring up Alethea. If you now feel you want to emphasize that more, I think you’re heading in the wrong direction.

    I do understand the need for community. But I don’t think we need to call it religion, or build it around any kind of supernatural beliefs, or even allegorical notions of deities. Let’s be real.

  2. Hunt Says:

    It’s an interesting experiment, if only as a tool in comparative religious analysis. I’m reminded of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but I think you have something more in mind, and it’s not designed as a mockery. It would be interesting, if you gather a number of “converts” to see how things like ritual or sacrament would or could be introduced, or if someone proposed them, how others might persuade them that they’re not a good idea. Would a physical “church” of this religion have sermons, would there be a day devoted to worship, or would it just remain in the back of everyone’s mind and be addressed as spare time might allow.

  3. Hunt Says:

    .. and I laud your resolution to bury the angry atheist, but you actually never seemed very angry to me, but maybe I caught you on the downswing.

    As atheism becomes more visible and assertive, with things like bus and roadway signs, and town resolutions against them, I’m just waiting for the fist atheist/theist violence to emerge. It’s not on anyone’s radar screen at the moment, which is what concerns me.

  4. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Nemo: for what it’s worth, rest assured that my religion is 100% supernatural free. One fringe benefit of worshiping reality is that anything “beyond” the real world is by definition false and illusory, since it lies outside of reality. 😉

  5. Len Says:

    I just read the post on Changing Religions – let’s see where it all goes.

    I enjoyed your work on C.S. Lewis’ book, so I’m sad that you won’t be as active on that – but who knows.

    I any case, good luck and keep it real.

  6. Arthur Says:

    He informed me, with predictable smugness, that I was a worshiper too: I worshiped the truth.

    And you said, “Oh please don’t throw me in that briar patch!”

    I’ll be reading the new blog, no question.

  7. mikespeir Says:

    Seriously, would you consider consolidating some of your running answers to various books and publishing them? If not as actual books, let us have them as .pdf’s. I’ve found some of your stuff unmatched for pointedness and insightfulness.

  8. Jesse Says:

    I feel the same as Nemo. I have been reading and enjoying this blog for a long time except for whenever you mentioned “Alethea”, which always makes me cringe and makes it difficult for me to take you as seriously as I think you ought to be taken. It’s just silly, in the not-so-agreeable sense of the term. If your new blog is going to have less of what I came here for and more of what makes me cringe, then it was fun while it lasted.

  9. David D.G. Says:

    A black day, indeed! Still, I understand that whacking the same old pinata can get tiresome, especially when you’ve battered it as thoroughly as this one.

    Also, what mikespeir said; if I could, I’d love to get the entire archive of Evangelical Realism in a book (or series of books).

    Deacon Duncan, I have read a number of fine pro-atheism blogs, including Greta Christina’s Blog, Daylight Atheism, Evolutionblog, and The Friendly Atheist, among others. But, in my opinion, Evangelical Realism has provided the very clearest, most thorough, and generally best deconstruction of theism’s apologetics and underlying psychologies. PLEASE don’t let it all go away. I hope that you will keep this blog active, even if only to keep the material on it available.

    As for the new venture, I hope that you enjoy it. I promise that I will be reading. Good luck to you!

    ~David D.G.

  10. Eneasz Says:

    I will miss ER greatly. I thought Althea and Realism were absolutely inspired, perhaps the best rebuttal of religion possible. Much like Yudkowsky’s “An Alien God” post, it pointed out that science had actually found God, found the True Religion for anyone who was willing to worship it. Atheists obviously won’t, because worshiping deities is anathema to us, but it revealed the lie of the pious when they claim that they simply want to use science/reason to better understand god, and that their religion cannot conflict with science/reality.

    Because God has been found, and It is Azathoth/Althea, and because It doesn’t fit the mold that the religionists have already decided upon they reject It entirely. Well, all the better for us atheists, now we have no illusions about their intellectual depravity.

    I’ll follow your new blog, and thanks for everything you’ve done on ER.

  11. mickey Says:

    Yeah, angry atheism isn’t very productive. Though, need to let Dawkins and Hitchens in on that.

    As for worshipping Truth: Truth is God and God is Truth.

    Seems you’re on a good path along the way of your journey.

  12. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Dawkins and Hitchens have their role to play, and I’m not going to oppose them. But I’m headed down a different path, one better suited to my needs and abilities. Or so I hope.

    But amen about God being Truth. That’s one thing Jesus was never able to give me, in all my long years as a Bible-believing evangelical: a God who was the same kind of truth as the real world. Finding the True God, so new and yet so familiar, has been a tremendously liberating experience for me, and I can’t wait to share it with others.

  13. EdW Says:

    DD — I think most of the objections will come from language — words, phrases, and ideas that have such a massive religious history and connotation that they carry with them an inextricable “stink” of supernaturalism.

    I’ve been an atheist for years, but I’ve always had a prayer that I say when I feel the need:

    “Tonight I ask only this: Please help me to see by the light of Truth, so I may look at the world with eyes unclouded by ignorance.”

    I think perhaps that Reality will be a better addressee for that prayer than any God.

    I’ll definitely have some ideas and suggestions for you along the way, although I prefer not to give my Truth a name.

    Good luck in the new venture.