PSYCHOLOGY TODAY / Oct 1, 2015
Five Reasons People Don’t Like Atheists
Research explains why atheists are viewed as threatening
Why are Asperger’s Outcasts?
The difference between organized religion and reality, is that in religion, there is always a “way out” of consequences for one’s behavior: prayer, sacrifice, money, magic, violence, lies, denial. In the real world, responsibility and consequences exist.
Atheists represent one of the least trusted and most despised groups in America.
This seems odd. Why is it so threatening for someone to opt out of religious belief? ( right off, religion is normal and expected social behavior) People believe and don’t believe in all sorts of things. And yet, atheists seem to really drive people nuts. Polls identify atheists as untrustworthy, unelectable for public office, and unworthy of marrying into one’s family. Here are some reasons why.
Reasons People Dislike Atheists (In No Particular Order)
1. As a general rule, people favor members of their own group. Most people in America are religious and thus to reject religion makes one a member of a minority outgroup.
2. Atheists are viewed as buzzkills. For many people, religion offers inspiration and hope. In fact, there are numerous studies demonstrating that religious belief motivates people and helps them cope with the many challenges of life. In this way, religion contributes to psychological health. Thus, when someone says he or she thinks religion is a fiction, that person often comes off as a Debby Downer. And people don’t tend to like Debby Downers. OMG! The measure of behavior is that elementary school “social” thing.
3. Research suggests that religion promotes trust. People believe that being watched and held accountable by a higher power helps keep them honest. (WOW!) This also means that religious people tend to believe that atheists are less trustworthy since they do not believe that there is a God monitoring their behavior. In fact, one set of studies found that people tend to distrust atheists about as much as they distrust rapists. Ouch. Does this explain why Aspergers identify neurotypicals as untrustworthy? Yes, because if “God” isn’t looking, NTs feel free to lie. Experience confirms that neurotypicals lie even when they think gGd is watching.
4. Similarly, there is a common belief that rejecting God is the same as rejecting morality. However, countries that have high rates of atheism (Scandinavian nations) tend to have much lower violent crime and teen pregnancy rates than countries high in religiosity such as the United States. In addition, in the United States, the least religious states have the lowest violent crime rates. Like it or not, there is no compelling evidence that atheists are less moral than believers. Morality can be found with and without religion. In fact, research indicates that atheist parents spend a lot of time teaching their children to be moral, compassionate, and fair.
5. Atheists are sometimes not very nice about their beliefs. (WOW! How ignorant: Atheism is not BELIEF: it is an intellectual rejection of false magical beliefs.) This is a tricky one because most atheists just go about their business and are even very supportive of those who believe. In fact, many atheists are afraid to expose themselves as nonbelievers out of fear of prejudice. However, some atheists have taken the strong stance that religion is a social ill and thus use more combative tactics, which can include treating religious individuals like they are unintelligent and mentally weak. (No attention is paid to FACT – behavior must always support the social regime – this extends to teaching bizarre religious-supernatural nonsense in public schools.) This approach obviously upsets religious people and can make them falsely believe that all atheists think this way. (Why must Americans use the childish directive that NO ONE may have their feelings hurt? Neoteny.)
So what are some solutions that could improve people’s views of atheists and, ultimately, help everyone get along? (While we’re regressing into self-destructive ignorance.)
First, people should recognize that many atheists feel marginalized in American society because most people are believers. Believers should not feel threatened by atheists. People believe different things and someone not believing in God does not jeopardize your own beliefs.
However, atheists should try not to be buzzkills. (What an infantile social goal) And atheists should definitely not insult religious people. Looking down on people accomplishes nothing. (How about religious people who view “mental illness” as demon possession? Who hate LGBT people, women, African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims and believe we should bomb the Hell out of all non-0Christians? Are we allowed to reject the beliefs that demand violent action?) We should be having thoughtful discussions and debates about philosophical questions related to religion as well as the social pros and cons of religion. But there are ways to do this respectfully and at appropriate times.
Let’s apply these lofty social ideas to all religions: if there is a group that uses religion as an excuse for crimes against humanity, to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, murder of any and all other religious groups, or ethnicities, to dey freedom, dignity and peace to other humans, NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO SPEAK UP. No one may expose child abuse, for example: pedophilia is an acceptable “perk” for clergy and ought to be a protected activity.
As a (neurotypical pseudo-) scientist who studies the psychology of religion, I can tell you these issues are very complex. Religious belief is often associated with positive psychological, social, and physical health outcomes. But certain types of religious beliefs and practices can also contribute to social conflict and compromise health. Further, atheists seem to be thriving mentally and physically as well. (Irrational argument – it’s okay to discriminate against Asian immigrants because they achieve educational and financial success in the U.S.) Their lack of belief does not appear to be causing any harm. In addition, there are plenty of intelligent and mentally resilient believers. And being an atheist does not mean you are a genius with no psychological vulnerabilities. WOW! How irrational! This is a childish “social” attack on millions of human beings who use math and science as tools to understand how “the universe” works.
Both sides need to realize that neither belief nor disbelief determine what kind of person someone is or what they are capable of accomplishing.
Then why do human beings persist in teaching children “how to be good people” if such activity is futile? This is the typical supernatural denial of reality: the supernatural dimension “controls” a puppet universe in which humans are free of responsibility for their actions.