Are Atheists Arrogant? Yes.

I recently responded to a friend’s seemingly angry comment to my favorable views of Christianity by suggesting she calm down. She did. Then she asked that I watch a presentation (that you can find here) in which a speaker essentially claims that my asking this friend to calm down was an example of me unwittingly antagonizing the social change movement known as atheism. News to me.

The presentation, by a woman named Greta Christina, is very generalized and therefore incapable of doing much more than rabble rousing. However, I would like to address one topic that I find fascinating. Here’s her claim:

“I get angry when believers say that the entire unimaginable hugeness of the universe was made entirely for the human race, [whereas] atheists by contrast say that humanity is this infinitesimal eye-blink in the vastness of time and space. And then religious believers accuse atheists of being arrogant.”

As I see it, we’re all guessing. We’re all looking at the data and drawing conclusions. More than that there are two levels at play here that she doesn’t seem to recognize. One level is the idea. The other is the proponent of the idea. If I expound the believers’ idea, I can also humbly admit that it’s just my best guess. No different than an atheist can admit that they are not certain. However, when the atheist or believer declares that for certain they are right, there is naturally, in both cases, an additional off-putting arrogance. And I am no more a fan of religious zealots who prematurely end the dialogue with claims of certainty than I am of atheists who do so. But in my experience, including this woman, while believers can be annoying in their certitude, atheists rue the day when it comes to arrogance. It’s inherent to their argument, the argument that goes something like,

“There are objective, scientific facts to be known. I know them. As facts are synonymous with truth, I know the truth. Moreover if you disagree with me, you’re disagreeing with the truth and consequently you are wrong. (And stupid).”

Does anyone remember the end of The Matrix Revolutions? (That’s the name of number three). The machines are trying to once and for all defeat humanity. Their agent, Agent Smith, asks our agent, Neo, who won’t stop fighting, “Why? Why, why do you persist?” Neo’s answer: “Because I choose to.” Smith’s question embodies the same argument as the atheist’s, just more eloquently. And it is arrogant. As if life is a computation to be solved and afterwards things will be normal.

Is it an arrogant idea that the unimaginable universe was created for little ol’ me? I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like it. It’s just my freely chosen conclusion–as of today–after studying the historical record and living among you for thirty-three years. Is it an arrogant idea that an infinitesimal eye-blink or even a very numerous group of them have accurately and finally recognized a system of knowledge that answers, “Why?” or “What for?” in a way that demands unquestioning allegiance? Yes. Yes, I’m afraid it is.

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13 comments

  1. EDW

    I am not sure that accepting the tenets of Christianity — or any other monotheistic faith — necessarily means accepting that the universe was created solely for mankind. I think that IS an arrogant position. Could God not have made the entire shebang just to please Himself?

    After all, ” … man is as dust.
    15 The life of man is like grass,
    he flourisheth as a flower of the field;
    16 the wind bloweth over him and he is no more,
    and his place remembereth him not.” (Psalm 103)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ain't No Shrinking Violet

    I’m not sure atheists are the only arrogant ones.
    “There are objective, scriptural facts in the bible. I know them. As scripture is synonymous with truth, I know the truth. Moreover if you disagree with me, you’re disagreeing with the truth and consequently you are wrong. (And stupid).”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucy Furr

    The title of your post might be more accurately titles, “Are Scientists Arrogant. Yes”

    The speaker strayed from topic when she made that statement and it does not represent all atheists. Though many atheists come from the scientific world, not all do. I’m an atheist and ill-equipped to speak about anything science-y.

    As an atheist, I am an unbeliever in God. I don’t claim to “know” there is not one. Most of the atheists I’m acquainted with don’t claim to know what we deem to be “unknowable.”

    Pete, you’ve taken one statement from her speech and applied it to all atheists. This doesn’t feel fair-handed.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One among Many

    I agree with everything here. Nothing better than a conversation of thoughts and beliefs. When things snowball into extremes and insults. Well that is it, goes to I’m right your wrong. Many directions go from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ChrisB

    I dont feel anyone can claim to know the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. But as you say we make our best guesses. I prefer to seek wisdom rather than Truth. That is, what works beneficially. And that may or may not include a belief in God- which is after all a belief.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. noelleg44

    Interesting post and observations. There are definitely some religions that would view our place in the universe and being central, and they can be fanatical. But I think the majority of religions have a more relaxed view that God created the universe or universes and along with that there could be myriad sentient beings out there. My argument with the atheists is their fanatical attitude that every mention of religion anywhere in public society be removed. I find that offensive. I recently heard a very brief lecture by a professor of religion at Harvard, who concluded that the reason why democracies work is that most members of a democratic society obey the rules and the laws automatically. The reason why they do comes from religion, being taught right from wrong, being your brother’s keeper etc. When religion disappears from a society, so does democracy. Interesting point of view.

    Pete: Go to http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Inthegazeoftheother

    I agree that certainty in the face of the uncertain, the unresolved, the mystery is arrogance. How is that firm belief, belief being the operative word, transforms into certainty? Humility before the infinite is the first sign of intelligence, in my humble opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Kit

    I’m somewhat skeptical of any statement that follows the format “All people of type X are Y.” I try not to paint my Christian friends with such a broad brush.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kit

    I’m also unsure about the idea that feeling reasonably certain of your conclusions is the same as arrogance. A sense of certainty can of course become arrogance in many different belief systems. I try not to be so dismissive people’s sincerely held ideas by painting broad motivations on them that I may not have the context to fully understand. Better to examine people’s ideas on their own merits than pay those kind of games.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. jaslynhughes

    I was raised in a Christian family, but I am also a student of science. For me, there is overwhelming evidence in support of things like the theory of evolution as an example. It is something that can be observed, for instance cow farmers select cows which produce more milk to mate with bulls who were born of cows who also produce a lot of milk, end result is a cow that produces even more milk; that’s how evolution can work artificially.

    HOWEVER, despite all our fancy scientific methods and research, I have not yet seen anyone be able to prove that God doesn’t exist, so how can an atheist make that claim?

    Can there be both science and religion? I think there can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Trish

    I am Atheist and feel not desire to argue or convince anyone of anything. For me, what I believe is personal…just like someones religious beliefs. I treat everyone’s faith with respect and kindness. So, not all Atheists are arrogant. I hold only kindness and love for my fellow man. I guess people like me are the Atheists you don’t hear much from.

    Liked by 1 person

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