Episode 90 – The Return of Arrogant Atheists

This week, we double back to the topic we spent some time on in Episode 82.  Are atheists more arrogant that theists or agnostics or any other subset of people who choose to speak their mind?  Is using your religion as a political tool and less arrogant?  Is the simple belief that you are right about something an arrogant belief?  As you might expect, we have answers for all of these as well as five answers from another listener!

Show notes below the fold:

Here’s a link to the Friendly Atheist article Tim mentioned.

Go listen to (and watch) Bo Burnham’s song!


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4 Responses to Episode 90 – The Return of Arrogant Atheists

  1. Albatross says:

    What theists call “arrogance” is simply masked by their theistic privilege. Theists are granted a lot of privileges surrounding the suspension of skepticism about their point of view. But it’s all about privilege.

    If a theist says “I will pray for you,” they are granted the suspension of skepticism regarding prayer. A response that refuses to recognize that privilege might be “You’re going to go talk to yourself and pretend that helps?” A priest who says “let us pray,” is simply saying “let us all pretend together,” but the privilege provided by our culture grants him the ability to say such things with a straight face.

    And this privilege is abused ALL THE TIME. The priest who says “Send me money and I’ll use the power of Jesus to drive the demons from your soul” is abusing theistic privilege in order to commit fraud on those made vulnerable by granting that privilege. The priest who molests the altar boy is similarly abusing the privilege of credibility and trust granted him by his position.

    Society grants these privileges in return for things that benefit society. Priests have traditionally been granted these privileges because they also carried duties that help society – solemnizing marriages, burying and memorializing the dead, caring for the sick, organizing the community towards common good actions. And in our authoritarian culture, theists in general have been granted privileges based on the idea that theists are more orderly and community-minded than those who refuse to follow arbitrary rules without question.

    So traditionally it’s been a tradeoff – we won’t roll our eyes too much when you claim to talk to a big invisible man in the sky, as long as this behavior is accompanied with conformity, obedience, and public service.

    When you declare yourself an atheist you immediately expose yourself as a free-thinker and a nonconformist – in other words, trouble. This is similar to when one declares oneself homosexual – our culture suppresses sexuality, and declaring sexual orientation automatically violates that suppression. Homosexuals are by definition sexual beings, while someone who keeps quiet about their sexuality conforms to societal requirements to suppress sexuality.

    As soon as you violate these cultural taboos you lose privileges. An atheist loses the privilege to address matters of religion, a homosexual loses the privilege to address matters of sexuality. So when an atheist says “I don’t believe in gods” they are speaking without privilege and so are arrogant. When a homosexual says “I want to marry” they are claiming a right to which they have no privilege and so are ‘shoving their sexuality in people’s faces.”

    It’s like society has a talking-stick which you get to hold if you conform, and anytime you fail to conform to society the talking stick is taken away. Then if you speak, you are further violating society.

  2. Albatross says:

    If being arrogant is an “exaggerated” sense of one’s self importance, then I can’t be arrogant because one can’t exaggerate my importance.

  3. Nick Knight says:

    I have to disagree with the idea of Pussy Agnostics, or Arrogant Agnostics. Agnostics represent the spectrum. I myself do not believe in a God, but I will now rule out a God because of our limited knowledge base. For us, rounding down to there being no God, no matter how small a leap, still represents a leap. In that way you are more like theist. You say Pussy’s, but I will often say I am Atheist, just so I do not have to give a more detailed explanation. So who is a Pussy, and who is arrogant?

  4. One thing that wasn’t brought up in either of the podcasts on this topic is verbiage. Atheists usually say they “know” while saying theists “believe”. That is arrogant; to believe you have “Knowledge” while others, with as much evidence as you, don’t. And the quite common belief among atheists that critical thought inherently leads to atheism. That view implies that theists are always dumb, and that’s both offensive as shit and unbearably arrogant.