Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Are You Atheists So Angry - Why You Should Buy Greta's Book

As I have mentioned before, I'm pretty new to the Atheist community.  When I took the final step and said, out loud "There is no god.", I felt as if I had been thrown into a vast sea of information and old arguments, most of which are quite heated. I felt like a polar bear in the summer trying to find the next chunk of ice to rest on.  It was overwhelming.  It was confusing at times.  It felt like I was the last to know all of this stuff that Atheists had been talking about for more than a century.  In spite of all that, it felt like freedom.  It felt like liberation.  It felt like I had woken up for the first time in my life.  It felt...good.

As I started to get my baring in this new ocean of Atheist thinking, I found that I hadn't really been left behind.  The nature of the debates between Christians and Atheists (I'm an American so, yes, I'm picking on Christians because that's the majority here), unfortunately, hasn't changed a whole lot during the last century.  I quickly found they are, in essence, the same arguments over and over...and over again.  Atheists don't accept the Bible as evidence because it has been proven wrong on numerous occasions and the Christians call it evidence because they believe it's the "unchanging word of God".

I stepped into the internet debates, mostly on YouTube, and lost my steam very quickly because it is so tiring to say the same things over and over.  I'd gotten very tired of trying to explain things in reality to non-believers of reality who would, seemingly without fail, ignore the evidence available to them and, instead, turn to their version of reality, which has a single answer for everything: "God did it."

I had made up my mind to set my focus elsewhere and try to make a difference by just "spreading the word" as it were.  I even said out loud "I'm not doing this anymore."  It can be so intellectually taxing to try and teach others what they've been misinformed about and where it is they misunderstand.  I was tired of being called "evil" and "ignorant". The "ignorant" comment is so hypocritical coming from a Creationist, but I digress.  I "met" Greta Christina through her Skepticon YouTube video on the subject of angry Atheists and found her talk beautiful.  I decided, instead of "wasting my time" debating, to read Greta's book "Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless" thinking it was just going to be about the things that pissed her off.  I expected it to be a short read, but I was in for a big surprise.

Not only did Greta convince me to continue to "debate" with those internet folks, she brought some things to my attention that I hadn't thought about.  There is a string of chapters in her book such as "Yes, This Means You: 'Spiritual But Not Religious'" and "Yes, This Means You: 'New Age Religion'", most of which I found very enlightening.  As I read, I'd think of a question and, indubitably, it was answered within a few paragraphs, if not sooner.  I found it to be a fantastic book, suitable for any non-believers arsenal as well as a sensible plea for believers to reconsider.  She took great care to criticize ideas and not the people who have them and was obviously trying to appeal to the believers more than anything by writing this book, not to "deconvert" them, but rather to offer believers, as well as those "on the fence", an explanation for the abundance of anger seen in the Atheist community.  She explains her ideas as if the reader is a child without forcing them into the denigrating feeling usually associated with being spoken to as if you were a child.  She makes it very simple and, by proxy, helped me understand some of those things a bit better.  She recharged my Atheist batteries.  She validated the anger I that I felt bad for feeling.  She helped me evolve as an Atheist and as a thinker.

She starts off with her list of 99 things, most of which had been posted in a blog and on the video years ago.  I won't go into that except to say that there are several new ideas in this chapter that don't appear in the blog video from her encyclopedia of things that piss her off about religion.

The second chapter, I think, was a great one.  Being that she's been blogging and speaking about Atheism for years, she took the time to address the many comments she's received since the "anger blog" was published at the end of 2007.  Some of the comments include those insisting that Atheists should stop being angry, that Atheism is a religion that requires faith, and that Atheists anger is too general and shouldn't apply to their brand of belief.  She replies to them in her book with her usual, occasional sarcastic humor and truth.

After explaining why Atheist, particularly her, anger is really the fault of religion, she continues into the four well-thought-out "Yes, This Means You" chapters, which are wonderfully enlightening, as I said before.  Beyond that, she offers the "Top Ten" reasons why she's a non-believer.  This chapter, in part, helps to clear up some of the misconceptions about why she, and others, choose to be non-believers.  She offers the apparent correlation between what one believes compared to what family or geographical location they grew  up in as well as the ever-diminishing space left for a god to exist as a couple of her reasons for non-belief.  Subsequent chapters decry the usefulness of religion, validate Atheist activism, and examine the close ties between anger and compassion.

After getting people all riled up, her final chapter, "What Now?", offers myriad options on what to do with all that angry energy.  Activism comes in many forms, not just from those who speak out.  She offers several different brands of activism that nearly anyone could comfortably choose from.

My absolute favorite thing about this book is something that can only be offered with the e-version of her book and it's not a space-saving, green reason.  Every chapter is peppered with citation links.  I could spend several months, I'm convinced, just going through all of the links she's offered throughout the text and reading her citations.  I'm not one to get excited about a "bibliography", but this is absolute awesomeness.  Not only does it offer extra information, but she has given herself credibility, in my eyes, by taking the time to put all those links in.  I don't know about you, but I rarely check out citations in books like this.  Maybe it's because it's not in your face and is it's own "chapter" way at the end.  Perhaps it's the fact that I'm so used to the "blogosphere" and being able to click on the links contained within the text.  For whatever reason, these are citations I plan on checking into.

My final thought:  Buying Greta's book is the best eight bucks I ever spent in my life and I would still say the same thing if it costed more.  This book is a wonderful read for believers and non-believers alike.  I HIGHLY suggest that you get a copy for yourself and share it with others.  This book is a must-read!

"The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force."
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.~

"I have learned, through bitter experience, the one supreme lesson: To conserve my anger.  And as heat conserved is transmitted into energy,  even so our anger, controlled, can be transformed into a power that can move the world."
~Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi~

"Atheists are not angry because there's something wrong with us.  Atheists are angry because there's something right with us."
~Greta Christina~

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