Your criticism is important to us! Almost as important, in fact, as the dozen or so posts very similar to yours that we receive on a daily basis. And just as you are a unique snowflake with an excitingly novel point of view to share with us, the following is a response lovingly handcrafted to address the point(s) you brought up. We've gone so far as to thoughtfully and presciently include responses to some concerns you haven't even thought to raise yet!

I don't like to see atheist posts on the Reddit front page.

We're totally sorry to hear that. When some of our posts make the front page, it's because hundreds of people liked them; so naturally we thought you would too. Our mistake, sorry!

But while we're talking about this: those of us living in the US aren't happy to find references to your primitive cult on our money, in our pledge, on billboards in our neighborhood, in our TV programming, in our public speeches and especially in our children's science textbooks. If you're good buddies with the people who handle that sort of thing, maybe you could talk them into toning this down a bit? We'll try to match your progress step for step.

That stuff didn't use to be there. How do I get rid of it?

Oh, why didn't you ask? When you're logged in, once you visit the atheism forum, you'll find a red unsubscribe button at the top right of the page. If you click on that, when you're logged in, you won't see our posts on the front page.

Why should I have to log in to disable your blasphemous verbiage?

You might say that's God-given (LOL). You had to log in to write your post, too, right? That proves you know how to do it.

If the effort is still too much for you then... well, sucks to be you, doesn't it? But be sure to get back to us as soon as your spam is off the Dollar bill.

You should respect other peoples' views!

Really? Do you respect the views of White Supremacists that black people are inferior? Do you respect the views of Nazis that Jews should be incinerated? Do you respect the views of the folks who claim Elvis is still alive?

See, other peoples' views deserve respect only if they're moral and sensible. Most religions are neither. In the words of Thomas Jefferson,

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

Oh look, he held the same low opinion of religion as we do!

But seriously, two things to note:

  1. We ridicule and criticize, because we agree with Jefferson that these verbal forms of attack, protected by the freedom of speech, should be "the only weapon." Please note that the religious people who disagree with us are often much less discriminating in their methods. It's not fun to have your car scratched, your windows broken, to be thrown out of your family, your job or your relationship. Getting one's house torched can really ruin our day - and sometimes people do that to us because people like you encourage them to hate atheists.
  2. socially accepted forms of critically examining different positions are how societies learn and improve. We criticize and ridicule other peoples' politics, sports teams, hobbies, their fashion sense... what's so special about religions? Not a goddamn thing! The fact that, in backward societies, religions are often held above public criticism is a big problem. Sam Harris explains why, if you're inclined to take in a video.

But you disrespect people too! This response is full of underhanded insults.

Glad to see you're keeping up! We atheists are a bit divided about that. Some of us think that only ridiculous beliefs warrant ridicule, but others -myself included- feel that adults who believe in the Easter Bunny merit ridicule too, as do people who believe in Noah's Ark, Mohammed's flying horse or a god who helps your football team win if you pray.

There's some excuse in the fact that people are fed with this stuff when they're gullible children. But I think there's little excuse for an adult to continue holding on to an invisible friend against all evidence and reason to the contrary. If you believe that God gave you a brain then you should believe He meant you to use it. If you willfully stay ignorant, you're sinning not just against your mythical creator but against all of humanity.

You not only disrespect religion, you outright hate it!

Again, that's true only for some of us. That separates the boys from the m accommodationists from the anti-theists in our crowd. Me, I'm of the latter persuasion. Do you hate mass murderers? Oppressive dictators? Crooks? Liars? Funny thing about religions is that they lead to exactly the kind of things you hate too. Let's look at Christianity for some examples:

  • Wars, from history into the present, are often motivated by religion. People die.
  • Christianity's war on contraception is persuading Africans not to use condoms. AIDS spreads, people die.
  • Christianity's war on contraception keeps populations skyrocketing in poor countries. People starve, people die.
  • Christianity's war on science puts people and their sick children in the hands of faith healers. People pray, people die from otherwise easily treated diseases.
  • Christianity's war on homosexuality: Gays get bullied into suicide. People die.
  • Christianity's war on science has 40% of Americans believing that humans were made out of mud, and they're pushing to wipe evolution out of science books. Children get a lousy education, stay ignorant, grow up to be poor.

I'll have to stop here before I run out of space. Here's a more exhaustive list, should you care.

Back when religion ran the whole show, people led poor, violent, short lives, and we now call that period the Dark Ages. Visit North Korea or Yemen if you want to get an impression of what that was like. Wouldn't you hate to live like that? I sure would, and that's why I hate religions.

All this bad stuff you're talking about - that's just a few religious extremists. I'm not like that, and I resent being lumped in with the few misguided religious evildoers!

Oh, you're not, are you? And neither are most other people? Then explain to my why gays can't get hitched in most American states. Voting down gay marriage (or any other kind of progress, as churches often do) requires majorities. Majorities means lots and lots of people. If the people motivated by religion to oppress other people were so few and far between, those majorities wouldn't exist.

As for the evildoers: they get their power from you and people like you. Consider how religions explicitly provide cover for crimes:

The United States has a vast array of religious exemption laws that allow parents to deprive children of health care. These include religious exemptions from criminal charges, civil abuse and neglect charges, immunizations, physical examinations, prophylactic eyedrops, metabolic testing of newborns, lead poison screening, and instruction about disease.

...

States with a religious defense to the most serious crimes against children include Iowa and Ohio (a religious defense to manslaughter); Delaware and West Virginia (religious defenses to murder of a child); Arkansas (religious defense to capital murder); and Oregon (religious defenses to homicide by abuse or neglect, manslaughter, criminal mistreatment, and nonsupport). Oregon laws extend religious immunity beyond medical neglect. A parent may be beating or torturing a child, but if he or she can show that the child was prayed for, criminal charges must be dismissed.

Almost needless to say, this kind of shit only flies in a religious society. That's a whole country full of people like you who claim they don't do anything harmful. Meanwhile, in many secular countries, physically chastising children is simply illegal (and unsurprisingly, those societies have lower crime rates). See the difference religion makes, with your help?

But look at all the good religions do! The missions, the charities...

First of all, if you truck down to some shithole place and give the people Bibles, you're not helping them, unless they need kindling.

Second, if you refuse to give people something to eat before they've prayed and accepted Jesus, that's called blackmail, and should be punished as the crime it is.

Third, there are lots of secular charities that do good without the spiritual mumbo-jumbo. Civilized countries don't need churches to take care of their poor. All well-off Western societies have less religion than the USA, and better social welfare. Why sink money into the construction of megachurches and pastor's private jets when you could spend it on the poor?

In the list of most charitable countries (by GNP), the highly Christian USA is in 19th place.

I'll say it again: You don't need religions to do good. Lots of people do, it's a basic human motivation.

If not for God, people would run around murdering and raping!

Speak for yourself, asshole! If God is the only thing keeping you from becoming Charles Manson, you're a despicable psychopath and should turn yourself in before religion's tenuous hold on you breaks down and you do a lot of harm.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have decent morals good enough to uphold a stable society, and for the inevitable bad apples there's the police.

Speaking of law enforcement... ever wonder why highly Christian USA has more jailed convicts, per capita, than any other country in the world, including thugocracies like Uganda or China?

Hey, why do you keep picking on Christianity and the USA? What about Muslims and 9/11?

First of all, most Redditors live in a culture dominated by Christianity. The influence on government, education and even our private lives comes mostly from Christianity, not from some other outfit. Teenage atheists get kicked out of Christian homes, and atheists get bullied and discriminated by Christian schoolmates, office mates and fellow military.

Now let me tell you why I don't worry much about Muslims: they have neither the technology nor the brains to be really dangerous. Most of the casualties of Muslim violence are fellow Muslims. Meanwhile, the world's biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons and 25% of the world's economy threaten to fall into the hands of Christian theocrats. That's a scary thought!

What do I mean by theocrats? Two people come to mind:

  • Rick Perry. Cuts funding for fire brigades, prays for rain for Texas. Texas erupts in an explosion of fire.
  • Ann Coulter. Yeah, I know, her influence is fading but I can't get her words out of my mind, or the attitude they express:

    "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

I don't want people like this in positions of public power. And if you ever paused to think about something other than your invisible buddy Jesus, neither would you.

You know what you're doing here? You're shoving your views down my throat. You're just as bad as the JW proselytizers!

Hey bud: I didn't knock on your door. You came here to rant at us, and I took the opportunity to try and educate you. You're free to leave and not read (or learn) anything.

But if you get Parkinson's, remember to pray to your make-believe god for a cure, not to the stem cell researchers you helped de-fund. Oh, and send me a postcard. I don't think this little piece of mine has given you all the ridicule you deserve yet.

While we're insulting each other: /r/atheism's content sucks; you're just circle jerking about stupid shit!

This is our subreddit. We come here to have a laugh at your expense, for reasons explained above. You're welcome to drop by or even stay, but you're not really our target audience. If you don't like what you see, you're welcome to piss off.

Why don't you have any thoughtful, interesting discussions about atheism? Isn't that what this sub is for?

Begin discussion:

Atheism is the lack of belief in gods.

End discussion.

But seriously, atheism is a response to the silly beliefs of theism, and the problems we have with religious beliefs and their adherents. We'd actually be tickled pink if religious belief just quietly died out - then we could pack it in and go home.

Then why don't you write interesting content about religion?

Several points:

  • Our content is only as good as our submissions. Almost without exception, the people who complain about the quality of our content have never contributed anything interesting or sensible of their own, yet expect everybody else to. Do you understand that this reveals a hypocritical, if not just plain stupid way of thinking?

  • We do have a fair amount of interesting discussion-type content, actually. Sometimes we even have worthwhile discussions with smart theists. You just don't see it on the front page if you're just going to the default "Hot" tab. Were you aware of the "New" tab? You see everything there, in time order. Most people enjoy the silly pictures more, so those get upvoted to the "Hot" tab. Yeah, that's a result of having 200,000 totally unmoderated members.

Even on the New tab, people talk about a lot of stupid shit. If you guys are so smart, you should write smarter shit.

We get several posts a week from people who demand that we raise our standards. Look, this is an unmoderated sub and that's the way we like it. We can't force people to do anything; unlike you religious folk, we don't believe in telling people how to think (other than to think at all). Nobody can influence the average standard. If you want to see better shit, contribute it!

Or go away and stop whining. You're not helping, and you're getting on our nerves.


The source text to this little public service form post can be found on PasteBin.

changed October 27, 2011