Who’s Got the Ego?

One of the comments I’ve gotten, both in person and on the internet, is that atheism (and it’s moral equivalent: Secular Humanism) is an inherently egotistical position. I went here, to some sort of Christian Publication, looking for the basis of that belief — only to find the complete lack of an argument (just a series of claims that atheists are arrogant and angry without any real backing and hold Christianity up as the humble opposite). From what I can gather, here is the basic argument for atheists being arrogant:

  1. Christians (and other theists) believe that their achievements and positive qualities come from Jesus and God (or their theological equivalent for other faiths).
  2. Believing that their achievements and positive qualities come from a higher power makes Christians (or other theists) humble.
  3. Atheists believe that their achievements and positive qualities come from their own hard work and introspection.
  4. Not believing that their achievements come from a higher power makes atheists not humble.
  5. The opposite of humility is arrogance.
  6. Therefore, atheists are arrogant.

There are, of course, other arguments as to whether or not atheists are arrogant (including the one that we are audacious enough to say that the majority of the world is wrong, which is absolutely laughable–Who would speak out about something if they didn’t think they were right and others are wrong?), but this is the one that I’ll focus on because it so clearly exposes the arrogance of the belief in a personal god.

I believe (after all, I can’t speak for all atheists), that you can only get to where you want to be through hard work and persistence. Conversely, when you achieve something, be it a diploma, a promotion, or building something fantastic, you have yourself, and whoever else gave you help, to thank for it. After all, it was your determination that earned you that degree.

This may seem arrogant to some, but I actually find it to be the pinnacle of humility. I don’t think that the universe cares (if it even has the agency required to care, which it probably doesn’t) if I succeed or not. I don’t matter in the grand scheme of things unless I make myself matter. There are no free rides–the people with the drive, and ability, to succeed are successful.

Now let’s contrast this with the religious mindset, where people, though some ability and ambition are required, only really succeed because God (or Allah or Vishnu or whatever) decided that they were special–dare I say important–enough to be imbued with the talents that made them succeed. The converse of that is that God just loves you more than (or thinks that your more special than) all of the people that you surpassed in achievement. It basically boils down to, “God made Tim Tebow better at being a quarterback than those other guys because fuck those guys” (even though, God’s favorite quarterback wasn’t Special enough to win the Super Bowl or be the Bronco’s starting QB next season, was he?). If you’re successful, it’s because God wanted you to be successful–more successful than those people that you’re more successful than–because you’re special and Jesus loves you just a little bit more than all of those other people. How obscenely arrogant.

But the arrogance isn’t limited to success. No, central to the belief in a personal god (in contrast to more deistic beliefs) is the idea that, no matter who you are, you are important enough to God for him to take a personal interest in your daily activities and thoughts. That’s right: in between making sure that the universe remains livable to humans and creating floods and deciding who wins a Grammy, God makes the effort to personally answer your prayer for a good grade, good fortunes, that you’ll find love, etc. God loves you so much that it makes him shed a single tear every time you think about a naked lady (because, with all of the violence and injustice in the world, he cares about your sexual thoughts). If a grand creator of the Universe exists, he probably doesn’t care about me.

A sickening side of that form of arrogance usually accompanies every natural or man made disaster. If a tornado blows through a community and kills everyone but three people, those three people will probably say something to the effect of “Oh Jesus decided to save us.” It obviously follows from that line of thought is that they, for some reason only God knows (it’s because they’re Special) were more worth saving then all of the dozens of men, women, and children who God, for some reason only God knows, saw fit to crush with rubble (or flying cows) or impale with fence posts. Face it: the odds weren’t in your favor when the tornado came, and you were the lucky one.

I won’t even get into the In-Group/Out-Group thinking that religion fosters except to say that it takes a pretty big head to think that you’re automatically better than someone else because you have a better imaginary friend.

Face it, if anyone has an ego problem, it’s the one who thinks the Universe cares about them.

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1 Comment

Filed under About Atheism, Anti-Apologia, Practical Atheism

One response to “Who’s Got the Ego?

  1. “Preach” it! 😉

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