This editorial from the Washington Post wants to know: Why do Americans still dislike atheists—particularly given how much we like everyone else these days.
Atheists, after all, the author continues, are so much more awesome than everyone around them: They are smarter; unlikely to find themselves in barfights or to be called Junior or Bud; they have better fashion sense, thanks to Bravo; higher SAT scores; are more sensitive to the plight of underprivileged people in far off lands; more likely to travel to those lands, pose for pictures with those people and then post them on Facebook in order to “raise consciousness.” Atheists tend to have more food allergies or ‘sensitivities’, but this is only because the aforementioned heightened sensitivity extends to the plight of many foods–and not only those foods on the bottom of the pyramid either.
And now that you know we are so much better than you, it would be logical for you to stop hating us and elect us to a benevolent dictatorship, as the absence of God decreed.
Initially, I found these claims very plausible. A lot of my friends are atheists and they tend to be a sexy and good-looking bunch with all of their original fingernails. But then came the “evidence.”
Take, for instance, the assertion that atheists are less violent. The evidence? Denmark is a widely irreligious society and the murder rate there is super low. Huh. Three problems with this correlation immediately strike the rational mind:
1. Denmark is also: small, wealthy, very culturally and racially homogeneous, and enjoys a strong welfare state. So, you know, maybe it’s the atheism, or maybe it’s the fact that everybody is rich, blonde, and related by marriage. I bet if you studied rich blondes in America you would find they have an equally low murder rate.
2. Conversely, the most murderous countries on earth are in Africa, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America. Some in the middle category are also pretty irreligious. All of them are poor and/or unstable. But I’m sure it’s just because they aren’t atheist enough. Probably they believe a little, when they’ve had one too many, or are trying to get a Christian into bed.
3. You know which country has an even lower murder rate than Denmark? Saudi Arabia. Bahrain too. I guess using this author’s powers of deduction, we must conclude that Muslims are even less kill-y than atheists. And you know which country has approximately the same murder rate? Italy. So it must be that Catholics and atheists are equally murder-y.
The rest of the claims are equally weak:
Atheists are discriminated against because half of Americans wouldn’t vote for an atheist. Obviously they hate them, because when electing our representatives in a democracy, it is wrong to want to choose candidates whose worldview reflects your own. Instead we should base our choices on how superior to us they claim to be? I’m guessing the half of the country that is Republican also wouldn’t vote for democrats because they believe in public healthcare and abortion. It’s practically like racism!
Did I mention that atheists are smarter than the average American? Because the author did. Of course, we’ll studiously fail to mention that they also tend to be from the wealthier and better educated-class, whom I’m certain all got there by virtue of being inherently hard working and wise and not because of a mixture of racial preferences, inherited wealth and the various advantages attending these states.
Of course, if we really wanted to test this claim, we wouldn’t compare a tiny, ideological minority of a pretty uniform socioeconomic profile to the whole of the nation and then attribute their success to their ideology. But this is non-faith we’re talking about here. No need to test it with silly things like reason and rational thinking. That said, I must blaspheme and point out that what the author sees as superiority looks a lot more explicable by class to me.
Ultimately, the article succeeds: It tells you why Americans persist in disliking atheists–not with its undercooked figures which wilt beneath a blink of examination, but rather with its patronizing, superior attitude. If you need further evidence, I refer you to Flying Spaghetti Monsters and groups calling themselves, “Brights.” Neither of which are obnoxious at all…