Ever wonder why some believers hate us? I mean it should be enough that we are going to hell, being reborn as roaches, or spending the next life as the only tree in a park surrounded by apartment dwelling dog owners. Why can’t they just say: “sorry about the hell thing, but have a nice day anyway?” Oh no, some can’t stop themselves from ranting, and spewing their bile in histrionics that would make a schizophrenic psychopath (if there is such a thing) proud. Well, here is my take on why this is so. They are just plain jealous.
1. Jealous about Sex
Most religions have some restrictions on sex, either explicit or implied or in terms of culturally enforced “morality.” They all have hang-ups about something, and even the Kama Sutra loving Hindus have become real prudes, restricting even kissing in movies. Sex and all its variations, porn included, is available for atheists to enjoy as a pure pleasure free from guilt. (See my earlier blog on this)
So, when believers see us, and know we are free to engage in the sort of carnal pursuits they can only dream about, albeit with a certain amount of guilt,, they are jealous. The homophobes hate us for being able to act on such desires. Those who treat women like some prized cattle (Jews, Hindus and Muslims, this is about you), resent the sexual freedom of independent women. They envy our orgasms, covet our sexually provocative outfits, begrudge our sexual dalliances, and resent our carnal self-confidence.
And rest assured that their imagination is greater than the sum of most people’s actual experience, but that is how jealousy works. It takes a suspicion and magnifies it past the point of being a verisimilitude and into an assumed consummation of epic proportions. For many believers, every atheist is a Marquis de Sade libertine cast in the role of either a male Casanova or a female Catherine the Great. If only it were so….
2. Jealous about Time
For every person sitting in the church, mosque, temple, synagogue, or whatever, there is someone wishing they were somewhere else: fishing, golfing, sleeping late/early, partying a on a Friday night instead of praying or prostrating oneself, the potential alternative activities are almost limitless. Yes, the religious look forward to their services, especially those that involve peyote (if you’re a lucky member of one of these religions), but not all the time. And it’s the duty of attendance that is an ever-present burden. The compelling thought is that if you don’t go and enjoy it, then you won’t get the goodies at death. Even the die-hard Buddhist needs to get up before dawn to be ready to drop some food in the monks’ begging bowls, although in my neighborhood this is mostly done by the maids, as I expect the owners prefer to sleep in a bit or need to get to work early to beat the traffic. The monks come around at about 6 AM in my neighborhood.
So believers are jealous that atheists don’t have to feel guilty if they go out for a bacon sandwich and a beer on a Friday night, or go fishing on Sunday morning, or eat during the fast, or go to special services on religious holidays that really aren’t much fun at all, like Ash Wednesday for Christians. They are jealous of our freedom to do as we wish, when we wish, and not to have anyone judge our decisions unlike some benevolent god who needs a weekly holiday and who wants us killed if we pick up sticks on certain days (as the Hebrews were inclined to do (Numbers 15:32-36)).
3. Jealous about Forbidden Fruits
Whether its alcohol, beef steak, smoked bacon, lobster, dog or horse meat, or some other delicacy, for some strange reason many gods have problems with certain food groups or eating certain things at the wrong times. Most Christians have an open field on this, and Taoists are happy to eat anything that moves, and some which don’t. Some Buddhists, Hindus and all Jains eschew the eating of animals. But even Catholics have fast days and used to have meatless days. The Pythagoreans may have eschewed beans.
Many of them have guilt about when they drink or consume. Christianity doesn’t really talk about drugs, but a prohibition on them is one of the cultural parasites that has become attached to most Christian faiths. Alcohol is taboo for Muslims. And for some, it’s not enough that they limit what they eat, it has to be killed in a particularly cruel way too. For many believers, it must be like being a kid in a candy store, able to see the tantalizing variety but forbidden to taste all of the brightly colored delights. While the atheists are the kids in the candy store with money to buy anything and everything they want, whenever they want. No fasting, no lent for making dietary sacrifices, just see it, smell it, crave it, savor it and hungrily devour it. Burping is optional.
4. Jealous about Lack of Prejudice
Most atheists I know have been atheistic for a long time. This is of course because I am an old guy and most of my friends are of a similar age. For us, we just don’t care about religion. We are not anti-Catholic, anti-Shinto, or anti-anything. We are not Islamophobes or Christ haters. We are not now, and most of us have never been, angry about religion. We simply don’t care, as it’s not part of our lives any more than is Greek or Norse Mythology. This drives believers nuts, because they can’t stop caring. They are jealous of our detachment.
Not only are we detached, but we also fail to fulfil what for many of them is an integral part of their self-image; namely, that of the persecuted minority. The funny thing is that even religious majorities in their own environments often delight in thinking of themselves as being persecuted, despised and suffering for their faith. They want us to hate them, because that then reinforces their image of being in the right and suffering for it. They are unique, special, and others hate them because non-believers are jealous of the believers’ special relationship with god.
Why don’t atheists care? What don’t they hate? Why don’t they seethe with anathema for rival cults? Many atheists couldn’t care less. No emotion is wasted on this, no sleep is lost over the perceived advances or failures of one Faith or another. We don’t care about what for many believers is the most important thing in their lives, and it just bores us to tears. They know they would be happier if they could just accept their superiority and not worry about other faiths, but they can’t.
5. Jealous about Doubt
Most honest believers will admit to having had doubts, and they usually feel guilty about them. They know they are not supposed to doubt, and every time a prayer is not answered, a level in meditation not achieved, some objective in life not delivered to the worthy, they doubt. Every time they doubt, they feel unworthy of the divine love or support they think is there. They don’t believe in other faiths, and many of them know that their religious explanations of life’s experiences are weak.
Atheists don’t seem to have doubts, but believers love to imagine that they do. They want us to be twisted with doubts over our eventual disposition upon death. They want to believe that we doubt Darwin the same way they doubt scripture, and need to close their eyes and accept it as it is or come up with some explanation for it. Even the now beatified Mother Teresa was riven with doubts, as shown in her private correspondence after her death ("Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light"). When atheists don’t show any sign of this weakness, believers are jealous of our contentment.
6. Jealous of our Attraction
Almost every human society has some cultural stories about protecting its people, especially its women, from the “others.” Taking their women/men away from the tribe is often punished with death. Atheists are the ultimate tempters in this regard. We are always outside of the tribe; we are exotic; we are different; we are forbidden fruit; we represent a desirable exotic compared to their ordinary lives. Anyone who has lived in another culture can confirm that curiosity is a powerful aphrodisiac. And the allure of the profane, the forbidden, is potent indeed. This is amplified when the lust is itself profane, as is often the case with homosexuality and transsexuality.
They may not marry us, or even want to admit to the relationship, but they are willing to take the car for a test drive, as it were. There is also the added enticement of the thrill of trying to convert someone to their way of belief. They are jealous of our ability to subvert their control over people of their faith, of our attraction as something different and engaging. The thrill of danger clings to us like the most potent of musk aromas.
7. Jealous of our Forbidden Knowledge
No matter how self-confident some believers are, they just can’t get over the nagging fear that maybe atheists know something more than they do. That is why we usually get called arrogant, because they don’t have any other argument in their sometimes limited debating repertoire. They especially hate it when we know more about their scriptures than they do, or we have a logical argument that they can’t overcome and so chose to ignore.
When they talk together, they feel sorry for us poor misguided souls, who fail to perceive the righteousness of their beliefs, the inescapable logic of their propositions, and the compelling eloquence of their rhetoric. But they often know that they are lacking. Many times the information itself is something taboo to them. It’s the intellectual equivalent of seeing Darwin as a 1950’s American teenager would have seen Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Lolita or Nana. But many have tried to read these forbidden tomes, only to find them beyond their understanding. Science is not like a titillating Story of O readily accessible to anyone with reasonable English skills. Reading the Origin of Species, or Das Kapital, or Beyond Good and Evil, or even Newton’s Principa Mathematica written back in 1687, is difficult without sufficient background. There are many popular science books, and even television programs, but without a basic background much of this is beyond their comprehension, like me trying to understand string theory without an understanding of the underlying mathematics. I understand the descriptive explanation, to some extent, but understanding which can only come from mastery of the equations lies forever beyond my grasp.
I do offer a caveat here, as there are many very intelligent believers. For them this jealousy does not exist, at least not in the same way as it does for others who fail to understand the compelling beauty, which is often offered by science as an alternative to mythology as an explanation of our world’s wondrous and often fierce majesty. For them, they merely chose to accommodate their knowledge with their beliefs, in what for many others would be an unharmonious marriage.
8. Jealous over our Enjoying the Holidays
One thing that never fails to amaze me is how some people can’t understand how atheists can have a good time at Diwali, Christmas, Eid al-Fitr, or whatever (with the possible exception of Jewish Passover, as I dislike celebrating the mass murder of innocent people). We can celebrate everything, and enjoy them all. We can have a nice meal and enjoy the company of others and the festival atmosphere, and not worry about all the metaphysical baggage. Perhaps more than any other people, atheists can truly enjoy the holidays for what they are, a celebration of human and familial community. There is little to match the jealousy of a believer witnessing a non-believer having a good time which the believer doesn’t think they are entitled to.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, believers are really jealous of one thing alone – our freedom. Freedom from the chains of religion that bind the mind and stifle the human spirit. Freedom from the blanket of doctrine which strives to hide our imagination and spontaneity. Freedom from dogma that they can’t really understand but are fearful to disobey. They live in fear of doing the wrong thing, which will offend a vengeful god or the laws of the universe, which will result in their coming to harm. They are jealous of our freedom from fear.