The Course of Reason

Your Superiority Complex Annoys Me

September 18, 2011

This is a story of an atheist.  The atheist does not represent a single person but is rather an amalgamation of various atheists that I’m sure many in our community have dealt with.  It is known as the, “Superior Atheist”.

The Superior Atheist believes that its position as an atheist grants it an intellectual superiority above all others.  It argues that its position as an atheist allows it access to a truth that more feeble minds have been unable to attain.  You may hear it make statements such as, “religion is the sole cause of all wars, 9/11 happened because of religion and no other reason”, or, “the only reason for the existence of faith is a fear of death.”  Such statements are, of course, wrong.  They are highly simplistic analysis of the complex world in which we live.  Failing to account for other factors they leave much to be desired as explanations for how the world and the people in it function.  Not that it matters to the Superior Atheist.  It is convinced that the idiocy and ills of the world can all be laid squarely at the foot of faith.  They strut about confidently, basking in their own self-glory, proud that they have shaken free of the shackles of the intellectual inferiority caused by being a person of faith.  Yet, they fail to realize that they have done no such thing.  One is not granted a special place simply because they are able to see the follies of faith.  It is very possible, as has been demonstrated, that one can lack adherence to religion but still subscribe to ideas driven by blind faith.

It may appear as if the Superior Atheist is not worth dealing with.  After all, there will always be people so confident in a world view that they cling to it, desperately fighting off an criticism and attempts to point out the gaping holes in their convictions.  Still, the Superior Atheist deserves a chance.  Reform is possible.  I should know.  After all, turn the clock back a few years and I’d fit right into the description of the Superior Atheist.

The Superior Atheist personality seems to develop as a result of finding a new way to view the world.  You come to feel that not only is religion a load of childish fantasy, but that is also the cause of all of humanity’s ills.  It allows for you to shout out angrily at all that is wrong in the world to exclaim, “if we eliminated religion, all of the violence and hate in the world would end!”  It may also be described as, “the angry atheist phase”  But unlike some theists who may say to this atheist, “you are just going through a phase, you’ll see the light eventually” other atheists should be committed to guiding this atheist along the path of atheism.  The key is to point out that their constant anger towards religion may be misplaced.  It is also possible that this atheist will simply cool down, over time.  They will look back and realize the immaturity and irrationality of pointing a finger at religion every time something goes wrong.

We should not hesitate to criticize the Superior Atheist when it states an idea that is clearly absurd.  Just as we eagerly go on the attack when a theist speaks aloud whatever nonsensical thought passes through their head, the same should be done to the Superior Atheist.  They must be asked the tough questions.  Have they ever thought their ideas through or have they simply held on to them because thinking in that manner provides a self-gratifying mental stimulus?

Finally, reducing the number of Superior Atheists will be beneficial to the movement as a whole.  Our critics enjoy pointing out atheists who act as if they are better than theists.  That’s an image we do not want.



About the Author: Chris Burke

Chris Burke's photo
Chris Burke holds a Bachelors in Environmental Studies: Honours Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo. Next he will be working towards a Masters of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management. He's an active member of the Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers of Waterloo student group. In his spare time he enjoys reading and playing music.




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