Atheists Do Not Have the Monopoly on Arrogance

As every atheist knows, or at least all the ones that I’ve spoken to, it is common to hear people say “you atheists are all arrogant.” I’ve been told that I’m arrogant because I don’t think that Christians should be aloud to discriminate against others based on their religious beliefs. I’ve been told that I’m arrogant because I’ve dared to use the Bible against Christians. I’ve been told that I’m arrogant for thinking that the universe was not created by a god. Sometimes it feels as though I’d be called arrogant if I said “I love kittens.” It seems as though a lot of people assume that to be an atheist is to be arrogant and to be religious is to be void of arrogance.

This is not the case. It is true that there are arrogant atheists. I find a lot of the most well-known atheists arrogant. But I also find most of the well-known apologists arrogant. I find anybody who says “I have the truth” arrogant, I don’t care what they believe. I find anybody who says “no true x believes y” to be arrogant. Anybody who proclaims themselves to be more intelligent than those who disagree with them, anybody who claims to be more moral on principal, is arrogant. 

So yes, there are arrogant atheists. Many of the best known atheists are arrogant. But many of the best known religious leaders are also arrogant. This is not a personality flaw found in atheism, it is a personality flaw found in those who are willing to lead movements. The people who are willing to write books, head groups, and do interviews on behalf of a particular cause are going to be the people who are confident in their intelligence and the truth of their movement. They are likely to be arrogant. This is also a flaw in people who are told that they are intelligent and right too often. It is a flaw that plagues the intellectual communities. A flaw found in children that aren’t told no and are always complimented. And it is a flaw found in anybody who has a large following. It is easy to become arrogant when we are always being told that you are wonderful.

So no, arrogance in not an atheist flaw. It is a human flaw. There are arrogant atheists. There are arrogant people in any group. But it is much easier to see arrogance outside of your group than within it. If you are not an atheist, look at your own group’s celebrities. The ones who write books and get on TV. Do they do or say things that are arrogant? Do they claim to have the truth? Do they say things that could be interpreted as an insult towards those who disagree with their truth? Do they claim that all x’s should believe/do y?  


7 responses to “Atheists Do Not Have the Monopoly on Arrogance

  • charles

    Something I find arrogant is when a creationist who is not a biologist claims an evolutionist who is a biologist is being arrogant in telling them they are mistaken, either in general or on any specific point.

    I’ve been reading Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene”. It’s got updated footnotes written years after the first edition, and it is amazing how many times Dawkins points out his own mistakes. Many people find him arrogant, yet he is perfectly willing to admit he is wrong when the evidence is against him.

    Having a well-reasoned and strongly-held point of view on a subject is not arrogance. Mocking those who have poorly reasoned yet strongly-held points of view, yet who refuse to listen to reason, is not arrogance… it is frustration boiling over. Perhaps not the most diplomatic, but certainly understandable.

    I’ve also been reading Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and I find the same thing. His tone is anything but arrogant. He just presents the evidence.


    • hessianwithteeth

      I know what you mean. My partner and fellow blogger is a botanist. He was recently told by an electrical engineer that he doesn’t know biology as well as said engineer because the engineer took an intro bio course and it proved god to him, while my partner has seen no such thing in any of his bio courses.


  • existentialone

    Reblogged this on existentialviews and commented:
    An excellent piece on arrogance. As an outspoken Atheist I have been accused of being arrogant. And perhaps I have such tendencies. But as the writer of this EXCELLENT post points out:

    “arrogance in not an atheist flaw. It is a human flaw.”

    Frankly, I would like to think myself not arrogant. Regardless though of who is arrogant and who is not arrogant; one thing is clear and certain:

    Neither arrogance nor humility is the basis for a conclusion as to fact. That realm is dependent upon evidence, a factor which is independent of all human flaws and/or characteristics.


  • Living simplyy

    Totally agree, arrogance is when the person believes he holds the one and only universal truth in his hands and that everyone around him is just a pack of ignorant folks. Lots of leaders think this way unfortunately, not only when it comes to religion, but we can also speak of politics and so many other domains…
    Anyhow, great post. Keep up !


  • nikeyo

    A lot of arrogance seems to be much of just what you said: an inability or unwillingness to see their or their people ‘s own flaws. We all have them.

    I like to see it as in-group/out-group mentality. We and you. In the end, we are all human.


  • Godless Cranium

    Nice. Sometimes arrogance is a perceived arrogance where none exists. For example, Dawkins or Billy Graham may come off as being arrogant to some people, but that doesn’t mean they actually are.

    Also, I’m not sure how ‘I don’t believe your claim and I’ll wait for the evidrnce’ is more arrogant than ‘my book has all the anwers, the universe and Earth were made for me, and god died for me so I can have a special place in a mansion in the sky’.

    If any stance is arrogant, I’d say it’s the unsubstantiated beliefs of religion.


    • hessianwithteeth

      I agree. I think that a lot of the claims of “you’re just being arrogant” are more “I don’t know how to answer you so I’m going to belittle you instead.” Though I do think that Dawkins comes across as arrogant for his tone as opposed to his words.


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