It’s Your Right. But It’s My Right, Too

WowEmoji_LargeLately I’ve been fussed at a bit because I’ve been perceived as “harsh” or “rude” in my treatment of Christians in particular and religion in general. Most of it has been from people I know personally, though I also catch a lot of crap from true-believers in various online forums, Facebook comments, etc. So please allow me to clear up a few things.

I know tons of Christians and quite a few Muslims. Many of them are people I’ve known my whole life. They’re friends and family. They’re warm, generous, sensible people. And I absolutely respect their right to believe as they choose. But I have zero respect for the institutions they believe in and that often gets misunderstood as disrespect for them specifically.

PelosiSexyThat is not the case. You can regard Nancy Pelosi as sex symbol if you so desire. You can be a flat-Earth wacko. You can be an anti-vaxxer. That’s your business, not mine. But the fact that we’re friends is no reason for me to not speak out against such beliefs. Christians spread the Gospel of their beloved Lord Jesus. They have that right. And I have the right to say that such beliefs are misguided and false. It’s a two-way street, folks. Free speech and all that.

But let’s dig a little deeper into this, because I am certainly not the only Atheist to encounter these little conflicts. In recent years Christians seem to be acting with a hint of desperation. They pretty much had free run of the USA from 1776 until the end of the 1950s. People who did not fit their mold were often objects of suspicion simply because they did not believe. But beginning with the protests of the 1960s, other people began to insist upon having a voice in the public square. Minorities, the gay community, women, liberals and others were pushing back against the Christian / heterosexual / white male-dominated juggernaut that the USA had become. Atheists and religious minorities were a small part of that movement.

America began to find a new balance first with racial and gender equality, and later with various political and social “minorities.” Suddenly, the playing field was being leveled and Christianity was having to deal with others as equals. And this fact scared the bejabbers out of them. They did and still do regard their Bible as the final word in all things. But the rest did not and this enraged many so-called “religious leaders.”

But Atheists were still at the bottom of the societal barrel. We were mischaracterized as cold, empty souls who lacked the ability to love or to feel awed by the majesty of Creation. Some of the more pathetic examples of believers described us as devil worshipers, which proves they didn’t even know what the word “Atheist” means.

Okay, What Does “Atheist” Mean?
Simply put, it means that we do not believe in a god. Not just the Christian god, but any god. We do not believe in the supernatural or the afterlife. We have no platform, no official leaders, no specific agenda. We are defined not by what we believe, but rather what we do not believe. And of course religious people regard this as a problem.

In more recent years, people like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Matt Dillahunty, Aron Ra and others have done great work to bring Atheism into the mainstream. Our numbers are growing globally, but Christians are lashing out at us with increasing ferocity. Each and every time a new scientific discovery is made that happens to contradict the Bible, Christians regard it as an “attack” or even as persecution. Atheist events (mostly rallies and public speaking) are sometimes met with protests and even disruption.

Why Do Atheists Attack Religion?
Most of us do not but some are trouble makers. The Freedom From Religion Foundation comes to mind. They seem to take particular pleasure in suing small towns over Christian displays during the holiday season. They really need to find a more constructive use for their time. I share my non-belief with any and all who will listen. And yes I absolutely do want to see an end to religious faith because of the harm it does. But this is better accomplished through proper education, public media (even my tiny blog) and public speaking. Jumping on citizens with lawsuits is counter-productive because it just pisses people off at us, and that is not conducive to getting them to listen to reason.

Speaking Of Listening To Reason…
I mentioned above that Christians (not all but many) are showing signs of desperation. I say this for several reasons. Part of it is the many videos I’m seeing online from various Christian apologists. Every time I watch one I cannot help but cringe at the sheer bullshitishness (yes it’s a word, go look it up) of what these people are spewing. Some even call themselves scientists. They try to explain biblical fables in a way that makes them seem plausible. They often include bits of documented history or archaeology to make their ramblings seem credible. Memo to Bryan Fischer: It ain’t working. Here’s an example – in the video below apologist Bryan Fischer tries to explain how the dinosaurs went extinct AFTER they got off Noah’s Ark. The man actually believes that dinos co-existed with humans. Watch it. It’s only two minutes, then we’ll look at the obvious flaw in his argument.

What about all the other herbivores? If the Great Flood wiped out all the world’s plant life, then what about cows, horses, giraffes, sheep, goats and other plant eaters? How did they survive? And how would humanity survive without plant and animal life? Is this guy really that stupid? I report, you decide.

Billboard_JesusIsAliveAnother example of Christian desperation is the massive proliferation of their billboards. They smear this shit all over the landscape and it’s regarded by most as just Christians spreading the Gospel. But let just one Atheist group rent a billboard and it’s regarded as “controversial.” People kick and scream about it’s “satanic message.” So I guess it’s free speech for me, but not for thee. What hypocrites. As to the sign above, let’s consider. They’re saying that Jesus exists “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” But hang on folks. Such a statement requires credible evidence. In this case I’d say absolute archaeological evidence would be needed. Is there any? There are a few bits here and there that suggest a guy named Jesus existed back then as a sort of traveling preacher. But there is nothing to verify the supernatural parts of the story. As such, this group is blatantly misusing the phrase lying.

Here’s far-right talking head Sean Hannity getting all rude and nasty with Atheist Dave Silverman over the billboard his group (American Atheists) put up awhile back. Note how courteous Silverman is compared to the overbearing Hannity.

So What’s The Point?
It’s simple. As religion loses ground all over the world, Christian groups are working harder and harder to get their message out. Young Earth Creationists are convoluting the Bible and science (lying, in other words) in a desperate attempt to lend credibility to their beliefs. Biblical literalists push the message that the Bible is the absolute literal truth and should be believed verbatim. Muslim and Hindu nations are aflame with radical clerics calling for holy wars and persecuting both Christians and Atheists. The problem is that some people are actually falling for this nonsense. And that is why many formerly silent non-believers (like me) have “come out” to defend and promote the truth. The cycle of ignorance must be broken.

I know Dave Silverman is correct in the video above because I was one of those silent Atheists. I “faked it” for years just to keep peace in the family. Those days are over. Yes, it caused a bit of discomfort within the family when I revealed myself. But that’s mostly smoothed over. I’m sure many of them pray for me daily and I know their intentions are good. I’m not at all bothered by it. These are people I love unconditionally so it’s impossible for me to be offended by them loving me in return.

But a few folks are in fact offended by things I’ve said or posted online. I’ve been blocked or unfriended on Facebook, I’ve been banned from a couple of online forums. And why? At least a few of them got rattled because I caused them to question their faith, which is of course terrifying for them. Some others childishly accuse me of just being mean. Still others seem to believe I have no right to question the word of God or Allah. Who do I think I am?

I love all people (Well OK. There are a few I despise Smiley). And it bothers me greatly to see people buried in myths and falsehoods that have the potential to harm them. It bothers me to see people believing things that are demonstrably untrue. And that is ultimately why I run my mouth here and other places. I want to see positive change. I want an end to the death of children whose parents refuse them medical care in favor of faith healing. I want an end to the violent conflicts over religion in the Middle East. I want an end to religious hatred of gays. I want an end to Catholics lying to Ugandans about proper contraception. I want an end to Catholic priests molesting children. I want an end to all of the hate, fear and anger that is rooted in religion. Is religion the only source of such horrors? No it isn’t. Is it the source of most of it? Yes, absolutely. Humanity has outgrown religion, and it’s time to move on. If my observations offend you, then perhaps you need to examine your own beliefs. If you believe in a god, any god, then the facts are against you.

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