Just wanted to send that inquiry out there... The whole thing fascinates me because, of all the things I don't believe in, God is the only one I proclaim that I do not believe in. For instance, I would never call myself a NonSantaClauseBeliever. Of course I do not believe in Santa (unless it is Secret Santa time around the office and I am likely to receive some kind of chocolate), but my point is I don't go out of my way to announce to the world that I don't believe in him. So why does God get the special treatment? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
It's a few things, really. First of all, it's the crap that I see religion foisting on the rest of the world, and too much of the rest of the world dully nodding its head and going, "Uh-huh." It's taking the pragmatism that I learned as an engineer and putting a new and different spin on it. It's me not necessarily expecting that I'm going to change anyone's mind but at least demonstrating that there's another opinion out there. It's showing the JWs who show up yearly at my door that atheists are NOT the straw man they've been taught we are.
On a personal note, a good portion of it is me being in their face, being confident of my stance and rather unlikely to be moved from it. This last one opens a whole other kettle of fish, having to do with who Loren Miller was for too long in his life as opposed to who he is now.
And to answer your question why god gets special treatment, it's because that antiquated and unproved god concept is trying to hold us back and in some quarters may truly fuck up us and this planet we're on if we and others don't do something. The continued promotion of myth and superstition and unsupportable beliefs, in an age where science and reason and logic have not only given us powerful tools to live our lives better but powerful weapons in the hands of these children, COULD END US.
So yeah, I do speak up. I am an atheist.
Agreed: god-memes are obsolete tools and dangerous "mind viruses" (complete with immune systems that fight competing memeplexes -- e.g. "it's a trick of the devil"). Like biological viruses or parasites, they reproduce well or poorly, and don't and can't "care" about their hosts' well-being or long-term survival.
As long as we need to do something about them, the label of atheist is still useful for finding each other, for organizing, for making people aware that the status quo isn't the only way.
You're right, we don't feel the need to call ourselves asantaists or aleprechaunists.
There are plenty of thoughts on this in the discussion "The Internet - Religion Killer".
(No complaints about the virtual Santa bringing chocolate!)
Not all fictional/virtual characters are equal! In his "Questions for Bible-Thumpers", Jim Huber lists several ways Santa is better than God:
- The only punishment Santa delivers is a withholding of presents. Even at that, he usually brings coal. Useful stuff, coal.
- If you're not good enough, Santa gives you another chance next year.
- The evidence for the existence of Santa is much stronger: I get presents from Santa and hear radar tracking reports about Santa on the news every year. Millions have even seen Santa, I am among them. Even if 99.99999% of the sightings are false, that is still certain proof of Santa.
- Santa doesn't care if you believe in him, only if you're good or bad.
To follow up on Melinda's comment, there are wayyyyyy too many dumbasses out there. And, the problem is that these fanatical, drooling, screaming, spittle flecked, anti-intellectual, pro-ignorance, troglodytes (from women hating Islamic mullahs to baby raping and gay murdering Christians), are a significant force in the political make up and policy decisions of most nation states.
Santa believers (mostly those under 8 years of age) do not threaten my freedom, my chosen lifestyle, or my life. Theists do. Ergo, I proclaim my atheism in direct contravention to their barbaric superstitions.
And the fact of the matter is that we can't afford dumbasses any more. They cost us too much in work done compensating for their stupidity and fatuousness and the opportunities for genuine tragedy created because their ignorance is allowed to persist. First century thinking and 21st century technology is a recipe for disaster, and we cannot allow that disaster to come to fruition. And by way of reminder:
The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. [emphasis mine]
-- Bill Maher, "Religulous"
Two great posts as usual Loren! I also like all the other posts.
One other thing I thought of in answer to the question is that I prefer to call myself a Scientific realist instead of an atheist because there's a huge amount of woo and junk science out there that do a lot of damage, although religion is the worst. I don't accept anything unless it's got good scientific evidence supporting it.
Perhaps I should just call myself a scientist. That would be a true statement, because although I'm not a professional scientist, I am somewhat of an amateur.
No a-leprechaunist ever got fired from a job because of her beliefs. No one who doesn't believe in garden fairies was told to get out of their own country. No a-Santa Clausist ever gets death threats for it, and no state ever passed a law or constitutional provision saying that people who don't believe in witches and wizards cannot hold public office.
All of those things have happened to atheists, and more, only because they honestly and openly admitted they don't believe in someone's sky-spook. That is why I am out, loud and proud. We have to put a human face on ourselves, and not allow the opposition to demonize us like we are some kind of destructive animal.