Because my conviction that religion and the belief in a god predispose people to do bad things, I now think that I should take my atheism into an "evangelical" role. I have become an Antitheist!
I have begun challenging people who proffer religion as the 'cure-all' to mans' woes by asking what god has done for them and why god seems to me so evil. I can cite examples like the Boxing Day Tsunami or the anthrax virus and ask the religious followers why they choose to follow a god that would wantonly kill innocent people (yes innocent, since many people who died from these natural disasters were children).
Usually people will cherry-pick their responses, and select the good incidents in their life and ignore any bad that has happened to them. The two most common responses are "god is punishing us" for bad behavior " or “god works in mysterious ways.” I usually ask why would you believe in something so evil that he (since most gods are male) would punish you for my bad behavior? Of course I always have the omniscient v. omnipotent v, omnipresent argument that goes something like: If god is "all-knowing" then why didn't he warn someone, especially a government, of the impending (flood, earthquake, tsunami, tornado). If god is "all powerful" then why didn't he stop the (cancer, small-pox, volcano)? If god is everywhere, then he is in these natural disasters too, right? How can a good god create such nasty events and why? Therefore he is not all knowing, or all powerful or everywhere; isn't that the definition of evil?.
If their response is "god works in mysterious ways", I usually respond stating that there is no mystery to (hurricanes, earthquakes, botulism, dysentery). These are natural events that wreak havoc on humankind and we understand them very well, thanks to scientific endeavors. So, why would god do such evil?
I will then parry my religious friend, if they're still talking to me, with:
Religion sets us humans up to accept what would otherwise be unacceptable. Why would surrendering common sense and thwarting in depth questions be a good thing? Religion does just that. Religion teaches people to follow without question; to falsely believe that their particular religion is the one and only. In extreme cases of fundamentalism, the religion rewards believers, and sometimes families, for abhorrent behavior. I suppose it could be argued that the person is crazy, but religious zealotry enables recruitment and encourages this type of extremism. And, it is proliferating. Religion creates weak minds, and weak minds with weapons is a very dangerous combination. Why encourage and support such a bad institution??
At some point in our conversation my religious opponent usually realizes that I have lost all my marbles and finds some reason to disengage from our conversation. Occasionally I disengage first because the conversation becomes a never ending circular argument and I realize this person is a lost cause.
I am beginning to create a 'soul saved' count. I’m not a good anti-theismalist (I just made that word up). So far I haven't converted any religious person to my completely obvious understanding about how dangerous it is to believe in a god or follow a religion, but I have planted seeds in several people. Hopefully over time, I will convert those people in whom the seed is implanted and encourage the tree of knowledge to grow within them.
If you have taken this next step, from atheism to antitheism and anti-religion, please share your experience.
Patricia... hear hear!
I am convince that education has nothing to do with believing in the super-natural. I just wish there was a better way to teach rational thinking and skeptical inquiry.
Sorry for my long delay in posting/commenting again. Life gets in the way sometimes- Atheism works in mysterious ways! :)
Education just makes people educated, it does not make them smart or intelligent. And, you speak more intelligently than some college educated folks I know.
Believers tend to accept only the "glass is 1/2 full" concept and completely ignore all the bad things that happen in life and to the world. Believers can't think that their god is evil, impotent, or just plain non-existent; instead they want to believe that we humans are too ignorant to understand the ways of the deity (nevermind that we are made in God's image). What a load of BS!!
I like to educate myself on various religions so that I have ammunition when it comes to discussion, debate, or defense. I look at these engagements as practice so that I'm well prepared when some zealot approaches me to condemn, save, or discredit me and/or my beliefs... plus, it's a helluva lotta fun! :)
I like your use of my word anti-theismalist! :)
I too find it enjoyable to debate/converse with the true believers. They usually do not have good defenses against all rational points such as the definition of evil, free will, and the omnipotent/omniscient/omnipresent argument. While I try not to make fun or ridicule anyone, I come away from the conversation feeling very sad that my opponent cannot think rationally or skeptically. However, I do admire their tenacity to not let those things stand in their way of commitment to their deity/religion.
Keep planting those seeds of knowledge!
Thank you for standing up for our rights! I'd like to learn more about your story; please share here if you'd like, or direct me to another source for more info.
Keep up the great work!!
I agree wholeheartedly. It has been a dilemma for me on whether or not to use the word "Atheist" to describe myself, after-all, I also don't believe in any of the Pagan,Greek, or Roman gods and I don't go around saying I am "aZeusian" (I just made up that word too). I decided to use the term "Atheist" because most people with whom I interact recognize this term as someone who is a non-believer (in their god particularly). I also like that it has some "spiciness" to it; most people have some sort of emotion when I use Atheist to describe my religious proclivities.
I prefer to use the terms humanist and naturalist to describe my belief in our world. But, American society leans so much toward religion that I purposefully use Atheist to create an image in people's mind about me. That's one of the reasons why I have so many friends and am so well like!! :)
I too think faith leads to poverty, ignorance, and anti-science. Most western religions and Islam demote and denigrate women. AND, they do a good job of convincing the women that it empowers them! Sheesh-- talk about hypocrisy! In areas where women become educated about their bodies and natural biological processes, THAT empowers them. They become less subservient, there is less unwanted pregnancies, and they do not stay in abusive relationships.
Faith begets ignorance. Knowledge IS power!