From Not My God
Off-topic: why do we often say, “That’s for history to decide”? Why is the opinion/assessment of people in the future more important than ours? Are they better than us? Don’t let future history boss you around!
OK, enough stand-up.
Not My God functions as an illustration of how atheists are hated in the United States. Depending on where you are in the rest of the world, being an atheist can be no big deal or will get you executed, but here in the States many people find atheism distasteful. To call someone an atheist is, or at least was, almost on par with calling someone “pedophile.” Now that I think about it, at least pedophiles can repent and go to heaven in the eyes of Christians, so atheists must be even worse.
I found this column from the University of Oklahoma, Ant-Atheist Prejudice Widespread in America.
I couldn’t help but smirk when the author said that atheists “are more disliked than any other major religious group, with the exception of Scientologists.”
The author, who is an atheist, discusses whether atheists are negative people, whether they hate religion, if they worship Dawkins and other stereotypes. After debunking these (and I’m not sure I agree with him about the hating religion part, nor does he apparently, since he says he dislikes religion), he goes on to say,
“However, it does bother me when unwarranted stereotyping is used as a justification for intolerance toward atheists.
“It bothers me that coming out as an atheist would be suicide for politicians in most parts of the country.
“It bothers me that my sister was mocked and harassed in high school for her own lack of belief.
“It bothers me that, throughout America, people are being intimidated into silence about the very simple and unthreatening fact that they don’t believe in a god.”
I didn’t read all the comments to the article, as there were many, but one struck me. It was addressed to the author:
Throughout your article you make your views on religion very clear. You actually state that you view religion with “disgust” and “irritation”. Wow, those are some strong words for someone complaining about how badly they are treated by people of faith. You say that people of faith are delusional. You sugar-coat this by graciously indicating that while you are disgusted and irritated by the delusions of the faithful, you actually don’t want to do them any harm. Wow, you’re a swell guy!
“You then sit back and whine about how bad atheists have it.
“Let me get this straight, you call the beliefs of other people disgusting, irritating delusions, and yet you are so traumatized that people of religious faith have a similar feeling toward you? Talk about a double-standard.
“Zac, not only are you a hypocrite and a whiner, you are just as much an intolerant, narrow-minded bigot as the most vociferous, creationist bible-thumper in small town Oklahoma.
“By the way, beliefs sometimes have costs. Personally, I couldn’t care less if you have no god, or if you worship Zeus. However, in case your mom didn’t tell you when she was getting you ready on your first day of kindergarten, not all the kids are going to like you. I know you find this difficult, because you very clearly adore yourself. However, there are people in life who are going to be mean to you. Get over it.”
Both authors bring up very good points and it’s hard to reconcile this. Obviously, I am on the side of the author of the article and not the poster who was putting down atheism, but I admit it’s hard to argue. I will say, though, that disliking (or at least being suspicious of) religion is one thing: hating religious people is another, and I don’t hate religious people. Only the annoying ones.
There are people who, for no good reason, hate atheists, and in a sense, we’re hating them back. Obviously, none of this provides evidence for the existence of god either way, but in terms of a “culture war,” what are we looking at here? If I admit that religion can, and does, irritate, disgust, and anger me, depending on what it’s doing, does that make me a bigot? If I make fun of religion, like in my Christian Kitcsh contest, is that hate speech? Further, are atheists ergo deserving of contempt and persecution, in the sense that theists think we’re all a bunch of intolerant blowhards?
Incidentally, yes, I am intolerant: I’m intolerant of impeding science, of imposing “intelligent design” in our schools, of throwing away the future of the planet since the apocalypse is coming soon anyway, of harassing people and telling them they are going to hell for all eternity if they don’t worship your faith, of letting criminals off the hook because they do worship your faith, of censorship, of abstinence-only sex education that makes kids get pregnant and get STDs, of killing abortion providers… and this is all just the stuff Christians do! (Just to make this clear: I don’t mean every Christian.)
So, yes, I’m intolerant. In this particular case, proud of it.