Tuesday, March 4, 2014

No, Outspoken Atheists aren't as bad as Outspoken Christians

I was at an open mic (where local comedians go to try out new jokes) the other day, and a buddy of mine told me about an atheist Facebook friend of his who is always posting atheist material.

He then stated the cardinal sin of comparisons...
Outspoken atheists are just as bad as outspoken Christians.
I raised an eyebrow, and he quickly qualified his statement with, "You're not like him. Atheism is part of your schtick." (OK, he didn't use the word schtick, but I feel it's compulsory as a comic to throw in what Yiddish I know on occasion, but you get the point."

I commented that that I do like to wrap up my godlessness with funny. It makes the antitheism much more palatable.

However, I want to defend this atheist I don't even know. I'm going to guess that this unknown, outspoken atheist isn't as bad as the typical outspoken Christian, and I'm going to guess why...

He's probably not telling women what to do with their bodies.

Generally speaking in America, if you are an outspoken Christian man, then you like your women and their wombs submissive. You like it so much as to limit, restrict, and deny women the ability to get an abortion or to get proper birth control.

He probably doesn't care if Adam is playing with Steve's penis.

I was discussing gay marriage the other day with my 11 year old son.
He just looked at me and asked, "Why would anyone be against that?"
"Religion. The Bible states quite clearly in the New and Old Testament that men shouldn't be buying homes together and putting up flower boxes in their windows," I quipped.
He just looked at me.

He's probably not forcing whatever half-baked ideas he has down people's throats.

Let's do a thought experiment for a minute. Let's say this unknown atheist is a Bigfoot believer. This guy loves the Squatch. He goes out looking evidence, and points to fuzzy pictures and ambiguous animal cries in the dark as conclusive proof that Sasquatch exists.

This guy is still not working to put In Sasquatch We Trust on US currency.
This guy is still not working to under Squatch in the Pledge of Allegiance.
This guy isn't trying to get Intelligently Designed Sasquatch Science taught in classrooms.

He probably isn't part of a cabal dedicated to making America an authoritarian state.

What I find comforting is when religious zealots are straightforward in what they want. The church advertised to the left is fairly straightforward in what they want to do: Dominate.

And look, they even have a pleasant fascist-y symbol that can be placed on flags, banners, and the front gate of future reeducation camps.

He probably isn't in the business of bullshitting people.

One thing about even the most abrasive atheist is that he or she isn't lying to people. That godless person may be brutal in pointing out logical fallacies, steadfast in constructing the most airtight arguments, and dedicated to knowing what the other side thinks.

However, this unknown atheist isn't trying to whitewash outrageously barbaric ideas under the guise of being good or just.

In short, this unknown atheist is probably acting in good faith.

This is Purgatory.

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  1. Wonderful analysis with a dash of humor.

  2. Your points are all American-centric. Yes, right now, in the United States, where the majority of the population is at least nominally Christian, atheists are less likely to be able to force bad stuff down anyone's throat than Christians are.

    That's not true everywhere, for all times. There have been atheist dictatorships.

    The 2 regimes most notorious for telling women what to do with their bodies are China, and Romania under former Communist dictator Ceaucescu.

    No cabal seeking to create an authoritarian state? Well, technically my grandmother was a member of a secular Jewish group that was a front for the Communist Party, and which supported Stalin until 1956. And yes, there have been plenty of coups and revolutions by secular or outright atheist forces.

    No forcing half-baked ideas down anyone's throat? Right, China has never imprisoned any member of the Falun Gong and the Soviet Union never threw any rabbi into a gulag. France has never kicked a student out of school for wearing a hijab. Turkey has never banned women wearing hijab from public sector jobs. Quebec is not attempting to ban all public sector employees from wearing turbans, hijabs or kippas.

    1. Hi Law Mom, it seems you have some misconceptions of what atheism is. Atheism is only the disbelief in any god.

      As such Atheism has no tenants like Christianity. As such Christian states act in accordance to a doctrine. Atheists states like Stalin's Russia are acting according to a doctrine but its not the atheist doctrine. This is because there is no such thing as the atheist doctrine.

    2. I think you'll find that the 'secular charter' of Quebec has a double standard for Christians, it will effect most Christians minimally (at most they have to wear smaller crosses), while it does not allow many more devout muslims from even being considered for public sector jobs. This is not the doing of atheism but of racism.

    3. I know what atheism is.

      There is a difference between someone holding a particular belief (or lack of belief) themselves, and someone wanting to interfere with the beliefs of others. I consider the latter to be intolerance.

      There are tolerant atheists. My mother is one. As a teacher, she was constantly educating other staff about multiculturalism and the need to respect students of all different faiths. There are also tolerant religious folks who care more about what they do than policing others.

      State atheism was an explicit part of the former Soviet Union. There, it was not simply a matter of some individuals not having a belief in God. It was a matter of Marxist ideology seeing religion as the "opiate of the masses" and therefore a reactionary force. It became dangerous to be religious.

      The original post is about making assumptions that an atheist would not engage in various types of intolerance and repression. I'm not saying that ALL atheists would be intolerant, I'm just pointing out that some atheists, in political situations where they actually had power, did actually use it to be intolerant and repress religious freedom.

      American atheists aren't doing these things today because they can't. They are a minority, and religious freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

      The mixing of religion OR atheism with politics tends to be toxic, and often leads to intolerance.

      William Bell - I agree with you that the Quebec "values charter" is racist as hell.

    4. Both religious folks and atheists can have a personal belief/lack of belief themselves, which they hold strongly, without trying to control what others believe. It's called being tolerant. My mother's a classic example of that type of atheist.

      You also have folks who not only have a belief or lack of belief, but who also want to control what others believe. That's intolerance. Historically, there have instances of intolerance by both believers and those opposed to religion or religious observance.

      State atheism was part of the officially ideology of the former Soviet Union. Religion was consider "the opiate of the masses", and was actively persecuted.

      William Bell - I agree that the Quebec "values charter" is racist and xenophobic as hell.

  3. To be honest, I've kind of grown weary of the more raging atheists myself, there's being blunt, and then there is being a complete douche to everyone. I know I'll probably get slammed as a "accommodationist for saying that, but whatever...

    That said, however, you're exactly right, Andrew is saying that even the most obnoxious atheists don't hold a candle to fundamentalists. I used to be active on Twitter among ex-fundamentalist circles, but I've practically given up on Twitter, the 140 character limit, the drama on there, and the popular sport of atheist bashing was getting on my nerves.

    I had gotten in an argument about this with some ex-fundamentalists, a few were agnostics, some were liberal Christians, and I told them that even as annoying as some more "militant" atheists can be, trying to compare them to fundamentalists is like saying a shoplifter is as bad as a murderer, it doesn't add up.

    Atheists don't abuse their children, like we were abused and isolated, etc... They didn't like that.


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