I’ve been asked why I bother to write about religion more times than I can count. I’ve also been asked why I’m so ‘militant’ towards religion, and why I can’t just let religious people believe whatever they want.
First off, militant is not what I am. Militant is what happens when a Muslim straps a bomb to themselves to attain a place in a mystical, supernatural fairy place called heaven. Militant is what happens when some Christian decides to kill an abortion doctor or blow up a clinic. Militant is what happens when a person is killed because their community believes in black magic, or what happens when a society is so steeped in mythology that they think beating or killing someone who doesn’t believe their nonsense is a good thing to do.
Posting my point of view on a public blog that you can ignore altogether if you wish is not militant. Disagreeing with a Christian point of view after they post it on a public forum (such as a blog) is not militant. There’s no bomb, gun, knife, fist throwing action going on here. There is no militancy happening.
And look…I freely admit that I can be as dumb as the next guy. I also don’t think my atheism makes me smarter than a Christian. In fact, it pisses me off when some atheists try to label themselves ‘brights’ or some other horse crap name. I realize that there are probably millions upon millions of Christians who are smarter than me. I also know there are some pretty ignorant atheists out there. I also understand why they believe in whatever religious ideology they believe in, because I once believed it too. I don’t blame them for believing it and I think atheists and religious folk have more in common than differences.
However, I am proud to be an atheist.
Despite being raised in an environment that constantly told me that God is real, and despite parents, relatives, friends, authority figures, churches, loved ones and almost everyone else I ever ran into telling me that God is real, I figured that shit out all on my own. I did the research. I read history books, acquainted myself with logic and reason and the scientific method, looked up similar religious myths to the one I was raised in and realized I’d been sold a pile of mythological claptrap my entire life.
I constantly challenge my atheism and don’t feel a bit of guilt for doing so. I’m constantly reading religious books, and I don’t have to believe that those religious books are the work of some supernatural boogeyman named Satan.
I also think atheism is important for a number of reasons, such as:
- I’m tired of policies being based on ancient mythological literature
- I’m tired of people being denied equal rights because of mythological nonsense
- I’m tired of foreign policy being based on fairy tales
- I’m tired of faith being lauded as a virtue
- I’m tired of seeing our finite resources spent on churches and religion, when I think those resources could be better spent on bettering humanity and the conditions we live in
- I’m tired of religions trying to sneak their fairy tales into the school system
- I’m tired of religions fighting one another about who has the better imaginary God
- I’m tired of science being held back by mythology
- I’m tired of hearing that atheists don’t believe in anything, and are all nihilistic, angry, money-grubbing douche bags, when the exact opposite is often true – we believe in all of reality
- I’m tired of being told that I have to bow my head respectfully when someone spouts their mythology as if it’s true and is backed by mountains of evidence
- I’m tired to death of religious people trying to oppress same-sex couples and women based on ancient myths
- I’m tired of needing the atheist label, simply because around 8 out of 10 people in North America believe in an invisible man in the sky. It seems as ridiculous to me as needing a term such as a-fairyist or a-gnomist, since those myths have the same amount of evidence as every other God myth
I also get why Christians talk about their religion. They think their religion is good for society. They think they’re spreading the good news of Jesus or Allah or whatever other God they believe in.
I get it. I really do. I think they should talk about it, since they think it’s important.
I just happen to hold the opposite view. I think for the most part, religion hurts society. Not in all aspects but in a great many of them. I also think the good aspects that religion brings to the table, such as community, charity etc. can (and would) continue with or without mythologies.
For example, the various churches (its members) currently donate a lot of money and man-hours to charitable causes. If those same people suddenly didn’t believe in God, would they also stop donating their time and money to charity? Why do we need belief in a God to help our fellow humans?
Imagine if all the money sucked up by those various churches were to be spent on things like creating green energy, feeding the hungry or medical research. How many more people could we feed? How many diseases could we eradicate with that money? How long would it take for us to clean up our planet?
Just the Catholic Church alone could feed millions of people with the wealth they’ve amassed. Religion isn’t needed for any of these things. It’s really more a hindrance than anything else.
Do I think humanities problems would evaporate overnight if everyone suddenly stopped believing in an invisible, supernatural deity?
Of course not! We’re mammals doing stupid mammal things, but I think it would be a huge step in the right direction. Religion may have been needed in the past, but stepping away from mythology is a step towards critical thinking, logic and evidence based thinking.
Creationism shouldn’t be taught in schools. Critical thinking skills and the scientific method should be taught in schools.
We don’t need religion to practice core philosophies like ‘do unto others’ or ‘love thy neighbor’. These concepts predate the religions of today, and all you need is compassion and empathy to see these philosophies have merit. You don’t need to believe in supernatural Gods with magic powers to practice these concepts.
So many Christians (and people of other faiths) practice these concepts unless it goes against their religious nonsense. How many good Christians do you know, who are ethically solid most of the time, who won’t waste a second before pronouncing that homosexuality is unnatural.
For crying out loud, homosexuality is perfectly natural. If it wasn’t natural, homosexuality wouldn’t exist. There are no ghost/supernatural homosexuals. But because some people have been indoctrinated with mythological nonsense their entire lives, they just take for granted that homosexuals are evil, Satan’s pawns or abominations going against God’s will. So many religious people are so indoctrinated, they think their all-powerful God has nothing better to do than sit around and worry about where an insignificant human puts their penis. They have no interest in debating whether it’s natural or whether it hurts society as a whole (they don’t) or even whether their claim is true. They simply take on faith that their ancient manuscripts, written by primitive people who thought mental illness was demon possession, is true. Their God supposedly said so, so it must be true.
I also totally understand if you’re an atheist who is in the closet. You might feel as though you’ll lose your job, family, friends, community etc. If you feel that way, I get it. Maybe at some point, you’ll feel safe and comfortable enough to step out of the closet.
However, it shouldn’t be atheists who are embarrassed.
If you’re an atheist reading this, you’re not the one who believes in an invisible being in the sky, a mystical realm laid out for you by this deity, people rising from the dead, magical acts like the parting of the sea with a wave of a hand, demons, or any of the other magical claims religions make without a shred of evidence.
You’re not the one who feels as though you have to filter every decision through a lens of ancient mythology. You’re not the one who thinks homosexuals are abominations simply because some desert dwellers said so in a book a few thousand years ago or because some person in priestly garb told you so.
Inside, I hope you’re as proud as I am that you figured it out. Despite everything, you realized that you were fed a load of malarkey your entire life and you saw through their crap.
I think atheism is important. I’m proud to be out of the closet. I’m proud to be an atheist. I think as our knowledge grows and our civilization advances, we’ll eventually put away our childish myths and confront reality. I’m proud to be an insignificant part of that process, and a minuscule part of the entire universe that we live in.
That’s what I believe in. I believe in reality.