Everybody Needs Somebody…to look down on

Christians in the west have long complained that they are treated poorly because “we” know they couldn’t get away with violent response to art or commentary that is freely expressed and critical of religion and Christianity in particular the way that they perceive that the media and public refrain from expressing criticism of Islam for fear of causing riots or other violence.

It’s pretty disturbing, since this response is basically complaining that Christians would be violent if they felt they could socially and legally get away with violence – because at the fringes, Christians do use violence directed at abortion clinics and medical providers and intimidation tactics against art galleries and companies who advertise in a manner that Christians disapprove of – usually in gay publications or being inclusive of gay people.

Christians act like they are still being fed to the lions instead of being the operators of the Circus Maximus.

The problem is that freedom of religion isn’t balanced or tempered in secular society – while each person has the right to the religion or not of their choice, there is no legal or social requirement that says “as long as you keep it to yourself and not impose it upon other people who are free to make their own choices, without interference from other people.”

People who are religious, if not outright required by the religion to go door to door to testify, do have a compulsion to spread the word about their religion – as if by sheer numbers, can prove their religion right or earn salvation points by bringing others into the fold. Mostly, it’s believers who are convinced of being right that they feel entitled to push their views onto other people, into secular law and the public square.

I often think it’s a poor self-esteem thing, as if by being in the majority or at least a large group, there’s a sense of validation in the belief – and perhaps on some level, believers know how ridiculous, illogical and plain silly much of religion’s stories and claims are – but if everyone pretends that they are real – you don’t feel silly clapping to keep Tinkerbell alive if everyone in the theatre is clapping after all – so if everyone or at least most people will at least act as if the religion is real, then believers don’t have to be so defensive about it all the time.

The difficulty that believers have with the so called New Atheists, isn’t the non-belief that’s been there all along – but rather the new part of the current atheism is the unwillingness to coddle or be sensitive to religious sensibilities.

The complain most uttered is about the lack of tact, respect and civility of the “new” atheists, not the actual content – but the manner of the debate.

And, as new atheists, it does not serve our purpose to grant them their wish for “respect” for their views and opinions, when there’s no merit or validity to them, so a certain base of civility because of being members of a civil society yes, but no consideration or acting as if the claims of religions had merit or validity.

Given that religion in the past and in some countries today treats other and non-believers with brutality, torture and murder – that the worst that new atheism does is be disrespectful and mock them, Christians and other believers should be grateful that new atheists are far more humane and compassionate than believers have demonstrated throughout their history to those deemed heathens, pagans, heretics and witches. The humanist toolbox is logic, reason, mockery, parody and empirical evidence – not genocide, torture, murder and discrimination.

Atheists, unlike religionists, do not recruit. We encourage, we challenge, but we do not recruit – atheism is not something that can be forced or required – people have to be able to let go of religion in their own time, at their own pace if it is to be meaningful and lasting.

Atheists are not angry at deities that we do not believe exists, we aren’t not worshipping to avoid deities because we don’t believe that there’s going to be some awkward meeting, where we suddenly encounter each other and talk about the weather while not making direct eye contact.

We simply are not convinced by the subjective feelings and experiences offered by believers as compelling to them evidence, we do not expect to understand the universe right now and are not daunted by the complexity to throw our hands in the air and say, a god must have done it, we do not find the promise or threat of eternal afterlife any more compelling than behaving so that Santa will bring presents. Although I often wondered why the Easter Bunny didn’t require good behavior for chocolate, somehow, good behavior being a condition of Easter bounty makes more sense than for Christmas presents.

Many believers also seem to have an unexplainable idea that non-believers simply haven’t been properly exposed to the right religion aka theirs – just like a man who tries to convince a lesbian that their particular penis will convert her to heterosexuality. Like I don’t know what makes me wet….

It comes down to who gets to know what’s best for you.

Religion claims to know what’s best and believers subscribe to the religion of their exposure more than choice – most people remain in the religion they were raised in or something close – rarely, people convert to different faiths – but there is a correlation between education and religiousness. The higher the education, the less the religion. Because the more you learn and know, the less you need religion to provide simple explanations for the complexity of the universe and of life.

Believers who are certain – and it’s the certainty that’s the real danger more than the particular beliefs- are at risk of viewing secular society as having failed and to feel entitled, if not required by duty, to do whatever it takes to restore “order” by imposing their religious views on society. If not by the word, then by the sword – as history has demonstrated time and time again.

The certainty of the beliefs gives the believer the “burden”, the call to duty, of being a martyr to inspire others to follow and to cow the unfaithful into believing – and violence is too often the “go to” action to enforce and force their beliefs on others – especially as their standing in the mainstream community is threatened by social progress – like how they aren’t as able to discriminate against gays anymore – and since they lost the battle against black rights and women’s rights – they are getting anxious that there’s fewer people for them to get away with discriminating against.

By giving credibility and consideration to the mainstream religious sensibilities, we allow the fringe extremes an undeserved social consideration that is a launching point for their violent assaults on secular society.  The controversy that we need to teach, is that while each of us has a right to our beliefs – no matter what those beliefs are – that the beliefs themselves are not owed any respect, credibility, consideration or equal footing that the beliefs do not deserve on their face or by their details.

A believer in a religion is little different than a believer in a broad conspiracy – there’s no evidence for the belief and this is claimed as evidence of the belief – it’s all part of The Plan so that only the True Believers realize and know – what evidence there is, is subjective, interpretive and rarely logical or consistent and heavily relies on convoluted details, assumptions and illogical premises – religious apologists work very hard to smooth out the contradictions between their religion and reality, much to the annoyance of the fundamentalists who find reality rather than the religion, at fault. But the fact of there being apologists speaks volumes of the inadequacy of religion to hold up under scrutiny.

The higher the demand for respect – or rather reverence – the higher the scrutiny the belief or claim should be subjected to; and, the reality is, that some sacred cows are destined to become hamburgers.

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Everybody Needs Somebody…to look down on

  1. The mistake here is this obsession with the objective truth of religion, the validity of religious belief within logic, which is a misunderstanding of religion and an overestimation of human reason—I cannot help but recall Robespierre who instituted The Cult of the Supreme Being with its deity, The Goddess of Reason. Your exaggerated investment in what is known is formally similar to the religious’ investment in faith, and so your fervor here is indistinguishable from the fervor of the people you are against.

    The New Atheists are, actually, poor atheists themselves, with their discourse becoming this self-contained, self-referential body of reasoning which ends upon the judgment of reason itself: Immanuel Kant, for example, asked, “If to use reason is to criticize all, how do we criticize reason itself?” Hence came, of course, his transcendental deduction from The Critique of Pure Reason—wherein, he explains, we are bound by our a priori intuition in understanding things-in-themselves. So what of things that are outside? What of things which are—as it were—unreasonable? Even the sternest of atheists are, ultimately, agnostics: We cannot, not merely do not, know.

    So, on the pragmatic side: Religion, as the incarnations of the ideas of institutionalization of belief and faith, are destructive, &c. This is true. The question is not their abolition but their reformation, for to deprive people of their right to believe is a transgression in itself. Of course I agree there have been religious barbarities committed in the past, but there have been anti-religious ones as well, secular ones, and so forth. Why can’t religion move on as well?

    Finally, the question of respecting people with religion is a non-question. New Atheism is based upon a humanistic proposition: That human life is better off without religion. Therefore, to say that you do not respect a belief simply because it is wrong—through, of course, this obsessive belief of your own that logical or objective truth is the only form of truth, a proposition that has been wrong since the time of Aristotle—is exactly as preposterous and arrogant as it sounds. It is to claim a superior version of reason with arrogance—reminiscent of the very forces the New Atheists are fighting.

    • I don’t respect religious belief because it is ridiculous – I disagree with it because I find it not merely wrong, but harmful.

      but new atheism isn’t any different from old atheism – both are a rejection of claims for religion without replacement – with new atheism being less willing to coddle religious sensibilities

      there are no arguments for atheism, I am defaulted to atheist by virtue of not finding any religion compelling enough to accept it’s claims and premises.

      and, as a Viking descendant, I don’t see a problem with arrogance, if you can back it up – and that is the problem with religion, it is arrogance with no way to back it up.

      • You don’t seem to understand. You emphasize reason but it is perfectly unreasonable to abandon the civility of respect just because you find something ridiculous.

        You also do this 360 with your argument in your post, now saying that atheism “has no arguments,” which is preposterous. Equally so: saying arrogance is ok with you because you are of Viking descent. I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean.

        It may have been a mistake to take you seriously after all.

        • arrogance as a bad thing is a culturally christian idea that I don’t share – my ancestry includes Vikings, where arrogance is an acceptable quality, as long as you can back it up.

          and atheism doesn’t have any arguments for it, it is not a replacement of religion, it’s a rejection of religion. so everyone is actually mostly atheist since you don’t accept all religions that are claimed, you only accept one religion – yours – and you are an atheist to all other religions.

          so, the only difference between me and you is one religion

          being reason and evidence based doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humour or playfulness.

  2. I like the fact that you started with “Christians in the West” because religion loses its meaning when it has access to power and money. No I am not one of the Christian apologists, although I am a Christian.
    I know there are a lot of valid points you have about christianism and religion in general, but that’s as far as it goes in general. the particulars are always more complex and dense than anyone knows.
    atheists hold up scientific evidence, reasoning, logics to the same piedestal that religious person hold up their deities, sacred cows and sacred books. The only difference between the two is not belief and non belief, but in the content of their beliefs.
    i think atheists ought to know as much as about religion as possible and in the same way religious people ought to learn reasoning, logics and the value of scientific evidence as much as possible. In this exchange, I don’t hope that there will be a new breed to come out, but a more civil society.
    At last, you will be surprised at how many christians agree with you that they are not living up to their code, but I will argue that no one is. Even atheists have been known to call on God when their lives were at stake. Just a thought.

    • The other reason to specify “in the west” is that Christians who are in the east are actually still in danger, being a minority religion in a region that is not only Islamic, but Hindu and other non-Abrahamic religions – Christians in the west enjoy a majority over all other religions in South and North America

      although, there’s like 38,000 versions of christiantity, in addition to Jewish and Islamic, the other 2 of the 3 Abrahamic mic faiths – so in the west, they monopolize the markeplace of religious ideas and act like they don’t

      it’s a hypocritical aspect that is particularly annoying and offensive – so it’s important to distinguish between christians who aren’t so and those who act in harmony or in according with their real situation.

    • The other reason to specify “in the west” is that Christians who are in the east are actually still in danger, being a minority religion in a region that is not only Islamic, but Hindu and other non-Abrahamic religions – Christians in the west enjoy a majority over all other religions in South and North America

      although, there’s like 38,000 versions of christiantity, in addition to Jewish and Islamic, the other 2 of the 3 Abrahamic mic faiths – so in the west, they monopolize the markeplace of religious ideas and act like they don’t

      it’s a hypocritical aspect that is particularly annoying and offensive – so it’s important to distinguish between christians who aren’t so and those who act in harmony or in according with their real situation.

      but atheists also tend to know more about religion than religious believers – even the particular faith of the believer.

      we aren’t atheists because we don’t know, but because we do know full well what it is that we’re rejecting.

      we know. that’s why we’re athiests.

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