The question is often asked: “Why do you care?” Why shouldn’t I care? Why can’t I be ignorant and apathetic? Indeed, why do I care so much if a man or a woman is religious? Why can’t I be like other passive atheists and leave it well alone?
The simple answer is: you’re wrong. The simple answer complicated just a bit is: you’re wrong, and one should never sit comfortably in his or her own paradigm of beliefs. To live in ignorance is one thing. To live in ignorance, in the face of everything that is wrong, and refuse to admit it is another, the gravest of life’s sins. Deniers and “progressives” are all of the same ilk.
If I told you the Earth was flat, you would most likely laugh (unless, by some fortune, you happened to be a member of the Flat Earth Society), poke fun and, quite possibly, have me committed to an insane asylum. You would be adamant that I was wrong. The idea that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not vice versa, was not fully accepted by religion until, pathetically, only recently. If I told you the universe was geocentric, you would assume that I was a complete moron or that I was a caveman of sorts. And while I would be fated to spend the rest of my existence wallowing in a padded cell or being studied in a lab by scientists, you would wake up on a nice Sunday morning and head off to Church. The irony is so delicious that I can hardly contain my desire to comment on its taste.
Why must the religious and religions be left to toil in the excrement of their own ignorance? Why does society turn its head in the other direction, and afford religions the luxury of such ignorance, while the rest of us are condemned to their inanities and insanities, and unfairly maligned for battling ignorance? Why do we praise a scientist of Harvard caliber while we fully know he is also a man of god?
I care because I do not care for the direction that religion has taken humanity in. I care because everyday I must wake up to see more egregious acts committed in the name of religion: riots, suicide bombings, the abject rejection of science, the decay of social progress, the human rights abuses, the denigrations of various groups of people, etc. That is why I care, because the belief in this fictitious fairy-tale being has caused humanity so much grief and continues to hinder our progress forward.
I do not care if you are a “liberal” Christian or a “literalist” one. I do not care if you believe in Allah or continue to tolerate the misgivings of your organizers. You were borne of the same faith and you adhere to the same organized principles and practices. It is organized religion which cultivates the infertile ground that breeds such digression. The man who bombs a plane in the name of his god did not wake up one day and come to a sudden realization. It was years of indoctrination, the focal point which started when he picked up a holy book or listened to his first sermon.
You may call yourself a “progressive” Christian, or Muslim, or Jew, or what have you. You could convince yourself (but not me) that you are far removed from the so-called extremists. You may sincerely believe in evolution. You might believe (whereas the rest of us know) that the Earth is not a few thousand years old. But you are still in denial. You have weighed the facts, considered the evidence, and agree we are products of evolution, but still travel to your place of worship on any given day of the week (or, perhaps, that special one) to worship this almighty creator. It is compromise, fear, and/or the inability to remove yourself from childish beliefs. Or perhaps you are anxious of reprisal from the fragile masses. Fear that stems from being ostracized by the masses, because of one’s rejection of popular opinion, is a powerful one, perhaps even more powerful than the fear of a hell, itself.
Yet, everyday that you go to worship, your priest or your pastor or whomever is leading this cause, may invariably tell you myths and allegories of goodness and kindness, but also of this need to worship a totalitarian god, and to accept him without haste. And everyday that you sit there, religion continues to spread this asinine totalitarian belief, but also of hate; and continues to tolerate violence, social digression, rejection of science, and abuse to your fellow man.
Have the religious not been afforded the luxury of mass ignorance for too long? Why must we reject the voice that refuses to accept such a ridiculous premise? You tell us to be apathetic. You tell us to leave well alone what cannot be left alone. Why pick on the poor Christian, or Muslim, or Jew, you plead? Why can’t you simply leave us be, you whine? The fact is, you will not leave the rest of us alone. Your seemingly harmonious and helpless pleas cannot dissuade us to be apathetic, for we know that such pleas are but a mere disguise to quell the voices of dissent, and, quite frankly, are but the first step towards the total disregard for the principles of free speech.
To think, and to speak those thoughts, freely is the cornerstone of a healthy society. These essential freedoms were not meant to guarantee the ignorant voices of the blind masses, particularly those who believe in a totalitarian fiction. They were meant to protect the voices of dissent, those lonely bastions of criticism which may be the key to unlocking fruitful discussion, the essential ingredient for defeating mass ignorance, and the crucial factor which keeps society moving forwards. If nine of the ten voices in a room are but the same, it is the solitary dissenter who is the most important. To deny any person that freedom to be the critical voice is dangerous, indeed.
The fact that the vocal atheists of the world have got so many of the religious in fervor is great news. This is not because we see the atheists as “winning” the battle, but because we know that our critical voices have upset the religious. This suggests that there are at least some who may realize that their faith is not as strong as they thought, that their fragility can be threatened by the voices who oppose them. It suggests that maybe some are in the process of opening their eyes and refusing to be blind. It suggests that the voice of the lonely dissenter is being protected, and will not be silenced by the believer who wants to be left alone. Those that plead so innocently for atheists to remain apathetic are but steps away from others that are willing to use violence in an attempt to eliminate our voices completely.
I do not go to churches or mosques or synagogues or other places of worship and heckle the believers walking in and out. I know many believers, some of whom are very close kin, but I do not chastise them day in and day out about how religion is terrible. Such actions would likely prove counterproductive. All I want is a level field for an equality of debate, one where the religious are not put to a higher standard, or allowed to bask in their protected bubble of ignorance, simply because such fairy-tale notions are popular. Just as the religious are allowed to propagate their beliefs across the globe, so should I be there to attempt to annihilate such asininity.
That is why I care, because I can’t leave it well alone. I care because every time a religious person wants to silence me, I just want to speak out even more. I will not be led down the road of apathy just because some people are too sensitive. I care about that lonely man or woman who has the guts to dissent against the force of religion which has held a grip on reality for too long. I care about the direction of humanity, even if I do not care about all of its individuals, personally. And I can safely say that without hesitation, whereas there will be no doubt that a man or woman of religion will lie, openly, and claim to love and care about everybody.
On a more personal note: the timing of this piece is merely the result of serendipity. I just sat down to write a bit and ended up with more than I thought. But its timing also happens to be fortuitous.
- Atheists are better for politics than believers. Here’s why | Polly Toynbee (guardian.co.uk)
- Religion dying off: “Nones” are world’s third largest “faith” (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- My Practical View About Religion (stockfessor.wordpress.com)
- You Can’t Always Think What You Want (rationalarrogance.wordpress.com)
- Why Religious Explanations of the Newtown Shooting Fail (patheos.com)
- Dan Barker’s War on Religion, Though Childish, Has Adult Implications | Athanatos Christian Apologetics Ministry (christianreasons.com)
- Suzanne Conaway | Stop using religion to justify hate (kansascity.com)