Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Another opportunity to address "Whether atheists are angry, and if so why?"
By Gary Berg-Cross
"Why are atheists so angry?" is a perennial question. If you do a Google search on that phrase you get 279,000 hits!! This includes the Greta Christina Skepticon 4 talk on whether Atheists are angry & intolerant on YouTube. One might think that Greta's book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless answered it, but it remains a popular topic and offers atheists a chance to explain themselves and their thoughts to a wider audience.
Every major publication offers an opportunity. A Sam Harris publication stirs the pot and you get him Debating with Dennis Prager using email exchanges. (Prager is a nationally syndicated talk radio host who trumpets the virtues of the Judeo-Christian tradition) .
More recently P J Murphy posted a little article on Reddit in response to an earlier one that asked that question again - "Why are atheists so angry?" It's a pretty thoughtful & fact based response framed but with some emotion. I thought it worth sharing.
You can read the posting and its responses at Reddit, but I've copied his post below.
"... A little while back, Ricardo posted a question. It was a simple question, "Why are atheists so angry?", but the post soon evolved into a 100-comment slugfest. I guess he touched a nerve, even if some of the posts were off-topic. I was going to post to it, but I would have got in at the 94 comment mark, and given that the post would be very personal, I decided to answer at length in this note, instead. I didn't want to get lost in the static. For those who don't know me well, let me tell you a little secret. I am an Atheist. That doesn't mean that I hate God, or Jesus, it simply means that I have not been presented with sufficient compelling evidence to conclude that either exists. The same goes for Thor, Odin, Jupiter, Poseidon, Ra, Mithra, Shiva, Zeus, Venus, and all the rest. I don't believe that The Bible, The Torah, The Koran, or any other religious text has much basis in fact. I am explicitly not saying that there are not moral lessons and guidelines to be found in these texts. What I am saying is that I am not convinced that God created the Universe in 6 days, and that stories of Noah's flood have little basis in fact. I don't believe in Heaven, and I don't believe in Hell. (Actually, I do believe in hell. I have worked for Labour Ready.) I don't believe that there is a mighty, omnipotent and omniscient being who is perfectly willing to condemn me to an eternity of torment because I refuse to worship him.
Frankly, I think religion is a load of crap, and was invented by bronze-age cultures that didn't have the slightest clue was was causing the things that were happening around them. Locusts? Floods? Droughts? Diseases? We must have pissed off somebody pretty powerful. If we suck up to him, maybe he'll make things better. I could pepper this note with a bazillion quotes from history, but the best one is still from Seneca, a Roman senator: "Religion is regarded by the Common People as true, by the Wise as false, and by the Powerful as useful"
There is another, by Epicurus: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
If he is both able and willing?
Then whence comes evil?
If he is neither able, nor willing
Then why call him God?" It can't be argued that religion has had an impact on human society, from its beginning, to the current time. I could recite episodes throughout history where religion has had an influence on our development. These influences have not always been beneficial, especially to those who have been "influenced". But that was then, and this is now. Ricardo asked, "Why are atheists so angry?" and I will tell you why I, an atheist, am angry. I am angry that, in Brazil, in March 2012, an 11-year-old-girl was taken by her mother to a doctor, who performed an abortion. Apparently, she had become pregnant with twins, as a result of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. He had been fucking her since she was six years old. If she had carried the babies to term, both the twins and the girl would have died. The Catholic church in Brazil excommunicated the girl, her mother, and the doctor, but not the stepfather. After an outcry, the Vatican in Rome upheld the excommunication. But they still refused to excommunicate the stepfather. His sins weren't serious enough to warrant excommunication.
I am angry that, in 2012, a man in Singapore faces 2.5 years in prison for writing "God does not exist" on Facebook. There are six state-sanctioned religions. Atheism is not an option, it's a crime.
I am angry that Jessica Alquist, a 16-year-old girl fought to have a Christian prayer banner taken off the wall of her public school, and had her Facebook, Twitter, and telephone flooded with the most vile and reprehensible filth, generated by so-called Christians. Death threats, saying she should be raped, really, it drops the jaw just to read some of it. For so-called Christians to advocate the immediate murder of all atheists is a little overboard, in my opinion, but certainly not without its examples in history.
I am angry that polls reveal that voters would not elect an atheist to public office. I am even angrier that at least 15 states have laws on the books that prevent atheists from even running for public office. I am angry that the Roman Catholic Church, the only religion with its own goddamned COUNTRY, is so embroiled in money laundering that the scandalous nature of their finances boggles the mind. Nothing new here, folks.
I am angry That that same Catholic Church has engaged has engaged in a decades, perhaps centuries, long coverup of the systematic sexual abuse of little boys. "Just a few bad apples," they say. Well fuck you, and fuck your apples. If you're an apple vendor, it's up to YOU to find those bad apples and throw them out of the barrel. But don't bury the bad apples at the bottom of the barrel, and tell me that the barrel looks good when viewed from above.
I am angry that Islam has conditioned men to believe that women are livestock. There was a Western journalist who was covering the situation in Egypt who was mobbed, stripped and groped by a crowd of Egyptian men. When she went to the police she was treated with indifference, as in "you must have been asking for it". Fuck you, fuck your Burkhas, fuck your attitude toward women. Then again, what can you expect from a religion founded by a man who married a six-year-old? Although, to Mohammed's credit, he waited until she was nine to actually have sex with her.
I am angry that there are people who want prayer brought back into the schools....but not any prayer, just Christian prayer. I am angry that they want their Abrahamic creationist mythology taught with the same credence as evolutionary fact. I am angry that they want to perpetuate their methodology of indoctrination of children in a public and secular school system. Fuck that. Fuck your Creationist Museum, that portrays Jesus riding a raptor. There's an interesting rodeo event for you. Ride a raptor, and if he throws you before 8 seconds, he gets to eat you.
But, I am not completely angry. I am grateful that I can identify as an Atheist in 2012, and not have to worry about being tortured, having my property confiscated, and having my books burned. I am grateful that I will not be shunned, outcast, sent away from family, home, and employment. I am grateful that, even though I am an atheist, I can find someone who will sell me food and clothing, and rent me a warm place to sleep. I am grateful that I can YouTube video recordings of lectures by Dawkins without worry of the Church Police kicking down my door and dragging me away. Did you know that George Carlin would have been burnt at the stake as few as 400 years ago? Did you know that the Catholic Church finally got around to admitting that Galileo had a point, and that the Earth really does revolve around the Sun? They did, they really admitted it. in 1992. I am happy, almost ecstatic, that I am present at the time that humanity finally sheds the shackles of superstition. I am delighted to see the consternation of the power structure of religion quaking in its boots as their membership and their finances dwindle. It fills me with optimism as the youth of our race turn their backs on centuries of oppressive mythology and instead embrace the precepts of knowledge and fact. Religion is a small island of superstition, fear, and control, and I smile as the tide of logical thought, knowledge and fact rises to force it under the waves. So, Ricardo, I have to say that I am angry as I look out the side windows. I am angry as I look out the rear-view mirror. But when I look down the road, I am happy, because I see all religions taking their rightful place amongst the discredited mythology of ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece. And when Yahweh and Allah dine with Zeus it shall be a glorious day, indeed." P. J. Murphy