As you’ve no doubt heard, there was a shooting. It happened in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, an hour and a half away from Goldsboro, where my father was born and where my grandmother still lives. Three Muslim students were gunned down in their own apartment, two were married and one was the sister of the wife. My sincere condolences go out to the families of Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. The couple was going to be a pair of dentists, and Yusor’s sister kept a photography blog. I’m sure that there are teeth that are never going to get pulled now, and jaw-dropping pictures that will never be taken, and for that, my heart is breaking. 
The next thing that happened surprised me. As it turns out, this 46 year old walking piece of dinosaur shit Craig Stephen Hicks, is an atheist. What happened next, in the news cycles and in the blogosphere (and here), was speculation that this might have something to do with atheism, that atheism was the leading cause in this unfortunate shooting, based on his Facebook posts against religion and some tacit endorsements of Richard Dawkins.
Now let’s talk about the Politically Correct culture in which we live and theist desperation.
Lauding the Good and Ignoring the Bad
Here I will say that it’s interesting that we have to sit here and speculate based on his Facebook page whether or not atheism had something to do with these attacks. But when some clear-thinking atheist points to the actions of Boko Haram and ISIS, shameful Islam apologists rise to its defense (Yeah, I’m looking at YOU, Reza Aslan) and have the gall to talk about the geo-political situation while someone explicitly tells you why they’re beheading someone. These unable-to-call-a-bad-idea-a-bad-idea people range from liberal to Christian to Muslim to even atheist. Oh, sure, David Wolpe talks about how much time and money religious people donate, and you applaud, and hold up the direct link between belief and action, but when two dudes say “We have avenged the prophet”, it’s the cartoonist’s fault for being racy with their subject matter? Or maybe you just could disgracefully state that maybe we just shouldn’t believe them when they say that’s why they’re doing this. Should religion here really play second fiddle to anyone? This lack of honesty is obscene.
Fear of maligning discriminated groups
From talking to and listening to one too many an Islam apologist, I’ve realized their fear. I think that they want to control public opinion about disenfranchised groups. They don’t hate anyone, and don’t think anyone should. In their minds, because Muslims are in many ways disenfranchised, they are afraid that granting credence to a particular strain of vehement disagreement with the basis and practice of certain adherents of the Islamic community will grant credence to a widespread hatred and distrust of the Islamic community as a whole.
For now, we’ll ignore the speed with which you threw us atheists, one of the most mistrusted groups in this country, directly under the bus on this one.
The problem with this line of thinking is that the PC apologists are more afraid of innocent people gaining a reputation that they have not earned, than they are about innocent people receiving death that they don’t deserve. You could probably make the case that in the apologist’s own way, they do care, because they think perhaps the former leads to the latter, but I submit that I have stronger evidence for the latter actually happening right now…a lot.
And speaking of the maligned, how about atheists, who form a minority of 2.4% of your country? Who have your religion shoved into the Pledge of Allegiance of their country, who bear fealty to your god on their money? Who see commandments from your holy book adorning courthouses all over, who pay taxes that go to make up for your tax-exempt institutions, or some of whom who cannot marry in the name of the edicts of your god? And in this Chapel Hill situation, where there are many variables and no specific motive, you decided to throw atheists under the bus for this, and do not think religion a relevant factor in explicitly religious massacres worldwide? Speaking of not maligning the disenfranchised more than necessary, wouldn’t it be prudent not to attempt to connect some of the world’s worst tragedies to people who don’t deserve it? If you don’t want to own up to the damage Islam is doing in the world right now, I don’t want to hear your crocodile tears over Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot being atheists, particularly because they were not, and a little research would probably have told you that.
My favorite times might include when people don’t even flesh this fallacy out – they just list off the names.
Desperate for another answer
Part of the problem, I think, is that people have, as Daniel Dennett has stated, “belief in belief.” They don’t even have to necessarily know that the belief is true, but for some reason, people value the idea of belief, and they carry the vague notion that believing something is good. And when they see these people doing what they do in the name of their faith, in the name of furthering their institution’s goals, they cannot bring themselves to condemn them too harshly. I see it as a mixture of faith and PC culture, where all ideas are the same and none are really worse than the other. After all, taking a winged chariot to heaven is a pretty silly story, but we do have Elijah and his, ahem, flaming chariot. How do you tell someone why one is ridiculous and the other is not? And because atheists are free to criticize faith, but the faithful are not, they are desperate to find another answer to this problem, and it shows.
Who do you think has the answer?
I’ve heard atheism compared to being the designated driver in a car where the inebriated others refuse to let you drive, and I tend to agree. Reza Aslan and his ilk would have us believe the outright deceit that religion is interpretation, basically devoid of content, and so the actions of a religion’s adherents are relative only to the self that they brought to the understanding of ancient and sacred texts. But this doesn’t hold up because, of course, religions are not empty. They are not simply vessels to be filled with individuality; they are the truth that is to be engrained in you from youth, so that when you are old, you will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Christians believe that a man died on a cross, stayed dead for three days, and then flew away into the sky. Muslims believe that Mohammad split the moon in two. If you wanna know who I think has the answer, my money’s on the third guy with the unreasonable position that those don’t sound quite plausible.
The Reform of Atheism
All of this is to say, though, that I’ll give you what you want, theists. Here it is: Atheism was responsible for this tragedy. Atheism caused that man to kill those Muslim students. Assume it were true. Assume that this fanatical walking cowpie woke up every morning to “worship” Dawkins. What kind of message might he receive from seeing such sharp censures like this to this activity in particular, and its ilk in general? Imagine that person. Now imagine instead a Muslim who visits a mosque and hears their imam comment about Charlie Hebdo, “Well, yeah, that’s bad…but it’s like Pope Francis said, you just don’t disrespect faith, man…” That makes all the difference in the world. You’ll never catch me defending anything of this nature. What he did was horrific, and there’s no reason the world should have to live without those people now. And I wish I could say that he “practiced atheism wrong”, but I can’t say it because I have no idea what that would mean.
You tell me you’re free to condemn horrors, but how much of this faith can you reject before admitting that you and everyone else creates their own?
Now, as we move forward, how should we reform atheism? I suppose we could change our holy texts, our doctrines, our creeds, rebrand our saints, impeach our leaders, and shut our churches. The reason that sounded ridiculous to you is that those are the things that you do, not us. Simply because the minds of many theists are incapable of grasping life without God and everything that comes with Him, or need to frame everything in terms of religious belief, it does not mean the rest of us are subject to that standard. Atheism is much like Kyle Maynard, who was able to take advantage of having no limbs to beat his opponents in wrestling. And in the theists’ desperation, they’re just trying to give us arms they can hold onto that we ferociously deny. I’m sorry, theists, it simply won’t do. Many people want to make atheism out to be the religion that it never was, but we no longer play by your rules, and we will surely not start now.
P.S. If you want more practice on how to condemn horror, or want to know my sentiments toward this piece of pond scum Hicks, check out the ever-funny Pope song by Tim Minchin (NSFW).
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