Recently, I got a letter asking me why I do this, this whole thing. Why I have a blog or why I “rage” against those who believe in God, or as the author of this letter puts it, with God himself. I think it’s a good letter, because it follows themes that most secularists are familiar with that might make them groan in pain when they hear them. I can only give you two answers (I wrote a full rebuttal, but it was just too damn long.) These are just my personal answers to these questions, but in my opinion, the questions are much more telling than the answers.
“If you don’t believe anymore, why put such effort into the criticism of those that do? Will hurting them change their minds? Look at it from another angle: are people legitimately converted to Christianity by beating them over the head with the Bible?”
Firstly, yeah, that’s how you did it. Do you not remember?
Secondly, my friend Eliel Cruz, who blogs about LGBT issues, has this great phrase that I read once, (I must be honest, I do not know if it is originally his or not) “Well, I’m okay with them being gay, as long as they’re not so gay about it.” I think this really exemplifies what a lot of atheists feel when someone asks them why they talk about it. What would you expect me to do? What would you like me to do?
Furthermore, I’ve received multiple messages from people who’ve said that things that I’ve written have made them think a different way. My friend Siggy and I, (who is like the Professor X atheist to my Magneto) regularly go back and forth on this question of polemic, and whether or not it’s an effective tool. I maintain that it is, because even though it scares off some people too afraid to be part of a potentially hostile environment, it can give a beacon or rallying point to give people permission to talk about what they actually think, instead of just the nice shit they say to each other at parties.
“I just want to try to understand you…If you say The Lord doesn’t exist, why are you at war against Him? Peace, brother.”
You’re seriously gonna ask me why I’m so upset? Many times, when I see people asking this kind of thing, it really means, “You don’t have things to be upset about.” But in case you’re genuinely clueless, I’ll tell you.
I’m pissed off that people think they can discriminate illegally because a book told them to, or that public policy should be based on some scroll you found in the desert. I’m frustrated that science is painted as some enemy, not because it actively attacks faith, but simply because it doesn’t assume it. I’m mad that intellectualism and critical thinking are being stigmatized in favor of faith, and that kids are given answers instead of questions, leading to a ridiculous amount of misunderstandings about the nature of gender roles, sexuality, the climate, vaccines, or evolution.
I’m mad that I live in a place that thinks it’s okay to break the boundary between separation of church and state, as long as they’re the only ones who can do it – with my leaders like Rick Perry saying facile bullshit like “Freedom of religion doen’t mean freedom from religion” or “We live in a country where gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t pray in schools.”
I’m furious that because of the combination of the rise of anti-intellectualism and the fall of critical thinking, many religious people parade around with a falsely concocted version of history in their heads, such that when they are confronted with the truth, they do not recognize it, and cannot tell that these statements are simply untrue.
You’ve got a lot of nerve asking me what I’m so pissed off about when the Pope, who represents HALF of your religion, went to the continent most ravaged by AIDS, where people are dying at an unprecedented rate, and told them they couldn’t use condoms. And what’s maddening is the amount of people that think that if the Bible agrees with that shit, it’s okay. They no longer have conversations about what is wrong and right, they only ask what the Bible does and does not support, because that will they do.
To put women in lower social roles, to teach gay children that something is wrong with them and needs to be fixed, to convince the poorest and most broken people among us that they can be free simply by saying some magical words to something that doesn’t exist…
1) Don’t you dare ask me what I’m on a rampage about, given the scale of real-world harm belief in this imaginary thing can do. While I and others have our rights trampled on and the Christian right whines about the war that’s being waged on them, you have no right to ask why we would protest unsubstantiated belief in this thing.
2) I’m wondering why you don’t.
If you guys have any great responses to these questions, let me know below!
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