The South and God »« On being number 11

Why do atheists always have to mock religion?

I was asked this question, sincerely, by a relatively new convert to fundie christianity who had been, throughout the evening, talking an awful lot about church and god and such.  I had gotten bored of that and, over the course of about 10 seconds, referred to the xtian god as an invisible friend, sky daddy, and had finally gone too far by calling Mohammed “Mo”.

He lashed out, very frustrated that I didn’t take the religion thing very seriously, after all I took atheism seriously, right?

I mock religion for the same reason I mock Twilight, though at least Twilight fans generally have the good sense to realize that the book they obsess over is fiction.  It’s very difficult not to make fun of someone with bad taste or who believes something that is obviously very silly, especially when the undertone of your every day life is that there’s something wrong with you for not believing.  And sometimes it’s just fun to make fun of something that is a sacred cow, because why on earth should I have to respect your sacred cows?  I just don’t see why I have to respect your belief that you’re better than everyone else because an invisible man in the sky wrote it down in a self-contradicting book.

I said it was the same as making fun of an adult who still believed in Santa Claus, but he claimed he wouldn’t do that.  I don’t really think the average believer wouldn’t mock someone who believed in Santa at the age of 30, and as believers don’t refrain from mocking other belief systems, I’m going to feel pretty safe in that assumption.

Religion makes factual claims about the physical world, and to be a fundamentalist of any stripe requires ceding your thought process over to something that is demonstrably false.  If you’re going to be a touchy-feely deistic type of believer who doesn’t fund the evil things religion does, then fine, but don’t ask me to respect you for brainwashing children, destroying civil rights, and being responsible for the creation of Christian Rock.

I’m not sure to what degree the average religious believer is willing to “take responsibility” for the religious doctrines they believe, the religious institutions they are members of and support financially, or the religious leaders they follow and thereby give power and authority to. I can’t begin to count how often I’ve seen religious believers disparage civil rights protections for gays on the argument that homosexuality is “chosen” without recognizing that religion is far more like a “chosen” set of behaviors than it is like an inherent characteristic like race or sex.

People say they adopt certain moral positions because it’s what their god wants and thus disclaim any responsibility for either the moral position or any of its consequences. People vote in certain ways because of what religious leaders tell them about the meaning of scripture and/or the will of their god and thus try to avoid personal responsibility for what the government does in their name.

Comments

  1. JP says

    The Twin Towers fell because of human nature, mixed in with the so-called lower vertical (for lack of a better term). That is to say, the spiritually “lower” part of human spiritual nature.

    “Religion” is merely something that points to something beyond itself. Either religion points upward toward God (for lack of a better symbol) or lower toward the null (also for lack of a better symbol). It would appear that you have a major problem with the lower vertical, specifically the dark cults that are so easily engendered when you dive into the lower waters, either on purpose because you wish to embrace evil or because you are stupid. And fundamentists.

    Granted, fundamentalists can be such fun to play with. It’s even better if you can get a Pentecostal to argue with a Mormon. I did that once. I baited them and watched the fun. There’s nothing quite like knowing that you were the cause of someone banging angrily on his bible telling you that the truth is right there inside it.

    Ultimately, I think atheism is a form of denial. And it’s certainly a form of skepsis. And by skepsis, I am talking about the catabolic acid that eats through culture, riffing off of Oswald Spengler’s civiliational theory.

    I am curious as to what kind of god it is in which you do not believe.

    And also as to the path that you took to get there.

  2. ashleyfmiller says

    I don’t believe in any gods. I’m an atheist when it comes to a personal god and an agnostic when it comes to a deistic one. I’m really more an anti-religionist than anything else.

    When I was eight I found my teeth that I had lost, my mother had kept them. I knew there was no tooth fairy, and the rest eventually followed. No easter bunny, no santa claus, no jesus, no god. I consider them all equally primitive fairy stories trying to control children.

  3. JP says

    Fascinating. I’m still mad at my parents for lying about Santa Claus.

    Of course, my problem is different than yours. When I was about 5 years old, I realized that this world would end (thanks to Mr. Sun), everyone would die, and there was nothing I could do about it. Eventually, I figured out the same for the entire universe.

    This actually caused extensive exitential panic in me for some time.

    So note to parents out there: Don’t let your kids watch Nova on PBS unless you want to cause absolute terror in your toddlers and have them run screaming and crying through the house.

    What to you mean by “personal god” and “theistic god”?

    Everyone has a worlview.

    I saw that you are from the South. I moved down to North Carolina. You sure do have a lot of Baptists here.

  4. ashleyfmiller says

    The universe ending never bothered me all that much, for some reason. Probably because I knew it didn’t change my own mortality.

    Personal God – An interventionist god, one who you can communicate with, usually described as a person — almost all religions have this kind of god.

    Deistic God – Non-interventionist, basically set everything in motion and just watches it now, doesn’t do anything.

  5. JP says

    You can also amuse yourself with something like this from David Goldman if you get bored with arguing with Christian fundamentalists. Why aruge against sola scriputura when you can argue against the possible historical non-existance of Mohammed?

    From Asia Times Online:

    “Kalisch, as I reported at the time, scandalized the Muslim world with a 2008 paper claiming that the Prophet Mohammed was a figure of myth [1]. Citing the work of Western Koran critics, Kalisch claimed that the prophet’s life was the fabrication of 8th-century apologists:

    “It is a striking fact that such documentary evidence as survives from the Sufnayid period makes no mention of the messenger of god at all. The papyri do not refer to him. The Arabic inscriptions of the Arab-Sasanian coins only invoke Allah, not his rasul [messenger]; and the Arab-Byzantine bronze coins on which Muhammad appears as rasul Allah, previously dated to the Sufyanid period, have not been placed in that of the Marwanids. Even the two surviving pre-Marwanid tombstones fail to mention the rasul.”

    Islam, he concluded, was a revival of the old Gnosticism expunged by Christianity and embraced instead by the Arabian tribes. In spite of the provocative character of his claims, Kalisch was defended by the large community of Alevi Turks resident in Germany.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LI14Ak01.html

  6. says

    I know several atheists who absolutely love mocking religion and the religious. They go out of their way to do it. Personally, I am of the opinion it’s a form of social rebellion, though not one likely to be punished in any way… unless they have plans to run for public office. So it’s a rather cheap, petty rebellion. Most atheists I know don’t do that.

    Many of us, myself included, don’t mock religion or the religious. It’s simply how our criticisms and our stated worldview are perceived by the religious, because their religions are almost exclusively founded on guilt and persecution. In a very deep way, being so “mocked” suits them fine. It’s a bloodless mini-martyrdom for them.

    One of my least favorite tricks they invariably try to pull is asking me or others, “Why do you hate God so?” or “Why do you hate me for my faith?” At that point they’ve made up their minds, and however you answer, it’s no use. They’ve turtled.

    Again, I’m not a mocker, and I don’t know many. I have a sense of humor, however, and I don’t often pass up on a light rib or a good poke, regardless of the source.

  7. ashleyfmiller says

    I enjoy it with other people of similar viewpoints but it’s not normally what I try to do with the faithful. I think at least part of it is that when something’s sacred to one person and not to another, the person who thinks it’s sacred is always going to be on the defensive and assume mockery wherever there is a lack of reverence. I think a lot of times what christians call mocking isn’t someone insulting the or even making a joke, it’s just someone who doesn’t take it very seriously. And I think it’s sort of difficult for a nonbeliever to always be on his toes about what this or that cult finds sacred.

  8. Dean says

    If you want to see how much respect Christian fundies give to religions other than their own, try the comment section on townhall.com for any blog concerning Muslims.

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