The Pros and Cons of Antitheism


Well, since every other atheist blogger is debating whether or not antitheism has merit, I guess I better throw in my two cents.

When I first became an atheist, I was in the Chris Stedman faitheist camp. After seeing so many angry atheist trolls online, I didn’t want to join their camp. Plus, shortly before deconverting, I was (loosely) involved with the liberal Christian scene, so I knew not all Christians were fundamentalists. In fact, I still have progressive Christian friends who are just as passionate about social justice as I am, like AnaYelsi Sanchez (for whose blog I wrote a guest post). So while, like Tony Thompson, I will never break bread with people who think I shouldn’t have basic human rights, I have no problem partnering with progressive believers for secular social justice work.

And yet when it comes to religion as a system and an institution, I don’t see any reason why we still need it.

Christopher Hitchens once said, “I challenge you to find one good or noble thing which cannot be accomplished without religion.” I tried, but couldn’t. Community? You can find that at a bowling league. Music? Go to a local Open Mic Night. Wisdom? Try the library. Wonder and awe? Look at the stars at night. Morality? Try either John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism or Virginia Held’s The Ethics of CareThere is literally no need for religion in the 21st century. That doesn’t mean religious people are fools; most of them just don’t know you can have a fulfilling life without a god.

Plus, even though I’m happy to work with progressive believers for secular social justice work, progressive religion still has a lot of fucked up theology. For example, a lot of my progressive Christian friends love to quote the parable of the sheep and goats, and while it’s a nice story on the surface, I’ve seen way too many progressive Christians turn it into another form of shame. I can’t tell you how many blogs posts I’ve read from Christians flogging themselves because they deliberately walked away from a homeless guy on the street. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve lied to homeless people and said I didn’t have any spare change, and then felt guilty about it. However, Christians don’t see it as failing to help a fellow human being; they believe they actually failed the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Talk about extra pressure!

So does that make me an antitheist? I don’t know, and I really don’t care. I find labels like “antitheist, “faitheist,” “firebrand,” and “diplomat” to be superficial. I just do whatever I can to make the world a less shitty place. Sometimes it includes calling out religion’s bullshit, and sometimes it’s working with a religious person for a common goal. Sometimes it’s having conversations with people who disagree with me, and sometimes it’s telling them they’re full of shit. Make of it what you will.

Comments

  1. polishsalami says

    While I agree with much of what has been said here, there is an inconsistency with some Social Justice atheists with regards to whom one should form alliances with.

    More specifically, I’ve seen many comments at Freethoughtblogs saying non-religious progressives should form alliances with progressive believers; but I’ve also seen a lot of resistance to the idea that progressive atheists should form alliances with conservative atheists to defend secular values. This doesn’t mean abandoning any principles, it just means getting more signatures on a petition, and the like.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    polishsalami,

    It’s not necessarily inconsistent if one happens to believe that the way one treats human beings, particularly women and marginalized groups, is way way more important and says a lot more about your value as a human being than what beliefs you happen to hold about imaginary sky deities.

    Basically, one can be a theist and simultaneously manage to not be a shitty person. The same cannot be said about MRAs and white supremacists, atheist or not. It is not inconsistent to hold as a guiding principle that one should not forge alliances with shitty people.

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