Welcome to the Open Thread for AETV #857.
A deist emailed us this week with a message for Christians and a request that we read his message on The Atheist Experience. I won’t take up air time for that, as I explain in my response to him, but I did think it was valuable as a discussion topic about why we reject deism as well as other flavors of theism.
For reference, deism is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a creator. Deists generally reject organized religion (with some exceptions) and divine revelation as a source of knowledge about the nature of God.
Now, on to the deist’s message. I’ve left the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation as it is in the original.
Dear christians, specifically fundamentalists and evangelicals. You are free to believe what you wish however you have hurt many many people throughout not just ancient history but recent history as well. There is no denying this no matter ho much you try to do so. From the inquisition, the salem witch trials, and the genocide of native americans and the Holocaust you have done a lot of harm in the name of your god.
As a native Texan I pride myself on learning about the world around me and I am pretty frustrated and angry about all the attempts to stunt knowledge just because science usually if not always disagrees with your views. This is extremely dangerous because by eroding education standards you end up not just making people ignorant of science but you also hurt the nation economically as well, as the less educated a population is the less skilled a workforce is produced. A clear hypocrisy given how many of you are business-loving republicans.
To make matters worse you subjugate people to your will turning otherwise reasonable people into mindless drones. In fact the other day I had been to a museum with my cousin and her son, and on the way home she despite knowing how I disagree with any literal translation of biblical text began talking to me about creation and original sin. This woman is one I have been close to since we were children, we almost consider each other siblings. And yet, due to being brought up in a poor family in a rural area of Texas, she has been deceived into thinking she has to be blindly following Yahweh and Jesus to be any better than we know her to be. You vile people have made it uncomfortable to be around my own family. You are no better than the Pharisees who sold out Jesus to the Romans. In fact, you ARE the Pharisees as far as I’m concerned.
I tried my damned hardest to avoid being critical especially given my cousin’s son was present on that ride home, I explained to her I could not accept the doctrine of original sin, the very idea of it is abominable.
That same day my mother who has been having health problems as of late has become pretty stressed out with some of what her trip to the doctor that day has revealed, and you same supposed life-loving christians have made it so my mother cannot afford proper healthcare, something she desperately needs, and the logic you people have is that she is better off dead even though she herself is a christian who has been devout for many many years. You would rather see one of your own die horribly. I cannot forgive you for that no matter what.
You have ruined Texas, you have ruined the United States. You serve no good purpose, only evil.
To other christians who are not nearly as devout as the fundamentalists and the evangelicals, you all need to stop siding with them because they consider themselves christians, you need to stop supporting these people and everything else that gives them power and influence. The bible is mostly full of evil, but there are a few good things in it’s pages that people identify with. Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, look who all these evangelicals and fundamentalists are. Those that aren’t super rich politicians bought out by private corporations are preachers who make their living stealing money from parishioners in those vile and disgusting mega-expensive megachurches, and getting huge tax write offs int he process. They are thieves and they are liars. Stand up to these frauds. Ignoring them does not make them go away, they need to be called out and held accountable for their lies and slander of the american public that chooses to not believe as they do.
They have succeeded in alienating me from my family, and I don’t want to see this continue. Please to all more tolerant and progressive christians, stand up to these monsters. They need to be stopped. Stage protests at their churches, call out divisive rhetoric even in the middle of a church service, it needs to end and end soon.
If my mother passes away in the next year I’ll have no family left that wont otherwise try to force their beliefs on me even f they believe they are being considerate of my own views. If the damage caused by the evangelicals and fundamentalists is not repaired, many others will share this fate with me, and that is a horrible crime to let happen.
The following was my reply to the deist:
We have a policy within the Atheist Community of Austin that we don’t allow our media projects to become a soapbox for theists. I’m really curious about why you thought we’d make an exception in your case.
As a start, I noticed that you don’t seem to understand the people you’re criticizing. Evangelicals and fundamentalists are not necessarily the same. It’s possible to be an evangelical Christian and totally reject fundamentalist doctrines, and it’s possible to a fundamentalist and not an evangelical. But that’s actually a small problem compared to the primary claims in your email.
Having read your message to Christians, I’m struck by the irony of your claim that the more moderate Christians are providing what amounts to political cover for more extreme Christians. I agree with that, but your failure to recognize that your own belief in a creator and, more importantly, how you justify that belief provides similar cover to the moderate Christians, is astounding. Deists use the same flawed philosophical arguments for the existence of a god as other theists, minus the doctrinal aspects. Cosmological and teleological arguments for the existence of a god don’t magically become better arguments just because a deist presents them.
One of the many harms of religion is believing things for which you have no evidence. If your beliefs rest on the same flawed foundation as those of other theists, you don’t get to use our show to chastise them.
Thanks for emailing us anyway.
I also want to note that I would never advocate what he suggests in his second to last paragraph – staging protests at churches to disrupt their services. People have a right to believe whatever they believe, and they have the right to assemble in their churches and conduct their services in peace.
And with that – have at it!