When a friend tagged me in an article in the Guardian titled, ‘My atheism does not make me superior to believers. It’s a leap of faith too”, by Ijeoma Oluo, I knew from the second part of the title not to expect much and as predicted, the article turned out to be arrant nonsense.
For one, it reads like a piece someone just figuring out that there is no Santa Claus, Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy or Bogey Man would write. It is quite surprising that the writer, a self-proclaimed atheist, could not differentiate between faith and knowledge.
For this reason, I wouldn’t take seriously anything the writer has to say about atheism, however, i would endeavour to analyse her article.
I didn’t come to this conclusion because the story of a man waking from the dead made no sense – I wasn’t an overly analytical child. I still enthusiastically believed in Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. But when I searched myself for any sense of belief in a higher power, it just wasn’t there. I wanted it to be there – how comforting to have a God. But it wasn’t there, and it isn’t to this day.
This sounds creepily like a gay person wishing they were not gay. Atheism is not a feeling, it is not a sexual orientation or emotional/ sexual attraction, it is not the spooky feeling that some people insist they get that tells them a ghost is in the room.
Grrr…. You don’t feel atheism; it is not the holy ghost or sexual attraction! You know based on information and evidence available to you.
You don’t need a leap of faith to know that dead people don’t come back from the dead or that humans can’t naturally walk on water. It is simple common sense backed up by easily available evidence.
Atheism is about knowledge based on available evidence. You can’t FEEL yourself into atheism, you THINK yourself into atheism!
But my conviction that there is no God is nonetheless a leap of faith. Just as we have been unable to prove there is a God, we have also been unable to prove that there isn’t one.
What arrant nonsense! We have not been able to prove that there is no celestial teacup or invisible pink unicorn orbiting our planet, this does not stop us from dismissing that there is no celestial tea cup or invisible pink unicorn orbiting our planet.
As Pastafarians know, flying spaghetti monster is the true God because, for one, our DNA is shaped like pasta, what more prove do we need that flying spaghetti monster is indeed the true God? Yet, many simply dismiss the Flying Spaghetti Monster (May his noodlesnees be upon us, R’amen) as a joke, why, oh, why!
Why on earth would atheists try to prove there is no God? How do we prove that which does not exist? What atheist can only do is rebut the arguments of those that asserts that there is a God.
Atheism is not the assertion; Atheism is a reaction to an assertion. He who asserts holds the burden of proof. It is the theists who assert that there is a God, therefore it is left for the theists to prove the existence of their God. Until they are able to conveniently prove this assertion that there is a God who intelligently designed the planet, or the Deists assertion that there was a God who designed the planet then went into retirement, we will keep finding holes in their bogus claim.
The feeling that I have in my being that there is no God is what I go by, but I’m not deluded into thinking that feeling is in any way more factual than the deep conviction by theists that God exists.
Really? How sad and silly!
Superiority of arguments and ideas should not be confused with intolerance, bigotry or inequality. It is perfectly possible and OK to have superior knowledge. Superior knowledge is what is creating scientific progress and making us live a more quality life. It does not mean those without superior knowledge in a particular field are lesser human beings!
Do we now in the name of tolerance and not causing offence, place superior arguments and ideas in the same footing as silly myths?
By this writer’s conclusion, it is OK to claim that-
- Evolution carries the same weight as the story of creationism
- The claim that crystals can cure all ailments carries the same weight as the assertion that by seeking medical treatment, one stands a better chance of curing ailments.
- Reciting the lord’s prayer, clutching the rosary or prayer beads is as effective in the cure of cancer as receiving chemotherapy in an hospital.
Is this the point where we say it is OK for parents to deny their children lifesaving blood transfusion (as Jehovah witnesses would do) just because their religion forbids it. If we are happy to take away children from parents and guardians who are likely to cause these children harm, why then is it OK to overlook the harm a religious person could cause their vulnerable children, all in the name of religious tolerance?
Superior arguments should not be mistaken for bigotry, intolerance or inequality. For example, it is a superior idea to manufacture environmentally friendly cars. Available facts and evidence back this assertion up. However, this does not mean developers/manufacturers of non-environmentally friendly cars should be ashamed or made to feel less human because they did not hit on the environmental friendly formula the first time they thought of the formula for developing an auto-mobile! With advancement in our scientific knowledge, we make great progress. We discard old ideas in favour of new improved ideas.
As a Yoruba, I learnt that the Yoruba creation myth has it that Olodumare (Skydaddy aka God/Allah) sent Orunmila to earth with sand, grains and a cock. Orunmila’s task, with the help of another deity, Obatala, was to sprinkle sand in the ocean and with that, the ocean would turn to land. The grains were to be planted on land for food and of course the cock was the beginning of creation of other animals. Bullshit yes, but still as ludicrous as the Adam and Eve story and the Christianity’s myth that earth was created in 7 days.
I would put both the Yoruba myth of creation and the Abrahamic religion myth of creation in the same footing, but how on earth can any thinking human being put evolution in the same category as those silly religious myths? Trying to say evolution should be on the same footing as those silly myths in the name of religious tolerance is simply utmost silliness of the highest order.
There are superior ideas, superior arguments and it is not bigotry or intolerance to assert that an argument or idea is superior, especially if all facts and evidence point to the fact that it is indeed a superior argument. Is this writer trying to move us to the stage where it is considered politically incorrect to accept that there are indeed superior arguments? Silly, silly, just silly!
I keep this fact in mind – that my atheism is a leap of faith – because otherwise it’s easy to get cocky.
Is this to say that one should happily come across as silly because asserting superior knowledge would come across as cocky? That is sad. Superior ideas, arguments or knowledge does not make one cocky, attitude does. Your attitude is what you should keep under control, not knowledge.
It’s easy to look at acts of terror committed in the names of different gods, debates about the role of women in various churches, unfamiliar and elaborate religious rules and rituals and think, look at these foolish religious folk. It’s easy to view religion as the root of society’s ills.
It is easy to blame it on religion because from available facts, religion has played a key role in causing conflicts and mayhem in our societies.
As an atheist, I do not think all the world conflicts would be resolved if we did away with religion, however, it would surely help if we did away with the belief in skydaddy, imaginary, friends, imaginary enemies, imaginary witches, wizards and harmful belief in evil spirits!
This would be a good starting point in putting our world in order and eradicating those acceptable tools of oppression. Religion is an influential tool of oppression, a tool which fanatics, sexists, misogynists, terrorists easily latch onto, to justify their atrocities. So yeah, as an anti-theist, I am happy to see the world rid of religion. And this has nothing to do with being cocky.
But atheism as a faith is quickly catching up in its embrace of divisive and oppressive attitudes.
Since when is atheism a faith? The self-proclaimed atheist who wrote the article is as confused as they come.
We have websites dedicated to insulting Islam and Christianity.
Oh dear, atheists are the oppressors now? What universe does this writer live on? I guess atheists’ words are as harmful as the grenades religious fanatics throw in the name of God. I will just quote Madalyn Murray O’Hair-
I’ll tell you what you did with Atheists for about 1500 years.
You outlawed them from the universities or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or their writings of any kind, drove them into exile, humiliated them, seized their properties, arrested them for blasphemy.
You dehumanised them with beatings and exquisite torture, gouged out their eyes, slit their tongues, stretched, crushed, or broke their limbs, tore off their breasts if they were women, crushed their scrotums if they were men, imprisoned them, stabbed them, disembowelled them, hanged them, burnt them alive.
And you have nerve enough to complain to me that I laugh at you. ― Madalyn Murray O’Hair
However, the writer rightly observed-
We have famous atheist thought-leaders spouting misogyny and calling for the profiling of Muslims. As a black atheist, I encounter just as much racism amongst other atheists as anywhere else. We have hundreds of thousands of atheists blindly following atheist leaders like Richard Dawkins, hurling insults and even threats at those who dare question them.
As a black woman atheist, I agree this is true. But how does this make atheism a leap of faith? Yes, Some Atheists Are Assholes; No, Don’t Get Over It, Call Them Out, as I did in these articles-
Yes, Richard Dawkins is a first rated scientist and a prominent atheist, but he is also a known twat. Decent people, be they atheists or not, already know this. What that has got to do with atheism being a leap of faith, superiority or bigotry, beats me!
BTW, Richard Dawkins is not the skydaddy of atheism; Atheism has no skydaddy.
Look through new atheist websites and twitter feeds. You’ll see the same hatred and bigotry that theists have been spouting against other theists for millennia. But when confronted about this bigotry, we say “But I feel this way about all religion,” as if that somehow makes it better. But our belief that we are right while everyone else is wrong; our belief that our atheism is more moral; our belief that others are lost: none of it is original
The writer sounds like she has no idea what religion has done to non-believers. What is “new atheists” anyway? Atheists from time have being pointing out the harm of religion. Pointing out how harmful religion is does not make us hateful, bigoted, cocky human beings.
Also, there is a difference between hating religion and what it does and hating religious believers and what they do. As I wrote, Islam deserves no respect from me, I think Christians, especially Nigerian Christians, say the silliest things in the name of their religion. The thing is, I can back up those assertions with facts, especially with words and actions from Religious people directed at me. I have every right to call out religion, especially when religious people use their religion as a basis to mess with my life, influence state policy and make laws that seek to put me in jail for 14 years based on their religious belief that same sex relationship is ungodly!
Cut the crap, I have every right and even a duty to speak out against religion. This article Why I speak out against religion explains this in detail.
Perhaps we all fall in line because we look for any social system – be it Christianity, Islam, socialism, atheism – to make sense of it all and to feel like we matter in a world that shows time and time again that we don’t.
Atheism is not about power control, far from it. And no, you can’t literally have your own personal truth, not if you meant truth as fact. Your own opinion, Yes, your personal truth or fact, No. A fact is a fact, your belief or opinion won’t change it. And that is one good thing about science, it does not need you to belief in it before it works.
And no, atheism is not a “leap of doubt” as my friend tried to rephrase the “leap of faith” title. Freethinking, maybe, Atheism, certainly not. My freethinking stage, two decades ago, was my doubting phase. It was the stage I was searching for knowledge about God and would read anything to gain a diverse knowledge on the subject of how we came to be. As a Freethinker, my doubts propelled me to seek for knowledge. My atheism is the conclusion of that very detailed and diligent inquiry and journey. Therefore, my atheism is not a leap of faith or a leap of doubt, it is an affirmation of knowledge backed by available evidence.
The writer concluded her article with this-
Faith is not the enemy, and words in a book are not responsible for the atrocities we commit as human beings.”
- Is this the same faith that leads parents to deny their children lifesaving medication and blood because their religion says with faith you can move mountains?
- Is this the same faith that makes religious fanatics hack to death gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, non-believers and people of different faith?
- Is it not faith that make adults applaud while pastors, imams, spiritualists physically and mentally abuse children and vulnerable people in the name of exorcism, or as in the case of Bishop David Oyedepo and his likes, slap demons out of children by beating them black and blue?
- Is it not faith that makes religious people open fire on abortion clinics?
- Is it not the words in the Quran that religious terrorists quote when they throw bombs and crash planes into buildings, commit suicide bombings or shoot female children in the head for daring to seek an education?
Faith is harmful. The words in the holy books are harmful. Closing our eyes to these salient facts in the name of political correctness or tolerance won’t help matters. We do not have to shy away from the fact just to be politically correct.
Atheists have come a long way, we still have a long way to go, this is certainly not the time to start dragging ourselves backwards just to appear to be politically correct. The world does not need another leap of faith; we need a leap of knowledge. Enough with the faith; it is time to unleash knowledge.