Thursday, September 27, 2012

Irrational Atheists

I've "liked" a couple of atheist pages on Facebook in the past couple of months.  But I'm thinking of unliking them.  People on them seem mostly interested in finding nasty things to say about the religious.  A common theme is to hold religious people accountable for every inane thing that is written in their holy books, as if every Christian were out there burning witches, and all Muslims spent their spare time putting non-Muslims to the sword.

Now I am absolutely convinced that reason demonstrates the non-existence of God with about the same measure of certainty that it demonstrates the annual path of the Earth about the Sun.  And because I think it is shameful to base your world view on an obvious falsehood, I think all people should be atheists.  I could make even stronger statements, but I won't at the moment, because my immediate purpose (anyway) is not to insult theists, but to argue for rationality and balance.

What I don't think (and where these so-called atheists seem to disagree) is that religion necessarily makes one a bad person.  All religions, at least in the Judaic/Christian/Muslim tradition, have some pretty horrible, immoral, anti-human things within their teachings.  But religious people, in reality, show a remarkable ability to pick and choose the tenets they will follow.  Rather amazingly, they do this even when they claim to literally following their holy books, and even when those books specifically deny them the right to pick and choose.  Many Christians, Muslims and Jews treat other people very, very badly in the name of their respective religions.  But others are entirely good people.

What I believe is that one's religion is entirely irrelevant to one's morality.  Despite their vehement protestations, I do not think religious people derive their morality one iota from the religious teachings they subscribe to.  I think they are the people that they are for many reasons - "nature" (whatever that is), their general history and upbringing, the love they had (or didn't have) as children, and other, similar things besides.  They take from their religion exactly what they bring to it.  Messages of cruelty, or messages of love, they find what they go looking for.

But I'm getting tired of atheists who just want to feel superior by ranting against the religious, and doing so in a way that eschews rational argument.  (Whenever I've posted mild suggestions to think more deeply on some topic, they have been ignored.)  I seem to have found the worst of the atheists - in the way that the "God hates Fags" folks are the worst of the Christians…, well, maybe not quite THAT bad... 

I've been told by theists that atheists "hate God".  I've always thought that was silly.  How could I hate an imaginary creature?  I don't even think that religion is necessarily evil - just silly and wrong.  (And the insistence of the religious that they have some kind of special right to be respected for their evidently untenable ideas is really annoying.)   I also, of course, find myself eternally arguing against the old chestnut that atheism is just another belief system, in effect another religion.  (Of course, in reality, atheism is just the result of an honest insistence that the same idea of reason that we apply to answering other questions in the world be applied to the question of God.)  But listening to some of these so-called atheists, I begin to see where my theist disputants got these wrong ideas about atheism.  I guess what I am is a rationalist first, and that leads me inevitably to atheism.  Atheism is a secondary, not a primary, identity.

But maybe I just need to find a better atheist group/page.  (Or start my own.)