Imagine the following scenario. A friend calls you on the phone. She tells you that last night she saw a flying saucer. She was in her backyard and saw a light and said it didn’t move like any known flying craft. You listen and then say that you find the story fascinating but most likely it was either a man-made craft or a celestial event. You have never had any reason to believe in flying saucers and since no evidence exists that what she saw was a flying saucer, you only have her personal experience to go on. You tell her that it might be enough to convince her but you require actual evidence to believe in such claims.
Your friend gets angry and screams at you over the phone.
“You just think you are intellectually superior. Your intolerance toward people who believe in flying saucers is pathetic. Your reasoning is crazy and by the way, don’t you know it is wrong to question a person’s belief in flying saucers. You can think anything you want about flying saucers but people like myself don’t want to hear it. So remain silent if you don’t agree, you intolerant asshole!”
I doubt you would be able to remain friends with a person who has such a low threshold for reason. Although some people are truly dedicated to their belief in E.T. and UFOs, the more likely scenario is that your friend on the phone would agree that it should be looked into further before jumping to any conclusions. And even then, if you still can’t explain it, the best we can do is label it unidentified. We shouldn’t just say it was an alien. Most people are much more grounded when it comes to reasoning about all supernatural claims except when it comes to their religion. I spoke about this in the first blog of this series but I didn’t delve into the word intolerant, which is a regular response from theist when their beliefs are challenged.
Disagreement is not intolerance. Let me state that again – disagreement is NOT intolerance. So why is it that when a theist is challenged on their belief they immediately jump up on their soap box and scream intolerance? I am always amazed at how shaky the foundation of so many believer’s faith is. Let us break this down to something so clearly immoral that it is easy to see the error in thinking we shouldn’t question a person’s belief system.
Slavery… I can not think of any situation where slavery is moral. The bible endorses slavery and any person who denies that it played a part in keeping slavery alive for so long is lying to themselves. But during the Civil War supporters of slavery did not want it to go away. They knew that if people began to question slavery, eventually reason would take over and that would only lead to acknowledgement that slavery was immoral. So how do you keep slavery alive? You attack those who question it. You try to silence them. If they can not speak, slavery will continue to thrive.
And so it is with faith. Faith is clearly irrational. I challenge those who think that their faith makes them a better person. Those people would be equally moral without faith and god. If they are not–if they would rape and murder without their faith–then something is fundamentally wrong with that individual and no amount of faith will be able to restrain a monster for very long. In fact, I believe that a deranged mind will find support for their harmful desires in their holy books.
I’m not saying that religious people are bad but they are delusional. I think that deep down they know that what they believe isn’t true and when a person challenges that the only thing they know how to do is get angry and try to silence the challenger. Those who prefer to fight back intellectually usually seek bad science and phony historians to support false claims. Using bad science doesn’t make what you are saying anymore true. If it can not be verified by reputable scientist it needs to be thrown away.
Atheism has been bad mouthed for centuries so I can understand why believers become unhinged when we challenge them. Their preachers have been telling them since childhood that we are evil, baby eatin’ monsters. What do they think we want to do that they become so defensive?
- Atheists do not want to ban religion.
- Atheists do not want to put believers in jail.
What I personally wish for people is to understand that religion does not own the copyright on love, compassion and morality nor is it the gateway to living a fulfilling, happy life. I believe people are inherently good and I am living proof that a person can be good without god. Religion is an obstacle, not a bridge to the best in humanity. But I want people to come to this conclusion on their own using reason and logic. To do that it takes the courage to question. Sometimes questioning widely held beliefs can be heated. Reason and logic aren’t the only tools in the toolbox. Mockery is a valuable tool, especially when debating some of the more sillier supernatural claims. Political debates can be heated, they can use mockery. Political cartoons use humor and mockery and have so for a very long time. I don’t know anyone who is trying to silence the political cartoonist for being intolerant. So why, when I ask a simple question to Christians about their beliefs do they respond the following way?
Ignorant Christian Mary:
“Dear atheists – your intolerance of the views of religious people is pathetic – such a blatant cry for attention and the need to prove yourself intellectually superior – nobody cares…..”
“You are both intolerant and I might add – your arguments are ridiculous! But whatever – you are entitled to be ignorant – it’s a free country – just keep your ignorant views to yourself!”
Ignorant Christian Dorothy:
“I think it’s sad that the only thing u took away from reading the Bible was negativity (kinda like the extremists) you don’t have to be warm & fuzzy…just tolerant. Some see goodness in what they read…nothing wrong with that….why don’t you harass the extremists who see what you see and act on it. It’s ok to be an atheist just don’t be an Asshole!”
When has it been the policy for Americans to shut-up? Historically we are a nation that challenges thought. It is what makes this nation great. To say that “This is a free country but your free speech should be silent” shows a complete inability to comprehend the phrase “Freedom of Speech.”
I will say it again – do not remain silent. Speak up. Ask for evidence. Don’t be afraid of “offending” the religous. In my experience, unless they are completely convinced, they will be offended. I actually find sometimes that the truly convinced believers are much better at debate and can do it without anger. Don’t confuse that confidence with the work of god. It is just 100% delusional. A free thinker will most likely never de-convert these people. And just because they are so sure in their beliefs doesn’t make them noble. In my opinion it just makes them that much more scary. The ones who get angry at you are able to be “saved.” They can de-convert themselves if they are given the seeds of knowledge to do so. Become a metaphysical anarchist for change.
what if no one’s watching
what if when we’re dead, we’re just dead
what if there’s no time to lose
what if there’s things we gotta do
things that need to be said
– Ani DiFranco, “What if No One’s Watching”
Take care of each other. We are all that we got.
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