You know, there really is nothing wrong with criticizing atheists and the godless movement (if one can call it that, or it even really exists in the sense of a social movement as we know it). Even atheists themselves often take on other nonbelievers over anything from their own religious beliefs (which is to say, what they believe about religion) to what the best method is for promoting acceptance of atheism. But despite any number of valid points that could be made (and I could name a few myself), the problem with anti-atheist critics is that they always seem to focus on the wrong issues and, especially, use arguments that are so flawed as to merit little more than derision.
Enter Charles Lewis, writing at the National Post about how those atheists are really just ignorant malcontents who like to rouse rabble and that no-one cares what they think, anyway. (Imagine that being said in a twerpish tone.) Just the fact that this guy devoted an 800-word piece with the sole point being to tell a group of people that nobody cares what they think seems a tad bit contradictory to me, for starters.
There are always debates between atheists and believers. They have been going on forever but they seem to have ramped up ever since a dedicated group of “new atheists” began writing popular works that captured the secular imagination.
You know who they are: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and the rest of their dreary crew who are out to prove how stupid religious people are.
And thus we begin with a typical mischaracterization about what atheists are all about. No, we (that is, the majority of even outspoken atheists) are not interested in making religious people feel stupid, or foolish, or naive, or even benignly ignorant or misled. At the moment, all we really care about is getting the majority of people, who do believe in one or more god(s), to accept us without thinking (and especially, acting like) we’re out to eat their babies and kick their kittens. Of course, it is a dream – of the pipe variety, so it seems – that one day, religious people will come to their senses on their own through education and critical thought and realize that they are, indeed, being deluded and misled into believing the most sordid guff imaginable. But until that wonderful day of enlightenment comes, we’ll just settle for less hysteria and discrimination.
Also, keep in mind that if some atheists seem to harbor a particularly heated dislike for religion, this is not because they hate what religious people believe in, but the many vile positions taken and acts committed by so many theists because of their faith.
This perennial debate between atheists and the religious has no end in sight. It seems to sell tickets and for a certain type of intellectual it is like watching boxing without the blood.
But the debate is useless for one simple reason: most atheists do not have a clue what religion is about. They see religious people as blind sheep following a series of incomprehensible rules and dogmas and then scoff at their lack of enlightenment. They find the flaw in the painting and say it is all now ruined. Atheists are utopians who believe a perfect society can be built if only religion was not in the way.
As far as I can see, those Godless societies have not done too well, unless you consider North Korea a success.
Actually, the description of a system that turns people into “blind sheep following a series of incomprehensible rules and dogmas” sounds rather accurate to me. Of course, theists will claim that there’s purpose and meaning behind all those silly rules, traditions and doctrines … and then atheists will come along and tell them that, no, there really isn’t any, except the meaning that theists confer upon them. Religious ideals are manmade, not god-given, and are no superior to secular ones. If anything, they tend to promote such ills as intolerance, blind obedience and close-mindedness, which I would think are ideals that have no place in any healthy, happy society.
As usual, it’s worth noting that atheists actually tend to know far more about various faiths than even those who adhere to them. That’s the very reason why so many atheists exist in the first place. The more any sensible person learns about any particular faith, the more they’re likely to realize how nutty it is.
And, thanks to adding yet another idiotic example into the musty old bin of “screwed-up place where there’s no established theistic religion, therefore, atheism!”. I guess Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were getting lonely in there. In no way is North Korea irreligious; only, instead of worshiping some intangible deity, they kneel before a living one in the shape of their Dear Leader. Which is really no better (and quite possibly, even worse).
Faith is not about sweet “feelings.” Real faith is a lot tougher and more difficult than feelings. Feelings are fleeting, which every adult should learn at some point. Faith is about a certainty of something underlying all that surrounds us and a dogged acceptance that this life is part of an eternal pilgrimage that has trials. Real faith is like real love — something that endures after the first attraction and then sustains life itself.
So, faith is believing in something despite there being no credible reason to, for the purpose that it makes you feel good and gives your life meaning and purpose (which, apparently, you are unable to give it, yourself). Dear God, no wonder so many people believe in this tripe, if it’s this dumbed down and wishy washy as to lack any intellectual requirement whatsoever.
Atheists are under the ridiculous illusion that religious people think that all they have to do is call out to God and help will be on the way. If it were so, Jesus never would have gone up on the cross. The crucifixion is not a contradiction and the anti-religious cannot get their heads around that. Faith is not the avoidance of trouble, it is facing it head on and then finding holiness.
Actually, a rather disturbing number of religious people believe exactly that: that you can just chant some incantations to your chosen deity and, presto, miracles will happen. (And if they don’t, well, you just didn’t pray hard enough.) And, in which universe does “facing [trouble] head on and then finding holiness” make any sense? So, you encounter some hardships, you fight through them and overcome them, and then … you feel holy inside?
Faith is not up for debate. I do not care whether Christopher Hitchens or the guy who sits three rows away thinks I am living in a fantasy. Why would I care? If faith could be broken by mindless criticism then it would not be faith. And the old woman kneeling in the pew every Sunday, or the Orthodox Jew who would never miss a Sabbath in Synagogue, have no need to ask permission of anyone to justify what they do and what they believe. They are far tougher than the people who criticize.
You know, for someone who supposedly doesn’t care what atheists think of him and his beliefs, poor Mr. Lewis certainly does spend an inordinate amount of time and energy in making sure that those darned godless folk know what he thinks of them.
Also, no-one, least of all atheists, is attempting to stop religious people from believing in whatever they like. History shows that such is actually the theist’s problem, in general. And finally, if theists truly are so secure in their beliefs, then why do they spend so much time, effort and hysteria decrying atheists, throwing ridiculous fits every time godless folk so much as put up an atheist billboard or bus ad, or show the sheer, daring, callous gall of removing the unquestionably sectarian Christmas name and theme decorations from government events and establishments, as per the First Amendment? (Granted, that last one is a predominately United States-centric issue, but the point stands nonetheless.)
If religious people really didn’t care what atheists thought, then methinks they wouldn’t act like such sniveling pissants every time atheists so much as make a peep. Just a thought.
(via Project Reason)