Friday 5 February 2010

An atheist in sheep’s clothing

Here’s the thing; despite what my profile may say, I’m probably an atheist. All this agnosticism is an attempt to disassociate myself from that rampant in-your-face element. Edward Aveling once said:
'Agnostic' was but 'Atheist' writ respectable, and 'Atheist' was only 'Agnostic' writ aggressive.
I get that. I don’t want to fight anyone and I’m not concerned with changing their belief, kicking out a crutch provides no satisfaction, being merely cruel. On the other hand, practicing atheists (for want of a better term) seem determined to give battle. Why do they care so much about other people’s faith?

The tenet that religion is the ‘root of all evil’ is a convenient fiction; a conviction that absolves one section of society from any blame. The reality is that our ills stem from a lack of tolerance; Christian to Moslem, Moslem to Christian, theist to atheist, atheist to… everyone else. I don’t doubt there have been terrible abuses, but if religion is culpable am I to blame atheism for the appalling (and more recent) crimes of Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and others?

Yes, Pat Robertson’s comment on the tragedy in Haiti was idiotic, as most of his comments are, but I find it interesting that Richard Dawkin’s response was less critical of Robertson than it was of those Christians who denounced the remarks. One might suspect that a Christian condemnation didn’t ‘fit’ and was therefore ignored as an anomaly, but of course his argument was that Robertson, unlike his critics, was being consistent with Christian teaching. You see Dawkins is like many of my hard-line brethren; in addition to only believing the one truth (sound familiar?) they like to interpret everything they read literally – oh, the irony! That must make for a terribly boring life, and one that leaves me to ponder yet again; how is it that some intelligent people can be so utterly simple? Bless them…


  1. Agnostics and atheists are different things, but the two terms are in no way mutually exclusive. If you wish you can be both at the same time.

    And I agree, if we don't allow ourselves room to bend, we're going to become guilty ourselves of the same intolerance that we oppose. A common mistake I see is that "Christian" is used as a blanket term, even though it's such a broad spectrum of belief that it's impossible to judge them even by one book.

  2. Phil,

    Interesting post! Keeps us all thinking. I think too much of one thing or "overboard" as I like to call it, always creates a crutch. Also true in religion...too much literal...too much liberal...too much conservative...too much fundamental...there has to be a balance in one's beliefs, whatever they are. If someone is a Christian, then why do so many fight against the ones that do...why not just ignore it and go on? At the same time, if someone is Christian, why are they so quick to condemn or judge others...why not turn the other cheek? And because someone questions things, why is that wrong to keep yourself in check? Human nature is confusing at times. We all get caught up on our soapboxes I guess.