In response to my blog post, “Let’s get secular”, a self-proclaimed non-religionist but non-atheist criticized my writing about atheism. He said he was unbiased for not being an atheist but not belonging to any religion, and said I was annoying for writing about atheism; in fact, he responded to a blog post in which I write about the bigotry atheists face, so that’s a great testament to his character. Let’s take a look at what this troll was saying, and see why he was ignorant, intolerant, and just plain wrong.
He wondered why atheists make such a big deal out of being atheist, and said no one gives a fuck and we should live and let live (though his spelling and grammar were… let’s say, more ‘Murican). So why do atheists make such a big deal out of being atheist? It’s for the same reason LGBT make such a big deal out of being LGBT: because they do not want it to be a big deal. Basically, what I’m saying is that atheists want to be able to be openly secular without facing bigotry, just like theists can be open about their beliefs.
This non-religious theist (if that’s what he is) said that atheists are more extreme about spreading atheism than any missionary or Jehovah’s Witness is about spreading religion, and wondered why atheists can’t live without posting “stupid shit that bashes religion” all the time. This is a very peculiar position to take.
First, atheists don’t go to anyone’s home to preach or force anyone to listen or read; atheists write on their own websites, hold speeches wherever they are invited, and don’t push their non-beliefs on anyone. One is allowed to do this, just like millions of theists write and speak about their beliefs and non-beliefs. Second, religion is a worldview and ideology, not a person with feelings, so it is okay to “bash” it, especially since it is often so factually erroneous and morally heinous. Ideas and ideologies are meant to be criticized to the point where they break; if they don’t break, they beat the challenge.
The problem, as I see it, isn’t that these kinds of people, including self-proclaimed atheists, have a problem with atheists writing about atheism, per se. Like how it is with feminists, LGBT, and blacks, no matter how reasonable an argument may be, people will feel uncomfortable if it is not the norm. I know theists will dislike opposition toward their beliefs and treat it as if it is bigotry toward themselves, but it is the self-righteousness of atheists who say they are annoyed by other atheists for criticizing religion that annoys me the most. Conforming to the religious standard does not make one better; it is not even a good thing to do.
Religion is the norm in North America. Atheists are a minority group, even though there are probably more of them than one might think. One constantly hears about religion; people speak and write about Jesus. This is considered normal. But speaking against religion is not as common as praising God, so it feels foreign and therefore wrong.
It is the same with other struggles in society: tolerance and equality have somehow been associated with “genocide on whites” by plenty of conservatives. I'll concede that I see people generalize and even demonize whites, who are not one group of people; whites do not think and act the same and do not hold any kind of responsibility for what other whites do and have done. Everyone is an individual; skin color is just a color. But to deny that it is generally advantageous to be white and to claim that multiculturalism equates to genocide of whites is truly ignorant.
I’d like to point out here, that while I am definitely for multiculturalism, because everyone should have the right to live as they wish, as long as they hurt no one, it is a problem that liberals tend to think of all cultures as equal in all respects. The best example is Islam, which is still a very conservative religion. Christianity in America is also conservative, and we’ve no problem pointing out that fact and how many right-wing Christians are misogynistic, homophobic, and bigoted toward other beliefs and people with different values. But saying the same about Islam is written off as bigotry. Islam does have a place in western society, but only if it favors the same values as liberals do: equality for everyone. The Middle East isn’t as good a place as the west and Islam is an intolerant religion, just like Christianity before it; that's not to say all Muslims are bad people, but like Christianity has and still is, Islam must evolve and become more progressive. Although, as an atheist, I would prefer if all religions were left behind, in the past where they belong.
Back to the main topic. As I was saying, it is when something is foreign that many tend to close themselves to arguments, both for and against it. Liberals don’t want to hear about how foreign ideologies are bad, especially religions because they know religious people hold their faith so close to heart. Conservatives don’t want to hear about how nonbelievers are actual human beings and can even present convincing cases against religion; they also don’t want to hear about how people with different values should have equal rights. Foreign concepts are scary, either to accept for fear of change or to criticize for fear of being intolerant.
People are annoyed with LGBT people for having protests, because it is uncomfortable and foreign. People claim black people “chimp out” when they are enraged by the grave injustices they face every day, because it is uncomfortable and foreign (although, I do not endorse any kind of violence or vandalism; it’s not the way to bring about change). People sigh and shake their heads when they see atheists write, because it is foreign and uncomfortable; atheism doesn’t belong in the reality in which they live, even if they aren’t religious.
Humans dislike change. Humans dislike foreign concepts. Many humans seem to be thinking, “Fuck change. It’s too scary.” Then they leave it at that, and rationalize, “Vocal minorities are so annoying, upsetting the natural order of things.” Change is hard, because it requires people to accept that which is foreign to them. But change is also inevitable; it will just take a long time.