Friday, January 27, 2006

Some Common Misconceptions About Atheists and Religion in America...

The second* of two introductory posts (see back story):

Atheists do NOT make the absolute claim that there is NO god. Atheists do not believe in a god or gods. This is quite a significant difference. To be more precise, atheists do not see a sufficient amount of empirical, objective evidence to support a belief in god. Most atheists I know would gladly worship any god which was proven -- with great certainity -- to exist.

Atheists do not hate, nor have a vendetta against, god. How can one hate what s/he doesn't believe exists?

Atheists do not worship the devil. This is ridiculous. We do not believe in that concept either.

Atheists do not "not believe in anything". This is just silly. Are your religious believes the ONLY believes you have? Or are they just one set of many?

Atheists are not incapable of having morals. Morals, much like language and laws, are a set of rules upon which humans have agreed (in general) to accept in order to facillitate living together in societies. Not one moral value put forth in the bible was original -- they could all be found in many cultures, from many geographic regions, throughout time (and were documented well before the existence of the bible). Also, faith adherents base their actions on the notion that they will be rewarded for good deeds and punished for bad deeds. This is a selfish motivation to which atheists can not possibly subscribe. Atheists are moral for the simple fact that we are humans capable of empathy.

Atheists do not "turn to atheism" just because they've had some tragic event (or series thereof) occur in their lives. So much is made of tragedies simply because certain religions make claim to a perfect, loving god.

Atheists are not "stupid".

As an atheist who has a penchant for polemics, I've realized I need to have at least a working knowledge of religion (and many of them), theology, apologetics, history, biology, genetics, chemistry, physics, astrology, mathematics, linguistics, philology, logic, philosophy, ethics, law, politics, and be up on current events. This is a dizzying array of disciplines.

This leads to another common misconception: Atheists are not arrogant, elitist assholes. Many are in fact quite educated, though. On the flip side: a friend of mine has said -- "Not all theists are stupid; but most stupid people are theists." From this we can also deduce, not all atheists are brilliant, but many brilliant people are atheists. How many Nobel Laureates (Peace Prize excluded) are theists (i.e. believe in god)?

America is NOT a nation built on Christian values. America is a nation built on Enlightenment ideals and humanism. The Enlightenment era came about as a direct result of people questioning religious authority and putting value on HUMAN lives, rights, and liberties (hence humanism).

(Of interest may be the Treaty With Tripoli, signed into Law by President John Adams on June 10, 1797, which says, "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" -- it doesn't get any clearer than that.

Also, during his two terms as President Jefferson never issued a Thanksgiving proclamation. Why?

"I consider the Government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution of the United States from meddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises...But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe, a day of fasting and praying. That is, I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them from...Every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercise of his constituents.")

Strong evidence exists suggesting the first 16 Presidents of the United States were NOT Christian.

The Constitution of the United States of America (the supreme law of the land) does NOT mention god one single time.

"In God We Trust" was not made the US motto until 1956 , and did not appear on cash money until 1957 (it didn't appear on any coinage until the late 1800's).

"Under God" was not in the original Pledge of Allegience, and did was not included until the 1954. These changes were made during the Cold War as a result of the "Red Scare" in direct opposition to Communism.

The Ten Commandments are NOT the moral basis of law in America. Look at a list of the (commonly accepted) Decalogue -- three of them are only pertinent to Judeo-Christian belief; one involves graven images, one adultery, one honoring your parents, one lying, and two coveting -- none of which are illegal in America. In fact, only two out of ten (stealing and murder) regard issues about which laws have been made in America.

Very few -- if any -- people have died for secular humanist atheist beliefs (especially not at the hands of the atheists themselves). MILLIONS of people throughout history have died in the name of god/s.

Hitler was a Christian. In fact, Nazi troops wore belt buckles proclaiming that God was with them (Gott Mit Uns). Hitler announced that he was carrying out God's plan and doing his duty as a Christian, and the extermination of the Jews was, in fact, a continuation of offical Church policy over the previous thousand years.

The KKK, neo-Nazi's, and most other white supremacists are Christians and most of their ideology is based on Scripture.

Most modern-day Christians are not quite truly familiar with the Bible and what it actually says. Nor are they familiar with the history of the religion. A little bit of research would go a long way.

The comment, which prompted a two-part response:

"this blog was very interesting to me, especially with what is going on in my life right now. it was well written but i do not understand some things. it seems like a round about to me. you say atheists say that there isn't enough evidence to support the fact that god exists, then doesn't that mean you don't believe he exists and there is no god? is it that atheists just focus on what they believe but do not touch on the fact as to whether they know for sure what is there and whether they can prove it? if in fact you believe in all the reasons you claim why there cannot be a god, then how can you say you don't claim there isn't a god? is it that most atheists take god to be just a theory? if so, seems to me they take a less scientific approach. As karl popper said, falsification, and i think atheists have yet to do that. i'm not trying to cause an argument, cause i myself am trying to find some answers when it comes to god and religion, but it seems to me that atheists have taken a halfway stand while torturing the believers of god, just my opinion ...."

*See here for first post.

1 comment:

GOP Christian said...

I have a really cool friend I think you might have heard of. He does so many unbelievably wild things that some people actually think all those stories are made up and he's only some kind of urban myth. He doesn't introduce himself to those people to prove them wrong, because alot of those people travel in the same social circles as some jerk who keeps encouraging people to do all the things which really get on his nerves. Some of those people don't even know who that jerk is, but they act like they worship him. When they find out who I'm friends with someone they think doesn't exist they start sounding like stupid arrogant elitist commies and call us Nazis even though were Jews (Ephesians 2). I hope they stop spreading that idiot's agit-prop before St. Michael hands out IP addresses and we shove our mil specs where the son of G-d doesn't shine.

America: Judeo-Christian Nation