For those of you who don’t know her, my friend Trezzy is the coolest person in the world. She used to front great bands like Kilbourne (now defunct) and Exit Strategy (now fronted by another ridiculously cool friend of mine), and current fronts the rather successful band Mares Of Thrace. She’s also an awesome, intelligent atheist girl whom I have the utmost of respect for, and am glad to have eaten Indian food with her.
Today, the amazing Trezzy posted this on my Facebook timeline:
Jimmeh, I think Meddling Kids should write a blog post about the sudden rise of Nice Liberal Agnostics being mean to us. (If you don’t already have one.)
Interestingly, I was mid-way through writing one yesterday that was in response to a friend of mine posting a tirade about all of us mean, awful, yucky atheist pricks who just like to make everyone feel bad about themselves. I had stopped myself, because it was going the wrong direction and I didn’t really think I could address the post without going the wrong direction. However, Trezzy then suggested this:
I sure would love to hear your take on classics such as “You’re Just As Preachy As Christians/ Atheism Is Just Another Religion”, “You’re So Narrow-minded”, “You Can’t Disprove God Either” aka “Fuck Burden of Proof”, and my favourite of all time, “Why Do You Have To Be So Militant”.
Who am I to stand in the way of progress? So one at a time, I’m going to provide my own feedback on these points. You see, I’ve seen a significant rise in the amount of not-too-religious and agnostic people kvetching about how we should all just get along, and those awful atheists are always rocking the boat because they are arrogant and mean, and each time I read that, I want to arrogantly and meanly kick the author in the shins hard enough to draw blood and trigger vomiting.
Ya’all is just mean people bein’ mean
No, we’re not. Well, not always. Sometimes we can be assholes. I know I’ve done that, gone all nasty because someone said something that pissed me off, but those are the exceptions. I try, as I think most people in general try, to not be a raging cock-faced jerk. And I’ve been called out for being a belittling and insensitive prick way more times than I have actually been those things.
So why do they think I’m being mean when I say something like, “I don’t believe in God, actually”? There’s no malice in that. If I said, “I don’t believe in God, now please lie still while I pee in your face”, that would definitely be mean. And even when we get into the faith conversation, I am not being mean by talking about what I believe. I’m not being mean when I ask you whether or not you believe there was a flood 4000 years ago that almost eradicated all life on the planet (and if you could please provide a shred of evidence that shows reason to suspect that). We’re talking. If you don’t like the direction of the conversation, here’s a suggestion… try changing it? You know, like people do every day when their friends start talking about things they don’t want to talk about?
Here’s the honest truth of how these conversations go; Somehow, the topic comes up. We both test the waters to see if the other person is interested in the conversation or not. We continue. The person I am talking to attempts to show me that I am wrong. I rebut with facts disproving their magical thinking. They don’t like the fact that I don’t agree and thus decide that I am arrogant. That isn’t me being arrogant or a know-it-all, that’s me being able to have a debate and them sucking at it.
You’re Just As Preachy As Christians/ Atheism Is Just Another Religion
I truly hate cutesie-pie canned responses, so it’s with no small amount of sighing that I have to admit, the best retort to this comment is the old adage, “atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby”. But it’s true. Atheism isn’t a religion, it is nothing more than not believing in God. However, I’m going to push deeper into this because there’s more that can be said.
Atheism, from the outside, may well look like a religion. I’ve heard people refer to Dawkins or Hitchens as the Pope of atheism. We have books. We meet. We have conventions. We organize things. Say, that’s just like a church, isn’t it?
No. Unless of course you think that dentistry is a church. The thing that’s missing from dentistry that makes it not a church is that it has no spiritual doctrine. Dentists do not bow five times a day towards the Grand Molar of Calcutta. Dentists do not write pamphlets about how teeth created everything. Dentists don’t create large organizations that get rich off of the hard work of the poor, fund wars against people whose dental habits they consider incorrect or hide child molesters. Well, atheists don’t do those things either.
A religion is a lot more than just people who have some stuff in common. Duh.
You’re So Narrow-minded
No. In fact, I’m ridiculously open-minded. I just ask that the things I open my mind to have some reason for me to accept them. If someone came to me with scientifically valid proof that water had memory, that Christ died for my sins, or that Lizard people came to earth and planted human seeds, I would have no choice but to embrace that. But it would have to be actual evidence, and not just some smug prick telling me that there’s more to life than evidence.
My supposedly narrow mind has been open to so much in my adult life that there are times I’m amazed the young man I once was could even handle putting pants on in the morning. Where once my mind was closed because the answer to everything was “God did it”, today I have a rich and humble view of the incredible life all around me. I’m constantly learning amazing things that that me from years ago would never be able to accept or comprehend. So who’s the one with the closed mind?
You Can’t Disprove God Either
Of course you can’t. Science can’t disprove a negative. That’s just how things go. I accept that because I don’t need to disprove negatives. If I told you that the earth was formed 17 years ago by the flatulence of Zorgh the Lactose Intolerant, creator of all things, the fact that you couldn’t disprove it would hardly make it true.
Is this really the sword anyone wants to fall on? This is the holding-your-breath-until-you-get-your-way of debate.
Here’s the thing. If someone came to me with absolute, total, perfect proof of God’s existence, I would have no choice but to believe. But until someone gives me a reason to believe, why would I?
The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. I don’t care if you don’t like it. I don’t care if you think it’s stupid that things work that way. You can’t walk into court and say, “You can’t disprove that he raped me!” and win your case. Proof matters. Deal with it.
Why Do You Have To Be So Militant
I don’t care what you believe. I really don’t. If you and I are on the same page, then that’s cool. If we disagree, but can do so civilly, that’s awesome too. But if you can’t, we don’t have to talk about these things. But what do I do when you consistently make your beliefs that I find so ridiculous my problem? What do I do when you tell me that my vote shouldn’t count or that your faith tells you what my marriage is?
My militancy comes from backlash against the faithful feeling that their faith makes them better, smarter, and more important than me. When I am rude to a person of faith or an agnostic (the lazy cocks), it is because I am standing my ground. I do not have to kowtow to your beliefs any more than you need to kowtow to mine. But here’s the bitch of it. I’m asked to kowtow to yours all the time. You are the majority, and you, whether meaning to or otherwise, lord that over us far too often. Well, I’m tired of people using their faith to slap me around.
Have faith if you want. I couldn’t give to shits. I have some very wonderful people in my life who are very militant about their own faith. They will stand for it, and I respect them for it. But standing up to an onslaught is not the same as marching on Poland. When you start looking at my space and thinking “there’s that breathing room I’ve been wanting to get”, we have a problem.
I accept you. I don’t encourage you in your faith, but I’m not about to attack you for it. If you can do the same towards me, we have no issues. If you can’t, if your faith starts spilling over the dyke of our friendship, you’re damn right I’ll be militant.