We are so common on the Internet, our forums, discussion pages, and YouTube channels are seemingly everywhere. I really shouldn't have to do this, but I feel like I do. I find myself being asked some rather nonsensical questions as of late, as well as a few pretentious holier-than-thou types claiming that they know this and that about what I actually think and feel (Fun fact: THEY DON'T KNOW SHIT.) And while most of my conversations with people are actually rather pleasant, the UNpleasant ones seem to be happening somewhat more frequently since I started school. Shit happens, I guess.
So here it is, YET ANOTHER list on the Internet.
- "Why are you atheists always so angry?" I may use a lot of colorful language in my posts, and yes I have some anger as a human being, but for the most part that doesn't have anything to do with my atheism and anti-theism. If you were trapped on the other side of the globe for a year surrounded by people who, for the most part, didn't give a flying lizard clit if you lived or died, especially when something happened that actually put your own life in danger and almost no one did anything to help, YOU'D be angry too. And while my experiences in Iraq were a big part of what brought me to shedding religious belief, I also have to give credit to Richard Dawkins and George Carlin for ultimately convincing me that it's okay to NOT have an imaginary friend.
- "Why are you so disrespectful against others' beliefs?" Ah, see, here's where people get confused about a fundemental element of life in the civilized world: People have every right to believe as they wish, so long as they aren't opressing or harming anyone else. I could give a shit less what people believe or if they believe anything at all, that doesn't absolve anyone's thoughts, beliefs and especially actions from criticism. HUMAN BEINGS (and some would argue animals as well) have rights, THEIR IDEAS do not. I am a very real flesh-and-blood person, I have rights under the laws of my country of residence and the Geneva Convention. If you punched me in the face for no good reason at all, I have every right to drag you to court and have you prosecuted over it. Let's say that I believed in a floating purple octopus that gave me friendly advice from time to time and that ONLY I can see it. If someone sent me a message on Facebook or Twitter saying that the very idea of my floating purple octopus was stupid, it might hurt my feelings but there's not a damn thing I can do about it. Why? Because criticism is not a crime, and that's what separates the developed world from countries like Saudi-Arabia, Ireland, Brazil and other countries where criticizing religious belief can land you into legal trouble.
- "People have the right to believe what they want, y' know!" That they do, just like I have every right to critique, question, or even mock the ever-living piss out of it IF I WANT TO.
- "You think you're so much better than ________...!" In the case of some recent events that I had a hand in unfolding, it shouldn't exactly be a hard pill to swallow in saying that yes, I AM A BETTER PERSON than a certain misogynistic, self-loathing, racist bigot who thinks of women as little more than breeding/pleasure automatons and openly called for the genocide of all Muslims; THEN had the audacity to not only ignore my VERY CLEAR WARNING to never contact me again (which is grounds for a stalking/harassment lawsuit, I might add...) but sent his cyber-homunculus to call ME the hateful one because I called them both out on their bigoted, self-righteous, holier-than-thou bullshit: Yes, I can honestly say that in that ONE EXTREME CASE, I am a much better person than to stoop to their level of shit-baggery. Any sane and rational person should have no difficulty whatsoever with evaluating such a situation and arriving to a similar conclusion. On the whole, though, my criticisms of religion as well as the behaviors of many religious people aren't because I want to "feel better about myself." I see a problem, I analyze it, and I call it as I see it. I also do my best to NOT resort to Ad Hominem if I can help it.
- "Debate me, EVOLUTIONIST! Or you're a coward!" Speaking of needing to feel better about one's self by way of insulting or degrading others, not every atheist out there is a scientist (even though an overwhelming majority of scientists in the United States openly admit that they don't believe in God.) It shouldn't have to TAKE a scientist to engage common fucking sense. Some people need EVERYTHING explained to them because they can't seem to figure it out on their own, and if asked an honest question I don't normally have any problem with providing an honest answer. Sometimes, that answer is going to be "I don't know." No human being on Earth knows absolutely every goddamn thing, and that's fine. If you want to debate with someone about science and evolution in particular, go find an actual scientist willing to mop the proverbial floor with your half-baked ideas. I'm just a college student.
- "You're angry at God!" No more than I am at the tooth fairy. And it's very "ungodly" to make presumptions against a person's character of whom you know nothing about, one might take such statements as an accusation without any evidence: There's no possible way that you can know what another person is thinking or feeling, so provide some evidence or just don't say dumb shit like this. That kind of behavior is called being a judgemental asshole, something that Jesus had very specific warnings about.
- "You know God exists, you just love your sin!" Again with the presumptuous accusations... Really, I think any statement such as this one isn't actually an argument at all, it's a baiting tactic designed to catch me off guard or provoke me: "I'm going to accuse you of being something you aren't, therefore God." Please, don't waste my time with this bullshit. If you have to accuse people like this to prove your sense of moral superiority, then your morals are shit.
- "You're taking the Bible/Koran/Rede/Dianetics out of context." If you want to claim that such texts are the unerring and perfect word of your chosen deity, you can't ever use this phrase in an argument: You're not going to sit there and tell me about gay sex being an abomination against God while wearing mixed-fabric clothing and stuffing your face with coconut shrimp. Even if you just like the light-hearted lovey-dovey messages of Jesus without all that icky Old Testament stuff, you can't ignore his condonement of slavery (Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2 and Luke 12:47-48.) I'm using the Bible for this example because it's the most common holy book in the United States, and as such the majority of my conversations along these lines are with American Christians. I have just as much disdain toward willfully ignorant proclamations coming out of the Koran, the Rede, the Upinishads or others as I do the Bible: Fun fact, I have read ALL of those.
- "It's ironic that atheists talk so much shit about religion when they don't believe in God..." Yes, in much the same way that doctors talk about things like cancer when they would like nothing more than to see it's eradication. Also, many atheists talk about religion in the same way that police officers talk about things like drugs, murder, y'know, crime in general... WHY? Because just like cancer and crime, religion DOES wreak it's own distinct form of havoc on civilized society, especially when it so strongly influences they way people vote and behave.
- "Stop persecuting me!" If you're an American Christian, you're an idiot for saying this. No one is breaking into your home in the middle of the night, raping your mother and sisters, murdering your entire family right in front of you, burning your house down and putting you into a camp. Y'know, like what fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Jews, Catholics etc have been doing to eachother for centuries and even today. Saying this because you didn't get your way in an election or legal matter is just plain asinine and untrue. You have no grounds comparing a tantrum to an actual atrocity.
- "You can't draw Mohammed! He's sacred to Muslims!" Sacred to MUSLIMS, not to ME: I am not a Muslim, ergo I am not subject to their religious rules, so...
- "Why do you feel the need to criticize other peoples' beliefs?" Because when I get people telling me that I'm "lost," call me a "sinner," or going to an imaginary place just because I don't subscribe to their particular brand of socially constructed misery, I AM GOING to call them out on it whether or not they like the idea. How is it perfectly acceptable to threaten someone, mostly children but other adults as well, with hellfire and eternal torture unless they agree to and openly endorse a specific brand of bullshit, yet I'm somehow the asshole because I challenge their bullshit claims?
- "Oh well THAT'S just the extremists that do that, it's not ALL _______s." There's a term called enabling: Anybody who has friends or relatives with addiction issues is probably familiar with the concept, it basically means that while you WISH someone wouldn't do a thing, when they do the thing anyway you sheild them from the consequences of their actions because you THINK you're "saving" them. Dismissing extreme behavior as irrelevant is a form of enabling and it's irresponsible as fuck. If "only a few" McDonalds employees and restaurants had been systematically abusing children for the last several decades, meanwhile McDonalds as a corporation repeatedly tried to cover it up and shame the victims instead of actually correcting the problem, Micky-D's might be out of business in a matter of months.
- "If you left the church, then you were never a TRUE Christian/Muslim/Jew/etc..." Then by your own bullshit rules, for all anyone really knows, neither are you. Furthermore, there'd be no conceivable way for you to be able to accurately tell the difference anyway, so this is ultimately a bullshit statement.
- "So-and-so who did X Y or Z horrible thing wasn't a TRUE Christian/Muslim/Jew/Hindu, etc..." I shouldn't have to explain what essentialism is OR the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy at this point. Again, you don't get to dismiss someone's actions or identity because they don't happen to coincide with what you consider to be correct behavior.
- "So EVERYONE who believes in God is a moron according to you?" Not at all, I have many friends and relatives with whom I disagree about a great many things, to include the existence and/or relevance of God(s) or an afterlife. I rather like having friends that disagree with me on things like this, not only does it keep the conversation enjoyable and challenging, but it's kinda like a reality check for me: Every so often, I'm wrong about stuff.
- "Hitler was an atheist!" No, actually, he really wasn't. He was a murderer and a horrible person, but most certainly not solely because of his beliefs (though, from his own words, that didn't help things.)
- "Stalin was an atheist!" And he was still a shit-head. It's not your beliefs, or in atheism's case absence thereof, that make you a good or bad person: Your ACTIONS toward others determine what kind of person you are, not your IDEAS. However, it should be noted that ideas and beliefs DO directly influence one's behavior, hence why many atheists and anti-theists have such a big beef with religion in all of it's forms.
- "If you don't believe in God, then where does your morality come from?" It's very rare that I actually get asked this anymore, but it's worth noting because the few times I DO get this question the conversation seems to deteriorate very quickly afterward: If you need an imaginary friend to tell you that not only are rape/murder/theft WRONG, but give you half-baked reasons as to exactly WHY they are wrong, then I have to call YOUR moral reasoning into question because it demonstrates a lack of critical reasoning. If you were told by your parents growing up that it's okay to break into other people's houses, you do so, then the home-owner shoots you in the face (and MAYBE you die as a result) you were still in the wrong because your reliance on authority figures to guide your actions clearly failed: Just because someone appears to have a position of power DOESN'T mean they're right about everything. Just ask the last asshole that tried to break into my house! But to answer the initial question, mutual respect shouldn't exactly be a difficult concept to grasp. My parents brought me up never to do upon someone else what I wouldn't want done upon myself, as in "don't hit people unless they hit you first" to give an example. True, I'm not always "nice" to people 100% of the time 24/7, but that doesn't mean that I seek to actively do them harm.
- "If you don't believe in God, then what will happen to you when you die?" Cremation.
- "Aren't you scared of being sent to Hell?" Aren't YOU scared of being sent to Mordor? THAT is what you sound like when you ask that dumb shit.
- "Don't you want to go to Heaven?" Don't you want to go to Las Vegas? I can go to Las Vegas, I've been there before. Las Vegas is a real place, it's existence can be demonstrably and conclusively proven, whereas Heaven or Hell cannot.
- "But the Bible/Koran?Misc. holy text says that God(s) exist(s)!" I have in my immediate possession an autographed photo of Neil Armstrong, I had the honor & privilege of meeting the man and shaking his hand in 2010. Neil Armstrong has since passed away, the photograph coupled with his signature verify that HE, the real flesh-and-blood human being, actually existed at one point in time. This physical evidence can be examined, tested and peer-reviewed. A holy book written centuries ago, however, can no more verify the existence of the people that claimed to have written it nor confirm the existence/accuracy of it's subject matter. A holy text is no more proof of the existence of a deity or afterlife than a Batman comic would be proof that Batman/Bruce Wayne is a real flesh-and-blood human being like Neil Armstrong was.
- "But people still get good morals out of religion." Even IF that were true (see my previous explanation about where moral reasoning really comes from and why appeals to authority are bullshit) that doesn't necessarily mean that those "morals" are actually any good or have practical, real-word application in the long term. Not gambling because it's a waste of time and money isn't necessarily the same as not gambling because your imaginary friend doesn't like it: One reason is practical and sensible, the other doesn't make any sense.
- "Why can't you just believe in SOMETHING?" I can no more force myself to ignore my critical reasoning process than I can force my taste-buds NOT to recoil at the smell and taste of onions. In the end, I can only ever be myself.
- "Deep down, you really believe in God." Why? Because YOU want me to? That's rather arrogant, don't you think? Again, that's an empty assertion and a false accusation: There's no way that you can say anything like that with any measure of certainty, so don't fucking say it.
- "You worship the Devil!" I'd gladly worship Tom Hiddleston's throbbing cock, with my eager mouth, if I ever got the chance (as well as his informed consent.) Because unlike the very real Tom Hiddleston, the Devil is just as imaginary as your so-called God. When you really think about it, if either of THOSE TWO did exist, the Devil can't really do a damn thing without God's foreknowledge and consent: Which means that the so-called supreme embodiment of everything evil and sinful exists because God purposely allows it to, and not only that, knowingly gives him the go-ahead to do horrible things. Kinda says something about what kind of a passive-aggressive cunt God is, doesn't it?
- "I know you're just begging to be 'SAVED!'" That'd be about as true as saying deep down, you'd love a giant rubber cock in your ass. Maybe you do, maybe you don't: Unless you give me explicit and clear informed consent for me to go ahead and whip out that ol' strap-on, I HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING WHAT ANOTHER PERSON TRULY WANTS OR THINKS, because NEITHER DO YOU! Fucking Christ on crystal meth, I hate accusatory assertions!
- "But I'm not a bad person for believing in God..." As previously mentioned, what you believe in of itself doesn't determine this. It's how you behave toward others that makes you a good or bad person. And using religious belief as an excuse to behave in a way MOST people consider wrong or illegal, doesn't de-facto make your action GOOD: It just makes you a weak-minded twat.
- "But... but... JESUS/MOHAMMED/L. RON HUBBARD!!!" Um... Cthulu, Zalgo, Slenderman, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, blah blah fucking blah. Excitedly proclaiming the name of your chosen holy figure to reaffirm your stance really doesn't mean anything at all, it just makes you look like an ignorant asshole.
- "You atheists are all just condescending know-it-alls!" Some of us certainly are, most of us don't try to deny or dismiss a couple of fucking losers that bear the banner of atheism out in the open for their own means and ends. For another example of atheists being jerks, go onto Tumblr and look up what an M.R.A is. The difference is that for the most part, I don't think anyone is trying to brush them aside with the ages-old excuse "Oh well they're not a TRUE atheist" in quite the same way that religious people do for those of their respective faith who misbehave.
There will probably be more at some point in the future, no guarantees at this point as I have been VERY BUSY with school (and my so-far straight-A record can attest to this.)
Essentially, no idea or belief is above criticism or reproach, especially when said ideas and beliefs are used as an excuse to justify acting like a total ass. Eventually, I think religious belief will become so wishy-washy and watered down, or so extreme and disgusting, that most reasonable minded people will disregard it entirely and just live their fucking lives.
The eventual iradication of religious influence might not necessarily solve all of the world's problems, but it'd probably knock a decently sized chunk out.