May 6th, 2006

On Atheism, Queerness, Fundamentalist Totalitarianism, Organizational Fear, and Common Sense

In a post I wrote a couple of years ago I expound on why I am an atheist. There are always more reasons than the ones given there, which is in part what motivated this. I think it is a given (unless you subscribe to the opinions of the religious Reich) that being Godless makes you a worldwide minority. Common sense dictates that there are always going to be more religious adherents in every flavor imaginable than there will ever be atheists, agnostics, and/or nonspecific deity oriented religious philosophies combined, so given this obvious fact, we really aren't capable in numbers, resources, and general power to be any real kind of threat to the devout, their belief systems, and their general lives. The problem is in the religious person's rejection (of God's own teaching in any religious text, no less) of the notion that we all have free will. Part of the problem is the slim margin for error in fundamentalist circles which does not allow for religious moderates, let alone heathen infidels and the otherwise wicked and wayward. What never fails to amaze me is the ways in which fundamentalist Christians in this country look with derision at fundamentalist Muslims, never once seeing the startling parallels echoed in their collective methodologies. A suicide bomber is driven by a force they truly believe is a calling from God, and their reward is martyrdom in heaven - it makes no difference in reality if the target of choice is a mosque in Tikrit or an abortion clinic in Topeka, it's the same thing when you distill off the bullshit - yet explaining this to fundies is rather like pissing up a rope. Pay close enough attention and you will find little difference between the core rhetoric of Osama Bin Laden and that of Pat Robertson in televised news clips shown around the world, if anything they are frighteningly similar. This should be a red flag to most people, yet sadly the sheep continue to sleep soundly.

In her piece on atheist extremism, self avowed Jewess Melinda Barton makes a good case for illuminating the fears and concerns of the devout, however ridiculous and based in nonsense they may be. It is precisely this sort of dramatic posturing that breeds fundamentalism and makes pariahs of the faithless, all of whom really just want to live a good life on their own terms without it having to affect the status quo. Fundamentalists are stunningly hypocritical, blissfully ignorant (if not outright stupid), and wholly baseless on every issue imaginable in deference to anything that isn't a carbon copy of themselves. Fundamentalism is an insidious form of sickness, not unlike Alzheimer's disease, attacking and destroying logic and converting an otherwise reasonable person into an automaton nourished on completely hysterical paranoia. Laid bare another way, not all assholes are fundamentalists, but certainly it can be argued that all fundamentalists are assholes.

I have personally spent countless hours musing over religious subtext, dogmatic law, theological teachings, scripture, and essays/articles/books that are at times scathingly critical of it all. Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Smith, J. Krishnamurti, Aleister Crowley, Anton Lavey, even Camille Paglia and Simone De Beauvoir - both of whom have made observational criticisms of the how and why people believe. As with all critics, philosophers, academics, even mystics and outright con men - there are elements in their assertions where the whole of it comes off as something close to religious fervor, some ascension towards higher belief, a light on a path for us to walk. I personally cannot find the total of anything I've read to be wholly digestible, but that's my nature as a skeptic. I glean from this stuff the things that resonate with me and that I can accept, the rest is inconsequential. That is not to say it is without merit on some level, just that if it doesn't wash then it doesn't wash.

AND YET STILL, this is not why I don't believe in God. It does reinforce my non belief, and it is absolutely what drives my dislike of all self righteous, sanctimonious sheeple - and especially my incendiary hatred of fundamentalist preachers. I don't believe in God quite simply because I think that even the mere idea of God is ridiculous, intangible, and incapable of being proven real by evidentiary support and/or fact. This notion that a truly omnipotent deity that loves humanity but allows for such suffering, conveniently (and also weakly) relegated to "His Plan", and I think that it is anything but divine. Put simply, I have no reason to believe.

I began reading up on Positive Atheism in my late teens. I flew between different philosophies and read as much as I could find in the way of defending my thoughts, as I grew up in the bible belt and trying to achieve intelligent conversations with the general populace was challenging. The thing that most intrigues me about faith is what propels people to believe or not believe.

If you believe in God, why do you believe? If you don't believe in God, why not? Comments welcomed by anyone and everyone.


Right Wing Talk show hosts admits being wrong about Bush
C&L reader Kevin caught this last night on KABC AM-Los Angeles. Talk Show host Doug McKintyre, has turned on Bush. Will this start to become a trend?

""So, I’m saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he’s the worst President, period. After five years of carefully watching George W. Bush I’ve reached the conclusion he’s either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works.

Or both. I thought the connection to 9-11 was sketchy at best. But Colin Powell impressed me at the UN, and Tony Blair was in, and after all, he was a Clinton guy, not a Bush guy, so I thought the case had to be strong. I was worried though, because I had read the Wolfowitz paper, “The Project for the New American Century.” It’s been around since ‘92, and it raised alarm bells because it was based on a theory, “Democratizing the Middle East” and I prefer pragmatism over theory. I was worried because Iraq was being justified on a radical new basis, “pre-emptive war.” Any time we do something without historical precedent I get nervous..."
Listen here. (or click here.)

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The noose is tightening...