Answering Children: “Can I Draw Muhammad?”


People like the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo are the vanguards of the battle for freedom. While here at Patheos we want to host a civil friendly conversation on faith, that conversation would never take place without people bravely pushing forward the boundary of “permissible” and “acceptable” speech, people bravely breaking taboos and defiling sacred idols. I welcome our civil discussion, but I never forget that our discussion takes place next to the corpses of those who have died for our freedom to have this discussion. And that’s why you should draw Muhammad. [Read more...]

Pilgrim’s Regress: An Anti-Theist Visits a Holy Shia Shrine


Many of my friends, Muslims and atheists friendlier towards religion than me, had told me “if you just go to a holy place of worship, like Imam Reza’s shrine, you’ll see why people value religion, and your stance towards religion will be softened and you’ll understand some of its value.” So, why not and go see for myself? [Read more...]

Open-Thread: Are You an Atheist Facing Discrimination and Bullying in a Secular Country?


If you’re an atheist who has faced discrimination and/or bullying in a non-theocratic country for your atheism, please tell me, and if you want, leave a paragraph or a link to your writing below. I’m getting tired of atheists minimizing the experiences of other atheists, who tell me when I claim atheists are marginalized it’s only true about countries like Iran. [Read more...]

Guest Post: Getting Past the Cartoon of Anti-Theism


I might never call myself an anti-theist, and I know that there are stances I take which probably vary significantly from the majority of anti-theists. But this insistence on labeling all anti-theists as radicals and extremists seems wrongheaded to me and unnecessarily and unjustly puts anti-theists into a position where they can be more easily dismissed as haters, a tactic that religious people have tried to use against atheists more broadly. [Read more...]

What Good Atheism Has Done for This Ex-Muslim?


Atheism is freedom. Atheism does not equal critical thinking, or tolerance, or a truly liberated mind. But atheism is an opportunity, an option, a potential blank slate. To me atheism means that on this Saganian spec of dust we inhabit I find my own destination and I walk my own road and all my accomplishments and all my failures are ultimately my own, no idol is my god and no lord is my shepherd . [Read more...]

I’m Not an Anti-Theist Because It Works


So, effectiveness is not a factor I take into consideration when I decide whether I should call myself an anti-theist or not. Truth is the only factor – if anti-theist arguments are reasonable or not. And humanity needs people who value truth beyond all else and are not afraid of being unpopular. Of course if the situation warrants it, and if the outcome justifies it, I’m willing to support diplomatic approaches and all kinds of savory and unsavory alliances, because I’m a pragmatist. I’m a pragmatist anti-theist. [Read more...]

Atheists Don’t Owe Religious People Anything

I live somewhere where I can be killed or imprisoned and I have almost no civil rights, and while in other countries atheists have it better they are oppressed almost everywhere, but the best solution is to not fight back, to not express our opinions in a voice that might disturb the delicate sensibilities of religious people, but to service them and to please them into tolerating us. The burden of responsibility is on the atheist to stop being unpleasant, not on the person who is responsible for the actual oppression. That is absurd and offensive. The moral burden of oppression is on the oppressor, and trivializing and dismissing the hardships of atheists like this is absolutely absurd. [Read more...]

You’re an Atheist Just Because You Want to Sin: My 6th Response


I didn’t become an atheist because I wanted to sin, but the ability to sin is one of the reasons I’m glad I became one. As an atheist you have an opportunity to free yourself from the nonsensical and reactionary morality of the Jewish religion and its two illegitimate children without feeling unnecessary guilt over natural and honorable human faculties. [Read more...]

Community: Religion’s Greatest Strength or Tool of Repression?

Without community, religion would be another ideology among other ideologies, forced to compete in the so-called “marketplace of ideas” without the near monopoly it currently holds, and it would have no repressive tools to enforce its hierarchy of first rate and second rate citizens or to ostracize dissidents. Community, far from being religion’s greatest merit or its strength, is precisely why hegemonic religions are currently so harmful and need to be fought. [Read more...]

In the Wake of Chapel Hill Shooting, Let Us Not Resort to Atheist Tribalism

We must refrain from tribalism at this moment. Our first instinct should not be to protect our tribe. When you want to say the shooter today wasn’t a real atheist, or you want to minimize or shrug away his connection to atheism, remember all the times you ridiculed “no true Christian/Muslim” arguments, and don’t make the same mistake. Let us simply condemn the attacks, and expresses solidarity, rather than attempt to defend our tribe instinctively. We expect Muslims and other religious people (rightly so) to look at their community critically and do not let it fester hatred. We have the same responsibility towards them and the humanity. We need to be critical of ourselves, be diligent of the possibilities of hatred and bigotry within our own ranks, and if we’re not, we will lose all moral legitimacy when we expect religious people to do so. [Read more...]