I often enjoy reading the posts by Benjamin L. Corey over on the Patheos Progressive Christian Channel. I consider him an ally as we both care about many social justice issues. Corey recently wrote a post titled “S%#t I Wish (Some) Atheists Would Stop Doing (And Saying)” where he called out some bad behavior of atheists. I regularly have been self-critical of atheists so I was curious to see what he wrote. I agreed with some of his points and disagreed with others. Here are his points in bold and I respond below them:
Please stop saying or insinuating that we’re a bunch of uneducated or unenlightened idiots.
Totally agree with this one. Saying Christians and religious folk are “stupid” or “mentally ill” is both ableist and incorrect. I do think a minority of vocal atheists say some very ignorant things about religion and often vent in crude terms about the harm religion causes. This doesn’t help anyone and I always will call it out when I see it. Religious people are not stupid and are not mentally ill. Please stop saying this.
Please stop insisting that we read our Bible like right-wing fundamentalists.
This point I don’t agree with as much. Corey basically says that some Christians ignore the bad parts of the Bible and that should be celebrated. Yes, there are Christians who don’t adhere to the more awful parts of the Bible, but we shouldn’t be dismissive of how harmful that book can be. I’m very glad that there are progressive Christians like Corey, but there is a risk for any Christian to use the Bible and “word of God” to justify violence or bigotry.
I can see how this would be offensive and I don’t think it is a nice thing for atheists to say. Yes, religion is much more complex and socially relevant than various fairy tales. However, both myths and religions share the quality of being stories without evidence. So while it seems like a rude thing to tell believers, it isn’t totally dishonest.
Maybe lay off the whole, “religion hasn’t done any good for humanity” type of argument, because it’s obnoxiously untrue.
I mostly agree with this one. Religious communities have clearly done a lot of good with charitable work. They have also done absolutely atrocious things as well. Religiosity has also been linked to decreasing anxiety in some cases, but also can increase anxiety if people think God is punishing them for example. So yes, religion has been utilized for both good and bad and it’s unfair to only focus on one or the other. However, I would argue we may be better off without a belief system where people can justify their terrible behavior because “God said so.”