If God is the problem why are so many atheists I know small minded jerks?
If Jesus saves why are so many Christians I know small minded jerks?
How much of your life have you wasted on God? Atheists’ lives are ruined worrying about how much they hate God. Evangelicals have fucked up the country worrying that everyone else isn’t worried– enough about what “God” “wants.”
As I argue in my new book WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace, there is a problem, though, for those who flee religion expecting to find sanity in unbelief: The madness never was about religion, let alone caused by faith in God. It was and is about how we evolved and what we evolved into. The atheists are idiots if they think getting rid of religion will improve anything. The human problem isn’t belief it’s our genetic predisposition to be assholes. Atheist should worry less about God and more about education, social welfare and why we’ve locked up an entire generation of black and brown men. Religion is just a distraction.
Folks, religion is driving us all crazy!
The Religious Right has seduced millions of Americans with titillating hatred and lies: The earth was created in six days and is not warming; Obama is a secret Muslim (perhaps even the Antichrist!) and wants women to have more abortions; gays are trying to take over America; the United Nations (and/or Obama and/or the president of the European Union) is the Antichrist; an unregulated market economy is Christian; guns keep people safe; taxing the rich is “communism”; capital punishment is good; immigrants are the enemy, national health care is “communist.”
Some or all these paranoid fantasies are accepted as truth by a whole substratum of “Christians” determined to judge their country as “fallen away from God.” They believe America is “doomed” because they don’t agree with their fellow citizens’ politics or because, as their signs routinely proclaim, “God Hates Fags!”
They call people like me “abortionists” because I and others say that maybe the best way to reduce abortion is to keep it legal but to also help women escape poverty, educate young people, and provide contraception rather than trying to reverse Roe v. Wade (realistically an impossibility, on which pro-lifers have wasted almost forty years of effort and untold tens of millions of dollars).
Appeals to facts get nowhere with these folks because they don’t trust any sources but their own and listen only to what emanates from an alternative right-wing universe. Thus arguments become circular. The more impartial the source, the more suspect it becomes. Propaganda, fulminating (and fundraising), and hatred of gays, women, our government, big-city folks, black people, the educated “elite,” everything-not-like-us-Real-Americans supplant compassion and even common sense.
The late Neil Postman, author, New York University professor, and prophet, predicted how and why people such as today’s members of the evangelical/fundamentalist movement and other right wingers would be living in a dream world cut off from reality. Postman is best known for his 1985 book about television, Amusing Ourselves to Death, in which he wrote
Television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. Disinformation does not mean false information. . . . What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. . . . Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.
Postman is not the only person to have accurately predicted where we are headed and the sort of society that our disjointed news-media-as-entertainment, texting as “writing,” blogging as “news” would produce. RoboCop (1987) was a mediocre (and nastily sadistic) little movie, but director Paul Verhoeven got one thing right: the “news” shows on TV in his futuristic dystopia. His parody of glib, cheerful trivia clips as news has come horribly true, even more so with the advent of the ideologically divided Web, wherein people have their “information” filtered by like-minded ideologues and rarely encounter views they disagree with. As Postman predicted, Huxley’s prophetic vision came to pass: We are “a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies.”
Okay, about that “fairy-tale” of religion: I discovered from the emails I’ve been inundated with since my book WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD was published that there are more of us perplexed former (or currently) religiously inclined or religiously raised folks on a journey from past certainties to points unknown than I’d been aware of. We want to have faith in God in spite of our bad experiences with religion, oppressive family relationships, and/or doubts and questions. We too worry that we’ve been hoodwinked by a fairy tale.
At a time when Islamist extremists strap bombs to themselves and blow up women and children; when America is staggering through the searing thirty-year-plus embrace of the reactionary, dumb-as-mud Religious Right that will—again(!)—dominate the 2016 elections; and when some people are bullying, harassing, and persecuting gay men and women in the name of religion, it’s understandable that the sort of decent people most of us would want for neighbors run from religion.
In other words, Pogo, the Walt Kelly possum cartoon character, was right: “We have met the enemy and he is us!” If only making ourselves happy, kind, and tolerant were as simple as giving up religious faith. If that’s all it took, the Soviet Union under Stalin and China under Mao would have been such nice places to live, and for that matter, our secularized Ivy League universities would be filled with saints, instead of back-stabbing intellectuals ready to destroy each other over who gets tenure.
Like it or not, we humans are flawed spiritual creatures peering from biological brains. By “spiritual” I mean self-contemplating and/or self-loathing. I think that our spirituality is best defined as our awareness of our own consciousness.
The question is: Will our faith in God or something nonreligious, be practiced with humility and tolerance or not. Put it this way if atheism is the answer then why are atheists like evangelicals into victimology?
“Logic” is beside the point because we can’t look at ourselves, only through ourselves. We’re stuck inside the painting we’re trying to critique and paint at the same time—in other words, our lives.
Some of the New Atheists make insulting claims about religion. For instance, Dennett coined a self-referential term for atheists, “Bright,” that, by inference, leaves the rest of us, who believe in God, as “Dim.” And Harris doesn’t stop with labels. In his book he suggests that some religious people may need to be killed because of their dangerous beliefs for the betterment of humanity.
I suspect, although I can’t prove, that the timing of the New Atheists’ crusade against religion had less to do with religion per se and more to do with a post-9/11 reaction against militant Islam and the idiot Christian George W Bush. Then there’s the politics. The context of the heating up of the New Atheist movement also had to do with the justifiable anger felt by reasonable people everywhere at the horrible way George W. Bush led the United States.
I say enough victimology. Atheists should stop whining that Americans only seem to elect religious nuts. And Evangelicals should stop whining that secularism is “taking over.” Grow a pair! Have the courage to admit the real issue: it’s all of us that suck! We suck because we have evolved as vicious primates.
I agree with the New Atheists: It is time for religion to go— intolerant, politicized ugly religion as we know it, that is.
I agree with religious people, too: Atheism has killed many more millions of people, specifically in the name of godless ideologies, than all religions combined ever killed in the name of God or any gods.
So will you all just get off that high horse. Again: your problem and my problem is that we are primates, vicious and stupid. Stop wasting your time worrying about God or no God and start fixing us! We need to guide our next evolutionary steps to a higher consciousness.
To me the secular and religious contenders seem to miss the reality of our actual condition: We are specks on a tiny planet and our concept of truth, time, and space is related to our limited perspective. It strikes me that postmodernism possesses a healthy sense of skepticism when it comes to grand theories.
Truth is, if not only “in the eye of the beholder,” nevertheless always seen through an opaque filter. And whatever solutions we embrace had better be on a human scale and reflect something of the paradoxes we encounter in real life.
Suggestion: instead of worrying about God or No-God worry about this:
Are you a jerk?
Are you nice to your wife/husband/lover/kids?
How are we going to fix our infrastructure?
What beauty did you create today?
I mean what the fuck?
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace