The militant religious and non-religious

I don’t understand militant atheists

Cathedral in the UWS in NYC

Spent yesterday in church because it was Palm Sunday and also because I had a meeting. I still volunteer there after all these years.

I don’t think of myself as a particularly devout Christian in the big city. I merely am one

It’s a bit like when I wrote about being left-handed and proud – not exactly since one can choose to be religious or not – it’s similar in that it’s merely a state of being.

At least for me.

I do take issue with the number of people that – particularly on Facebook – feel it’s their duty in life to shame those that are religious. Moreover, I don’t think they would ever sign on and mock Muslims or Jews but Christians seem to be fair game.

A Salon article sent to me this morning by my Columbia University educated wrasslin coach sums up my thoughts on the matter whereby militant atheism has itself become it’s own religion.

And that’s precisely why I find it all so puzzling.

I am not 100% that there even is a god, let alone my god. But in my moments of doubt and belief, I find myself more often than not siding with my belief.

After all, if there is a god, he exists completely separate from my belief in him.

Yet a day doesn’t go by where I don’t have someone post something about their love of Atheism. Atheism, by definition, a rejection of all religions. It is the absence of religion. This is also different from Agnosticism where one is neither certain there is or isn’t a god.

Yet the people I run across are so smugly sure that there isn’t a god that it’s elevated to it’s own belief system.

“As one philosopher put it, being a militant atheist is like ‘sleeping furiously.'”

And with any belief system, there is that sense of superiority that I detest so very much.

The thing that jumped out at me from the article is the line that went: Dogmatists have one advantage: they are poor listeners.

In the very last tiff that I got into regarding someone bashing Christianity, this young fella that goes to my gym engaged me but only to tell me his beliefs and then write: “I will not be further commenting on this thread.”

At which point, I also stopped; partly because I found him childish, partly because of his sloppy grammar, and partly because trying to discuss anything with a militant – any militant – is a waste of time.

It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing: It’s a waste of your time and annoys the pig.

Speaking of my gym, there are dozens of really dangerous people that walk around. But you’d never know it because they know they’re dangerous. They don’t need to prove it to anyone else.

And if asked to prove it, they would and not simply say, I choose not to engage.

Again, that’s why I find militant atheism so peculiar.

If they were so sure of their beliefs, they wouldn’t feel the need to constantly prove it. I don’t.

Moreover, why would they care what I or anyone else believes?

I can assure you, my wrassln coach doesn’t care if I think I can beat him in a fight or not, he knows he can beat me in a fight. I know he can – that’s why he’s the coach.

As for my needing to say something, I read something by Elie Wiesel in junior high school where he “swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”

That is a good thing to swear to, I think.

Someone should always say something.

Location: getting dressed to see my pop
Mood: devout(ish)
Music: I have to climb Up on the side of this mountain of mine
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10 thoughts on “The militant religious and non-religious”

  1. Gawd, how I could not stand talks of politics and religion on fb. Most end with the similar line of “I will not be further commenting on this thread.” To me after a long argument and then saying that, it’s the same thing as saying “Here’s my belief, let me shove it down your throat then cover my ears and say lalalalalala.” It’s really childish. They push their arguments across but don’t really listen. All that matters is that they made their point. And the funny part is, if you actually respond to that, they will actually respond again despite the washing my hands clean off of this moment.

    1. I wonder if either (a) talking to the same people or (b) militants are militants regardless of who, what, and where they are. If there is one thing that seems to run through all of them, it is the fact that they want to be heard but refuse to hear anyone else.

      It seems to be a common thread, regardless of the stripe of belief – whether that be Atheist, Muslim, Christian, etc.

  2. “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” That is a good thing to swear to, I think. Someone should always say something.
    And hence you find militant atheists who can’t stand by in silence and watch victims of ignorance suffer at the hands of religion, which has, from eons past, kept people in the dark (ages), ever since invention by other men who wished to oppress. Science has brought enlightenment to some, who have made it their mission to lift the veil from the eyes of those less fortunate than themselves. As an atheist, am I arrogant not to believe in gods (plural, their are so many of them) and mock those who do? Only in as much as I should be considered arrogant for not believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, Fairies, Poseidon, et al, and ‘mocking’ those who do by pointing out their error. To an atheist, belief in a god and belief in Leprechauns are equally ridiculous, the problem is that one has been enshrined with a veneer of acceptability by sheer weight of the number of people who are willing to accept it. The atheist is the little boy who can see that the emperor has no clothes on and is willing to stand up and say so, on Facebook when necessary, when he sees others protesting that the emperor is wearing (and perhaps really believing) the finest clothes they have ever seen.
    So which is it to be, should atheists remain silent and thereby encourage the tormentor (religions) in their views on homosexuality, birth control, the rights of women, and so on, or, should it be that they must interfere?

    1. Hello! Thanks for the comment.

      I think that any time there’s mocking, there’s an arrogance. Moreover, I’m not saying a blanket statement on all atheists but it seems like you’re saying all religions are the same, and then further that all Christians oppose homosexuality, birth control, the rights of women and so on (none of which I do and I count myself among Christians).

      You call it “ridiculous” but isn’t that a judgment? I’m certainly confused by militant atheists but I wouldn’t call their beliefs ridiculous.

      So, what I’m saying – and I think you’d agree – is that one should keep their opinions to themselves unless asked. Isn’t that fair?

      1. Hmm, let me see. Firstly, having a blog of ‘the musings of an insomnia-plagued writer’ is hardly keeping your opinions to yourself, but then, that’s not what you were advocating in your post when you quoted Elie Wiesel:- “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” and went on to say “That is a good thing…Someone should always say something.” Well, here I am saying something, but now you say, “one should keep their opinions to themselves unless asked.” This all begs a repetition of my previous question: “So which is it to be, should atheists remain silent and thereby encourage the tormentor (religions) in their views on homosexuality, birth control, the rights of women, and so on, or, should it be that they must interfere?”.

        As for me saying that all religions are the same, in very broad terms, yes they are, they are all poison to the mind, or as Karl Marx said, “opium of the people”. And I must take issue with the accusation that I said, or even implied, that all Christians oppose homosexuality, etc. No mention was made of any particular religion, and I am fully aware that not every religious person, Christian or otherwise, holds unenlightened views on the topics mentioned, just that they are benighted by their beliefs in a non-existent deity, whether it be called Allah, Baal, Cybele, all the way through God, to Xenu (not really a god, only an alien from the Scientology religion, but equally as silly),Yahweh, and Zeus.

        1. You understand that there’s a difference, between giving an unsolicited opinion and a solicited one, yes?

          I don’t ask anyone to visit me – although I’m happy you have – but in FB, people’s opinions come to me rather that the other way around.

          As for “non-existent deity,” you may be right – but you don’t know that for a fact, do you? I certainly don’t, although I hope.

          Ergo, that is just your opinion, which you are absolutely entitled to.

          And I did solicit this, because I do like comments so thanks again!

          1. I do understand the difference between solicited and unsolicited opinions, just as I understand that you advocate that “Silence encourages the tormentor…someone should always say something”, which sounds to me like you encourage unsolicited opinions, and so I submit that it is not I who is confused.
            So am I to believe that some of the “number of people that – particularly on Facebook – feel it’s their duty in life to shame those that are religious” have requested you write the above article, or is it an example of one of those ‘unsolicited opinions’ that you are sometimes against: namely when it is not your own?
            And while talking of Facebook, with the minimal privacy setting you employ, deliberately no doubt, so that you can have the widest possible audience, (and I don’t blame you) everything you post can be seen by almost anybody who cares to look, and if you notice, below each post is a little box that is there to solicit a ‘comment’. If you don’t want people to be able to give their (solicited) opinions on what you say, I would suggest that you either ask FB for the ability to remove the comment box from what you post (unlikely to be granted) or just don’t post to the world on FB (probably equally as unlikely).
            As for the non-existence of deities, it most certainly is just my ‘opinion’, just as it is my opinion that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, or Leprechauns, Fairies, Ghosts, or any other of the pantheon of mythical beings. On what do I base my opinion? On evidence, or lack thereof. If you were to come to me with proof of a god, any of the hundreds that people have worshiped over the years, I, and every other atheist, would change their minds in an instant. We atheists don’t deny the existence of any of the multitude of gods with an unwavering religious-like fervor, as some wish to think, (as opposed to the truly religious, who are often on pain of death to acknowledge the existence of any but the one god they happen to follow), but merely deny the existence of gods because there is no proof that any of them is real.
            Am I to take it that you believe in Thor, Shiva, Wōden and all the other gods? I very much doubt that you do, or even harbor an agnostic position. You only believe (less than 100%) in the Christian god because from an early age you were indoctrinated into the tenets of the Christian faith and to date have not been able to throw off those shackles. I suspect that it is your (subconscious) desire to maintain an outward consistency of character (See Robert Cialdini – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, for more on this interesting human trait) that is holding you back from freeing yourself, that is, you are afraid to stand up and say, “You know what, I used to believe in God, but I was mistaken and don’t anymore”.
            If and when you do escape, perhaps you will feel, as I do, that you should help others break free from the constrictions of religion, and you will do such a worthy deed not to be in line for some good turn from a deity, (He’s making a list, And checking it twice; Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice (usually the payoff is eternal life, so why not convert to Islam (for men) and get a few virgins thrown in for free)) but because people, in general, are naturally good, that is, they want to help their fellow men; a survival strategy which has evolved and proved itself over the millennia.

  3. Hello again!

    Well, you again have all these beliefs that you have no grounds for, such as, “god because from an early age you were indoctrinated into the tenets of the Christian faith and to date have not been able to…”

    This is just one of several.

    Where did you get that from? And all your other beliefs about me having never met me? It’s the very definition of prejudice where you have already prejudged without knowing all the facts, yes?

    It’s that arrogance of atheists – because you are so sure – that irritates me as much as the arrogance of any religious people. How is it any different?

    1. My assumptions (or beliefs, if you will) are, as usual, based on evidence (or in other instances, like mythical beings such as gods, on the lack thereof). My grounds for assuming that you had a Christian upbringing were: a) you are a Christian (self confessed, in your article) b) in my experience, the children of Hindus are generally raised Hindu, the children of Muslims are generally raised Muslim, the children of Jews…you get the picture (hopefully) c) also in my experience, when people convert from one religion to another, it is because they have come to believe 100% in that other religion and it’s god (not a wishy-washy “less than 100%). So, please tell me if I am wrong in my assumption. Are you a Christian because of a Christian upbringing? Of course you could lie to me, but then others who know you personally would see your answer, and as I mentioned before, people in general try to maintain a consistent persona. Or you could, like you have done with most of my other questions, just ignore it completely. But how about showing some non physical strength for once and man-up and answer.
      So, I think the above answers your first question. And as for the next (which really would have been better written with a comma and small ‘a’ for the following ‘and’), which other beliefs are you talking about? That you haven’t thrown off the shackles of religion? Well, I worked that out by you saying that you’re a Christian, not too much mental effort involved there. And after that, let me see, “Am I to take it…” no, that wasn’t a belief, it was a question (that went unanswered). “I suspect that…”, no, that doesn’t sound like a firm belief either. The only other opinion (belief) I had was that “people, in general, are naturally good, that is, they want to help their fellow men”, but that’s not about you, so that can’t be what you are talking about. I’m at a loss to know what you mean, will you please help me out? (Another question mark)

      “It’s the very definition of prejudice where you have already prejudged without knowing all the facts, yes?” No, actually it’s not. You missed the bit about detrimental, or adverse opinion (prejudgement), which I do not hold. My judgement of you was only based on what you stated in your article, but I stand to be corrected. Atheists aren’t afraid of facts, although many religious people seem to ignore them.

      And finally, there you go, the slam dunk: I’m one of those arrogant atheists, because I’m so sure. Oh, wait a minute, I’d better go back and throw in a bit of dogma, because I keep saying I’m not sure, and I’m willing to change my opinion. And that, really is the difference. Atheists are 99.99999 and so on percent sure there is no god or Santa Claus or Leprechauns because there is no evidence for them, but give them some evidence and they’ll be filling churches, hanging up their stockings and whatever you do for Leprechauns. If you see that degree of certainty as arrogance, well, so be it. Many religious people on the other hand believe with a certainty that they are willing to die and kill others for, and to me that is a far worse situation than a little arrogance on the part of an atheist. And I am not tarring all religious people with the same brush, I know (damn, there goes that arrogance again), I assume you are not one of those radicals (non 100% belief probably excludes you from their ranks (evidence again)) but still, even withing the Christian church, there are like minded individuals, as there probably are in most religions, and it is the existence of religions that supports them. John Lennon, Imagine, got it pretty much right.

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