This is sort of an open letter to Mr. Rast. I had a conversation with him during 7th period last Thursday which I did not feel I was able to completely have my say in.
Douglas Adams used to call himself a ‘radical atheist’ just to distinguish himself from the agnostics or Atheists without testicals (scientific term, eh). I don’t often go about using the term to describe myself, but I think it would be fitting.
You (Mr. Rast) said that I’m an ‘extremist’ or ‘Fundamentalist Atheist(!)’ for being an activist for Atheism.
First off, I question what exactly constitutes a ‘Fundamentalist Atheist’. A Fundamentalist Christian would be a Christian who believes that every single part of the Bible is true (and I don’t want to make it sound like I’m agreeing with them or anything, but if anybody has the correct interpretation of the Bible it’s them). That’s why they love the death penalty, assasinating abortion doctors, making life difficult for homosexuals, and trying to bring on the Rapture (literally) beyond all reason.
Obviously, Atheists have no real holy book, so what do we have to take literally? Even if you argue that the recent stream of Atheism books counts, I’d like to see someone point me to one that suggests that it would be OK for us to stone people who don’t agree with us.
I do not believe in killing people for believing in God, nor do I believe they should have their right to belief taken away.
I believe, however, that they should question their blind faith.
You do realise that these people often devote their entire lives (Fundie or not) to their blind faith in Mr. Skyfairy, spending hours on street corners holding up ‘Jesus Saves’ signs, lobbying to get the government to meddle in the sex lives of teenagers (I quote Mitt Romney, “And we start by teaching our kids that if they want to have kids of their own, they better get married first!”), trying to convert other countries to bring God’s Kingdom to Earth (if you really want an example of extremism: http://www.skepdic.com/dominionism.html), etc.
And of course, there are the moderates who don’t take the Bible literally. They modify their faith to fit with modern standards, as opposed to 2,000 to 5,000 year old ones. I have a relatively high tolerance for them. But the reason why the Bible isn’t treated like any other work of literature (as it should be) is that it is supposed to be the word of God. If they decide that one part isn’t true, how do they decide that any part of it is true? They haven’t got a leg to stand on, and they know it. To quote Thomas Huxley, “it’s like punching pudding.”
But they have their blind faith.
It’s blind faith that I really take issue with. It’s blind faith that puts people in denial about the reality of science. It’s blind faith that convinces people to waste their lives trying to convert others on street corners. It’s blind faith that convinces people to get the government to control other people’s sex lives. It’s blind faith that propelled the ‘Manifest Destiny’ ideology, causing the genocides and displacement of the Native Americans. It’s blind faith that convinces people that if they go flying airplanes into buildings, they get a guaranteed ticket to paradise. It’s blind faith that convinces world leaders that God told them to invade foreign countries. To quote Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene, “Blind faith can justify anything.”
Maybe this is a thin-edge-of-the-wedge argument, maybe it’s a slippery slope argument, I don’t really know.
But think about it.