Sunday, 15 July 2007

The Axe that Theists Grind

One of the many erroneous claims made for atheism, is that it is just another religion. Those that make this claim, are usually theists and they are theists with an 'axe to grind'. Writers such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennett, Victor J. Stenger, Sam Harris - et al, are shifting the conversation, on the taboos of what is politically correct to say about religion and what is not.

The axe that theists now feel the need to grind, against atheists, who are finally standing up against religious intolerance, is an axe against what they like to call, militant atheism. They make the claim that the new energy surge of 'verbal abuse' against religion, is an extreme form of intolerance, that is as intolerant, as that whipped up by fundamental religious extremists.

But is atheism really so intolerant? - Suppose for a moment, that a new political party came into power, and that party was intolerant to people who wore glasses, these people were considered to be infidels against the 'blur free, visionary masses'. Now suppose the masses of non-thinking, followers, simply followed the dictates of the political leaders, who set up 'death commands' against the infidel glass wearing minority. The question to ask of this obviously absurd scenario, is: Would those that stand up against what they consider to be fascist intolerance; against the glass wearing minority, be seen to be as intolerant, as the forces they are attempting to verbally denounce?

Of course, the above scenario is very deliberately absurd. Any political leader with such an agenda against poor vision, would not be considered a leader with 'vision', but an insane madman (of course if you live in a dictatorship, then such absurdities become possible, in Cambodia under Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979. People wearing glasses, where considered to be dangerous intellectuals and were immediately shot).

But now lets suppose that a political party, with a religious agenda got into power, and that party was intolerant against: atheists, agnostics and those with different religious persuasions. Now suppose the masses of non-thinking, followers, simply followed the dictates of the political leaders, who set up 'death commands' against the infidel blasphemers... Is this really, morally any less abhorant, than the 'people in glasses' example above?

Now the scenario of glass wearing infidels, does of course strike us as completely absurd, something perhaps suited to an ironic Monty Python sketch. But why do we not place, at lease the same weight of absurdity, on the intolerance that comes out of all monotheism and when we do attack the absurdity, that leads to religious fascism, we are called intolerant atheists, is there not a double standard here?

...If religion claims to have a moral framework, by which to live in harmony with others, why does it so often cause disharmony between those of a different faith, or no faith. The double standard is that, when religious intolerance, so obviously raises it's head, even the religious moderates, particularly the intellectual elite, are liable to ignore it, or pretend it's not there. When atheists do draw attention to such intolerance, they themselves are called intolerant, that is the double standard.

It is OK to meddle in another's politics and denounce their view as radical or extreme. But it is considered politically incorrect to criticize their religion. The late Douglas Adams, author of 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' said of religion: "Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because you're not!"

As for the often made claim, that comes from the mouths of theists, that atheism is just another religion, this is actually a political ploy by theists and is a 'straw man' argument, set up to avoid arguing against the more intolerant aspects of religion. It is a coy, ploy - To avoid examining religion,too closely, under the spot-light. If one can simply respond to an atheist, by saying 'your atheistic held point of view is a religion too', then one shifts the spot-lights focus, it is issue avoidance.

The fact is that, there is no element of atheism, that one could call religious, in anyway whatsoever. Religions, by there very nature are cultist and lead to mind stultification. This is caused by holding onto a belief based on faith and thereby avoiding reason, such faith is passed down through tradition. Theists tend to congregate and go through cultist rituals, such as prayer, conversion ceremonies, placing wafers on tongues, animal sacrifice, genital mutilations, self-immolation etc.

Atheism is simply a counter to theism, there is no aspect within its boundaries, that one could frame with any religious label. It has been noted, that there has never really been a strong secular lobby within politics. It has also been noted that, rounding up atheists and agnostics is like 'herding cats' ...These individuals, for the most part are simply to independent minded. As such, even if one attempted to get a 'religion of atheism' of the ground, it would be almost impossible. Cults rely on getting masses of individuals, to become non-thinking dupes, who are easily manipulated to think in the same way. Atheism specifically and secularism more generally, has the very opposite effect and leads to independent thinking, which has no element of a religious nature in its boundaries.

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