Saturday, 21 July 2007

What is Militant Atheism?

Militant atheism draws up connotations in the minds of theists, with words like: strident, aggressive, belligerent... and atheism is even called a fundamentalist position by theists. You often here theists say, 'the atheists are being just as extreme as the extremists'.

I'm wondering, when was the last time someone saw an atheist suicide bomber or indeed, a less extreme theist, trying to surreptitiously, force Intelligent Design into the science curriculum in the classrooms of schools.

Indirect force within an American school, was used against a child, by a school board member... an advocate of Intelligent Design/Creationism: This was uncovered in the Kitzmiller vs Dover area school district trial - on the teaching of Intelligent Design as an alternative to Evolution by Natural Selection, where it was discovered that a child's artistic mural, on Evolution by Natural Selection, had been burned by a member of the school board.

When theists talk about militant atheists, what they are really doing is misappropriating the word militant. They are doing so, in comparing the militancy within religion and the verbally forceful criticisms of the militancy within that religion.

What theists get so upset about, is not really that atheists are militant, the real annoyance that 'gets under their skin' is the very act of criticizing. It is OK to criticize someone's politics, but apparently religion is 'sacred' territory and out of bounds.

Is a theists position really so feeble, that he or she cannot 'stand-it-up' to a little ribbing? ...even if that ribbing is often verbally forceful, strident, aggressive, belligerent or any other synonym one could think of... at the end of the day, it is just words.

There are those of course, who long for a World where criticism of someone's religious sensibilities, is considered to be insensitive, 'beyond the pale' and such criticism, is to be met with force. This position exists today in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia in particular, where criticism of religion, is considered an objective crime and apostasy is virtually impossible, at least openly and is often met with extreme force.

There is this weird belief in society, that one can genuinely hurt someone by criticizing their religion, as if you have committed a heinous act and scarred the 'victim' for being to stridently verbal, in 'attacking' their belief. This of course is nonsense. Religion should no more escape criticism, than any other area of discourse.

With the rise of religious fundamentalism in the World today, it needs to be openly criticized to the 'ninth-degree'. The only reason most Christians in western society, are more tolerant to criticism of their faith, than are Middle Eastern Islamic fascists, is because Christianity went through reforms, which relied on open criticism. Of course, such openness, was not immediate, it was a shifting zeitgeist.

In the Dark Ages, many people were tortured and murdered by the Christian 'pious' leaders and it took time, through gradual steps of enlightened thinking, to move the zeitgeist forward.

Islam, unlike Christianity, has not had a reformation, it is still trapped in the 'Dark Ages' ...and is so, to such a backward degree, that some of its more extreme followers are driven back to living in caves.

The fact is then, that there really is no such thing as militant atheism, there is just verbal hostility to militancy within religion, that can and does lead to irrational acts of barbarism.

To paraphrase, journalist and author, Christopher Hitchens: "There is a militant force of Christianity in America, that wants to 'tear down the wall' of separation between Church and State". Indeed, Richard Dawkins the charles simonyi Professor of the public understanding of science, has asked the question: "Is America moving toward its own Christian style Taliban" - ?

I personally, do not feel I am being militant, at speaking out against religious intolerance... rather, I feel I am defending freedom of speech, against the militancy brought on by religious intolerance.

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