I think one of the hallmarks of atheism is the quest for knowledge.
That’s a very broad, generalized statement, so let me explain. Atheists, at least the ones I know from the atheosphere and the internet, spend a considerable amount of time studying, parsing, analyzing and generally commenting on religion, and all of its aspects in our culture. We try to understand the subject, and I think we have a very good grasp of religious dogma, or at least enough to discuss it; we know our Bible, and there are many among us that can cite chapter and verse. We are able to discuss intelligently most facets of religious life, from the notion that the United States is a Christian nation, to the effects of religious mindsets on our culture, politics and sexuality.
In short, we make an effort to know the enemy.
Why can’t the same thing be said for theists? Why is it so hard for the theist to understand atheism? PZ Myers today wrote about a Catholic who claims she was an atheist, then converted to Catholicism, and now wants to explain atheism to Catholics. And she clearly doesn’t have the foggiest idea about what she writes. She claims she was an atheist, but from what she wrote, she doesn’t know the first thing about it.
On another blog that I subscribe to, politics from the eyes of an ebony mom, the owner recently posted about an episode she watched on The View where one of the hosts seemed to mock Christianity by pretending to “speak in tongues“. Since I’m a big fan of the use of mockery and ridicule to point out the silliness and sheer delusion of religion, I left a comment asking what was wrong with mocking that person. Other commentators disagreed with me, feeling that the host blasphemed or was at least disrespectful to her own religion.
Now, I don’t think I was being very sly about it, but I mocked her feigned outrage, the concept of speaking in tongues, Christianity in general, and even Santa Claus, to try to make my point. I did everything but stand on my head and shake my procreator to get some response, someone willing to look at the whole thing and say “yea, that does seem kind of silly”. Instead, I was ignored, except by the blog owner, who stoically informed me that since she knew I wasn’t a believer, what I said made no difference to her.
JesusFuckinChristOnAStick I just wanted a reaction.
OK, so I was being provocative in the interest of creating a dialogue about how atheists look at Christian beliefs, but I couldn’t get anyone to bite. These Christians don’t care. They have no interest in knowing what an atheist thinks. They have no interest in understanding atheism. They have no interest in exploring the possibility that their own beliefs may not have any foundations under them. They have no interest in expanding their consciousness. They have no interest in anything purporting to be knowledge outside of one, single book.
In short, they have no interest in using their brains.
They were only interested in chastising one of their own for improperly performing a religious ritual, without the proper intent, by misusing the “gifts of the holy spirit”, in effect ridiculing the religious ritual.
I noted that if their beliefs were so true, and so irreproachable, a little ridicule would be like “water off a duck”. What was the response?
The atheism/theism dichotomy is not one that seems to be close to resolution. Either you’re a theist, or you’re an atheist. Most atheists were once theists (at least in the US and other western countries) however (contrary to the Catholic in PZ’s post) it’s a rare case for an atheist to take up theism. In fact, at the risk of committing the No True Scotsman fallacy, I find it hard to believe that any “true” atheist has ever converted. The sheer underpinnings of atheism – skepticism, rationalism, naturalism, etc. – would prevent such a conversion, because if a truly skeptical, rational, naturalistic atheist did so, he wasn’t a skeptic or a rationalist or a naturalist in the first place. But I digress.
The dialogue to determine who is right (for surely only one side is) requires a two way exchange of ideas. If atheists listen to every rationalism for theism, and meet them head on with counter rationalizations , evidence and logical proof to the contrary, shouldn’t theists extend to us the same courtesy? Is simply ignoring what we say a proper exercise of their dialogical duties? (I just made that word up – shoot me).
Ebony Mom and her commentators had every right to ignore me, because she really wanted to know what Christians thought of their fellow Christian’s mockery, but you would think that when someone comes from outside the argument, on a public blog where outside opinions are solicited, someone objective to the argument, and offers a fresh opinion, someone might actually entertain the opinion, test it, hash it around, chew it up and spit it out if necessary, but not ignore it with a “I believe in God you don’t that is how it is and we will leave it there.”
It’s so intellectually stultifying, I can feel the brain cells dying in protest.