Thursday, February 01, 2007

 
What We Need Are Organized Atheists*

To round out this week, before I go back to things I really think are more important, like trying to save the biosphere (glad there is finally something E.O. Wilson and I can agree on) let me make a practical proposal.

Atheists are a beleaguered group. It is a group to which several of my nearest and dearest belong. Why, my brother, one of the two people I have trusted with my identity is an atheist. He might have made a good president, if he’d not taken a different career path. I would certainly not want him to be discriminated against. How can the irrational bigotry against atheists be lessened and all of us get past that to try to save this, the only life we, perhaps, will ever get?

The problem is bigotry, the hostility that many people have towards those who don’t believe in the existence of a God. How do we end that? Building on the piece posted below on Tuesday, may I propose that the hostility that many, including many atheists and religionists, have towards religious fundamentalists could suggest a solution? Fundamentalists are unpleasant, bigoted and dangerous. They attract some converts but in most cases they also attract enemies and others who avoid them like, well, one of my really long posts. Perhaps what we need in both cases is the establishment of movements of the majority of both groups who believe in freedom of thought, freedom of belief. Maybe a liberal atheists movement to counter the now fashionable Dawkins-Harris style fundamentalism would lessen the annoyance of at least a good portion of the world who believes in religion of some kind.

As observed last Tuesday I have found the “I don’t believe” kind of atheist to be a rather rational and pleasant kind of person. They tend to have both wit and a heart. They, dear atheists, could make a much better poster for atheists than the sheering, disdainful and arrogant face of.... you know who. Maybe instead of engaging in the unnecessary and, I will guarantee you, futile attempt to promote atheism to people who will to believe, you should promote atheists of good will.

Not being an atheist myself, nor a Christian or any other identifiable religious identity you can name, I can’t make the choice for you. You do not have to accept anyone’s authority, not even if they’ve been on the Best Sellers list. You, my friends, are free agents, you have freedom to take whatever course seems to be the one that will get you where you want. Do you want to find more hatred and bigotry at the end of your journey or will you be brave enough to try friendship?

*John Mortimer, the great author of the Rumpole stories once seemed to get a great deal of jolly fun out of talking about about joining a group called “Atheists for Jesus”, a certain, rather bitter old fart wrote a polemic against them but there’s no need to go into that here. I’m not sure this is the same group. It doesn’t look like as much fun as it should be, but people have different views of what’s fun.

Note: I was going to save this for tomorrow but doing something I almost never do, checking my Eugenia Last Astrological Forcast in the paper** it said this for today:

Not everyone will agree with you but things will fall into place. You will hae to be a little outspoken and direct but either you will take the lead or you let others lead you.

I can tell a sign when I'm given one.

** What's the use of being accused of every superstition in the dictionary if you can't indulge a little whimsy now and then?

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