June 8, 2012

This post is inspired by a status update on FB.

I love when my friends say religion (and religious people) are idiots.. and then post a Malcolm X quote and then a Bob Marley quote and then a Stokely Carmichael quote… and then mention how they look up to those (extremely religious) men.. *scratches head* maybe you just have a different opinion and they aren’t idiots? nah i’m sure you’re smarter than they were….

I asked for clarification on this:

Are these people saying that believing in a god is stupid, or that being part of a religious group is stupid? Or that one who believes in god is stupid on all levels and not to be listened to? There are distinctions, I think.

The answer I got was mostly the first 2, sometimes all 3.

I can’t speak for anyone but myself. I can separate a person’s beliefs from their actions.

Let’s say a friend tells me they believe their compost heap is god. That the nutrient rich properties of the compost heap is all the proof he/she needs that the compost-based story of creation is true. I, personally, would find that ridiculous. But if their belief in that compost heap inspired them to be more humane, more proactive, kinder, and happier I wouldn’t give a shit, as long as they didn’t try to force me to worship their compost heap. Now maybe I find out that the true doctrine of the compost heap is actually oppressive and riddled with hypocrisies and violence. That might cause me to dislike the compost heap religion, and I already don’t believe the compost heap is divine. I am confident in saying that the compost heap is not god, has never been god, and will never be divine in any sense. That doesn’t change my admiration for the personal interpretation my friend has used to better the world and themselves. 

I am confident in labeling myself an atheist. That confidence is what makes me able to make and maintain relationships with theists. That’s what I like to call being a grown up. Grown ups understand that not everyone they like will always do/say/believe the same things as them. Grown ups also understand that a person can do an idiotic thing but not be a total idiot. And grown ups understand that if they believe in a doctrine/religion/etc that is based on magical thinking and oppression, people are gonna think it’s bullshit.

As an atheist, I understand that there have been some total assholes who also identify as atheists. I accept that part of identifying as an atheist means having to both differentiate myself from atheist assholes, and explain why I am an atheist. Why do believers feel they’re somehow exempt from these same standards? There are some fucked up theists out there who truly believe that they are doing “god’s” will. If you are going to identify as a theist and associate with people like me, you’ll have to be held to the same standards that I hold myself to.

My personal “rule-of-thumb” regarding religion is pretty simple. Organized religions have both good and bad aspects, but history tells us that the bad outweighs the good. People who are religious/theists/believers are just like any other people on the planet. Some are total fucking douche packers, some are awesomely awesome, and the rest fall somewhere in between. Whether you worship THE ONE TRUE BIG DADDY, many gods, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or your compost heap, who gives a shit? Just be excellent to each other. (thanks, Bill & Ted! ::air guitar::)

(for Jessica A., who posted the FB status)

P. S. – progressive leftist theism is still theism. Stop trying to convert your nontheist comrades. It’s counterproductive and sometimes it’s downright condescending & rude. We know you think you’re right. But, like Programmer Blue (aka- l’awesome Liz) says, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.