August 27, 2013

ZHA: The Jaded Atheist

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Militant atheists are like the outspoken vegans of spirituality —  so eager to let you know how tame your mind has become thanks to its steady mental diet of processed sheep food, so ready to inform you why you’re completely misguided.  You know the kind of atheist I’m talking about.  The kind often stretching his intellectual superiority complex.  The kind that pickets.  The kind that should probably just join a debate team.

“Oh, if only you were a freethinker, maybe you’d be open and uncluttered enough to see the self-evident fact that there is no God!  But hey, it’s not your fault you’re so hopelessly chained in Abraham’s Cave. You’ve just been held hostage since youth by the most evil, maniacal and organized crime syndicate known to man — religion.  Thankfully for you, your friendly neighborhood atheist is here with your red pill out of the Matrix.  Just follow these two easy steps, and soon you, too, will be assuring yourself you’re enlightened and rubbing out a quick one to Richard Dawkins!”

“First, shut up and listen to why science is the answer to all the big questions and why religious texts make the best fuel for campfires.  Second, accept it.”  Included free of charge in this package is a feeling of self-righteousness and a desperate hunger to prove how brainwashed everyone is. Resistance to these two steps may result in being labeled a fundamentalist with no regard for the scientific method.

But I’m not religious. Far from it. The only thing I hate more than a militant atheist is a Jesus freak giving himself a good asswipe with The Origin of Species before leveling his twelve-gauge at the local abortion clinic. Atheism is becoming a holier-than-thou philosophy, but I don’t endorse kneeling five times a day to bow to a supernatural dictator. No, I am very against organized religion.  Any group that markets its philosophy as the exclusive answer to the enigma of life should just disband and go home. Religion is particularly bad considering its long history of meaningless bloodshed and prostitution to the state as a control mechanism, but that does not excuse the preachy trend that has gripped atheism.

Aggressive atheists need to realize their crusading approach makes them look like hypocrites. Just because orthodox religions have spent millennia barking their competing dogmas aloud doesn’t mean howling your own credo will solve the problem. Screaming your input into an ongoing din doesn’t help you get heard.  It just associates you with the rest of the shrieking fanatics.  Why do you think so many people consider atheism to be a religion when that is exactly the last thing atheists want?  Big antitheist gatherings where Christopher Hitchens rips on Christianity in front of a large audience may result in an entertaining Saturday for Joe the Atheist, but to believers it makes him look cultish. Atheists readily argue that large-scale organization is necessary to combat well-established theistic institution,  but this leads to eerily similar behavior between the self-christened “brights” and the religious masses. I can understand how getting together with like-minded folks and freely bashing the Church satisfies the emotional heart, but you know who else is famous for convening en masse to discuss the grave danger of those who don’t think like them?  Fundamentalists!

Adamant members of the atheist movement profess a strong desire to educate the brainwashed about the truth.  All that fine rhetoric about wanting to free people’s minds and show them real happiness isn’t new.  You know who else shared that sentiment?  Crusaders, missionaries, Mao Zedong, Jesuits, Stalin, the burdened White Man, conquistadors and the Moors are all world-class members of the Self Righteous Hall of Fame.  Through great effort, militant atheists have added themselves to that list.  Perhaps converting others is just part of the human condition to assure ourselves of our grasp on the truth. Indignant rebuttals from outraged atheists insisting their way is different because science is factual only serves to make the Big Bang Theory look even more like just another credo.

I understand how frustrating it is to see powerful and established superstitious forces loudly discouraging condom use and building Creationist museums. But the militant atheist needs to let go of the notion that his is the only path that leads to enlightenment.  Yes, science is founded on empirical evidence. Just because we haven’t measured greater, mysterious, “spiritual” forces yet doesn’t mean they must not exist.   It is easy to sneer at religious faith, and easier to faithfully assert how correct you are. I don’t care whether you believe in no God or model your life after the Virgin Mary, but if you try to recruit me into your movement, godless or not, I’ll slam the door on you as hard as I would any Jehovah’s Witness.

David Zha is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at [email protected] The Angry Spirit Bear appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: David Zha