Monday, March 12, 2012

Don't Be A Militant Atheist

Don't be a militant atheist, though the temptation may be great. The day you notice "The God Delusion" in the book store, you may be overcome with curiosity and pick it up, glancing around to make sure your religious friends don't walk past by chance. You might flip through the pages and see a phrase, a question, an assertion that you thought to yourself time after time in the pew. Grit your teeth, turn that page over. Don't read what might be Dawkins's answer. It will only bring you emptiness, separation and grief.

Don't be a militant atheist, despite what others say. You might stumble across r/atheism or YouTube or an atheist blog. You will find yourself nodding at their words and memes. Your hands might be aching to reply or to agree. As you read about biblical history, you will want so badly to believe that there probably was no Jesus or Moses. You may feel the urge to counter an apologist, knowing that his arguments are laden with holes. But you must remain silent and quell your objections. After all, who could they possibly convince?

Don't be a militant atheist, or you'll invite intolerance. When you feel your eyes swell and tear at the news story of the child who died of medical neglect based in her parents religion, change the channel, put down the paper. You will feel angry at the fact that young boys are being trained as suicide bombers or about the gay teen in Utah who is now living on the streets. Simply remind yourself that culture is relative and that differences are a good thing. Attribute violent actions to one or two bad people rather than corrupt systems. Convince yourself that there are many truths. You may be white or male or cisgendered or western, so remember that you have no right to tell people how to live.

Don't be a militant atheist, religion has its benefits. You may disagree with your entire family, but you won't let that come between you. You can go to church, mosque or synagogue with your siblings every weekend, though you will wince at the injustice you may hear from the pulpit. Tell your cleric that you are struggling with you faith and he will smile and call you "my child". Accept what he says as acceptable and ignore your doubts until the next week. At least you have community, your personal opinions are unimportant.

Somewhere out there, there is a person who used to be just like you. She was afraid to know the truth, worried her arguments would be in vain, afraid of being seen as intolerant and she was scared of losing her loved ones upon telling them of her doubts.  Living for years trapped inside herself, she outwardly prayed to the emptiness she felt while secretly wishing that someone around her would admit to having the same doubts. One day, she let go of her fear and became an activist, knowing that there would be others who would be just as trapped and alone as she used to be. When people asked her why she had to be such a militant atheist, she would smile and reply:

"All those years I didn't speak up, I allowed others to live in fear. We must fight against injustice so it will someday disappear."

1 comment:

Please be civil. :)