Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Charlotte Allen Anti-Atheist Editorial In LA Times

A couple of days ago the Los Angeles Times released an anti-atheist rant by Charlotte Allen that clearly shows the lack of understanding many religious people have regarding atheism.

Charlotte Allen is bored of atheists? We're bored of the standard Christian arguments and hate speech - there's nothing new under the sun there.

Clearly Allen has apparently never visited a discussion board where atheists and theists debate with her insistence that "few of them [atheists] are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering." Many atheists can play "God's advocate" and perform the arguments used by theists for the existence of God and can recite those theologians' attempts to defend God's goodness in the light of suffering and God's omniscience with man's free will.

When Charlotte Allen questions, "If there is no God -- and you'd be way beyond stupid to think differently -- why does it matter whether he's good or evil?" she forgets one major thing. The followers of God believe in Him. No matter what we believe, almost everyone around us believes in God. If those believers follow an evil God it will manifest in their behavior. It will manifest in excusing and fueling bigotry. Belief in the existence of and a desire to worship and obey an evil God or even a God of questionable ethics will manifest in hate crimes and hate speech, marginalization of people of other or non beliefs, and feelings of justification for these actions.

She needs to read some news and get into some discussions with real atheists. She belittles the problems real atheists face by saying, "My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity. What -- did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?" She writes as if atheists don't get death threats from Christians simply for writing about atheism or talking about it in public. She writes as if we don't get our property vandalized by Christians if we get outed as atheists. She writes as if there are no parts of America where we could lose our jobs for being atheists. Allen writes as if completely unaware that Christians spend millions of dollars every year to put their religious beliefs into law - laws which everyone, regardless of religion or non-religion, will be required to follow. She writes as if Christians don't intimidate the children of atheists in attempts to convert them which sometimes ends up in peer violence visited upon those children.

Show me several million atheists trying to force their beliefs into law, trying to use legal force to coerce all Americans to follow their beliefs. Show me the school children forced to perform atheist rituals under fear of punishment from adults and peers. Show me the atheists protesting at funerals - and I might start to listen to you, Ms. Allen.

Stop the things we are "whining" about such as Christian laws, religion-based bigotry against gays, religious discrimination in the workplace, religious influence in child custody cases, remorseless atheist bashing, and evangelism - and we'll stop "whining" about them.


Luci said...

Great post!

I live in the Biblebelt where atheism is equated with immorality and depravity. I get judged left right and center by religious nuts who are pro-war, pro-torture and pro-death penalty; I am anti all violence and YET they act as if they are on the moral highway.


salient said...

Very good post.

Luci, I live in Ontario, Canada, thank goodness! Here the revelation of one's atheism evokes as much reaction as disclosing that one is a non-smoker. Probably some secretly mutter about my being an Infidel in the privacy of their own homes. If they do, it matters not in a country with legalized abortion, legalized same sex marriage, without the death penalty, and with an official attitude of multiculturalism. Bigotry is not socially validated here.

My point is that my being an atheist in Canada does not require the sort of courage that honouring one's convictions requires within the US. More power to you!

Kylyssa Shay said...

If only Canada were not so cold!

But seriously, the thing to do is change it here so we don't need to worry about how our fellow citizens will react to revelations of our non-belief.

Anonymous said...

"So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?"

Well Charlotte, we'd like to. Unfortunately, that would require believers to step up and be engaged themselves. All we seem to get are people like you who rant and rant without saying anything worth debating.

salient said...

"If only Canada were not so cold!"

My sentiments exactly!

(I grew up in Australia and, in a fit of utter insanity, followed my parents to Canada. Brrr!)

I agree totally with the idea that the solution is not to move somewhere with two seasons (snow or bugs), but to push for more tolerant attitudes.

I think that part of the problem arises in a cascade of social manipulations = Republicanism benefits big business > The religious are more likely to vote as they are instructed by the in-group, and much more likely to vote for social controls than progressive values > Big business and churches have put lots of money behind fear-mongering against liberal ideas and rationality.

This is why Allen's article really annoyed me. She is not dealing with the truth value of belief versus disbelief, she is pandering to conservative special-interests and fear-mongering.

And she accuses *us* of not addressing apologetic arguments!