Today is, apparently, the National (as in USA) Ask An Atheist Day.
As an atheist, this somewhat perplexes me. I’m not one hundred percent certain what would be the point of someone asking me anything about atheism. Actually, I’m not even 47% certain.
The SSA (Secular Students Association) website says: “National Ask An Atheist Day (April 13th) is an opportunity for secular groups across the country to work together to defeat stereotypes about atheism and encourage courteous dialogue between believers and non believers alike. The event is intended to be an opportunity for the general public – particularly people of faith – to approach us and ask questions about secular life.”
Maybe this kind of thing makes more sense in a country like the United States of America where religion is a more hotly debated issue. I wasn’t aware there was a problem with stereotypes about atheism. I wasn’t aware there were even any stereotypes. What would those be?
- We’re middle-class and college-educated
- We’re all immoral hedonists
- We sacrifice Christian babies to Darwin
- We all think the idea of God is kind of silly
- We’re generally jerks to Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to our doors
Well, some of those are more or less true, so they’re not really stereotypes.
Further, I don’t really understand the purpose of an association like the SSA. For me, being an atheist means living my life without religion being a consideration. Atheist groups are beginning give me the feeling of bands of thugs intent on bullying people who don’t share the same beliefs.
Even the term “belief” rubs me the wrong way when talking about atheism. Atheism is, pretty much literally, a lack of belief. But more and more it feels like it’s become a defined set of rules to live by. Where atheism used to mean simply not believing in God, it’s becoming a rallying cry to attack people with religious beliefs. It’s developed it’s own dogma. In short, it’s become a religion unto itself.
I, frankly, can’t be bothered to care enough about the idea of God to criticize someone for believing in it. I harbour a suspicion many of today’s so-called atheists are actually agnostics who are uncomfortable with the idea there may or may not be a God and perhaps also harbour a bitterness towards specific religious people in their upbringing.
I equate them with homophobes whose hatred of gays stems from being a bit gay themselves but are unable to admit it. Most people who are truly straight, and completely comfortable with their sexuality, don’t care if someone else is gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or into Martians. The feeling I get from the most vocal militant atheists these days is that they’re not actually atheists at all—they’re closeted spiritualists.
They need to believe in something but can’t swallow the idea of a man on a cloud with a white beard and that angers them. This even applies to some of the big names in modern atheism like Richard Dawkins. Methinks you doth protest too much.
If there needs to be a point to it—and I don’t think there does—isn’t the whole idea behind being atheist not having to explain your lack of beliefs?
But if you still feel the need to ask me something today, here’s some answers about my secular life:
- I had a double Americano this morning. It was heavenly.
- I’m wearing pink today in support of anti-homophobic bullying initiatives.
- I’m breaking in a new pair of Doc Martens. It’s a hellish experience.
- I live with my girlfriend, two cats and a rat (and hopefully nothing else).
- My favourite musical is Jesus Christ Superstar.
- I’m a little annoyed the Library website is down.