“Why do you care?”
It’s been remarked to me several times, “why do you care?” About atheism that is, or rather, about that and theism. This has come from atheists too. In Australia, the issue of religion is largely unspoken, people want their beliefs, they want their lack of belief, but they feel no-one should talk about it, no-one should attempt to raise awareness about atheism, secularism and all the issues pertaining to such. Maybe people don’t care, maybe I’m an extremist… Though I’m not sure debating and reading books, and posting on FB is very extreme…
It’s interesting, I mean we all have our passions don’t we? The very people who ask me this, constantly post (on FB) about one or two issues dear to them, politics (some may say just as sensitive a topic), their work, their social agenda etc. I care about my atheism, I care about demonstrable reality, I care about religious persecution and subjugation, of anyone, atheist or Muslim, Christian or Hindu. I care about defending the rights of marginalized people (whether it’s atheists or homosexuals, refugees, women, men, children etc). And I like raising awareness to these injustices, just as I like raising awareness on the nature of atheism, or reason, logic, evidence, scepticism etc etc ad infinitum. Because the theist is way more serious, way more united and way more funded, to strategically push their agenda, and they don’t care, in many cases, about talking about their faith in public, or about raising awareness or legislating against others. If this is how they are, why should I care as an atheist, about discussing my lack of belief, or ridiculing religion? Why should I hide who I am in public? And cow-tow to people who have ridiculous ideas they can’t defend (I’m talking about your average “new-ager” here (you know the one: “I believe this….” and an inane list of crap comes out of their mouth), many theists who actually care, can defend their faith) or haven’t given any thought to. These very same people who give cover to the real extremists in our midst, who tell us our atheist Prime Minster is responsible for the floods, homosexuals for the cyclone, that Muslims shouldn’t be in parliament etc are perhaps who my real beef is with?
Do I talk about it all the time? Am I obsessed with this? Of course. Some say it is the most important issue that has ever, or will ever exist. How many have been killed due to someones belief that their god or gods wanted something from them? How many are marginalised due to belief systems, homosexuals, other believers, atheists, minorities, women etc. I’m not saying all theists and all religions are absolutely, necessarily harmful, there are many evils done without it, I’m saying it can lead to that, and does in many cases, perhaps due to dogma (and some may say dogma is ultimately the real harm)? But the point is, whenever someone steps out of line due to their religion, I care, and I want to let others know.We don’t need a big spiel about the “evils of religion” because that’s not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about specific incidences, specific times, in today’s news cycle that religion has hurt someone, and I want to ask, can the positives of religion be done, without the negatives? If it can, we should try.
I’m excited about learning, about philosophy, about science, theology, apologetics, counter-apologetics. These questions have been asked for thousands of years by the worlds smartest thinkers. Why wouldn’t I be obsessed with knowing what they had to say? Most of the time I wonder, why aren’t you more concerned with this? Mostly, when I wonder, I conclude that many people don’t care about these issues, especially issues that don’t affect their money. How many people do you see speaking out against the things they see around them? Against things that don’t necessarily involve them? Against the things that piss them off? I guess they do, but if they do, should they be asked “why do you care?” with incredulity? With a kind of “you’re weird” vibe? And I’m not talking joining green peace, and fighting a green war. I’m talking about passive resistance, things we can all do. Passive awareness raising, donating to charities, discussing with people these ideas, debating topics, getting heated, getting pissed off, losing arguments, changing minds, uniting people! Creating a community of non-theists to come to, creating an identity for non-theists to enjoy, hell to even bring theists together with non-theists, to make discourse and disagreement friendly and polite, to make disagreement a good thing, to have disagreement be about ideas, not people and something that leads to resolution, or hopefully, understanding. Oh, and doing our best to keep that wall of church/state separation high!
These topics are linked to all knowledge we have accumulated as a species, because theists think their god or gods are represented in everything we know, atheists or detractors of any kind need to know this information. Sure this may not be possible, but they’ve had thousands of years to come up with arguments and evidence. It takes as much knowledge as you can fit in your head, just to have a debate with one. This research raises your consciousness, I feel since I’ve started researching this stuff, that my understanding as a human has increased, my intellect, my critical thinking, my ability to think coherently, my cognitive ability, my understanding of the world, my confidence in myself have all increased. I wish the same for all of you, theist or non-theist!
That’s why I care. I care about people, I care about right and wrong, I care about reality and I care about our future as a species. I guess I could ask you “why don’t you care??”
“… If you’re an atheist, shut up about it. If you are open or vocal about your atheist worldview, you are a “militant atheist.” Be silent, even though that same standard does not apply to those who passionately disagree with you.” (Noise 2011)
Noise D., (2011).The Myth of Militant Atheism. Why are atheists vilified? What is a militant atheist? Retrieved 23/02/2011. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-humanity-naturally/201102/the-myth-militant-atheism