I am an atheist fundie!
A Christian kindly reminded me that I am devoted to atheism and evolution, that I keep an atheist blog, therefore I am actually an atheist extremist, and atheism is my religion. I spend hours a day reading up science, arguing with religious nuts online. So, as it seems, I might as well call myself an atheist evangelist – the atheist Ted Haggard!
Although “atheist fundie” sounds kind of cool, I have several objections to this outrageously ridiculous claim. Firstly, atheism is not a religion. And it is not that hard to see why. Christians share a set of common beliefs and practices about Yahweh. Muslims share a set of common beliefs and practices about Allah. And Buddhists share a set of common beliefs and practices about the Buddha. The only thing I and another atheist must have in common is the single idea that “There is no god” or that “There is a lack of evidence for god therefore I cannot believe”. You don’t have to be an evolutionist to be an atheist; in fact, many atheists I know aren’t that interested in evolution at all. You don’t have to wear a funny hat to be an atheist. There are no atheist ten commandments, no atheist holy book, no atheist rules to follow. Abortion or anti-abortion, gay or anti-gay, evolution or alien implantation, atheism is simply a position on the (in)existence of god(s). Nothing more, and nothing less.
The opposite of atheism – theism – is not a religion, either. Theism is just another position on the existence of god, and the same applies to agnosticism. So the ludicrous claim that atheism is a religion immediately falls right apart. Fellow Internet atheists give another good, and equally valid, argument. “Non-stamp-collecting is not a hobby.” A belief in no religion is not a religion, no matter how much you’d like to think so.
Onto the second point: am I an extremist? Well, I can probably bear this accusation – when it comes to disbelieving in God, I do make my points loud and clear, and I’m pretty extreme. But it all boils down to why I do it. This is why I do it:
It is a common conception that atheists are bad, immoral people, or that somehow, it is wrong to be an atheist. Atheists have been excluded from communities all over the religious world: sacked from their jobs, kicked from their schools, condemned and looked down upon simply because we refuse to believe in an invisible sky figure. Yet this is a serious misconception, and basic statistics will tell you why. According to recent polls (Barna, 2004) atheists and agnostics make up to 12% of Americans. In prisons, atheists make up to only 0.21%. Clearly there is a giant disproportion here between 12% and 0.21%. Right?
Now, while I was hiding away in my closet for the last three years (which I still continue to do so), forced to go to church and to Sunday School, made to repent and pray for-I-have-sinned, religion took over our politics, our governments, our schools – like a bloody persistent virus. Religion went to war, and it never did ask me once whether I liked it or not. Religion flew planes into our buildings, blew our beloved friends up, and it has been doing so for the last thousands of years… and for what reason? Because my imaginary friend is real, and yours is not. I know he is real because I have faith. That’s the only evidence I’ll ever need.
Now, when I finally stand up in defence of secular humanity; when I finally come out to say “Stop this madness you irrational numb-nuts”, you point at me, and say, “Hey, you’ve got a religion, too. You’re no better than us, you intolerant, evangelical atheist.” Yes, I am intolerant, and for a reason. Atheists have been tolerant for way too long, and religion is now out of control. I am intolerant to unreason, and I believe any sane man should be, too. I am intolerant to pseudoscience and downright hoaxes, to wilful ignorance and to the constant brainwashing of all my fellow cousins, among which I remain to be the only survivor. I am intolerant, therefore I am evangelical. I am invasive, therefore I am extreme. I am irreligious, therefore I am religious. I am the atheist Ted Haggard. The atheist fundie.
And I am proud of it.