About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (sort of a bad wordplay on Orwell and machismo) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear language'), the umbrella of several of my literary projects in Dutch. This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Atheist? Good, just don't be an asshole about it

As far as religion is concerned, I'm lucky to live in Belgium, a nominally Catholic country where being agnostic or atheist is nothing out of the ordinary. In a broader sense, Europe - with some notable exceptions - is spectacularly different from the rest of the world, where not believing that there is any god can still get you in serious trouble, and religion is a dominant force in politics and socio-cultural life.

So, I can sympathise with American atheists and their frustration at the constant poisoning of public debates by religiosuly inspired anti-gay, anti-abortion or anti-science advocates. I also agree with some radical atheist positions that we still give to much deference to organised religion where none is warranted.

However.


I severely dislike the way that atheists on the Internet want to rally around the idea of being atheist, as if this is a morally superior road. Atheism is a very simple thing: not believing in any god. Internet Atheists' weird reverence for scientists such as Richard Dawkins or Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the way in which logic is celebrated by them and they celebrate ideologically bankrupt philosophies such as libertarianism or pseudosciences such as evopsych, is just a straight-up replacement for worship. It's nothing more than another justification for a worldview without the necessary self-criticism.

I don't like the contempt and condescension of Internet Atheists. Yes, I suppose that if I was to live in an area surrounded by people who actually believed dinosaurs and humans co-existed and the world is only 6,000 years old, it would inspire me to ridicule as well. But the pervasive sense of smugness of Internet Atheists has already succeeded to turn potential allies against them. I happen to believe in treating people well and not mock what they choose to believe in if it isn't forced upon me. Most people who are religious to an extent can be pretty tolerant, and most people believe things that are logically at odds with one another.

It speaks volumes for the movement that Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens are held in such high regard. While the former is a brilliant scientist and an eloquent speaker, he is also overly dismissive of the plight of any sort of people who are not white and male, and Hitchens was an all-round boorish individual who was needlessly antagonising. Lastly, a YouTube troll like the self-styled 'Amazing' Atheist still has droves of followers, despite being violently misogynist and clearly out of his depth with any subject that pertains to anything else than 'not believing in God'.

Listen, it's cool that you discovered, through reasoning, intuition, a flash of insight or whatever, that there are no gods (or, that it's almost certain there are no gods). That does not make you a superior person, it doesn't validate any other opinions you might hold, and it certainly doesn't make your positions exempt from criticism. Be a little nicer. If you truly want to stop religious fundamentalism, lead by example.