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Hate Me, I Suck
Remember when air travel was fun? I flew United to New York on Friday. All I can remember, though, is my rage from Friday morning as I stood for 33 hot, smelly, and irritating minutes in a line a city block long that snaked back and forth, back and forth, dumping travelers at the metal detectors. (Are we safer or just more annoyed?)

When I got through the line, put my bra and underwear back on (just kidding!), and gathered my stuff, there was no time to do anything but go straight to the gate. I got on the plane snarling and grouchy, without breakfast or reading material, as there was no time to buy my usual flight fare (The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Enquirer) and coffee and a danish.

As a public service to all of you "believers" who make a certain sector of your life off-limits to rational thought, I just want to remind you all why travel has become such a hideous and unpleasant chore:

IT'S BECAUSE PEOPLE BELIEVE IN GOD.

Come on, if they were all atheists in the Middle East, they'd all be home watching Law & Order or Lost dubbed in Arabic, and maybe inventing an abacus with iTunes instead of coming up with new ways to blow up all the rest of us -- those of us who don't favor their particular brand of Imaginary Friend.

If they weren't so deadly, this would be laughable. These savages are essentially engaged in a death match over whether people should drink Coke or Pepsi. And, check your date-bearing clocks, people -- it's March, 2006. Perhaps it's time for rational thought over religious auto-think. Believe in god? As Carl Sagan said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

If you've had a coffee klatsch with god, feel free to send jpegs, and I'll post them here. Otherwise, please consider joining the modern age.

Unfortunately, mine is an unpopular viewpoint in America. In fact, it seems atheists are the most hated people in the country:

In a new study by University of Minnesota sociologists, more than 2,000 people were asked which of their fellow citizens lacked the proper "vision of American society."

More than blacks or gays or immigrants or lesbians or even Muslims, atheists are viewed as the least American, according to the survey. And those without a god are the last people most folks would want their children to marry.

"Atheists, who account for about 3% of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, the study's lead researcher.

...Atheists don't demand anything, they don't preach or riot, they have no real organization and they are completely unelectable. Nonetheless, Americans don't trust them.

“It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy – and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell.

Not surprisingly, people who haven’t had much of a life – the majority of Americans – were the most likely to fear atheists.

There's some genius for you. Yeah, it's those of us who don't really care what you do as long as you're not hurting anybody else that you really should be afraid of. And just a reminder, atheism involves an absence of belief in unproven supernatural crap; being an atheist doesn't mean a person is without ethics. In fact, there's a pretty good chance most atheists are more ethical than most people who take the mental shortcuts required to arrive in the existence-of-god zone.

Posted by aalkon at March 25, 2006 10:59 AM

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According to the quote above, "...Athiests don't demand anything," would that it were true. Day after day, year after year, in court case after court case, the militant Atheists demand that the other 97% of the population accede to their demands. Non-denominational prayer before a football game or as part of a graduation cerimony... God forbid. The Ten Commandments displayed on public property... their righteous indignation knows no bounds.

The Atheist has an absolute right to his or her belief. There is no question about that. Furthermore, we must defend that right just as strongly as we defend the right of any other to worship as they please.

That does not mean that majority must continually roll over to accommodate every fringe sect under the sun. We don't let the Hindu, or the Orthodox, or the Mormons impose their beliefs on society at large. I fail to see any reason to make a special case for the fringe sect that chooses to call itself atheist.

Posted by: Dave at March 25, 2006 10:50 AM

Nobody demands that you stop practicing your religion. We just suggest it because we think a rational world would be a better place, without people condemning homosexuals, etc., because their preacher tells them to.

But, religion needs to remain separate from public life - a part of your private life. Yours and everyone's -- whether it's the majority or not.

The moment you tell everybody to pray to god before a public high school football game is the moment you're out of bounds.

You can childishly choose to believe in in fantasy figures in the sky, but they do not belong in the public sphere.

I'll post the Ten Commandments from a link below to show just how inappropriate a part of public life they are:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_10c4.htm

Text of the Ten Commandments:

There are three versions of the Ten Commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). They are at Exodus 20:2-17, Exodus 34:12-26, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Exodus 20 is the most commonly used set. In the King James' Version, its text reads:

Exodus 20:
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 25, 2006 11:26 AM

As it happens, I too am a non-believer, with this distinction, if I am at a public event and all about me bow their heads in prayer, I will remove my hat and remain silent.

I don't get upset and throw a tantrum. I do not do so out of fear or because I want to fit in. I do not run to the ACLU. I behave as I do out of plain old common respect for those around me who do believe.

When it comes to the Ten Commandments, I rather suspect that it is #14 that currently raises the most hackles. That said, the world would undoubtably be a better place if we all lived up to them.

Posted by: Dave at March 25, 2006 1:41 PM

> IT'S BECAUSE PEOPLE
> BELIEVE IN GOD.

Actually THAT'S OVERSIMPLIFIYING.

> if they were all atheists....

Many of them are, or are at least not so sincerely devout. Don't you think the leaders of these movements are using the beliefs of their neighbors for their own political purposes?

> to all of you "believers" who
> make a certain sector of your
> life off-limits to rational
> thought....

Your problem is not that it's off-limits to logic, it's that it's off limits to *you*.

> Atheists don't demand anything,
> they don't preach or riot, they
> have no real organization and
> they are completely unelectable

Amy, that's a stupid thing to say. Atheists make trouble all the time.

Posted by: Crid at March 25, 2006 3:09 PM

"We just suggest it because we think a rational world would be a better place, without people condemning homosexuals, etc., because their preacher tells them to."

Wow. That's pretty off-base. It actually takes more faith to be an atheist than a believer in creation by God. And while every group has their sycophants and blind followers--atheists included--the majority of Christians don't condemn homosexuals and don't do things merely because their preacher said so. Unless they are on TV and in that case they send them gobs of money.

Posted by: The Zoner at March 25, 2006 9:55 PM

Amy, you keep ignoring the fact that athiests have killed more people in the past century than any other religion. This includes homosexuals.

Posted by: nash at March 25, 2006 11:00 PM

Nash, that's ridiculous. Don't give me the old crap about Hitler being an atheist. He wasn't.

Moreover, it takes no faith to be an atheist. If it did, I wouldn't be one. I have a naturalistic orientation toward life -- I don't believe without evidence. To do so is to be idiotic, and I work hard not to be an idiot.

"The majority" of Christians don't condemn homosexuals? Oh, please. Then why do homosexuals need to "come out," when I never had to break it to mom and dad that I was straight?

I'm on deadline, or I'd post in more detail. I hope Everybody Hates Chris crawls out of the woodwork to help.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 26, 2006 4:25 AM

[quote]
> Atheists don't demand anything,
> they don't preach or riot, they
> have no real organization and
> they are completely unelectable

Amy, that's a stupid thing to say. Atheists make trouble all the time.
[/quote]

of course atheists make trouble. they're human. at least they don't do it because some douchebag with an agenda twists their belief in an imaginary omnipotent friend into a reason to bomb an abortion clinic or fly a commercial airline into a building. it's not their insanity that scares me, it's their ORGANIZATION.

zoner, how the hell does it take more faith to be an atheist than a believer? this is the extent of my faith: i believe that if i push a cup off a table, it will inevitably fall and hit the ground, on faith. if for some reason, the laws of physics somehow do not apply in that case, i will say, 'huh, that's a new one.' it does not destroy my worldview. i do not have to believe, literally or figuratively, in the teachings of millenia old fables, translated innumerably and repeatedly edited to conform to the desires of the religious authority at the time. although, there is some comfort in the belief that all dogs go to heaven, and unbaptized babies go to purgatory.

admittedly, hitler and stalin are bad poster boys for atheism, but i would argue that both governments were not premised on the rejection of religion so much as the perfection of the german race in the case of the former and the communist system (and marx was rolling in his grave, i'm sure) in the latter. and, you gotta admit, when you dispense with all the religious pomp and circumstance, things get more.... efficient

Posted by: g*mart at March 26, 2006 11:26 AM

Amy, I was talking about Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. All of them share at least two things in common: they are mass murderers and athiests.

To this day Castro jails homosexuals. That's worse than what even Fred Phelps gets away with.

Posted by: nash at March 26, 2006 7:18 PM

Unlike people who believe in the Big Imaginary Friend, people don't believe in the Big Imaginary Friend for a variety of reasons. Not believing in god isn't an automatic condoning of evil. To think so seems mentally lazy to say the least. What Fred Phelps gets away with and what he wants are probably two different things. And what of the shame religiosos toss on homosexuals simply by virtue of who they want to fuck. None of anyone's business, no matter what somebody told you The Great Pumpkin says.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 26, 2006 8:26 PM

Who's Fred Phelps, and why are his feelings so important to so many of us?

Posted by: Crid at March 26, 2006 8:46 PM

"Day after day, year after year, in court case after court case, the militant Atheists demand that the other 97% of the population accede to their demands. Non-denominational prayer before a football game or as part of a graduation cerimony... God forbid."

Student-initiated prayers at high school football games were prohibited due to a lawsuit brought by a group of Mormons and Catholics. Religion in public schools is just as much a problem for minority Christian groups as for atheists, for obvious reasons. Strangely, even Christians seem to value their own civil rights.

Posted by: GodlessRose at March 27, 2006 12:42 AM

You can always rely upon religion to fuel the fires of discussion.


I am an atheist and I take exception to the claim that atheism requires more belief than theism. I was raised a Christian and eventually grew to reject Christianity based on its obvious flaws. Chief amongst these flaws is the lack of true moral sincerity in most Christians.


You see, when you obtain all of your morals from a book or from another person claiming to have special insight into a higher power, then you give up the ability to call yourself a moral person. You may still act morally, but you are doing so because of self-interest alone. You are fearful of the unltimate consequences for yourself instead of considering the external consequences. This is immoral.


Also, Hitler was probably neither an atheist nor a Christian. Nobody truly knows his beliefs because he tightly guarded them. However, it is important to note that he did not commit his acts in the name of atheism. If he had done so, he would not have singled out Jews. He would have killed anyone professing belief in a religion. It is more accurate to say that Hitler's atrocities were carried out in the name of Christianity, by Christians, regardless of whether Hitler was one himself.


As for atrocities committed by other atheists, I would have to guess that since atheists tend to be intelligent, calculating individuals (90% of the National Academy of Sciences members claim to be atheists), then it is extremely likely that atheists would be able to frequently acquire such power as Stalin had. Sure, he was crazy, but I am fairly confident that no number of gods would have changed his mind.

Posted by: Silver_Fox at March 27, 2006 10:07 AM

Thank God we Satan-worshippers don't even get a blip on their maps thanks to all the discrediting of "recovered memory" and Satanic Ritual Abuse at daycares. These days if people talk about evil they think someone's watched too many episodes of Buffy.

Posted by: Russputin at March 27, 2006 12:26 PM

Regarding the "militant Atheists" demanding separation of church and state to the detriment of all those of faith. As GodlessRose pointed out, it's usually not atheists demanding the change. If it were, I'd be thankful to them.
I'm not an atheist, but I'm not a Christian either. I too will simply maintain a moment of silence if I am in the presence of others' prayers. However, I do NOT want my children forced to pray at school or school functions, or to be made to feel like outcasts if they choose not to pray. Don't tell me it doesn't happen, either, I saw it firsthand when I was in school.

I don't happen to agree with several of the 10 Commandments. I've no problem with "Though Shall Not Steal", but should I really have to be in a public building and be admonished "Though shalt have no other gods before me"? I don't think so.

Separation of church and state is vital, not just for atheists, but for anyone who doesn't practice Protestant Christianity. I believe rabidly that one's religion, or non-religion, should have no influence on secular life. Believe what you like about the world, but don't pressure me to share your beliefs.

I'd rather live in an entirely atheist world than one inhabited only by fundies.

Posted by: Kimberly at March 27, 2006 6:51 PM

Thank you, Kimberly. Smart, balanced, and eloquent. I'm in absolute agreement.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 27, 2006 7:26 PM

Is ANYONE still reading these comments on 4/4/6?

> I'd rather live in an entirely atheist
> world than one inhabited only by fundies

You never, ever had that option. The world you live in was carefully crafted by preceding generations, many of whom had beliefs you would regard as "fundamentalist". You may not agree with them, but in karmic terms, you OWE those fuckers.

Posted by: Crid at April 4, 2006 3:14 PM

I'm reading them! And I'm talking about now. We owe a lot of people, but it's 2006 -- high time for the Age of Reason to actually take hold.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 4, 2006 8:23 PM

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