Atheist or Anti-Theist?

When I first started to self-identify as an atheist, I held several positions that I have since rejected. An example of one of these was the notion that science answers “how” questions and religion answers “why” questions. Although I was unaware of him at the time, I would have agreed with Gould’s non-overlapping magisterium. Now I don’t. I don’t actually believe religion has anything worthwhile to say on anything. Religion never shied away from making bold claims about the world when it was talking to an ignorant unscientific audience. If religion doesn’t overlap with science today it is only because the religious are rightly afraid to compete with science; a battle they have historically always lost. Some fundamentalists aren’t happy to remain on their side of the playground however; they actively undermine legitimate science and try to have their view of reality supersede any other. Finally, religion makes numerous claims that are incompatible with scientific knowledge. Some theists rationalise these incongruities by appealing to symbolism or non-literalism. That’s their choice, but I don’t think you can justify every contradiction, and indeed if religion was true, why would you have to?

Another position that I used to tacitly hold is that religion can do whatever it wants, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. That is after all, one of my universal principles for living: do as you wish, as long as no one is harmed. In theory, if religion also lived by the same precepts, I would have little problem with it. I don’t agree with everyone’s worldview, but I would hate to see a world where any worldview was imposed. In my ideal world, free speech, free inquiry, and freedom of belief (or non-belief) would be permanent inalienable human rights. The reason I am so opposed to religion is because it embodies everything that civilised society should not want to see realised on any scale.

I see no reason to believe in anything supernatural, which obviously includes god. That makes me an atheist. But what about anti-theism? You don’t have to be an atheist to be an anti-theist strictly speaking. One could fully believe in a god and also be opposed to him and his regime. One assumes that the character of Satan is an anti-theist. Being an atheist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an anti-theist either. I don’t know many atheists personally who self-identify as anti-theists, but this might just be because they don’t know of, or like to use, the expression. I will explain why I’m an anti-theist.

First, I’d like to point out that there doesn’t seem to be one theist who doesn’t dislike the idea of what they believe in. This may seem like a rather obvious point, but is subtly powerful. There are many facts about the world we accept. Some of them we like and some of them we dislike. Some we are glad are the case, and some we wish were different. But we accept it. I don’t like the fact that I will die, but I accept it. I don’t like losing, but it happens (occasionally). I don’t like having to pay so much in taxes, but it’s a fact of life. A nihilist may consider the ephemeral nature of life as inferring that life is meaningless, whereas a humanist would infer that life is even more precious because it is so brief. Isn’t it rather convenient that there isn’t one theist who believes in a god and doesn’t wish it were true? If it were so obvious that a god existed, why are the only ones who believe in him those who wish it were also true?

The following are notions that all monotheisms hold. From Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great, Chapter 15, page 205:

· Presenting a false picture of the world to the innocent and credulous

· The doctrine of blood sacrifice

· The doctrine of atonement

· The doctrine of eternal reward and/or punishment

· The imposition of impossible tasks and rules

I am not just an atheist. I’m an anti-theist because I am strongly opposed to the very foundations of religion itself.

Religion lies to people about how the world really is. Where it doesn’t lie, it actively makes claims that it cannot possibly know, which is as much the same thing. It befouls the minds of children (and in many instances mutilates the genitalia of children) with falsehoods and superstitions.

Religion dictates that sacrifices, of some sort of other but nearly always blood, are a necessary part of a believer’s life.

Religion decrees that we must keep atoning for our very nature constantly; that we are wicked, licentious, and depraved, and that our natural desires and bodily functions are shameful and something be repressed. Religion has always criminalised homosexuality and any sexual freedom. Religion has historically been one of the greatest oppressors of women in all times.

Religion offers what it has no right to offer: forgiveness of and for another person. It offers the ultimate reward that it has no possible way to know of. It also threatens eternal torture in the most sadistic and execrable way for those who will not accept the shotgun offer it proposes.

Finally, religion demeans humans by demanding the impossible and then condemning us for not living up to its own warped notions of perfection. There are ridiculous restrictions on diet, entertainment, language, and association. Restrictions on not only who you can have sex with but also in what sexual positions you may copulate.

One or all of the above are symptomatic of all religions. They are the antithesis of the most noble and enlightened concepts that humanity has to offer: tolerance of humans, freedom for humans, respect for humans.

Not only do I not believe in a god, I am glad that the god of monotheism doesn’t exist. Imagine living in a world where the god of religion existed. It would be like living in a theocratic police state, where you can be convicted for the crime of thought; virtually the very definition of totalitarian. Where the entire purpose in your life is to serve and worship and venerate another being; where you owe everything you have to a galactic dictator who you never elected, and you’re born into a system of total mental and physical control that you had no say in choosing.

The central figure in this eternal Dominion is a being who apparently knows you before you were even born, who watches you every single minute of every day of your life, and whose control over you reaches beyond death! As Hitchens observes, even in human totalitarian regimes, or in Orwell’s 1984, at least you can die and escape the regime. With religion, not even death is an escape, and indeed for any supposed crime you commit, an afterlife of eternal torture awaits you.

In this theocratic regime, freedom of speech would be as unknown as the theory of evolution. Who you choose to fall in love with, and how you choose to make love, would be under constant surveillance on penalty of death.

In this regime, you have to accept responsibility for the crimes of others that you had no part of, incur their bloodguilt, and unconditionally receive the only way to be absolved of this guilt: accepting the blood sacrifice by torture of another person that you had no say in at all.

No thank you, I don’t want it. I reject the very absurd notion of original sin; that I have somehow transgressed for someone else’s actions; this is the very opposite of justice. I reject the exculpation offered to me that was supposedly paid for by a process of human sacrifice to appease the blood thirst of the Divine One; a sacrifice that was necessarily the murder of an innocent man, something I would have objected to anyway.

And if I reject this barbaric offer, am I free to live my life my own way and die as all people must? No. If I refuse the “gift” I never asked for and never wanted, I can be promised an eternal live roasting.

This is why I positively reject religion and theism. As a thinking human being I could not, in good conscience, be party to such an inhuman and cruel regime, and I could not worship or love such a dictator. Humans beings with ethics, self-respect, and intelligence, should refuse to submit to any theocracy. That is why the necessity is not just of atheism, but anti-theism.

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26 Responses to “Atheist or Anti-Theist?”

  1. Kelly Says:

    I don’t understand one bit. You think a deity demanding and accepting a blood sacrifice is immoral!? Who are you to question this deity? I may be ignorant of God’s will, but I know it’s perfectly acceptable for a deity to demand blood sacrifices in His name. (And yes, God is male. A woman doesn’t have the intellectual capability necessary to create anything. Poor things. They should just remain silent and then exchange recipes after church privately.)

    I’m also perturbed that you hate religion. We don’t need critical-thinking skills when we have faith. Oh sure, you atheists claim that faith is belief without empirical evidence, but you atheists have faith too that there is no God! Ha! Prove there is no God!!!!1!!LOL11!!!!!

    I could go on, but my head hurts, and IQ points are falling out of my ears.

    To be serious, I agree with you. Atheism is a revelation; it’s not a belief. It is not a way to “be angry at God” or “refuse to submit to a higher power” or a way to act unethically with no consequences.

    The deconstruction of patently false beliefs, ones we were indoctrinated with as children, however, can take a lifetime. It scares the hell out of me that parents are still passing on these beliefs to their children, telling them that 2 beings are waging a war for their souls. If that isn’t mental abuse, I don’t know what is. Why cause that when it can so easily be prevented?

  2. tobe38 Says:

    Nice work Evanescent. I too have come to reject the whole NOMA thing of Gould’s.

    @ Kelly,

    Well said. You had me going for a minute, lol.

  3. evanescent Says:

    Hi Kelly, well said and thanks for the comment!

  4. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    evanescent,

    Another wonderful post. However, I think you missed at least one major point. When you discuss what the god specified in religion wants of people, you mostly make the statement that the hypothetical creature wants us to be better than we are.

    By saying this, you miss another central theme. This hypothetical sadistic bastard also wants us to know when to perform each of the many contradicting actions proscribed by the law of whichever text you are reading. In many cases, the command will directly conflict with one or more commandments, especially the one about killing.

    In fact, if one goes beyond the ten commandments, one can easily see that the real commandment is that, when god demands it, Thou Shalt Kill. This is a common and recurring theme that sickens me to no end. People are capable of reading the bible as if it can give them morals when there are tales after tales of genocide mandated by that sadistic desert war god.

    If when I die I find out I’m wrong about the existence of god, I’ll do my best to punch god right in the nose before I get zapped for eternity.

  5. DaVinci Says:

    I have always left open the possibility that there might indeed be some god out there, but I’m pretty sure theists know nothing of him.
    Perhaps if we grow a little bit, at least grow out of the need to bash ignorant folk, we might actually see how little we know of the universe and again return to a position of inquiry.
    The more we know, the more we realize we don’t know. It’s possible that critical thinking is the correct course of action for mankind to take in understanding God or what the idea of god represents.
    People get too caught up in the old tales, which were only a way for pre-scientific folk to try and answer some questions that were quite beyond their reckoning. I think atheists take it all a bit too seriously.

  6. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    DaVinci,

    Given that people in the U.S. are attempting to legislate the teaching of the old tales in preference to science, someone may be taking things too seriously, but it’s not the atheists.

    As for a position of inquiry, that would be fine. However, theism, especially when combine with any religious doctrine is the antithesis of inquiry. Rather, it is the position that god told us everything we needed to know 2000+ years ago. Don’t ask any more questions.

    Lastly, for understanding god, why is it that only atheists and agnostics ask the obvious question, ‘Who created god?’

    One would think that believers might be very curious about such a question. They might want to gain a deeper understanding of their deity. Instead, they bury their heads in the sand and make up some kind of crap about the rules not applying to god. Why should they not apply?

    If we are not allowed to question god, why to religious folk think it’s OK to make the statement that god is good and the devil (if one’s religion includes such a character) is evil? By what standards would one judge a deity? If one can make such judgments about deities, and one is capable of seeing the problems of the world, then certainly all extant deities are evil.

    Since I believe there are no deities, my take on things is very much simpler. I do not need to judge the universe as good or evil. The universe is not a life form and is incapable of being good or evil. It simply is.

  7. evanescent Says:

    Hi DaVinci thanks for the comment, I think Scott has done a good replying to you.

    I’d just like to add that whether a god exists or not, I am opposed to the regime that theists believe in and hope for, which is why I feel the expression “anti-theist” is justified. Needless to say, when we say anti-theist, we mean anti-theism, because I’m not anti-any individual, but rather the concept of theism and worship itself.

  8. DaVinci Says:

    I guess for me it comes down to a non-issue. I wont rule out the possibility of a god in existence, but I lack any proof of a specific god, which would make me an anti-theist, but anti-religion would be better.
    At any rate, our political battles are with the ignorant, not the religious. Everyone’s people; and people have a way of learning logical fallacies before they learn proper use of logic. This is why I believe that a good liberal education is so necessary in America. Once we teach our children how to think, we won’t need to be so concerned about what they think.
    The battle isn’t with religion; it is with those powerful political leaders who pander to the religious which in turn lends credibility to their cause, which they would be the first to revolt against should it ever prevail. The only way to relegate religion to its proper place is to teach the children how to think, which is not being addressed anywhere in this country.

    Writing books and having debates as the fab four do (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett), are simply inflammatory if they are not geared to training people how to think. They do more harm than good to the cause of reason if they can do nothing but throw out zingers. It’s a lot like the shock jocks on radio.
    I suffered through the entire ‘Beyond Belief’ Series at the Salk Institute, which was about Dawkins and Harris presenting their case that religion is causing unnecessary problems with scientific research. The response from their fellow scientists was anything but enthusiastic agreement, mainly because you can’t change anything by merely complaining about it. Religion will take years and years to fade away, but if we continue with poor government education systems, I don’t see how that will ever take place.
    Religion must learn to compete in the market place of ideas, if it cannot, it will fade away to the quaint corners of bumpkin country folk who never seem to affect anything anyway.

    I think we should consentrate on being nice, but above all we should be logical and not belittle peoples beliefs when we should be challenging them to think!

  9. DaVinci Says:

    Evanescent-
    Please don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly exhaused with religious nonscense, but in order to be effective I think we need to do more than belittle theistic beliefs. We won’t get anywhere that way, except we will make folks who may support our logic to distance themselves because they wish to not be associated with “mean” atheists.
    In order to transplant ideas from one garden to another, it is necessary to prepare the soil. We want reason to prevail in political circles then we have a lot of tilling to do, and it needs to start where it is managable, in local elections.

  10. evanescent Says:

    Hi DaVinci, once again thanks for your input, it’s always appreciated.

    I think you’re right. Belittling theism is probably not the best tactic always, and certainly not the right thing to do in and of itself. The alternative must always be shown.

    It does no good to expose religion for laughable myths unless we show how meaningful humanism or other alternatives are; instead of just destroying intelligent design for example, we should educate people how wonderful true science really is! This is where the education system seriously lets us down.

    I have a place for belittling religion only when dealing with those few theists who are arrogant and conceited and claim some special respect for their beliefs; here I think it is helpful to bring them down to earth and treat their religion not unlike any other myth I think is silly. Here I’m not trying to win them over, because they have a fundamentalist mindset and can’t be won over by reason. I don’t think we can reach these people unless they’re prepared to listen. So the least we can do is burst their bubble of rectitude for the gallery.

    As for those credulous souls who do have an open mind, hopefully the alternatives to theism can be shown through reason, science, enlightenment, and the right overt political movements.

  11. DaVinci Says:

    Indeed, some theists ask for it, but I think that given enough time some of them will see the failures of their lack of metaphysical tangibility.

    When it comes down to contending with theists in a blog, I have yet to see any actual ‘debate’ which seems to be paralleled in other serious debates such as the recent one with D’souza and Hitchens. I see instead, Christians who seem to be practicing their arguments against atheistic bloggers. The theme repeats itself in just about every one I’ve witnessed, first there is the pretense of mutual understanding and an agreement to play by the rules, which are quickly thrown away when it is realized that the rules are not mutually accepted or interpreted, but this is normal I suppose because it takes two to have a logical debate. The unfortunate thing I see all too often, (and you and your circle of friends DO NOT seem to do this), is atheists seem to go out and find theists to inflame into some argument, which they themselves win logic points on, but use their intelligence as a club. This will change no one, and in fact is counter productive. Let’s face it though, debate is sometimes just too much fun, especially when your opponent is a flaming idiot, but let’s not make the error in logic which would tend to say that all Christians are idiots, because they’re not, they are people in bondage to child abuse of great magnitude, and mind control rivaling that of science fiction books. Having been there myself, I have pity on those still caught in its tangled ways.

  12. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    evanescent,

    I certainly have nothing against humanism. It is certainly quite compatible with my own lack of beliefs. However, I would just like to point out that the idea that religion must be replaced with some other ideology does not match my own feelings.

    IMHO, the idea that mythologies are silly and unfounded does not require anything to replace them. It is true that the vast majority of us have morals, and that they’re generally very similar in nature. In fact, the morals processing modules, so to speak, in the brain have already been found and been found to produce remarkably similar results across a variety of cultures.

    However, the simple statement that the person making the extraordinary claim is required to back up that claim, leads quite simply to atheism. It need not lead any further. No appeal to any dogma or similar culture of beliefs regarding morals is actually required.

    I know a number of atheists that do not think through the moral issues to the level that would be required to call oneself a true humanist. They just behave as feels right and make valid and quite good moral choices. Nothing more, no belief structure, no meetings, no label is required.

    So, I guess I came around to this in a long winded sort of way. However, the simple point is that religion need not be replaced. It need simply be removed. Most people will behave quite morally in the absence of a religion twisting their morals. Those that do not probably would not with or without religion and would still end up in prison either way.

  13. evanescent Says:

    @ DaVinci,

    once again I think you’re right. I have been known to engage theists on their own website/blogs, but usually in response to an article they’ve posted, and the way I see it if you don’t want any old stranger commenting on your articles, you shouldn’t publish them on the internet! I hope I never come across as flaming or patronising. I’m sure I have from time though and time I regret this.

    The truth is, most religious people are good honest folks who genuinely believe, and have invested so much into their beliefs that the thought of someone coming along and trying to destroy their faith will only encourage it. For me, no one sat me down and talked me through anything. My own curiosity and lack of faith led me to investigate for myself and this was the biggest factor in my deconversion. It is this curiosity and skepticism we need to breed in the credulous.

    @ Scott

    I agree with you, but I wasn’t saying for a moment that religion should be replaced. No, I agree with you that religion doesn’t need to be replaced as it serves no useful purpose that can’t be found elsewhere. It is the everyday meaning in life, morality etc that people think they CAN’T live without religion for that we need to replace. True, atheism is not really a replacement for anything, it’s just lack of belief. You can be an atheist murderer or an atheist humanist, just as you can be a Christian murderer. One expression doesn’t imply anything else. For those deeply committed though, I think it’s important to show them how wonderful life is without religion, instead of just tearing it down, because…

    “Most people will behave quite morally in the absence of a religion twisting their morals. Those that do not probably would not with or without religion and would still end up in prison either way.”

  14. The Eschatology Ideology « evanescent Says:

    […] but it is actually a constant struggle against flagitious desires and a libidinous nature, all in the servile veneration of a galactic dictator. A struggle that, in comparison to the eternity that awaits you, is […]

  15. bobcu Says:

    I’m also an atheist and anti-theist. After reading your excellent article “Atheist or Anti-Theist?”, I’m now even more disgusted by theism than I used to be. There really are people who let themselves become slaves of their invisible friend. It’s a terrible sickness these theists have, and they don’t even know they are sick. They also don’t understand how immoral they are when they pass on their disease to their children.

  16. John P. Says:

    That’s a problem. A lot of Christian believe that atheism and anti-theism is just the same. Blogs like this may help the ease the situation.

    Mabuhay ka.

  17. evanescent Says:

    I hope so. Thanks for the comment John.

  18. Sexy Secularist! » Blog Archive » Carnival of the Godless - November 25th 2007 Edition! Says:

    […] is next, with “Atheist or Anti-Theist?” If your mind was free before, after this it will be free-est. […]

  19. Tatarize Says:

    NOMA: Never Opposing Metaphysical Asininity.

  20. glamgirl Says:

    I have to agree that sometimes religion can sound a bit illogical. Anyway, how can this supreme being, this “God” you call, create this whole vast universe. Otherwise, his power would’ve taken billions of years to travel on the other side of the universe. But at the same time with evolution, something can’t come from nothing. It’s impossible. I have two friends that are the total opposite of each other. One is the biggest most pious believer you’d ever meet. Almost everything has to do with “God” in her house. And my other is a headstrong atheist who denies his existence and claims the theory of evolution is correct. As for me, I’m somewhere in between the two. An agnostic. Maybe someday we’ll find an answer.

  21. Rhys Wilkins Says:

    Religion, and the patronising delusional cunts like Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron, all must be done away with.

    We as a society must progress, remove all these harmful delusions which cause nothing but conflict and disharmony in the world.

  22. Edith Legrand Says:

    I wish there were some content in this article, in which case it would be worthwhile to read it.

  23. evanescent Says:

    How did you reach that conclusion without actually reading the article? And if you read all of it, clearly it was worthwhile enough for you to comment.

    Your remark is the worst kind of criticism; meaningless, vacuous, irrelevant. Pathetic.

  24. Malaysia Says:

    You all sound like a set of lost, angry souls. Especially the one that said she would punch God in the nose before she dies. That is hilarious. I often find a common link between atheists and anti-theist. They simply do not understand God and probably never will. Yet they listen to a man made theory about how God does not exist and proudly glorify it. Many are called but few are chosen. I wish I had the time to respond to every one of these remarks about theists and God. But then again, it’s all the same rhetoric, read one and you read all. I think if you look in the dictionary under mental blindness you would see, “atheist or anti-theist” with no hope of ever seeing the light.

  25. evanescent Says:

    I don’t know about mental blindness, Malaysia, but pretending to see something that doesn’t exist, feeling a presence that isn’t there, imagining magical beings are your friends and talk to you, properly belong to the category of mental illness.

  26. EvilPuppy Says:

    2Malaysia: ‘They simply do not understand God’ … What does that mean? Does it mean you understand God? If you do, does it make you better than those who don’t? What does it mean to understand God anyway? Belief does not equal understanding. Also, if I accepted your premise that God exists, I’d say that claiming to understand a deity is arrogant and misguided. But maybe I got it wrong, so please explain.


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