Atheism’s Fine, As Long as You Don’t Do it in Public

For shame, Boing Boing. I expect better of you than this:

I think closeted atheists who participate in other religious activities are the future of atheism. They know that prayer feels good without a needing brain scientist to tell them, and they know you don’t need God to want to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and provide homes for the orphaned. What if they simply stopped reciting the words that they didn’t agree with during religious services, without calling attention to it?

Which smacks a little bit of that old chestnut, “I have no problem with gay people, as long as they don’t rub it in my face.*” Or, to use a religiously-themed analogy, imagine if said, “I think Muslims are fine, as long as they don’t do that whole weird praying five times a day thing right in front of me.” Or: “I’m cool with Jews and all, but they should really take down their mezzuzahs and get those menorahs out of the window.”

One of the most common (and tiresome) accusations critics make against atheism is that it requires just as much faith as religion, and is epistemologically no different. But if that’s true, why are non-believers alone required to conceal their [lack of] faith from others?

Answer: Because Spinrad sets up a false dichotomy. To him, you’re either sneering at anyone who believes in the existence of the divine, or you’re in the closet. He ignores the obvious middle ground, which is to be an unapologetic atheist but be an adult about it. There’s no reason why believers and non-believers alike shouldn’t be able to hold a mature discussion about their beliefs, except that faith, alone among all other kinds of belief or opinion, is supposed to be exempted from any kind of criticism or debate. We should be able to talk about this stuff without being dicks about it.

*Rubbing it in one’s face meaning, in this case, the public displays of affection that us heteros are apparently singularly entitled to.

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2 Responses

  1. Ned Resnikoff is fine, as long as you don’t do him in public.

  2. the pda’s are also fine, the turquoise and obnoxiously high pitched voices aren’t.

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