Religious Intolerance: The Atheist Bigots

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 7:59 | Filed in Articles, Faith & Forteana, Life, Politics

The subject of religion, religious clothing and the wearing of religious symbols has been much in the news in the UK recently, first with Jack Straw’s comments, then with the suspension of the classroom assistant, then the BA check-in worker claiming religious discrimination, Ruth Kelly’s continuing battles against everyone else’s extremism and of course the BBC‘s vox pops on the BA issue.

Just to recap on the issues, in case you missed ‘em —

The Jack Straw Thing

Jack Straw, Cabinet Minister and MP for Blackburn said that he would prefer Muslim women not to wear veils which cover the face, as he believed that this made community relations more difficult, although he didn’t want to be “prescriptive” about it, saying that he believed watching facial expressions was important for contact between different people.

As usual, there were different responses — the Protect-Hijab organisation not surprisingly suggesting that the comments were “appalling” however Dr Daud Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain saying that he could understand Mr Straw’s discomfort and adding that women could choose to remove the veil if they wanted.

For me, what was important is this seemed to spark a genuine debate with the majority of people being understanding of each others beliefs and points of view, and only a limited number of people seemed to feel this was a racist comment — the majority feeling that Mr Straw wasn’t insisting on the removal of veils, just saying that he preferred it, and also that it was probably about time we had a genuine public debate on this sort of thing that didn’t descend into a slanging match.

Veils In Schools

Next, a Muslim woman in a West Yorkshire school was suspended for refusing to remove the veil in lessons. The bi-lingual support worker was apparently asked to remove the veil in the classroom after children found her hard to understand during English lessons, saying that she could continue wear the veil outside the classroom. Some sources suggest that she was prepared to remove the veil if there were no male members of staff present — but that this would present further problems for the school (how do you ensure she’s with a female member of staff without sexual discrimination? What happens when the school is OFSTED inspected?).

Here we have a situation where the woman wishes to express her religious freedoms by choosing to wear a veil but the school insist that from their point of view it is having a detrimental effect on the children’s education, and therefore they insist on it being removed. In this case, I have sympathies for both sides, but I would side with the school on the basis that she’s being specifically being paid to help educate these children, and in the case where she’s there specifically for her bi-lingual ability, helping to teach children with poorer English, it’s even more important that children can benefit from watching her lips move and her facial expressions. I would have no qualms whatsoever about banning someone from teaching a class while wearing clothes that carry a political statement (whether communist, stalinist or neo-Nazi or even Liberal Democrat) because I do not believe the teacher’s political beliefs should come into the classroom. My personal opinion is therefore that it is appropriate for the woman to be asked to remove her veil in this circumstance.

It was also suggested that she had not worn the veil during interviews for the job in front of male governors of the school, and if this was the case, then this to my mind presents the argument “if you’re prepared to remove it to get the job, why not to do the job?”. However, I do have a great deal of sympathy for her because I believe that people should be entitled to follow their religion (or lack of it) as they wish, providing that they aren’t harming anyone else by doing so. In this case however, the way in which she is following her religion seems to be preventing her from carrying out her job effectively, and I believe the rights of the children in the class must be paramount — so I support the school, although I do feel sorry for the support worker concerned.

Crucifix Airways

Next, we have a woman who’s suing BA because she says that they have forced her to take unpaid leave by means of religious discrimination. What’s happened here is that she’s a Christian woman who chooses to wear a crucifix. BA’s policy is that items of religious apparel, if they can be hidden, should be hidden. This means that the wearing of a turban or hijab is permitted, as it’s not possible to hide them, but that you can’t wear a visible crucifix on a chain around your neck, if it could be hidden under your shirt.

In this situation, I wasn’t exactly sure exactly where my sympathies lied, so I though I’ll see if I can work them out. She can wear the crucifix under her shirt or blouse, yet she’s not prepared to, so on the one hand she appears to be pretty bloody minded about it. On the other hand, BA’s policy itself seems a little odd — because presumably if she chose to wear a four foot crucifix around her neck, this would be too large to hide and would presumably be perfectly ok and in line with BA’s policy despite looking a little odd.

Some people have tried to suggest that this policy is anti-Christian in outlook, but I’m not sure about this. I see where they’re coming from, in that the obvious exceptions to the policy — the tuban and the hijab — relate to other religions. This smacks almost of a certain degree of protectionism, as it does occasionally seem to me that policy makers in this country are more willing to offend Christians (for example, by banning Christmas and Easter festivities in various workplaces for fear of offending members of other religions), and yet being prepared to go to significant lengths to cater for the religious expression of other religions. I’m not saying that this necessarily is the case, merely that this is the impression that is sometimes generated.

One alternative would be suggest that BA ban all religious items of clothing which are visible, but this would obviously target the Muslim and Sikh communities more than the Christian. In this case, while I again have sympathy for her, I would again find myself agreeing with the employer’s policy because I’m not aware of any religious reasons why a crucifix must be worn so that it is visible to others — providing of course that BA apply their policy consistently and would be happy for her to wear a four-foot crucifix outside her clothes if she so chose!

…and then of course it would be interesting to see if BA had any practising Satanists who had some large religious symbol that needed to be worn outside their clothing…

Ruth Kelly And Extremism

And then we have Ruth Kelly, associate of the ultra-conservative Catholic sect Opus Dei, who is urging that all communities in the UK battle against extremism. While she makes the point that extremism isn’t restricted to Muslim communities :

the far right is still with us, still poisonous, still trying to create and exploit divisionsRuth Kelly

…it does seem a nonsense that someone who is herself associated with an extremist religious organisation should be telling the rest of us to combat extremism. You either have a right to believe what you feel is right, regardless of whether or not other people view that as extremist, or you don’t (personally, my belief is that providing you don’t act on a belief in some way which causes you to break the law, you can hold whatever beliefs you like). But Ms Kelly seems to think that we must all play our part in battling extremism. Right you are Ms Kelly, let’s start with Opus Dei, shall we? Or is it only extremism when it’s someone’s else’s religion or political ideology?

Vox Pops

And then of course the BBC have posed the question “should religious expression in the workplace be a right?” — which obviously acts as encouragement for a number of rational people to make rational points, and also for erm … other people to make their points, too.

I would like to see expressions of religion in public places eradicated. Only then would I feel safe from these creepy nutters.

Lovely piece of religious intolerance there, presumably from an atheist. That’s right; you’re free to believe whatever you want, providing it’s the same as me. If you believe anything else, you’re wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated. In fact, why don’t we burn them at the stake?

Of course, I’m guessing this comment was tongue-in-cheek, but it still highlights the fact that when it comes to religious intolerance, atheists can be the biggest bigots around. You don’t believe me? Read on …

You should have the right to have Christian symbols as this is a Christian country. Other religions should have some right to display symbols if done responsibly.

A number of people made this assumption — that the UK is a CofE country, whereas in my experience it’s a country full of agnostics who go to church for weddings, christenings and funerals. Exactly what proportion of the country go to church regularly (say at least every other week?). We also live in a secular society — quite rightly in my opinion, given that there’s more than one religion our laws could be based on — where our laws are written from a non-religious perspective. I don’t therefore believe that any religion in this country (or indeed anywhere else) should have more rights than anothers. Obviously in a country under religious, rather than secular law, you’re much less likely to find this position…

I am sick and tired of employers banning Christian symbols, festivals etc so as ‘not to offend anyone.’ The backlash is nearly always against Muslims, who have never even been asked if they are offended. As a Muslim, I will always fight for the right of anyone who is not allowed to wear a cross.

It is time the Christians of this country realised that it is not us Muslims who driving this anti-Christian agenda, but is in fact the secularists/atheists who would rather see religion eliminated.

That’s an interesting point of view, suggesting that perhaps the religious groups are more tolerant of each other than is generally believed, and it’s the atheists who are causing the trouble. Like I’ve said, this is also my personal experience: most religious people I know are happy to discuss their beliefs with one another and agree to differ; many atheists publicly propound that other people are wrong (such as the noted atheist Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion). There’s no such thing as live and let live when you’re a true believer in atheism!

I’m a devout Christian and wear a cross but I don’t really see any problem with BA’s stance. I don’t wear a cross for other people to see, I wear it because I’m continually amazed at what God did for me.

That’s pretty much what I was thinking: I understand that by their nature, people who believe they should wear a hijab or a turban don’t have much choice other than to have it visible, whereas someone who wears a crucifix is under no obligation to have it visible (unless your job in some way relates to religion — I’d forgive the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury, for example).

No! Religious expression should be confined to the home and designated places of worship.

Why? I can understand the argument for smoking – passive smoking can be harmful. I’ve yet to see any evidence that “passive religion” can kill…

This is equally the same tired argument used for many years against homosexuality — they can do what they want in their own homes, but they shouldn’t do it in public (presumably because the person is thinking “I don’t like it” or “urgh! it’s just not right, is it?”). In order to make this fair, we should equally ban public displays of heterosexuality (people kissing, wearing wedding rings and having children) and also insist that everyone must publicly accept agnosticism — public pronouncements of atheism would also be banned as this is also a belief.

I suggest a ban on all sorts of religious symbols and imagery everywhere until sufficient evidence is produced to verify the existence of a “god”.

Yes, that’s right. Atheists are so sure of their position, aren’t they? It’s perfectly all right to be intolerant of religions if you’re an atheist, isn’t it? No, it isn’t. It’s just as offensive, just as rude and just as bigoted. Take your narrow minded ideas and shove them up your…

Religions symbols and clothing of this kind are essentially badges for weak minded who lack a connection with their own identity.

You might be right, at least in some cases. But equally you’d have to argue that every wearer of a Newcastle, Liverpool, any other football shirt — or indeed any shirt associated with a band, or any item of clothing that carries a “brand” — is a weak-minded individual who lacks a connection with his own identity. I honestly don’t think this is the case, simply because someone identifies with a group — whether a religious group, a rock group or a football team, does not make them a weak minded individual who lack a connection with their own identity.

This isn’t necessarily an argument from atheism, but smacks of one — again that someone who feels the “need” to be religious is inherently a worse person than someone who isn’t religious. In many cases it’s not because they are a weak minded individual but because they believe in a God. You will get weak minded followers of religion. Equally, you’ll get weak minded people who aren’t religious.

It is again a broad, sweeping, over-generalised and offensive anti-religious brush used here. Is there any reason why you’re so intolerant of other people’s views? Would you be equally intolerant of someone else’s political views, if they disagreed with your own?

It is not religion that’s the problem; it’s intolerance and an inability to accept that other people are entitled to a point of view that’s the problem.

It is not a “right” to express Christian faith — it is a duty. The amount of godless comments on this forum show just how great the need to tell of Christ is these days.

Well, if you’re Christian, it may be a duty. It may be a duty of you to express a different religion if you’re a member of that religion. While this is telling point that followers of many religions will feel it’s a duty, rather than a right, to express their religion identify, it is also another comment which smacks of “I’m right, you’re wrong and you’re not entitled to hold those views” which to my mind have no place in any debate.

There are also a number of people who feel that the “Britishness” of British Airways should somehow mean it should embrace Christianity:

I’m stunned how a company that uses the term “British” in it’s logo is so keen to eradicate one of the cornerstones of British culture

Again, my experience is that religion isn’t one of the cornerstones of British culture — many people are religious, but many people aren’t, and one group’s beliefs shouldn’t be put forward at the expense of another’s. Admittedly, the British flag incorporates the crosses of St Andrew and St George, who are both Christian figures, and while I would not in any way seek to suggest this means our secular country should have a different flag, I’d equally suggest that someone is entitled to use the Union Jack without someone else telling them they can’t use it unless they honour its religious significance.

A lot of people seem to think that it’s unfair because it’s the Christians that are being singled out:

As long as it is across the board thats fine, but BA are making exceptions for other religions. You can’t say that X cannot express his religion and has to cover it up, when Y is allowed to because there expression cannot be concealed!

Like I said before, I eventually agreed with BA on this issue, but I do have a lot of sympathy for this point of view, because on the surface it does certainly appear as though members of some religions are being told they can wear their religious dress and others can’t (or have to conceal it). However, providing it’s only a matter of whether or not it can be hidden and BA would be happy for someone to wear a four foot crucifix, then this isn’t the case. If BA would object to an extra-large crucifix, then we would need to ask them why that particular symbol is objected to but not others.

Although it has also been noted that Christians can choose to wear a cross — it’s not mandated, and therefore this doesn’t amount to religious discrimination:

This woman is citing religious discrimination when it clearly is nothing of the kind. Afterall, Christians are not required to wear the Cross.

…but let’s not forget that Dr Daud Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain said women could choose to remove the veil if they wanted. So an extension of this argument would equally mean that BA could ban wearing of the Hijab without discriminating on the grounds of religion.

I’m a British Muslim male and feel expressions of faith, whether Christian crosses, Islamic niqabs, Jewish skull caps, or symbols of other beliefs and none should be welcome in the workplace.

That’s fine. Someone from a religion making it clear that they are religious, telling us what their beliefs are and demonstrating that they believe they should apply equally to everyone. I’m not sure I would go as far as this in banning religious expression, but I can’t deny that this person is being fair and even-handed about it.

Would an atheist be allowed to wear jewellery like that? If not, then to allow a Christian to wear it is to discriminate against atheists.

… erm, I dunno — I’ll see if I can find you an answer …

I used to work for British Airways and their uniform poliy s quite explicit – ALL necklaces are to be hidden whilst in uniform.

Well that’s fair enough then. All necklaces are to be hidden. It’s hardly religious discrimination then, is it?

If people want to wear a simple necklace, fine. Wearing a full tent-like garment is not expressing subservience to a religion, it is a nasty political statement that rejects everything modern Britain stands for.

Silly me! I was thinking one of the things modern Britain stood for was a respect for other people’s beliefs and condemnation of intolerance and bigotry. Still, no one appears to have told the atheists…

Quite simple really – there should be no religious expression in public. Too many people seem not to have noticed that we are in the 21st century now, not the 1st.

Yes, that’s right. And presumably because we’re in the 21st century we all have to agree with you, and if we don’t we’re simply throwbacks to the first century. Thanks for that. That’s another lovely polite argument from an atheist expressing their religious intolerance. I’m surprised you didn’t suggest banning Christmas while you were on?

As a matter of fact, given the amount of religious intolerance being propounded from an atheist viewpoint, I’m beginning to wonder whether public expressions of atheism should be banned — as proponents of it certainly appear to be bigoted and intolerant to me.

i dont care what you believe in, and i have the right not to believe in anything as backwards as a “god”,

Let’s get this right. You don’t care what I believe in, but if I do believe in a ‘god’, then I’m backwards. Dearie me. I’d dread to think what you’d have said if you did care what I believed in. Again: bigoted, intolerant, atheist.

Why do religious people feel that they have to puplicly express their religion? Religion seems to be the primary reason why there is a significant amount of controversy in the world.

Honestly, the solution is just obvious!plus, ho wcan you rely on a book written years ago?

Again, if atheist people are allowed to publicly express their atheism, why shouldn’t religious people be allowed to express their religion? Or does religious tolerance only go so far? I have no objection to someone being atheist; I’m even happy to be told their views. I wouldn’t want them to seek to “convert” me, anymore than I expect they’d like me to try and convert them. I respect their beliefs, they should respect mine. Or do atheists really have a problem with this?

And as for the “book” comment, many people are quite happy to rely on historical documentation to help us understand the Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilisations — or would you also doubt whether these ever existed because we base this information on documents written “years ago”? And how many “years ago” does a document have to be written before we reject its historical accuracy, anyway? Or is it just religious texts that come under question?

why is it that secular liberals who freely pronounce their own ideolgocial positions are so against believers expressing their views? Their lack of tolerance on the matter shows just how hypocritical they really are. They criticise believers for their perceived lack of tolerance but if they really believe in tolerance why don’t you show some to those who disagree with them?

Exactly my point. I couldn’t have put it better myself, although I’m not averse to repeating the point many times…

If atheists are more tolerant and are right to blame religion for evils of the world, then it’s about time they started demonstrating this tolerance. Currently they appear to be the most bigoted and intolerant bunch out there…

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40 Comments to Religious Intolerance: The Atheist Bigots

  1. Sean says:

    November 13th, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    Hi JackP,

    A few comments regarding the above, and a rant of my own!

    I don’t agree with veils in schools, they certainly cause communication problems. But, apart from this, what does this woman have against men anyway? Is her religion teaching her to be sexist, intolerant towards men?

    Live and Let Live:
    “It is time the Christians of this country realised that it is not us Muslims who driving this anti-Christian agenda, but is in fact the secularists/atheists who would rather see religion eliminated.”

    For the most part Atheists/Secularists don’t give a damn about religion unless it is being imposed on them, harming, and treating others unfairly within society. That is why we criticise religion. Perhaps atheists criticise because theists fail to criticise the nasties in their religion? Strange how atheists never or rarely criticise benign religions.

    “Like I’ve said, this is also my personal experience: most religious people I know are happy to discuss their beliefs with one another and agree to differ; many atheists publicly propound that other people are wrong (such as the noted atheist Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion). There’s no such thing as live and let live when you’re a true believer in atheism!”

    You mention Dawkins, well, why shouldn’t he criticise religion, when the religious fundamentalist bigots continue to attack and misinform the populace about science and non-believers?

    For the most part nominal/moderate Christians, Muslims, and Atheists get along fine. Unfortunatly, it is the fundamentalists (true believers), as well as the media (who make major issues out of something that the majority of us couldn’t careless about) that are the problem.

    The fundamentalists attack science, as well as other social groups (gays, non-believers, followers of other religions, etc). They justify their actions with the use of their exclusive, biased, tribalistic teachings, teachings that for the most part, demean, insult and degrade non-believers and members of other social groups.

    When a person who is being attacked by these overly pious religious bigots, what is he or she supposed to do? Sit back and enjoy the persecution, or should they make a stance, and fight back?

    If it wasn’t for people fighting back, then western society would never have got rid of slavery, women would not be able to vote, slaughtering non-believers and homosexuals would still be acceptable.

    Please remember that fundamentalist theists, due to their intolerant exclusive teachings, are the ones making the intitial attack. While moderates of any religion continue to sit back, ignore, or make excuses for those who use the hate literature that exists within these religions, others will stand up and criticise. If people did not criticise, we would soon be living in a theocratic dictatorship. For many, the only way they can counter the extremist views that persist within religious circles, is by debunking the religion or exposing the hypocrisy and extremism that would otherwise be ignored by the moderates.

    No doubt, this criticism is unfortunate for the many moderates who peacefully follow religion, but while they fail to criticise the religious extremism and the teachings they use, others won’t fail.



  2. JackP says:

    November 14th, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    I still stand by my beliefs Dawkins shouldn’t criticise religion; he should criticise those who use religion falsely to criticise science, homosexuality, sexual equality and so on. Tarring religion with a “bad” brush is the same as saying all England fans are hooligans: incorrect and offensive to the majority.

    And I think you’ll find moderates of most religions will stand up and disagree with those who whip up a frenzy – but moderates and reasoned viewpoints don’t make such good copy, so you’ve got to look that much harder to find their views expressed in the media.

    I don’t buy that “fundamental theists are making the initial attack”, and even if they are, so what? Surely the whole point is that the time has come for us to grow up and live together as a society, rather than bickering over who started the argument in the first place?

    The muslim veil thing is about cultural modesty; our culture dictates that – to be crude about it – we shouldn’t walk about “tackle out”. Yet no-one is suggesting that our cultural taboos shouldn’t be re-examined – so if we’re not prepared to look at our own cultural mores, why should other cultures and religions be forced to?

    I also think that you’re making a mistake in labelling fundamentalists as “true believers”. Fundamentalism is a particular interpretation of a religion and deserves no more to be called a true believer than the “moderates” you mention – or is your own perception of religion so coloured that only those fundamentalists are religious and moderates don’t really count as religious, because you can get along with them ok?

    But I do agree with your main point – moderates should stand up and make their voices heard against extremism. But this does require the media to be prepared to listen…

  3. Sean says:

    November 15th, 2006 at 5:26 am

    Hi JackP,

    “I still stand by my beliefs Dawkins shouldn’t criticise religion; he should criticise those who use religion falsely to criticise science, homosexuality, sexual equality and so on. Tarring religion with a “bad” brush is the same as saying all England fans are hooligans: incorrect and offensive to the majority.”

    How can you avoid criticising religion, when religious scripture is used to justify attacks on science, and promote hatred against homosexuals and members of other social groups? Why shouldn’t these religious beliefs and teachings be criticised?

    How can they be using religion falsely, when they are doing what their teachings dictate? We have to remember, although religious texts do contain some very good moral standards, they also contain some very bad ones, ones that divide, and label other social groups as anti, evil, anathema, immoral, etc, just because the other group does not believe in their particular religion – these texts influence avid believers.

    Of course, I do agree that there are some good points with religion, but, this still does not take away the fact that religious teachings are fundamentaly flawed, and are used to incite hatred towards other groups who do not fit with what their teachings dictate.

    You mention football hooligans(extremists). Football is a form of tribalism, we know the vast majority of football fans(moderates) are decent folk, same with many religious folk(moderates), they too are decent people. Difference is, football itself has no ossified scripture influencing extremism. But, football fans create songs, chants, severely demeaning/insulting other team fans and players. People lose their sense of reason, and take the events too seriously, leading to group violence. Of course, some just fight for the fun of it. Religion is very similar to football, only they already have their songs, chants, in scripture seriously demeaning/insulting other team players, leading to persecution and violence only on a much bigger, more dangerous scale – Very similar indeed!!

    “I don’t buy that “fundamental theists are making the initial attack”, and even if they are, so what? Surely the whole point is that the time has come for us to grow up and live together as a society, rather than bickering over who started the argument in the first place?”

    Oh but they are! Their beliefs stem from their scripture, fundamentalists (or if you want to term them extremists) often avidly adhere to their ossified tribalistic teachings, this causes them to be highly intolerant of other world views, leading to persecution, oppression, and sometimes violence. Because those ossified teachings remain, extremist views will perpetuate. These people find it very difficult to accept other views, both cultural/religious and scientific (regardless of any evidence showing how wrong they are). They usually stop at nothing to voice their extremist views and often rely on people’s ignorance to gain support, leading others to defend themselves against their extreme beliefs. Science does not delibarately go out of its way to debunk religion, but, because it gives a more accurate picture of what is going on, and is contrary to religious scripture, so fundies attack science. Because of this, fundies have now got their way in some US states. In these states Science books now have warning stickers discrediting evolution. They are also teaching children the terribly flawed Intelligent Design hypothesis (Modern day creationism disguised as science). I think scientists have a right to criticise religion, their agendas, particulary when these people interfere with the advancement of medicine and teach pseudoscience as fact.

    People have a right to criticise religious beliefs and their texts when they induce, and influence biased, hateful views of other social groups. There is no reason why religion should be protected from any criticism.

    Protecting religion, or any political system from criticism would land us in a totalitarian regime.

    I do agree with you though, it is about time the world grew up, and stopped bickering over differences, unfortunatly, this will never happen, too much cultural, political, religious division.

    “I also think that you’re making a mistake in labelling fundamentalists as “true believers”. Fundamentalism is a particular interpretation of a religion and deserves no more to be called a true believer than the “moderates” you mention

    Maybe I am wrong to call fundies true believers, perhaps I should call true believers “extremists”.

    In my experience, (and I have had a great deal of experience with both moderates and extremists). Extremists are usually avid believers, often know their scriptures word for word, often criticise those who do not comply with their teachings, they avidly adhere to their ethos. They tend to defend and condone scripture that would be considered immoral by today’s standards. Extremists generally consider their texts to be inerrant, the absolute truth.

    Moderates tend to be more liberal when it comes to their teachings, and pick and choose scripture that best fits with what is currently socially acceptable, they tend to discard the scripture that would be considered immoral by today’s standards. They tend to be more flexable and accepting of others when it comes to cultural/religious differences. Unfortunatly, moderates also tend to defend their religion/scripture, when extremists take their teachings too seriously.

    “But I do agree with your main point – moderates should stand up and make their voices heard against extremism.”

    Nice to know you agree with some of my rant. Anyway, can’t wait to see your responce to this one – heh!



  4. JackP says:

    November 15th, 2006 at 6:30 pm

    Interesting debate, innit, Sean? What’s nice to see is that while we obviously disagree on certain points, we’re not at each others throats about it. Shame not everyone’s so grown up :-)

    You ask how I can avoid criticising religion when religious scripture is used to justify attacks on science, homosexuals etc. I don’t know a great deal about most religions, and the one I know best is probably Christianity, so I hope you don’t mind if I take the question onto just Christianity and answer from that point of view.

    Again, the problem is not the religion, but the interpretation of the religious texts and the particular beliefs that arise from them. I’m semi-Christian: certainly Christian in terms of my ethos, it’s just the “believing in God and an afterlife” bit where I go all agnostic.

    However, my understanding – and that of a CofE vicar I know is that you have to form your own beliefs through interpretation of the world around you, through your own sense of right and wrong, and through interpretation of what you believe to be the appropriate meaning behind the religious text.

    I would agree that you can use the Bible to criticise pretty much anything; from homosexuality to those criticising that specifically while not addressing their own failings:

    He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at herJesus Christ (Gospel according to St. John, Ch.8 v7)

    You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.Jesus Christ (Gospel according to St. Matthew, Ch.7 v5)

    As you note, the Bible can be used to promote sexism and homophobia. I would argue that even if the message behind it is divinely inspired, it is coloured by the interpretations and writings of its time and our culture has changed – so that sexism and homophobia are now regarded as wrong.

    Therefore I would argue – and I think this is what you’re saying – that someone who takes a literal interpretation of the Bible, and particularly only uses the pieces that support their own prejudices – is wrong. And I would suggest that someone who is doing so isn’t exhibiting what I would term Christian behaviour.

    I also disagree where you suggest that football itself has no “ossified scripture influencing extremism”. I’d suggest you look a bit deeper into the extremist culture surrounding Scotland’s largest two clubs — the documentation on States Of Scotland might be a start.

    It could be argued that this is indicative of religious tribalism – and it certainly has its roots there – but the sectarian nature is reflected also in many non-believing fans who still buy into it, because of team loyalties. I’ve also recently written an article on Bigotry In The UK, focussing on football, which I’ve only just published but was what made me think of the example in the first place.

    You mention the Intelligent Design hypothesis (or as I think of it “unintelligent theory”) and the fact that evolution is taught as only a theory. The problem here is not that evolution is taught as only a theory but that what a scientific theory is is not in itself adequately explained. After all, gravity is also only a theory.

    A theory is arrived at from a testable hypothesis: Intelligent Design is not such and therefore has no place in science. What cannot be tested is not science. This applies to intelligent design and to all forms of belief — theist and atheist.

    If the “fundies” (nice term btw) insist on having that applied to evolution, then in the interests of fairness it must also be applied to every single scientific thought or principle. Which would be a nonsense, but it would be a consistent approach. However, if they are prepared to accept some theories as fact and not others, it’s again a reflection of their inherent prejudices, rather than religion itself that is the problem.

    You say that “people have a right to criticise religious beliefs and their texts when they induce, and influence biased, hateful views of other social groups”. Not quite right. People have a right to criticise any beliefs or texts which do this — leaving it just at religious ones is clearly unfair.

    I think you missed what I was trying to say about “true believers”:

    Extremists generally consider their texts to be inerrant, the absolute truthSean

    I agree. But that does not make their interpretation right. I would argue that a true believer would be more likely to uphold the principles of their faith; and for Christianity, I believe this to be tolerance, compassion, forgiveness, justice and mercy. I would say I’m more of a true believer than a firebrand who ferments bigotry.

    On a final note, rather than illustrating where we disagree, why don’t we compile a list of what we can agree on?

  5. Sean says:

    November 16th, 2006 at 12:22 am

    Hi JackP,

    “Again, the problem is not the religion, but the interpretation of the religious texts and the particular beliefs that arise from them.”

    You are kind of shifting the blame from religion, and then noting a problem with the interpretation of the religions texts. To me, this shows the texts are flawed, really, the texts should be clear and consice, and should not need any interpretation. But, yes, religious texts are open to interpretation, but, who is to say which interpretation is correct? Those texts, whether good or bad influence the followers of the religion – You can’t separate religion from its scipture – claiming religion is not to blame doesn’t wash.

    “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her” Jesus Christ (Gospel according to St. John, Ch.8 v7)”

    I’m sorry, but I always have a chuckle when I see this one. Firstly, I disagree with the term sin, but, let’s say that some overly righteous person believed he was without sin, poor woman! If Jesus was without sin, why didn’t he stone her? hmm!

    Anyway, yes, morally, our culture has changed, cultures constantly change, unless they are forced to adhere to a set in stone moral code(flawed or not). Our culture has changed, not through adherence to biblical scripture, but by moving away from it, and using our own judgement with what is right or wrong. This has led to a more fair, and less oppressive society; because of this, slavery was abolished, people can now work on Sundays, women now have equal rights, non-believers and homosexuals also have more rights, etc.

    “Therefore I would argue – and I think this is what you’re saying – that someone who takes a literal interpretation of the Bible, and particularly only uses the pieces that support their own prejudices – is wrong.”

    People who take the Bible literally, and attempt to apply those teachings today, are a danger to society. You mention their own prejudices, I would suggest that for the most part, those prejudices stem from others in society (parents, friends, etc), who intern received those prejudices from their parents, etc, who somewhere along the line received their prejudices from the Christian ethos – Bible.

    “And I would suggest that someone who is doing so isn’t exhibiting what I would term Christian behaviour.”

    Christian behaviour can be whatever you want it be.

    “I also disagree where you suggest that football itself has no ossified scripture influencing extremism”

    When I was refering to football, I was meaning football fans as a whole, and not fans that are influenced by their religious/cultural biases. Football fans themselves do not have any set in stone scripture that must be obeyed where football is concerned. But, songs, chants, kind of become the scripture. These songs, lyrics, influence their behaviour. You brought the religious sectarianism issue into the football picture, so, really, these people who are fans of one team, because that is what protestants do, and catholics the other team, really, they are using football as an extension of the religious division/tribalism that already exists. All I’m really saying here, is that football and religion are very similar forms of tribalism. Attitudes between football fans(not including the religious) can easily change, because they have no set rule, where as with religion, it is difficult, because they do have set rules – biases – intolerances within their scriptures.

    “However, if they are prepared to accept some theories as fact and not others, it’s again a reflection of their inherent prejudices, rather than religion itself that is the problem.”

    Inherent prejudices that stem from their religion – I’ve found that for most part, Intelligent Design advocates tend to be creationists, who believe that the Bible creation myth is the literal truth. However, because they are attempting to merge God with science, they ‘dishonestly’ claim to accept some of the facts regarding evolution. It’s really a pretence to bring God into science.

    “Not quite right. People have a right to criticise any beliefs or texts which do this — leaving it just at religious ones is clearly unfair.”

    I totally agree! But, we were discussing religion, so I kept to the topic.

    “I would argue that a true believer would be more likely to uphold the principles of their faith; and for Christianity, I believe this to be tolerance, compassion, forgiveness, justice and mercy.”

    I agree, likewise, the other brand of true believer would still be upholding the principles of their faith, intolerance of those who deny Christ, forgiveness of those who belong to the same religion, justice and mercy. Of course, their version of justice and mercy may be different to yours. They may believe that putting non-believers to death, or imprisioning
    those who blaspheme is justice – you may believe that this is not justice.

    John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned – Are you sure Christianity is about forgiveness? this verse could be interpretated as to what men should do to those who do not abide in christ – burn them!

    Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. – He that is not with me is against me (this kind of pits groups against each other – fighting talk)

    1 Corinthians 16:22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema (damned) – How nice!

    Mark 3:29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. – What was that about forgiveness? hmm

    Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? – nice attitute! Non-believers cannot be good.

    Luke 10:10-15 Jesus threatens the destruction of people in a city, because they did not want to listen to his threats.

    I’m unsure about your version of Christianity, it seems to differ from what is being said in the teachings. But, of course, there are other verses which perhaps contradict the above – again, Christianity be whatever you want it to be.

    Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. – I would say those who take up serpents, drink poison, faith heal, are more true to christianity than those who do not.

    Anyway, must go. Thanks for the email by the way. I do have a few contacts, somewhere. AR is a resource for Atheists, I don’t intend to promote any religion, although it would be nice to introduce a few links for those who try to move on from their religious dogma and differences, while attempting to meet on common ground. If you know of any, please let me know. Thx!

    Great blog by the way! And it’s a pleasure ranting with you – nice and polite!



  6. JackP says:

    November 16th, 2006 at 9:28 am

    I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on whether you can or can’t separate religion from it’s scripture. I see the Bible as having been written by early Christians and as a retelling or an oral tradition of the Jewish peoples. I do not see it as the direct word of God. The point I was trying to illustrate – which you seem to pick up on, is that the Bible is self-contradictory (Adam and Eve’s children get married to some other people, for example).

    It therefore cannot be entirely the literal truth; it may contain some literal truths, but as a way to live your live it needs to be interpreted. You’ve also missed a point about Jesus:

    If Jesus was without sin, why didn’t he stone her?

    For at start, the story is used to illustrate the hypocrisy of the others. Jesus didn’t want to stone her. Equally, Jesus wasn’t without sin (or at least the temptation to succumb to sin). The Christian tradition tells that he was a human incarnation of divinity on earth, and therefore would have felt the same desires and temptations as the rest of us – although what he actually carried out may have been a different matter.

    The point of the story is not to say “throw stones at people if you haven’t done anything wrong”, it’s to illustrate Jesus’ capacity for understanding and forgiveness (as well as highlighting the hypocrisy of the others): at other times he associates with other people who were rejected by society – a prostitute and a tax collector – and also shows other ethnic groups can also be good people (the Good Samaritan). You’re right to challenge those Christians (or members of other religions) who act in a bigoted manner (I would challenge them too), but I feel that from your atheistic standpoint you’re missing part of the message (or misinterpreting it).

    You may be right in tracing some prejudices back to the Bible. However, you’re missing a key point. Either it was divinely inspired (which I doubt you believe) or it was written by mankind and is therefore a reflection of the inherent prejudices of mankind. You can’t have it both ways: if there is no God, then any prejudices are a reflection of society as a whole, and the people who wrote the religious texts are no more to blame than the rest of society.

    Back to intelligent design. ID proponents are creationists, plain and simple. They just have invented a new and more scientific sounding phrase now that creationism has been discredited. It is fraudulent to bring God into science (unless of course someone can test the existence of God); equally as science doesn’t make moral judgements, or can test the existence of an afterlife, ways of living your life and belief are outside the scope of science.

    It’s true to note that the attitude towards non-believers has changed, but so too has the attitude towards Christianity changed: when the New Testament was written, Christians were being persecuted. Perhaps this part is therefore a reflection of the isolation and persecution the writers felt, as it does appear to be different to what I see as Jesus’ central message of love, peace and understanding. At least that’s the way I interpret it.

    But maybe not. Maybe it is the literal truth. Maybe I will burn in eternal damnation next to you, simply because I’ve blasphemed occasionally (although we would be in different circles of Dante’s hell). But I’m never going to find out in this life…

  7. Sean says:

    November 16th, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Hi JackP,

    I understood your point with John, Ch.8 v7. As I’ve stated before, there are some good verses in the Bible, but there are also others that don’t need any interpretation, which tend to be highly intolerant of others and promote an array of highly unethical, immoral guides that most people today would find aborant – racism(Jesus calls a Greek woman a dog – Swine was also considered a racial/derogatory term – Heathen was a derogatory term for foreigners/people outside of the city), sexism, condoning of slavery, etc. There are even verses commanding people to chop off their limbs, and asking potential followers to let the dead bury the dead(not very caring).

    There is an awful lot wrong in the Bible, but yes, like most religions (old and new) they contain some good positive advice. Really though, I do not think that these so-called Holy books are needed as guides for morality. People use their own sense of morality, and reasoning to judge what is good or bad in these books anyway. Although these books can influence behaviour, I think most people are naturally decent without.

    What concerns me is the fanatics, extremists(true believers) who take the teachings as the literal truth, and try to apply both good/bad verses to their lives and impose their views on society – these people basically ‘live’ the Bible. This is what their god wants them to do – no acceptions/no compromise. I find these people very dangerious, especially when they influence politics.

    I don’t view the Bible as the word of a God, I don’t believe any book is influenced by anything devine. The Bible is brimming with plagiarised and interpolated ideas/concepts from many earlier religions and pagan myths. Of course, I do believe the Bible reflects the inherent prejudices of mankind. It also reflects our empathy and other decent values that can be attributed to our humanity. I’m also not convinced that Jesus existed as an historical person, but that’s another issue (So, when I say Jesus said – don’t take that as I believe he actually said it)

    The inherent prejudices as you call them, came from our ancestors’ tribalism, ignorance and fears. These prejudices were included in scripture. Because people had to adhere to scripture(death and other extreme punishments were the usual alternative) these early ignorant tribal biases became further ingrained in societies. The Bible(along with other tribalistic books) perpetuated those biases. Over the last 300-400 yrs or so, people have been slowly moving away from the Bible, due to education and other worldy knowledge. Because of this, many of the prejudices that the Bible perpetuated are dissipating – Sexism, Homophobia, general hatred of other social groups, anti-Semitism(which was rife throughout the ages, and taught within mainstream Christianity well into the 1950s), etc.

    One example I like to use is: left-handedness. Anti-lefty values have existed in many cultures. The Bible if you look for it, is brimming with a dislike of the left. The Church throughout the ages viewed the left as not with God. Left-handed people were persecuted(the left was even associated with witchcraft). This persecution of the left existed well into the 1970s in the UK – although by this time it was almost unheard of. Children were forced to use their right hands. I have fond memories of a Catholic school teacher who had a temp job at the secular school I attended – she took great pleasure in strapping my left-hand behind my back to force me to use my right hand – Thankfully, she was only temping for a couple of week. Today, this attitude towards the left-handed has almost vanished. It is no longer taught.

    I really think, that that book has done more damage to society, than it has done good. It has stiffled and heldback humanities tendancy to overcome differences, by creating and perpetuating division, biases within societies.

    Now, moving on, you make a point that Jesus wasn’t without sin (or at least the temptation to succumb to sin) – I agree, and there is a verse that suggests Jesus was a sinner: Matthew 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

    Countless Christians will say that Jesus was sinless. At least you make room for the possibility of him being a sinner – (the different flavours of Christian beliefs astound me – sooo many differences)

    ID(Idiotic Delusions) – I agree, it is creationism disguised as science. And yes, science has nothing to do with morality.

    By the way, I wouldn’t go into the issue that Christians were overly persecuted, it wasn’t as rife as you may think. Remember, history is wrote by the victor and contains a lot of propaganda from all sides involved. Rome was very tolerant of other religions, for the most part, early Christians were viewed as trouble causers, and blasphemers.
    Origen (185-254) Christians were rarely persecuted “and only from time to time, and at intervals”. Of course, that changed when Constantine made it the official religion(for political reasons). Since then, Christians persecuted and destroyed anything that was contrary to the faith.

    Anyway, must go – pleasure ranting again!



  8. JackP says:

    November 16th, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Sean (and anyone else listening, but I think it’s just us two now)…

    Even if I’m agnostic about the existence of God or otherwise (I suppose I’m a quasi-Christian agnostic), I’m prepared to accept that Jesus Christ was a historical figure – but, like much of the rest of it, I wouldn’t seek to force my beliefs on anyone else. To me, that’s the whole thing about “spirituality”, if you’ll excuse the term: everyone has to seek their own paths to establish what they believe is an answer, and what they believe is a way to live their life. And I’ll include atheism in that – that’s why I was apologising for the term “spirituality”!

    I think that’s probably it from me now – we agree on the majority of points, and the ones we differ on we’re not going to convince each other on and respect each others right to an opinion!

    PS I’m a left-handed quasi-Christian agnostic who was brought up as an atheist, and remained so until I was about 26, if that’s of any interest. And I’m a lefty too: we’re the forgotten minority society continues to discriminate against.…

  9. Sean says:

    November 16th, 2006 at 9:39 pm

    Yeah, same here! Anyway, it made a change having a pleasent, light discussion – I usually have to deal with the fire and brimstone preachers – stressful!! (just hope I haven’t bored your regular visitors to death – hehe)

    Nice to know other lefties are putting their talents to good use on the net!(we’re a creative bunch)

    Take care!


  10. Travis Gibby says:

    December 20th, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    Hi, my name is Travis Gibby and I am an Atheist. I want to speak openly and frankly. I hope that I won’t come across as condescending or harsh-sounding. I face prejudice as an obstacle though. I face my own prejudice towards conservative Christians, who I tend to distrust. I am not proud of it and I try hard to overcome it. I also face prejudice towards Atheists and this is what I want to talk about.
    At the heart of this discussion seems to be the mistaken notion, that Theists are much more tolerant than atheists. To be sure, there is intolerance coming from Atheists. Elton John recently said about religion, “I would ban it completely.” Which seems to imply that religious people do not have the right to practice their beliefs. I do not agree with that view and I doubt many Atheists do. That being said, it seems to me that much of the supposed intolerance of atheism, is merely criticism of religion. Sam Harris and Bertrand Russel have often been accused of intolerance and someone here mentioned Richard Dawkins. However, I don’t know of any statement any of these people have made that would suggest that religious people are less valuable or deserve fewer rights than irreligious people. Religious people criticise atheism all the time, we don’t accuse them of being intolerant for that.
    On the other hand, there are a lot of intolerant statements that are being directed towards irreligious and secularists that get little attention. When George H. W. Bush said in a news conference, that he didn’t, “know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriotic. This is one nation under God.” Only one reporter in the room thought that his intolerant statement was newsworthy. Consider how the press might have reacted had Mr. Bush said, “No I don’t know that Jews should be considered citizens.” There was another incident in which Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson blamed the September 11th attacks on homosexuals, Pagans, secularists, and the ACLU. A new study conducted by the University of Minnesota suggests that atheists may be America’s least trusted minority.
    To many, this study was surprising, but it’s not so surprising when you consider that even some dictionaries and encyclopedias define atheism with negative connotations. includes, “Godless; immoral” as one of the definitions for atheism. The Catholic Encyclopedia defined it as the denial of God stemming from moral failure, and that “Practical atheists” were people who claim to believe in God but behave immorally. The term “practical atheist” is meaningless a person either believes in God(s) or he doesn’t, but by defining atheism with prejudicial connotations, theists can achieve a cheap victory over atheism. The best definition for atheism is found in most dictionaries, it is the lack of theistic belief.
    Another thing that has often been called intolerance is when atheists protest against public schools from favoring theism of atheism. I don’t think that this is a fair criticism; especially since many religious groups have fought to secularize the public school system as well.

    I hope that I have helped some theists understand the atheists point of view better.

    Travis Gibby

  11. JackP says:

    December 20th, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    I did not, and would never say that theists are more tolerant than atheists. The point was that you get bigots on both side and it seems – in the UK at least – that religious people are being sidelined.

    for example, there was a recent most on my site where someone said that religious belief should be classified as a mental disorder. I found that crass, and very offensive.

    Equally, I would object to fundamentalists of any religion who insist that others are wrong or are lesser people.

    I guess it’s very different in the US (a much more Christian society) to the UK (a much more secular society). In the UK, the religious people feel like the persecuted minority…

    Bigotry is wrong, plain and simple. People should be allowed to find their own religious beliefs (or lack of them) without other people judging them on that basis.

    I would wholeheartedly agree with your comments on “practical atheism”. Either someone believes or they don’t. If they do believe, they either do or don’t follow what their personal religion tells them to do (I use personal deliberately here, as many religious texts can be misused and exploited to suit agendas people already have).

    As I understand your point of view Travis, aside from personal belief, I would wholeheartedly endorse it. My objection is not with the majority of atheists (similar to the majority of theists) who would be happy for people to practice their own beliefs, but for that small but vocal minority who insist otherwise…

  12. Travis Gibby says:

    December 21st, 2006 at 1:17 am

    Thank you JackP,

    My comments were not directed at you. I was thinking more of the sentiments I hear expressed in the United States. There seems to be the impression, here at least, that the religious majority is being bullied. That everyone has to suffer because of a small group of Godless liberals, in collaboration with the liberal supreme court judges, don’t want their children to be able to pray at school.

    That isn’t the way I see it. The truth of the matter is that children do have the right to pray in school, silently or out-loud, as long as they are not disrupting the class. Children have always had this right. What the supreme court prohibited was teachers or other school employees from leading the class in prayer.

    I just want people to understand that most of the atheists here in the USA do want people to be free to express their religious beliefs at home, at work, and at school; even though we may not agree with them. What we don’t want is for the government being exploited by a religious majority in order to promote their beliefs.

    I actually quite like you JackP. You seem like a very reasonable person. The only thing that you said that I disagree with is that Richard Dawkins should not criticize religion.

    Criticism can be intolerant, but criticism does not equate to intolerance. Dawkins, like me, believes that there are many virtues that religion has, but that faith is it’s biggest drawback. Faith is a belief that is not based on evidence.

    I don’t support the guilt by association fallacies that some atheists and some theists promote. Being a Christian does not make you a crusader and being an atheist does not make you a communist. However, I still believe that it is better to base morality upon reason, logic, and love than it is to base it upon faith in scripture or faith in claims of a religious institution. Even if I had a revelation tomorrow that Christianity is true, I would still maintain the view that belief is best supported by evidence.

    Some might argue that there beliefs really are supported by evidence, but if so, why espouse the importance of faith? I don’t think that faith is compatible with reason and neither did Martin Luther, father of the reformation, when he wrote, “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has. . .”

    Travis Gibby

  13. JackP says:

    December 21st, 2006 at 7:06 am

    Just to throw another one back at you here Travis, but you said:

    Being a Christian does not make you a crusader and being an atheist does not make you a communist

    Are you implying that communism is inherently a bad thing?

    Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization, based upon common ownership of the means of production.Wikipedia

    …surely that’s not a bad thing? The argument would be that we’ve never truly seen a communist regime — we’ve seen a number of regimes that espouse communist ideology while retaining control in the hands of a small number (those well placed in the military, or political movement)…

    Political beliefs are a good comparison to theistic/atheistic beliefs. As there hasn’t been a truly communist state, it’s impossible to know how effective it would be.

    Obviously the US has a long anti-communist history, but just as people like yourself are right to choose to believe (or not to believe) what you see fit in terms of religion, that should also be applied politicallly

    Not that I’m being critical of you here, I’m really just playing devil’s advocate :-)

  14. Travis Gibby says:

    December 21st, 2006 at 10:03 pm


    Good point. In a perfect world, I believe communism would be the perfect government and everyone would work to better society, rather than for personal gain. But in the real world, so much power given to government tends to corrupt it. That being said, I didn’t mean to imply that communists are immoral. My point is that some folks think that atheism and communism go hand-in-hand which simply isn’t true.


  15. JackP says:

    December 21st, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    I think what we probably have here is a case of an atheist and a confirmed agnostic with completely different circumstances and backgrounds who pretty much agree each other is right 90% of the time — and on that remaining 10%, we’re prepared to agree to disagree.

    What d’you say?

    It’s a shame the rest of the world isn’t like us, eh?

  16. Travis Gibby says:

    December 24th, 2006 at 1:15 am

    Absolutely Jack,
    I am an atheist and an agnostic, because I think it’s possible that a God or Gods do exist; but since I do not believe that faith is a reliable way of deciding what is true and what is not, I don’t believe that is possible to know for certain whether any Gods exist or not.

    It does not offend me when people express their beliefs, so long as they return me that same courtesy. Thank you for doing that. :)

    Travis Gibby

  17. Travis Gibby says:

    December 25th, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    Merry Christmas!

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  19. Rab says:

    May 3rd, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Realise that this is a bit of an old blog but as you say about religious texts, how long before it loses its relevance?

    I really enjoyed your blog and as much as it pains me to agree with another human being, I was pretty much in agreement with everything you said.

    Now, I live with a lot of atheists and to be honest they spend more time talking about the creation of the world and stuff like that (slaggin off Christianity) than any people I’ve ever met. Now, as for me, I’m Catholic – perhaps not a good Catholic but one nonetheless. I don’t really care about anyone else’s faith or lack thereof because I’ve got enough on my plate than to worry about the eternal souls of others. However, I find the incescent badgering by certain atheist pals so stultifyingly boring. Usually just to rile them (because seemingly nothing is more interesting to an atheist that talking religion and theology) I like to say that I believe the world was created in 7 days.

    Followed by 30 minutes of them stressing over what is a wind-up, I just thank God I don’t get as easily worked up about religion. For me, I believe in God, don’t steal, don’t kill, what’s for dinner? It strikes me that atheists spend their whole day brooding over how religion is doing everyone over and is the root cause of everyone’s problems.

  20. JackP says:

    May 3rd, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Rab, feel free to comment on anything, whether new or old!

    I’ve got another one on this sort of subject lined up for the middle of next week – a claim that christians support torture…

  21. Rab says:

    May 3rd, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I’m sure some do. The thing I find weird is that alot of folks see religion or atheism as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing. What matters is the actions of the individual.

    So if George Bush seriously thought God was telling him to invade Iraq, well…I dunno the guy’s an idiot and I don’t care if he considers himself religious or not, it’s wrong.

    And if Stalin kills millions of people for being Christian/religious whatever, does that mean atheism should get a bad name?

    My point is there’s a lot of numpties in this world (to put it midly) and rather than see the banner they fly under justifying their actions it’s the actions of the individual that brought about the end result not the holy scriptures or a Richard Dawkins book that made them do it. A peaceful atheist is holier/a better person than an intolerant believer and vice-versa.

    So if some Christians believe in torture, I just think – idiot.

  22. Dave Harding says:

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    I think true atheists do indeed have a problem with religion. Many are quite (if it’s not to perverse a description) “evangelical” about atheism – likewise many are not.

    The need to impart what you see as “logic” and “reason” where you see a void is a bell that chimes a little in all of us from time to time.

    In a world where the entire area of North Africa is killing itself over (and let’s be brutally honest about this) religious differences and where the threat of christian and islamic fundamentalism seems ever present – I think they probably have a point.

    I wear my red A with pride. An antithiest who will say nothing – until someone asks.

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