I find it strange to call myself an atheist. Not because I believe in a God(s), it’s strange because by saying I’m an atheist, I’m advertising the absence of religion. It’s as if I’m defined by what I’m not.
It appears to me that there are two kinds of atheists. The first group is active, they talk with other atheists about non-religious stuff but mostly religion. They are a movement, pointing out the stupidity of belief when they can. These guys feel like the true atheists. They are organised, in a way, and they treat atheism as a mission.
The other groups are atheist by classification only. They do not identify as atheist or any other moniker. They don’t get together with other atheists and are not trying to bring the movement to the forefront of society. It is their belief that you do what you please as long as you don’t harm or negatively impact anyone else.
These two distinct groups really apply to any other movement. I know Catholics that are only classified ass thats because they grew up with that religion. Then there are Catholics that are firmly apart of their church. I feel like the two groups are like the good and bad of the organisations they belong to, active and passive adherents.
I fit into the passive group, the bad atheists. I decided not to continue to be chained to religion and in my experience groups of atheists can be bloody preachy. If you put aside the not believing in a higher power, the secondary reason I don’t subscribe to a religion is I don’t like to be bombarded by pompous people. We get it your convinced, can you shut up now.
There is no way that I would attend a Richard Dawkins talk because I think he is an inflexible bishop of atheism. It is a strange thing to show the same intolerance to those you claim to see as intolerant. It seems to be that movements demanding tolerance are increasingly being more intolerant. Not to harp on Mr Dawkins but if you are able to read through any of his books you’re a better atheist then I.
Being passive isn’t the main reason I deserve the title of “Bad Atheist”. There are three main reasons that I see myself as a bad atheist.
1. Religion is not evil
First evil is a religious construct, the idea that anything is inherently bad is not an objective view. I feel that if I assume that a belief or people are evil, then I perpetuate a belief system I am calling into question. This is not to say that there are no bad things in the world but there is nothing innately good or bad.
Before someone goes and pulls the Hitler card; he and the things he did were bad. He was not evil, he was a man who had a belief. The people who followed him allowed him to be “evil”, a construct to explain his power over people. To spot bad people is more important than spotting evil ones, you can stop the bad ones if you try hard enough (*cough* Donald Trump). The evil ones take on a mystical bent, almost becoming unstoppable.
I have seen many bad things that religion has done and I don’t believe that it is religion that is at fault. For the longest time I blamed religion, think of all the wars fought in the name of a deity. The interesting thing is when you look a little closer it’s usually a war over land or money. Sure, with the money you can show God how much you love him. Really this should be attributed to greed and human stupidity.
If through history we as species have been violent regardless of the God we worship, is it the religion or the people. It’s like when you have a friend who is always quitting jobs because the bosses were idiots. What is the common denominator? Sure you could say if there were no bosses they would never have an issue but in truth we know it to be that friend.
The amount of good that happens in the world because of religion cannot be discounted. I don’t believe that more bad things than good have happened because of religion. We tend to look at the big events and say see look at all the death. In truth we should be looking at the day-to-day things that are done. The medical help, taking care of those who are in need.
Religious people get a profound sense of spiritual happiness by helping others. This cannot be discounted in a snide comment about the ills of religion. Society would be a worse off place if not for the help that religious people give.
2. Religious people who inspire me through their faith
This one may be a strange one but when I look at someone who is committed to their faith it inspires me to do better. People who are true to their faith, they believe in an inclusive and accepting world. They are the truly religious. I believe Pope Francis is an amazing person and a much-needed one. Most needed by the western world that seems to have slipped into a narcissistic appreciation of itself.
The work he has done for the gay community in the catholic church is a truly monumental. The acceptance back into the church of the gay community should not be overlooked. I doubt there will be a day that the church condones gay marriage. To expect it is asinine really, to discount all the good work he has done because of this one thing is short-sighted.
I follow the Pope on twitter, and on a regular occurrence I am inspired by his words. The really Jesusy ones I ignore but I cannot ignore the words that should be heard by more people. I truly believe these words are important to religious people and those who feel hate towards Catholics. Here are a couple that I recently liked and think are good to share.
For this one maybe ignore the last bit. For a person in a powerful position to send this message is important. Particularly with the way that most other people are treating immigrants today.
I express my solidarity with migrants around the world and thank all those who help them: welcoming others means welcoming God in person!
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) December 18, 2016
This one is a powerful environmental message that other world leaders should be espousing.
How beautiful would it be to leave the world a better place than the way we found it.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) September 28, 2016
Does being inspired by religious people and even the king of the Catholics make me a bad atheist? (If you are religious this is not a cry for help. I see the pope like the CEO of Disney, leading a big corporation that make money from made up characters. That doesn’t mean I can’t think the CEO of Disney isn’t a good guy.)
3. Asshole atheists
This one is easy to explain. I find dedicated atheists to be assholes. Not all of them but a large proportion. They are arrogant self smug pricks. Oh you know the real truth, congrats Bruce. They can outreligious religious people and that’s a not an easy thing to do.
They like to get into arguments with people and recite scientific principles like they are universally accepted. They aren’t to a religious person. To them the bible is equivalent to scientific theory. Do you not see the irony in forcing your belief onto someone else.
I believe in scientific theory but you cannot discount someone’s belief and call it a win. Being a prick and trying to disprove something that gives a person peace is a dick move. Now if they start it and are being a dick go nuts. You can’t ask for acceptance while actively demonizing someone.
Don’t get me wrong I like to be an anti-religious smart ass. There is nothing I like more when I’m with the right people. I would never do this to someone who has a deep belief and is not trying to tell me I’m going to hell. The assumption that my immortal soul is doomed is annoying and a stupid threat. I don’t believe in that, it’s like if I said I was going to misaligned your chakras.
Asshole atheists are worse than asshole religious people because they should know better. You have seen what happens when a person attacks another’s belief so rein it in dickhead.
The reasons above are why I believe I am a bad atheist. Really I only see the title as a classification not as being part of a group. I would consider myself more apart of the Kiss Army. I’ll hang out with other Kiss fans, in fact I’ll seek them out and when I see a Bon Jovi fan I’ll tell them how I wanna rock and roll all night is the one true anthem. I would not do the same with atheists.
If you are an atheist the good or bad kind take a minute to consider how you approach those you encounter everyday. You may have had a bad experience but consider the true cause of your angst.
Most importantly don’t be an asshole. The bad atheists out there, keep on keeping on. Being an atheist doesn’t make you are a good or bad person and neither does religion. Wether you believe in science or in a really buoyant Godman, try and see the person not the classification.
P.S. I couldn’t work out a way to include my favourite religious joke in the article and make it fit. So instead I have included it here for you.
Now if you are offended by Jesus jokes you should probably stop reading. If you like them you are going to love this. I don’t know who wrote the joke, I got it out of a book that I lost. Here goes:
Q. What’s the difference between Jesus and a picture of Jesus?
A. You only need one nail to hang a picture of Jesus.
You better believe I’m laughing to myself, it never gets old.