Sketches on Atheism

I’m a militant atheist.

No introduction by me could possibly do justice to this monologue written and delivered by Rob the Monk. Read & Enjoy!

darwinfishI’m an atheist. No. It’s worse than that, actually. I’m a loud mouth atheist, I’m a combative, argumentative, aggressive, “militant atheist.” I talk about my favorite delusion every chance I get. I deliberately use provocative language, substituting “delusion” for religion and “sky fairy” or “imaginary friend” for God; I ask people to justify their belief all the time; I put forward arguments against god to anyone who will listen; I invite positive arguments for the existence of god from anyone willing to produce one; I demand coherent definitions of the thing “God” from anyone who might understand the need for such a definition; I blog about religion; I seek out religious people who might like to argue the matter and pick fights in which I have no intention of being gentle.

I’m a militant atheist.

Some of my friends even shake their heads at me, expressing their disdain at how I’m constantly strumming the same old chord, an irritating proselytizer of unbelief, a shameless agent provocateur attempting to lure people from their comfort zones. It’s considered rude, or inappropriate, unbecoming, off-putting etc… people don’t like it anymore than when people start injecting our lord and savior, Jesus, into every mundane thing, into every conversation, or every event, bridging huge gaps between the subject at hand and their faith. I don’t even do this. I seldom if ever make such ham-handed segues into the topic of the God debate; I wait for it to be brought up and then I begin.

But I am a militant atheist.

Why am I condemned for this? Why is this worth pointing out? Jehovah’s witnesses frequent my porch. John is the name of the man who regularly comes a knocking and we have had a number of interesting conversations ranging from the beauty of nature as found within view of my porch to the foundations of moral reasoning. Bear in mind, this man knocked on my door once and has continued to return. In all our exchanges I have not had occasion to call him a “militant Christian.” Surely the very act of knocking on my door is a bolder move than anything I admitted to above. But, no…

I am a militant atheist.

I do not knock on people’s doors and if I did knock on doors
so that I could proselytize against god, it would be considered so incredibly rude as to merit active campaigns against my activities. Moreso than if I were selling cookies, anyway. I do not protest funerals, as do the Westboro Baptists. I do not stone to death adulterers. I don’t bomb abortion clinics or kill abortion doctors. Nor would I rape and kill a family member who was raped. Nor would I murder a person who once held the same views as me but had recently switched sides. Nor would I command the mutilation of a child’s genitals, imposing a covenant on the child without his or her permission. I would not kill, maim, or shame a person for acting on their sexual proclivities. I demand no rites, no tithes, no rituals, no prayers, no profession, no utterance, no submission, no allegiance, no indignity, no dissolution of family bond, no affirmation of permanent commitment, no denial, no cognitive dissonance, no abdication of reason. I demand very little, in fact. Such things are the province of religion.

But I am a militant atheist.

These are the extremes, of course. (But note, some of them may not even seem extreme to you, consider again, religious circumcision.) Oh, certainly, many of these things are condemned. But why is my, by comparison, much more mild and docile approach condemned as well? Why is it so unacceptable that I am a militant atheist and yet it takes overt brutality for a person to be taking their religion too far?

Now, I’m not so mystified by the label I’ve received, “militant atheist,” though I do think it’s tragically ironic in light of the things I’ve pointed out. I understand why it might be worth the effort, to a believer, to brand me in this way. The advantage is obvious enough; that guy just has a chip on his shoulder and he’s out to prove something and rob us of our beliefs. It might bother me if this wasn’t the case; after all, I am out to prove something. But it bothers me that the same terms are applied to my spirited but non-violent challenges to accepted beliefs as are applied to the violence carried out in the name of such beliefs.

And to some degree it bothers me to hear other atheists telling me I’m besmirching the name, “atheist” as if the term is deserving of some special honor or as if the community ever enjoyed any respect to begin with.

But, no, what really bothers me is the suggested dichotomy of the atheist community. There are the loud mouthed atheists and the silent; the outspoken and the mute; those who challenge and those who acquiesce.

My question isn’t “Why am I labeled a Militant Atheist?”

My question is: Why the hell aren’t more of us speaking up?

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42 thoughts on “I’m a militant atheist.

  1. I really don’t like the argument that “militant” or “new” atheism is doing harm to “the cause”. I personally think that a full, broad range of personalities is, if not necessary, then certainly more interesting.

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  2. I concur with everything you’ve written John. I detest religious proselytising, yet when an Atheist ‘vigorously’ defends his non-belief one is verbally persecuted! Well done for blogging this. I shall share it with my readership also. Thank You good Sir.

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  3. Pingback: I’m a militant atheist. « 100 Uses for Muesli

    • I agree, but the rapid decline of Christianity will I think have a positive effect on the Arab world… perhaps faster than we could anticipate. Islam believes in the same idea of the Abrahamic personal god. It’s a nice idea when you’re functionally illiterate, but get even a few people thinking and that idea crumbles very, very easily.

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      • I was raised in am arab country in a Christian family… Hell how difficult was that. Unfortunately Muslims have another immune against reason that blocks them from thinking. Not to mention that it is a religion where you can be brought to death if you deny God or think of leaving Islam, all of this in the 21st century. At least western societies reason and more are speaking up, in Islamic countries this might take ages

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      • Mike, i read about your upbringing in your about. Certainly different to my religious past: Australian catholic, about as passive as they come. Hell, even a few priests in my school spoke openly their doubts.

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      • That is one of the reasons I detest religion. Can you believe that one of the first things people try to discover about you when, for example you speak with a stranger or someone you don’t know and haven’t met, is your religious belief? And based on your answer or what is inferred the treatment changes? Christians in Israel/Palestine are a very minority, not even 1% of the whole population of both idiotic identities, and hence since I was born in Bethlehem speaking arabic, raised in an arabic country, eating and drinking arabic food, attending arabic school, even learning the Coran from the arabic lessons, Muslims here still do not consider me a Palestinian simply because I am not Muslim. So I must be Israeli then? Wrong, I am not Jewish. So who the hell am I? Can you feel the pressure of being born in a country where their citizens margins you because simply because you were born to a different faith family? So to hell with both countries. I left hell since 12 years now and live in Europe.

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      • Good for you, sir! And i agree with your assessment of the Israeli/Palestinian situation: they’re both fucked in the head. That said, i feel far more empathy for the Palestinians than the Israelis. The actions of the settlers are abhorrent and should be dragged before the International Court.

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  4. alas, the concept of being polite has been dunned into us. We are taught that to tell someone that they are wrong is a very bad thing, especially if we tell it to senior citizens, children or theists. All have a mythos built up around them, that senior citizens are magically “wise”, that children need their lies and that theists equal good. None of those myths are true. It is necessary to speak up and it is even more necessary to tell those who think we are rocking the boat that no change happens if someone doesn’t start it.

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  5. Well done John.

    Seems to me it’s just common sense.

    Why is it acceptable for religious fundamentalists to go around interrupting what we’re doing, trying to shove their “truth” down everyone’s throat, if it’s not equally acceptable for atheist fundamentalists to do the same to them?

    All they have to support their “belief” is one book, a myth written by men and rewritten repeatedly by other men to suit their own purposes.

    At least we’ve got millennia of science and libraries full of knowledge that utterly refutes their fantasy. Yet we’re the lunatic fringe?

    ““Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”
    Robert Anton Wilson

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    • I just copied Rob the Monks words. It’s funny though, seeing how “militant” atheism is needed in the United States. It’s not in other “Christian” nations. Secularism is the rule, not the exception. That being said, i support my American Militant Atheist friends!

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      • Whoa!!…..John!!!….atheism should not be equated, in any respect, with militaryism!! We’re scoping peace, love and respect for all…. as those mother-fucks ( whom we finance to the nth degree ) are traipsing about the planet killing children!

        True story……I was hired to assist an active soldier ( stationed at Ft. Bliss ) as to cleaning out his storage space. Well…..curiousity finally got the best of this cat…….and I eventually asked him……” Have you ever really shot anyone? ” His response……”Yesir……last was an 8 yr. old kid approaching our compound with explosives strapped to him. I shot him to death. This was in Iraq. ”

        Hey soldier boy!!…..just throw your weapons down and the monster-mangler-US-war-machine would no longer exist! Unfortunately……..you’ve already been brainwashed!

        Best quote ever…..Winston Churchill…..” That’s right m’dear….I may be drunk at the moment….but I’ll be sober in the morning. Unfortunately…..you’ll still be ugly! ” 😀

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  6. John…..you must be joking about ‘killer koalas’……right? Nah! I do….however….sincerely empathize with your trepidation as to gophers. Personal experience has proven them to be one of the most evil soul-sucking critters on the planet! And yer right!!….. never, ever look into their eyes! Had a friend ……once…..who ignored that advice …..and he’s now 6 ft. under……right where them gophers live!! 😀

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    • If you think the rabbit in Monty Python’s Holy Grail was vicious Google “Drop Bears” and you’ll see what i mean. 🙂 All small mammals are assholes. They’re not indigenous, just made to look that way. Xenu dispatched them here from the dark recesses of the universe to kill the roaming Thetans. There is much you must learn, young Padawan 😉

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      • John….wonderful to have encountered your site! No….I don’t have my own. That would be work. I exist, vicariously, only through the efforts of others willing to open up a corner-store in the cyber-space parking-lot. Tho’…..I certainly can yak.!…and that has gotten me bounced from more sites than I’m able to count with currently available pinkies! A reason I love Doc…..he’ll let me ramble and ramble, which I do, ( no moderation ) and then eventually sum it all up with a one-liner! The guy is brilliant. 😀

        John….sounds like you’re in Aus. ( Oz? ). Always wanted to visit there. ‘Cept….I have an affliction. It’s called ‘perfect-pitch’, which is real handy should one pursue a musical career, as I did for a time, that is……until I realized what kind of rat-holes were actually running the biz.

        Anyway…….moral being….working in Toronto I met a couple of Aus girls back-packing across North America. Totally stunning babes……to the max!!…..until they spoke. The Aus accent, to me, was/is no less than fingernails-on-a-chalkboard. I have the same issues with the East-Texas twang which REALLY hurts my ears! Guys can pull it off…….but hearing it out of a fem mouth is too much! Duct-tape time!!! (well….that’s actually ‘ all of the time’ for women ? ……isn’t it?)

        Okay…….I’m from Canada……so we all know I’m perfect…..yes? I deal with redundantly stupid Amerikaaners each day. John……please….have mercy……allow me to yak on yer site!……I promise to be amusing!

        ps…..in case you didn’t know…..all them Thetans are shacked-up at Tom Cruise’s house! I happen to know where he lives. See…..’Grasshopper’ is knowledgable beyond his years……if you’re willing to accept! 😀

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      • Dave, always a couch here. I don’t care how drunk you are or what you say to the neighbours 😉 I’m Australian, yes, but i’m in Brazil. As much as i recall i got drunk sometime at the beginning of this century and chased a girl across the Pacific. It was worth it. Still haven’t learnt the language, though.

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  7. Ok….Mr. Joking Guy!……I did Google ‘Padawan’ ( I was curious ) and discovered it’s a ‘Star Wars’ learn-how-to-do-sumpin’- sneakeroo! If you’re insistent upon learning anything, as to my heritage, you’ll have to look up ‘Ananaki’. ( thereafter……’I shall stand on guard for thee’…….oops!…….sweetieone keeps reminding me that’s a line from the Canadian national anthem….which is super-dumb ) and I have no bizness repeating it to anyone! Specially not worldly-types! 😀

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  8. John…..forgot to ask…..do marsupials…….such as the evil Koala bear variety…..only live in Oz? I’ve not heard of any, anywhere else…..tho’ always open to the education. Little mammals, particularly those of the ‘chipmunk’ variety have always been a fave of mine. Spent many a year, at the cottage, feeding them peanuts, as they wouldn’t hesitate to run up your leg to grab one! Miss those days. ………Me…….peace…..:-D

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    • Australia is full of little mammals, and yes, they’re unique to the island. They’re having a terrible time now, tho, with all the feral cats. I was attacked by a kangaroo when i was a kid. I wrote about it in my post, “loosing my religion” 🙂

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      • Were you not required to carry gloves in your lunch back-pack in the event you encountered a boxing ‘Roo? Seems simple to me. I always carry my light-sabre with me in the event I might encounter an ornery armadillo. Dumbest critters gawd ever imagined. But they can be real nasty, if cornered.

        An Australian in Brazil…..hmm…. Is that akin to an American in Paris?

        I’m told feral cats have become a world-wide plague. A friend was recently in Rome and was astounded as to how many of the pussies were scurrying all over the Coliseum. Locals put out little bowls of food for them.

        Personally, I’m not fond of ’em, ‘cept for Doc’s yule-cat, which tears down his tree each year…..the reason I think he puts it up?

        I’ll have to research your blog…..now that I’ve found you.

        Peace, love and happy yule to you and yours!…….Dave…

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  9. ps….did you snag that gal you chased across the Pacific? If so….the language would be called Spanglish…..but that would certainly be hard on the ears with an Oz accent tossed in! Aaargh! 😀

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  10. Wow. A geography lesson I’d forgotten. SA is shifted well to the right of NA. You are several time zones ahead of TX. Almost below Europe. Is Brazil as exotic as they portray it to be? ( The women….I mean ). 😀 I often think of the desert here as a giant beach wherein I just don’t have the energy to hike to the water. ( actually…..that would be San Diego and that’s one helluva hike from my place! ) I’m in El Paso.

    Went to college in Boston and didn’t realize how much I could ever miss the seashore until moving here. That was 25 years ago and I haven’t been back. Been told ( by NatGeo….I think ) that Brazilian beaches are to die for. Is that true?

    Ok….George W. Bush joke ……Rumsfeld tells him that Brazilian soldiers were killed in a covert US operation……George ponders it for a moment and finally asks…..” How many is a brazillion? ” Hehe!

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    • The women are beyond exceptional. If i’d known what i know today i would have moved here in my early twenties. Beaches? I’m Australian so i naturally thought Australian beaches were the best in the world… until i came here. It’s like some cosmic artist shat beauty along the shoreline. South of Rio all the way down the SP coast is drop-dead gorgeous. Astounding.

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  11. Pingback: An apology for atheism | Random thoughts

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