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