Lack of religion is not animosity
December 13, 2007
To me, the two most forbidden conversation topics have always been the most interesting: politics and religion. Last week, I wrote about the politics of the 2008 Presidential Election. This week, I’ll take a FOX News worthy fair and balanced look at religion—or lack thereof. What’s been frustrating me recently is what I like to refer to as “angry atheism.” I’ve noticed a trend both among people my age and the society at large of atheists becoming hateful and angry in the face of organized religion. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m an atheist and have been for several years—but the extent of spite and anger I see among other atheists is upsetting. Atheism is, by its basic definition, non-belief. It is not necessarily an order or sect of its own—it is simply the absence of belief in a higher power. What’s been happening, however, is more sinister than a simple lack of belief.
What I see happening is atheism being twisted into a philosophy of anti-religion. It’s no longer about simply choosing not to believe; it has become an organized attack on religion. Angry atheists seem to find fulfillment in disproving and discrediting major religions (mostly focused on the various forms of Christianity). Most of the time, atheists and agnostics will describe themselves as being open-minded and tolerant. This, however, seems lost when you realize how many atheists spend time and effort to offend Christians. The job of the atheist should not be to take on religion as the enemy.
The job of the atheist should be to stand outside the realm of religion and become a separate being.
Now the time has come for me to admit that I used to be an angry atheist. I used to see Christianity as a terrible, tyrannical force bent on the breaking of every human being (yeah, that bad). I was convinced that it was my duty to persuade everyone I knew to question and ridicule the beliefs of the Church as I did. I realize now that I was being an immature idiotic kid. While most of my spiritual beliefs remain the same, I have blossomed into a free-thinking (and handsome) young man capable of actually allowing others to believe whatever the hell they want to. I could go on about how everyone is different, but I won’t.
I strongly believe that atheism should not revolve around becoming anti-something. It’s shameful to define yourself by something you hate. Instead, the basic foundation of atheism should be built on the ideas of free-thought. The path to becoming a free-thinker is long and arduous, and rarely will anyone be able to completely shake free the chains of prejudice. But it is worth it to try. Atheism is still looked down upon by mainstream America, and I have to say that it is most probably justified. I hope that someday atheists can re-define their attitudes and become the compassionate, tolerant free-thinkers they deserve to be.
Joe Hager is a student at UW-River Falls.